Two years ago historian Jack Granatstein produced the sort of book that should cap a scholarly career. Canada’s Army was a stunning overview of its subject, comprehensive without being dense. Exactly what you’d want from an engaged scholar. His new Who Killed the Canadian Military? is the identical opposite: a stunning monograph, short without being sketchy. Exactly what you’d want from a scholar who’s engaged. Including the cover, a recruiting poster pointing directly at the reader.
The book elegantly starts nearly every chapter with “Who killed the Canadian military?” And the answer comes back relentlessly: “Lester B. Pearson – inadvertently …” “John Diefenbaker …” “Paul Hellyer …” “Pierre Trudeau …” “Brian Mulroney …” And then “Who finished off the Canadian Forces? Jean Chrétien did.” But don’t think you’re off the hook.
The book is full of blunt truths on subjects from UN incompetence to quotas to the enduring differences of opinion between francophones and anglophones on defence. But its bluntest is: “the real killers of the Canadian Forces were you and I, the Canadian people. The military scarcely interested us … We assumed that we were safe, our territory inviolable, and we believed ultimately that the Americans would protect us. So you and I elected our politicians, and we told them … we wanted health care, culture, better pensions, and a thousand other programs … These are all good things … But Canada is a rich country, and we could have had both a strong military and the social services we want.” There is no escape. “Who killed the Canadian military? We all did.” Continue Reading →
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