Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Ukraine Awaits Real Help

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Ukraine Awaits Real Help

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Ukraine awaits real help

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published April 24Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has assured NATO's eastern members Canada will stand with them "in the face of aggression." It was a largely meaningless gesture, but it might have been a little less ridiculous if Canada were actually capable of backing up its rhetoric.

Canada is sending six CF-18s and a naval ship to the region in support of other NATO forces that have also beefed up their presence in a show of solidarity and protest over Russia's intimidation of Ukraine.

No one expects fighting to break out between NATO and Russia over Ukraine, but the deployment of big guns is a traditional way for nations to express their disapproval of another country's conduct.

Ukraine itself may have preferred money over muscle.

Canada's puny show of force, however, serves as another reminder the country's military is entering another period of decay and decline.

The recent federal budget cut $3.1 billion in planned spending on new equipment, raising doubts as to whether Canada will even have a new jet fighter before the existing fleet of F-18s begins to fall out of the skies from old age.

The navy and army are also working with outdated equipment, while funds for training have declined.

Canada spends about 1.3 per cent of GDP on defence, one of the lowest ratios in NATO, even though we are one of the world's richest nations and a member of the G8.

The justification for the defence cuts was partly related to the government's determination to balance the budget by next year, but there is also a sense that, now that the Afghan mission is over, Canada will not be required to make another major commitment in the near future.

That attitude prevailed after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, when major countries talked about reaping a peace dividend. Then Iraq invaded Kuwait, followed by troubles in the Balkans and, of course, the so-called war on terror, Libya, Nigeria and so on. …

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