Go General Go
Dennis Coderre MP (Lib) is not happy with General Rick Hillier, Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff. It seems that General Hillier, an uncharacteristically blunt general officer, called the 1990's under the Liberals, a "decade of darkness" for ther Canadian Forces. According to CTV News:
Mr. Coderre is outraged.
In a speech to a defence group on Friday, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Rick Hillier said the Canadian Forces dealt with troubled times from 1994 onwards when the Liberals worked to balance the federal budget with heavy budget cuts.
The Canadian Forces had only now begun to "fully realize the negative impact of the defense expenditure reduction from 1994 and the lasting, most negative, legacy that they brought into effect which has to be put right," the outspoken general told the annual meeting of the Conference of Defence Associations.
The military was deprived of money it needed for education, training, postings, equipment, fleets as the same time as it increased the number of operations, he said.
"Those actions, dollar deprived, have now led to some deep wounds in ... the Canadian Forces over this past, what I would call, a decade of darkness," Hillier said Friday.
Ah, how the truth hurts. The unrefutable truth of the matter is that the Liberals allowed the fighting capability (training, equipment, numbers of personnel) of the Canadian Forces to degrade to the point of near collapse. The Forces bear the scars still and will for some time.
Liberal defence critic Denis Coderre blasted Hillier's speech, saying it was inappropriate that he described the Liberal era in such a way.
Coderre defended the party's legacy, saying that the Liberals under Paul Martin proposed adding billions to the defence budget.
"We also have to understand that, when we came to power in 1993, we inherited a deficit of $40 billion and we had also to take care of some of the priorities including the quality of life of the people. So, talking today about 10 years of darkness, I don't think it's appropriate, I think it's highly political and I am very disappointed at it," Coderre told reporters.
Mr. Coderre thinks General Hillier is playing politics. Actually, the problem for the Liberals is quite different. Unlike so many of the good general's recent predecessors he isn't. He is just refusing to remain silent on operational matters involving the capacity of the armed forces to function. Doing that is inherent in his job description.
The truth is that Mr. Coderre and his Liberal ilk did not live up to their national obligations as a government in this regard. It is one of the prime reasons I am no longer a Liberal.
"I think there would be many people who would line up to say I'm not a politician. I don't tread in those waters," he said after his speech.
"My job as Chief of Defence staff is described clearly. And hopefully I paint a picture for Canadians, for our government, on what the state of the Armed Forces is. I have described it about three, or three-and-a-half years ago as we were in a decade of darkness with respect to what we needed to do versus we were being asked to do. And, as I said this morning, we've gone through a decades of darkness and we are starting to come out of it and like it or not that's the description of the Canadian Forces."