May 7, 2011
Canada Is Ready for Her Star TurnBy James G. Wiles
The nation which Canadian subject (and conservative author, columnist and radio and TV commentator) Mark Steyn calls the "Deranged Dominion" just elected a Conservative Party government may now be about to raise its game to the next level.
It should. The fact is that, for sixty-six years, Canada has punched below its weight in world affairs. It was not always so.
Winston Churchill, in Britain's darkest hour -- when the UK faced Hitler alone -- told Parliament and the British people that the overseas dominions would come to the aid of the mother country. He meant Canada (which Churchill had visited), as well as New Zealand, South Africa (where he had fought and been a POW) and Australia. They did.
By the end of the Second World War, Canada had the third-largest surface navy in the world. The Canadian Army took Juno Beach at Normandy on D-Day. Canada, with a population of only eleven to twelve million, put over 1.1 million men under arms, with the world's fourth largest air force. Some 45,000 Canadians died.
What? Canada -- today's pacifist, multicultural playground, refuge of American draft-dodgers during the Vietnam War -- was once a major military power? Really?
Really. By 1945, Canada's navy even included three aircraft carriers.
I learned these largely-forgotten facts one pleasant evening in the leather-walled confines of the library of Montreal's St. James Club. The club's set of the History of the Canadian Armed Forces in the Second World War was instructive in the extreme.
What happened after 1945 is only too familiar: big government liberalism, a welfare state, pacifism, a heavy dose of white guilt, open immigration and political correctness. The result: by choice and not by necessity, Canada hasn't been a world player since about 1953.
All told, Canada's Liberal Party ruled for 69 years of the 20th century and the first five years of the 21st. Multiculturalism is now deeply entrenched -- no more so than in the tender topics of Quebec and the use of the French language. So is secularism at home and multilateralism abroad.
Although Canada's population and national prosperity have soared since 1945, its defense spending collapsed. By the time the Liberals were finally ousted in 2006, Canada's military expenditures had shrunk to around 1.5 % of GDP.
However, since 9/11, Canada has fought as part of the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. Its nine-year mission -- during which 154 Canadian troops have died -- ends this year. The long-range snipers of the Princess Patricia's Light Infantry now hold the world record for the longest kill shot: 1.44 miles.
Forced to govern since 2006 in coalition, Prime Minister Harper was able only to make modest changes. Monday's historic elections have now freed his hand:
In short, Canada is ready for its star turn. With a population of 33 million and a GDP of $ 1.3 trillion, Canada's economy is one of the world's ten largest It's an energy, natural resource and food exporter, with only 6.1 % unemployment and 3.5 % GDP growth. The budget deficit is small and fast-shrinking.
That leaves plenty of room for a defense build-up. Canada's armed forces now total only 67,000, compared to 1945's 1.1 million. Let's hope Prime Minister Harper -- who introduced the beginning of a "new look" in Canada's defense posture in 2006 -- will now do much more.
Finally, Harper's victory Monday night continues a trend. The U.K., Italy and Germany already had conservative leaders. So does France. Next spring's national election may only move France farther to the right.
That leaves Spain. Madrid's socialist government -- totally discredited by the continuing 20% unemployment -- seems certain to fall. Prime Minister Zapatero has already announced he will not lead the Socialists into next March's elections. A conservative victory in Spain will mean that all the major European powers and Canada are governed by conservatives.
That will leave our President as the odd man out.