CAF = “Convening” Armed Forces

By Procrustes, 17 March 2022

Every so often, Canada’s political mis-leaders reveal, in their quaintly innocent, progressive way, just how naive they are about world affairs and about the role of armed forces. The most recent example came in the form of Foreign Minister Melanie Joly’s remarks in an interview concerning Ukraine’s President Zelensky’s plea for Canada to do more to help his besieged country.

Ms Joly said that “Canada has played its role” but that Canada would continue to work with other G7 partners about the crisis in Ukraine.

To do what, you ask? Here, in words harking back to former Prime Minister Chretien’s off microphone musings that Canadians liked to think of their military as ‘boy scouts,’ Ms Joly admitted publicly that Canada “ not a nuclear power, it’s not a military power, we’re a middle-sized power, and what we’re good at is convening, and making sure that diplomacy is happening, and meanwhile convincing other countries to do more.”1

This public admission that our government accepts its status as an impotent military power and sees its role as cajoling other states to deal with serious military crises is a slur on those Canadians who have fought in two world wars, Korea, and Afghanistan and who have served with honour on many, often dangerous, international peacekeeping missions. Moreover, it should be repugnant to most Canadians that our government sees its primary role in the world as cheering on others from the sidelines.

Finally, this confession makes a mockery of our Minister of National Defence’s recent musings that she is contemplating “aggressive options” to increase Canada’s military spending. What will this increased spending be used for? Bigger and more frequent “convenings” while other states are exhorted to do all the real work?

I wonder what these folks would do if confronted with an active Russian or Chinese military presence in Canada’s high Arctic? Can we be sure that other states would heed our call for a “convening”?

  1. Bryan Passifiume, “Joly’s ‘what we’re good at is convening’ comments sell Canadian military short, generals say,”, (16 March 2022). Accessed at:

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