At the annual Conference of Defence Associations Institute in Ottawa on Friday, Canada’s former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff and Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, warned, “we are not taking defence and security seriously in this country and our way of life is in jeopardy as a result.”
Vice-Admiral Norman gave Roy Green exclusive access to his speech. It is reproduced below.
Before I speak to the specifics of this important panel discussion, I feel the need to say a few words on the broader issues of security and defence.
We are not taking defence and security seriously in this country and our way of life is in jeopardy as a result.
This conference is an important and timely platform for the discussion of national defence and security issues – a much needed contribution to what is a woefully inadequate – arguably non-existent – national security culture here in Canada.
Those of us here today have a significant responsibility to discuss these important issues – on behalf of the millions of Canadians who deserve to enjoy their lives free of concern about their personal security, the safety of their families, the future of their nation, or the integrity of our very way of life.
Most of us – in this room or watching remotely – have enjoyed levels of personal and collective security that many elsewhere in the world can only dream of.
I genuinely believe that the global security situation has fundamentally changed in the past few years, and the complacency and attendant “risk management” approaches to defence and security matters implemented by successive governments – of all political orientations – have severely undermined not only our credibility as a nation, but more importantly, our national security.
National security is much more complex now and it goes well beyond the traditional considerations that have allowed our leaders to naively rely on our physical isolation from many of the threats of previous decades.
Canada, however, is no longer immune to events on the other side of the world and nor is our way of life guaranteed simply because of our proximity to the United States or our relative wealth or advantage as a nation.
Of late, I have observed increased use of the word “Resilience” in the context of the complex security challenges facing us and our allies. To paraphrase a recent conversation with a colleague, resilience in its purest form is the antithesis of “efficiency”…. which regrettably has long been the excuse used to substantiate under-investment in security and defence by successive governments for decades.
Canadians are increasingly enduring the impacts of systemic failures in resilience across the many dimensions of their day-to-day lives (ie; health care, essential government services & the global supply chain are examples) and I will leave these other issues to the experts in those domains.
National security “resilience,” however, in my opinion, must have primacy, for if our leaders fail to protect this vital national interest, none of the other subordinate “pressing political” concerns or urgent domestic priorities will actually matter.
Finally, the politicization of security and defence is irresponsible, dangerous and must stop immediately. These vital national interests are too important to be subject to the whims of short-term political interests and public opinion.
The primary responsibility of any government is to protect its people, their way of life, and the institutions that serve them. It is long overdue that national security and defence were raised above the noise and distraction of politics and placed at the pinnacle of our national priorities.
I, therefore, call on parliamentarians to devise and implement a robust mechanism that establishes security and defence as vital national priorities irrespective of the party in power. This kind of approach already exists in some allied democracies that recognize their security responsibilities, and by extension behave as serious nations.
Source : Globalnews