Monday, June 13, 2005

If our politicians were leaders, this wouldn't matter

Babble on.

The National Post has published a government opinion poll showing relatively high levels of public support for funding the Canadian Forces:

Just over three-quarters of those surveyed in a government opinion poll obtained by the National Post said the Canadian Forces was underfunded, and 44% believed that a decade of government cuts to the defence budget had hurt Canada's international reputation. According to 43%, the cuts have put the safety of soldiers at risk.

Asked how to find more money in the federal budget for the military, the most popular suggestion -- favoured by 36% -- was to reduce other programs and services. Another 22% was willing to see taxes increased, while 14% favoured running a deficit to pay for a revamped Canadian Forces.

Quite frankly, I wasn't astonished at the level of support - it's easy to say yes on the phone, if it doesn't have any negative and immediate personal repercussions for the individual being polled. But I was a little surprised that over one in eight Canadians were willing to run a budget deficit in order to fund our military better. Maybe, just maybe people are beginning to understand how dire the situation truly is for our Armed Forces.

Of course, that doesn't mean their heads are screwed on entirely straight enough:

Most Canadians appeared to be clinging to the notion of their soldiers being used for humanitarian or peacekeeping missions rather than more aggressive "peace-making" roles, and preferred co-operation with the United Nations to working with the United States.

Two-thirds of those polled said it was important for our military to be able to work effectively with the United Nations. Only 49% felt it should be able to operate with the U.S. military.

Since the UN doesn't have a military, does that mean Canadians want our Armed Forces to be able to operate with everyone from Bangladesh to Belgium? Given the fact that we share a continent with the U.S., as well as a number of military alliances, I'm disappointed half the people polled didn't think working well with them was a priority. Disappointed, but again, not terribly surprised.

It's sad that our government requires unequivocal polls to get them to do the right thing. True leadership isn't about finding out what the popular position is and figuring out how to occupy that policy space before your opponents do - especially in areas where stability and long-term planning matter, like National Defence. It's about determining what's best for the country, taking the country in that direction, and convincing those who require convincing along the way.

Babble off.


At 3:02 p.m., Blogger Walsh Writes said...

When is the public going to put two and two together and realize that the problems we have are all created by the liberals.

At 11:20 a.m., Blogger Timmy the G said...

Wow, Brian. That some seriously simplistic math you're doing there.

Damian, I agree it's good to see the public support for more money, but, not surprisingly, I agree for the most part with their opinion as to how our military should be used.

We already co-operate plenty with the Yanks, but why would we want to co-operate with them even more? They want a missile defence screen, we don't. They want to normalize pre-emptive war, we don't.

Most Canadians - and recent polls show most Americans as well - see the misadventure in Iraq as a disaster of the first magnitude. Why would we want our military involved in that? The Canadian public sounds kind of sensible on this to me.


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