February 26, 2014
It was an uncomfortable moment. People cringed when they heard her say it. But, looking back, she was absolutely right.
It happened quite a few years ago now, just as the big defence budget increases started kicking in after the 2005 federal budget—the budget that brought in the largest five-year defence spending increases “in a generation,” as the defence minister of the day described it.
A Canadian senator who was well known for his vocal defence of the Canadian Forces was addressing a seminar at a downtown Ottawa hotel. The event was organized by an advocacy group run by retired military brass, and the ballroom was filled with defence department officials, right-leaning academics, military contractors and lobbyists. It was a friendly crowd.
“Who thinks the military needs more money?” the senator asked, leaning into the podium. Some hands went up, but not as many and certainly not as enthusiastically as he had hoped. Sounding frustrated, he devoted the rest of his speech to urging pro-defence groups to be much more vocal in calling for more money for the military…