The relevance of the Canadian military

A lecture series brought forth ideas on Canadian defence security challenges.

Retired Major-General Cameron Ross, CMM, CD, feels Canadian foreign affairs and defence issues are relevant to University of Calgary students.

“We live in a city and province that are doing well and people who are blessed enough to go to class will one day graduate and begin to pay taxes,” said Maj.- Gen. Ross. “These people should have an understanding of who we are and how we define ourselves. Our military and foreign policy is a reflection of this, an example of our values system.”

Maj.-Gen. Ross, the former Director General of International Security Policy at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa, was the feature speaker of the Ross Ellis Memorial Lecture in Military and Strategic Studies, an annual lecture series honouring Lt. Colonel Ross Ellis, a former Commanding Officer of the Calgary High- landers.

Relevance was a strong theme of the Thu., Oct. 23 presentation.

“Canada has long been influenced by our love of the United Nations and peacekeeping… no one has suffered more peacekeeping losses than Canada has to UN and NATO missions,” he said. “Our government keeps a Euro-centric focus to its foreign policy, yet Canada is a prime location for immigrants, 42 per cent of which are Asian. When they [the immigrants] become more politically active what will they think of their sons and daughters serving in Europe?”

Not fulfilling current or future commitments is definite challenge for the Canadian military. Maj.-Gen. Ross pointed out that the Pengrowth Saddledome can hold 17,000 spectators and there are currently 14,000 trained com- batant forces in the Canadian army.

“When you have a hockey rink full of soldiers, there is only so much you can do,” he explained.

Maj.-Gen. Ross said questions must be asked to find solutions to how Canada defines and applies its military.

“Bring the comments out for Canadians to discuss,” he implored. “There is not a learned debate in Canada. Questions need to be asked. What do Canadians want in terms of defence and foreign policy?”


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