Canada is blessed with abundant natural resources, a diverse, law-abiding and peaceful population, and a quality of life that consistently ranks among the best. Canadians have a deep sense of security thanks to Canada’s enviable geography, its three oceans and the presence of a friendly and neighboring great power, which helps avoid the security problems that unfortunately plague many nations.

However, Canada does not exist in a bubble. Its security and prosperity are guaranteed only through collective security agreements and systems of defense that work only if countries uphold the ideals of the UN Charter, abide by an international system of rules and abide by laws, treaties and agreements.

Canada’s security and freedoms cannot be taken for granted. With more than 100,000 dead in the great wars of the 20th century, Canada must be ready and willing to use all elements of national power, including military force, to deter adversaries and defend its territory, vital resources and its national power, where and when they are threatened.

With this imperative comes the responsibility to share the burden of these efforts with the United States in North America, NATO allies in Europe, and all other nations on the planet who share the same ideals as us. Canada is fortunate to have close and productive relationships with many allies, but even our important relationships with the Five Eyes nations require that we invest enough to earn our place at the table.

Years of cutbacks, cost cutting, downsizing and postponement of investments have led to an atrophy of Canada’s defense capabilities. Our military capabilities are outdated and woefully inadequate to protect our landmass and our maritime spaces. Nor have we contributed significantly to burden sharing for the collective defense and security of our allies and partners.

As we witness the horrific events unfolding in Ukraine and follow current tensions between the United States and China, Canadians may not feel directly threatened. This is understandable. Elected governments focus their attention on other issues – jobs, health, education, the environment and public safety. Nevertheless, focusing on these important internal issues should not come at the expense of sufficient investments in national security and defence.

Unfortunately, the recent federal budget has largely been a summary of previous announcements, failing to recognize that the government must accelerate spending programs and release significant additional funds to address long-standing deficits in military capability and readiness. .

For several decades, governments have made repeated announcements and commitments to strengthen national defense through policies such as the Canada First Defense Strategy (CFDS) and the Strong Secure Engaged (SSE) initiative. Recent announcements by Defense Minister Anita Anand on acquiring replacements for the 40-year-old CF-18 fleet and modernizing NORAD are steps in the right direction.

The next defense policy update is overdue and comes at a time of great peril to global peace and security, given the threats posed by China and Russia. Russia’s brutal war of aggression in Ukraine, the first major conflict in Europe since the Second World War, together with the continued expansion of the military arsenals of authoritarian regimes prepared to use force to carry out their revenge policies should have led to a major reassessment of our defensive posture.

Canada cannot afford to continue business as usual. We urge Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet to take the lead and act with a sense of urgency to fulfill the NATO Secretary General’s call to treat the 2% of GDP target as a floor and not a spending cap.

The government must expedite timelines and complete the critical work needed to address the poor state of our nation’s defense capabilities and preparedness. Provided it was properly explained, we believe this could be achieved on a non-partisan basis and with broad public support.

There is no greater responsibility for the federal government than to protect Canadians against all threats, whether foreign or internal. Now is the time to fully honor the commitments we have made to our allies and partners by sharing the burden of collective security, which is essential to preserving our peace, our prosperity and our way of life.