I recently hosted a forum in Arnprior as part of the ongoing Defence Policy Review Forum.

I would like to thank all the participants in today’s discussions. Their wide range of experience and knowledge led to a lively and insightful discussion on the purpose and future of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), public safety, and cybersecurity.

Veterans ranging from WWII, through to the War on Terrorism in Afghanistan, together with peacekeepers who served in a number of regions throughout the world participated. Also in attendance were leaders in education, and the commercial Internet Technology sector.

Participants felt the overarching goal and objective of the Canadian Armed Forces should be the protection on Canadians within our boarders, while upholding our NATO and NORAD commitments.

They see Arctic Defence as a gaping hole in our national security. We were reminded that the original Airborne Regiment, which was last stationed at Garrison Petawawa and disbanded by the Chretien Liberals in 1995, was stood up for this purpose.

Considerable concern was voiced over the liberal Government’s denial of the potential for Russian aggression in the Arctic, ignoring their repeated actions which are showing the threat to be real. Frustration over delays in providing the vessels needed to patrol these waters intensifies their worries.

The requirement for more personnel, equipment, and training for both the regular troops as well as the Reserves was strongly urged.

Veterans with experience in peacekeeping expressed their views that deploying CAF to UN peacekeeping missions is a waste of time.

When looking back at the current status of place CAF Peacekeepers served decades later, nothing has changed. Without the ability to order reinforcements as in Rwanda, even though a Canadian held the Top Command in theatre, there is nothing in our national interest to do so. Our legacy on peacekeeping is a corps of broken soldiers.

In regards to Canadian security, attendees agree that the future of Canada’s defence policy must recognize the growing importance and prominence cyber defence will play.

More comprehensive background checks at the recruitment level to screen out people with pre-existing anxiety issues to decrease the rate of PTSD was recommened. Furthermore, they believe Canada’s security agencies must be given access to the data they need without having the Charter thwarting their ability to keep our citizens safe.

I would like to extend special thanks to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 174 for providing the venue.

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