Author: Cole DuttonCanada does not need an army to fight. Canada needs an army for the health of its citizenry. Far too often spoiled teens, young adults, and even baby boomers shrug off the sacrifices of our armed forces. It is disturbing; many a reservist and many a soldier have experienced ridicule for their service. In the wake of Afghanistan 'support our troops' has become blasphemy in some circles. The armed forces, a historic and treasured institution, are often associated with neo-conservative foreign policy, not charitable desire or service to other human beings.
Yet, it is the protective impulse that most dominates the minds of soldiers. Nearly every soldier believes in one thing: the obligation to protect others, a soldier desires to fight, and stand in harm's way so no one else must do so. A soldier wears their uniform each day, because they love others not because they are thirsty for blood.
It is a shame myths persist about the lifestyle and motivations of soldiers. Our armed forces serve many a purpose not least of which is to serve as glue for our citizens, fostering pride in the nation and esprit de corp. A young person learns to work hard when they don the uniform and see beyond the limits of Canadian society. Lastly, service in the armed forces knows no such thing as poverty, nor wealth. National conscription for both the graduate student and the destitute single father means removing the superficiality of social distinction, while acquiring a valuable skill set. Couple the effects of unity, civic pride, work ethic, and egalitarianism and you have a recipe for social wellness and cohesion.
So what is the proposition for a better Canada? Two years hard service bearing arms for all citizens as a national guard either beginning abruptly after high school or immediately after graduation from the academy.
Canada is a diverse place. 35 million people spread out over nine million square kilometers. Canada is white majority European in descent, and yet Vancouver and Toronto whites are in the minority. Canada as we understand it is a multicultural society. Ignoring the merits or flaws in the diversity agenda, temporarily, allows one to see that Canada has a unique social dynamic in which it must reconcile its population. Could it be, the best way to bond diverse citizens is to put their lives in each other's hands? By doing so, each Canadian becomes responsible for their neighbor whether they are a Saskatchewan farmer's daughter or a Caribbean black this interdependence will foster trust.
Canada lacks a pledge of allegiance. Canada has no mutually acknowledged fire that forged the nation, Vimy Ridge? Maybe, but it is no American Revolution, no national idea binds Canada. Yet, together marshaled under a flag, diverse people cannot take their identity and freedom for granted. Three generations have grown without having to ask why would I fight for Canada? And, without having to ask why, we no longer build civic virtue or understand the concepts that underlie pride in the western way of life. By bringing these questions up naturally people will come to understand they must protect Canada both physically and spiritually. Unique heritage and tradition become fallible, physical, only when one stands again in the boots of their forefathers and has faith in something greater: a shared past.
It may scarcely be argued that our youth know or desire to work. Most young adults float through the first ten years after high school on student loans, bouncing from major to major. Others drift from job to job trying to gain skills and aptitude for a difficult job market where employers are less and less likely to hire those people with an undeveloped skill set. The armed forces provides one, suitable, avenue to build workplace skills and confidence. One need only to look at the Canadian forces job postings to realize that one can be a soldier without ever firing a gun, beyond basic training: the forces require mechanics, recruiters, electricians, lawyers, social workers, cooks, and engineers to name just a handful of positions on offer. A profession in the armed forces creates a professional for life.
Canada is no Marxist paradise, and that is a good thing. However, we do have a growing problem with inequality and charity. Few people in this country understand the plight of those beyond their community; therefore, a substitute community is required. Activists who seek to integrate and equalize Canadian society make arguments often for reconciliation through formal apology and government compensation. This social justice from the top down is not, and never will be effective. These efforts do nothing to heal the rifts between people. Of course, a Toronto executive misunderstands an on-reserve Indian, but government apology does nothing but build resentment among those of whom the government believes it represents. If we wish to build an understanding between Canadians, making them serve side by side can only aid in this pursuit.
So what does Canada give up with a vast expansion of our armed forces? Canada gives up perhaps 3% of GDP in devotion to the armed forces. What do Canadians gain? A skilled workforce ripe with discipline, solidarity, and confidence it is no coincidence that 'the greatest generation,' over saw a vast expansion in living standards and wealth, and it is no coincidence that they all served something larger than themselves... Together.