2011 Liberal Party election platform

Moderator’s Note:  This material is provided by .  It is from a document entitled Your Family. Your Future. Your Canada., which is available at this URL:

The Modern Canadian Military
The Canadian Forces do extraordinary work around the world, as well as defending our security and sovereignty at home, undertaking search and rescue operations, and responding to civilian emergencies. The Forces ably serve Canada in our major alliances, NATO and NORAD, safeguarding peace and security and fighting terrorism. After years serving bravely and effectively in Afghanistan, Canada’s military is an experienced, battle-hardened force, respected internationally. That force will be indispensable to a renewed concept of Canada’s role in the world.

A Return to Peace Operations
In 2009, the United Nations deployed more peacekeepers than ever before – five times the number of ten years ago – with almost 100,000 military and police personnel in 15 UN missions around the globe. Yet, while the number and the need for UN peacekeepers has never been greater, Canada’s contribution has never been smaller. While we were once the world’s single greatest contributor of UN peacekeepers, in 2009 we were 56th.

Traditional peacekeeping has changed significantly since Canada vacated the field. Increasingly, deployments are undertaken to more complex and often dangerous situations, better described as peace-making missions. These increasingly involve combat. Based on the hard-earned experience in Afghanistan, a Liberal government will develop a new leadership role for Canada in today’s peace operations. It will include training, commanding and deploying personnel where it’s clear that a mission is consistent with Canada’s interests, values and capabilities. And while at present only a small fraction of Canada’s defence budget is dedicated to the incremental cost of United Nations operations, Liberals will ensure that the Canadian Forces have the resources they need to engage in additional Peace Operations. .

Responsibility to Protect
Under the umbrella of Peace, Order and Good Government, the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) will provide a rigorous framework for renewed Canadian leadership in preventing and addressing conflict and mass-scale human rights abuse. Michael Ignatieff played a key role in developing R2P, as part of the Canadian- initiated, and UN-endorsed, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. The doctrine emphasizes that sovereign states have an obligation to protect their citizens from harm, and when they do not, the international community must make every possible diplomatic effort to persuade them to do so. When a sovereign state will not or cannot protect its people, R2P requires intervention of the international community, including military intervention as a last resort, in UN-mandated operations to stop large-scale loss of innocent lives, such as in genocide or ethnic cleansing. R2P was formally adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, with strong Canadian leadership. Since then, the Harper government has hardly mentioned it.

Canada could have advocated R2P – from a seat on the UN Security Council – to help advance a coherent international response to the violence in Libya, for example. A Liberal government will work with the international community to solidify the doctrine’s acceptance and implementation. This does not mean Canada will be obliged to intervene in conflicts wherever they occur. It means that Canada will renew its leadership in conflict prevention, and that when the world must act to stop large-scale slaughter of innocent people, Canada will be able to contribute with military capacity experienced in the complexities of modern conflict.

The Future of Our Engagement in Afghanistan
Canada’s role with NATO in Afghanistan supports security and development in a troubled land previously governed by a repressive Taliban regime, which provided safe haven to Al-Qaeda to plot the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. More than 150 Canadian men and women have lost their lives, and many more face disabilities. The mission has been an honourable one in our national interest. Afghanistan must not revert to being a safe haven for terrorists. The combat mission is ending in 2011. However, the basic objective will not be completed. The Afghan people will still not be fully able to govern themselves and maintain their own security. That is why the Liberal Party supports the 2011-2014 training mission, and continued development work. The purpose is to help the Afghan people build a better future for themselves. The post-combat presence for Canada must also include a substantive role in the diplomatic process and any political talks on Afghanistan’s future. A Liberal government will appoint a Special Envoy to the peace process for the region.

Respect for Canada’s Veterans
Canadian veterans deserve the best possible care and support, and an administrative structure mandated and organized to meet their needs in accordance with the lifelong social contract between the veteran and the nation. The New Veterans Charter has provided our veterans with many valuable tools to reintegrate into civilian life, but it’s not perfect. Veterans groups, advisory groups, Senate and House committees and individual injured veterans and their families, from the regulars and the reserves, have identified ways to the make the Charter more fair, responsive, family-focused, and veteran-friendly. A Liberal government will work with these groups to implement significant improvements, including re-visiting whether the disability award should continue to be a lump-sum payment. A Liberal government will also implement a new Veterans’ Learning Benefit, supporting the costs of higher education after completion of service.

Strengthening Bilingual Learning in the Canadian Forces
Bilingualism is among the many attributes that enable the Canadian Forces to both serve and reflect our country with pride and professionalism. The same is true of their emphasis on knowledge and learning. A renewed commitment to bilingual learning is now required. College Militaire Royal de St-Jean (CMRSJ) has played an important role through various phases of its history.

A Liberal government will invest in CMRSJ to restore it to full university status. This will add needed capacity for educating the next generation of officers within the military system, complementing RMC Kingston, which is operating at full capacity. CMRSJ will build on its traditional strength in the liberal arts, which become more important in military education as modern conflict grows more complex, and more entangled with socio-political dynamics playing out beneath the level of traditional state-to-state clashes. Most importantly, the francophone milieu of CMRSJ will help attract motivated young francophones to the Canadian Forces, and offer Anglophone officer-students enhanced opportunities to master their second official language while advancing their studies in the RMC system.

Military Procurement
A Liberal government will have a very different vision of Canada’s role in the world. Naturally, the entire procurement programme in the Department of National Defence will have to be reviewed in the context of that changing role. A well-resourced military will be essential under a Liberal government. Procurement decisions will flow from mission needs in a straightforward and transparent manner. They also need to secure the best value for money and industrial benefits.

A Liberal government will immediately cancel the mismanaged $30 billion sole-source deal for F-35 stealth fighter jets, and save billions of dollars. In the largest procurement in Canadian history, the Harper government never explained why that plane is essential at this time. It still cannot say what the actual price will be, and secured no guarantee for industrial benefits. Other countries, including the United States, are scaling back orders for an aircraft still under development, but the Conservatives charged ahead, despite the facts.

There is a more responsible way to proceed. After cancelling the Harper deal, a Liberal government will put further steps on hold during a review of all military procurement in light of the new international policy described in this Global Networks Strategy. This review will include Canada’s search and rescue requirements as well as the needs of our air, naval and land forces. When Canada purchases new fighter planes, we will have a transparent, competitive process to procure equipment that best meets our needs, achieves best value for money, secures maximum industrial benefits, and fits a realistic budget.

Renewing Federal Government Capacity
Carrying out the federal government’s work under the Global Networks Strategy will require revitalized public service capacity. Five years of neglect and mismanagement of Canada’s diplomatic corps, Trade Commissioner Service, embassies and international capacity across the government must be corrected.

For the Department of National Defence, the story has been somewhat different. Since 2005-06, as a result of both Liberal and Conservative budget decisions, Canada’s defence spending has risen nearly 50 percent and is set to continue growing even after the combat mission in Afghanistan has concluded. Liberals support the recent investments in the Canadian Forces, but the trajectory for future years must be re-evaluated. A properly-resourced military is essential to our sovereignty and our constructive role in the world, but is not sufficient on its own. The government reports that the annual incremental cost of the combat mission in Afghanistan is nearly $1.7 billion. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has reported that the incremental costs are even higher than what’s been disclosed. The incremental cost of the 2011-2014 training mission will reportedly be $500 million annually. That leaves more than $1 billion to be reallocated by a Liberal government in a balanced manner across the full spectrum of defence, development and diplomacy. This change will free up resources to reinvigorate other international capacities across the federal system, better reflecting the full range of integrated functions and forward-looking engagement that define this Global Networks Strategy.