Monday, May 12, 2008

Much ado about...? *flipping pages madly, looking for the "strategy"*

So, the Prime Minister has announced the long-awaited "Canada First Defence Strategy." The news organizations covered what there was to cover (here, here, here, here, and here), but to be honest, I'm not sure what exactly was worth announcing.

This line from the G&M actually made me laugh:

“The newest thing about this announcement is that it is a long-term plan,” Mr. Harper said, suggesting that previous announcements of this type took a piecemeal approach.

Previous announcements were piecemeal? Are you kidding me? The first reader who can point me to the "Canada First Defence Strategy" itself gets a gold star. Because all I can find are announcements and backgrounders.

Even the skeptical Toronto Star got it wrong:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled his government's $30-billion Canada First Defence Strategy today, a long-term vision statement for the military that was scant on details but vast in scope.

Harper acknowledged there was little new in the announcement, delivered to about 100 military personnel at a drill hall inside the Halifax Armoury, but said it heralded a new way of doing things for Canada's military.

"Vast in scope..." - really? This isn't a defence strategy so much as a budgetary promise, one that can get undone by the next government, or pulled apart by a determined opposition in a minority parliament.

Look, my enthusiasms and loyalties are pretty unambiguous here: I'm in favour of a stronger, better-equipped, bigger, more capable military in Canada. So promising more money and more troops so the CF will be able to do more things to promote Canada's national interests gets my support.

So, as far as that goes: yay for the Conservative government.

But that's not what this "strategy" was originally supposed to be about, was it? It was supposed to be a defence capabilities statement. But then it got its feet stuck in a bureaucratic tar pit, and when it got dragged out for Budget 2008, it looked like this. To this observer, they're trying to stuff a bunch of welcome but piecemeal funding announcements into a pretty new dress and pass it off as some sort of overarching strategy.

It's not. You want strategy? Much as it pains me to say it, and as much as I pointed out the weaknesses in the plan at the time, the Martin Liberals were miles ahead of the Conservatives in terms of an actual policy statement.

Like I said, the first person who can tell me what the Canada First Defence Strategy actually strategizes gets a big red lollipop. I don't expect many takers.

Update: Mark delivers a much more substantive critique here.

Upperdate: Speculation as to what the Harper government might be trying to do with this announcement, at the end of this post. If he's trying to preemptively limit the next CDS, I won't be impressed. But how else to explain this announcement, in this way, at this time?


Post a Comment

<< Home