More Plain Speaking from Vice-Admiral (ret’d) Mark Norman

By Dan Middlemiss, 14 March 2023

Addressing a major defence conference last week, retired Vice-Admiral Mark Norman decried the failure of all Canadians to take their own defence seriously. Here are a few excerpts from his presentation (found at

“We are not taking defence and security seriously in this country and our way of life is in jeopardy as a result.”

“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.... Canada ... 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.”

“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.”

As a former Minister of National Defence succinctly put in his introduction to the 1994 White Paper on Defence, “The primary obligation of the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces is to protect the country and its citizens from challenges to their security. In the final analysis, a nation not worth defending is a nation not worth preserving.”


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