In the 155 years since Confederation, most Canadians have rarely thought about national security. For the first 60 years after Confederation, we were protected by the British Empire. Then, in August 1938, United States President Franklin Roosevelt, during a visit to Kingston, Ontario, said, “I assure you that the people of the United States will not stand idly by if the domination of Canadian soil is threatened. Since then, our national security has been guaranteed by the United States.
It would be wise for Canadians to rethink this dependence on the United States. Since Donald Trump’s election to the White House in November 2016, we have seen a rise in right-wing extremism fueled by Trump’s irresponsible and sometimes dangerous rhetoric. We have seen massive unrest in cities across the United States as people protest against police violence against minorities. On January 6, 2021, we witnessed the infamous uprising as Trump supporters attempted to prevent election certification. Since then, the right-wing media and Trump have continued to “fan the flames” of fury and outrage. The majority of the Republican Party seems to tolerate this.
Why should we care, you may ask. We live in Canada after all. We need to be concerned about this, because violence can very easily spread across our borders. Prime Minister Lester Pearson knew this when he deployed Canadian troops to the border crossings between Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan during the Detroit Riots in July 1967. President Richard Nixon moved American troops to the border areas near Quebec during the October Crisis. of 1970. Both leaders knew that their primary duty was to protect their citizens and they took steps to achieve it.
The modern Republican Party is nothing like the party of decades past. This is not the party of Dwight Eisenhower, Nixon, Ronald Reagan, etc. This is a party that embraces violence, intolerance, disregards logic, reason and science (witness the horrific deaths in pandemic ‘red’ states) and opposes rights reproduction of women. These values upheld by the current Republican Party are totally foreign and repugnant to most Canadians. We also have to believe that the Republicans oppose most of the values that are dear to Canadians.
If the Republicans take control of Congress in November and the White House in 2024, it will mean Canada has a potentially hostile government across the border. We must prepare for it and do it immediately. What actions should we take?
We must first ensure that we can protect our borders. That means we have to make sure that we can mobilize enough military personnel and deploy them to any part of the border that is needed quickly. It will also require a change in military policy in Canada. Currently, army reserve units have very little ammunition available to them in their arsenals. In an emergency, ammunition would be brought to them from larger bases. This must change. We need to be able to mobilize our reserves and they can’t wait for enough ammunition to deploy to the border.
Next, we need to be able to show a potentially hostile Republican president that no threat will come to the United States via Canada. This means, for example, that we must have a modern, well-equipped air force that can destroy any threat entering Canadian airspace and heading towards the United States. No US president would hesitate to order US military forces into Canada if he felt Canada had failed to deal adequately with a crisis that could threaten the United States. We cannot give them any excuse to do so.
The current Republican Party is not a friend of Canada and could indeed threaten us if it regains power. This means that we must be prepared to keep a respectful distance and ensure that we can defend our people.