Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Amy Miller, "$490 Billion defense road map rollout, blacked out by media," The Dominion, September 8, 2008.

You would think something like a detailed road map of ‘the modernization of the Canadian forces’, at the big fancy 8th Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas (CDMA) would elicit some sort discussion or analysis from the Canadian media/ chattering class. At the conference, Peter Mackay began to spin links between the need to respond to ‘natural disasters’ and ‘security of the Olympics’ with armed security. The highlight of the conference was the release of Canada's 20-year, $490 billion “Canada First Defense Strategy,” [see comment] a detailed plan to modernize its armed forces and its military industry. McKay also signed a Memoranda of Understanding with his counterparts in Honduras, Guatemala and Bolivia, which falls under the Military Training Assistance Programme (MTAP). Yet hardly a boo, has been published about this week long conference, as the Republican convention in St Paul and the buzz around the soon to be announced election provided a nice blackout about things that were going on, that the media and lobbyist just aren't so interested in regular folks to know about.

So what do we know happened this week in the luxury resort of Banff where the delegates from 34 countries met under the theme of ‘Co-operation and Collaboration”?
According to CP Canadian Defense Minister and host of the conference, Peter MacKay addressed the crowd by stirring their shared belief that "Now more than ever, we are all connected and need to cooperate to achieve the security, democratic development, and prosperity we all desire”.

Mackay was quoted in CP as saying that “Ministers will discuss how to co-operate on providing armed security during natural disasters such as hurricanes or major national events like the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver”. (emphasis added)

US Defense Secretary Robert M. Iran Contra Affair Gates added his two cents to further this argument of ‘natural disaster and national events’ blending of security measures with "We have a collective dream: a free, prosperous and secure hemisphere. By working together, we can transform that dream into reality and embrace the great promise and potential of the Americas...... Sub-themes for this year's gathering include generating military assistance for regionally or nationally hosted events like the 2010 Winter Olympics in Canada and peacekeeping support in places like Haiti. CDMA's final communiqué may address the need to create a multi-nation disaster task force.” Gates also briefly mentioned the 'cooperation programs' of the very new Merida Initiative involving a U.S.-Mexico-Central America partnership which is suppose to fight drug-related violence, the Caribbean Community efforts to improve security on Caribbean waters, and the proposed South American Defense Council. The next meeting of the CDMA will be held in Bolivia in 2010.

We also know that the merging/collaboration of important economics-trade-military issues was discussed at the conference from an article by '', who wrote “Carlo Dade, executive director of the Canadian Foundation for the Americas in Ottawa, told that hemispheric military police relations are a subject of special interest to Canada."

This 'special interest' is important to same right wing lobbyist think tank that published the report last month called “Alberta Oil Sands: Sustainable Energy Security for the Americas?” which aptly ties in the need for military and economic cohesion between Canada and the US. "The oil sands hold the promise that both North and South America can rely on Alberta and its energy resources for decades to come, as trade within the Americas grows and Canadians become more fully integrated into pan-American economic and cultural streams." We can assume other important lobbyists were in attendance but exactly who is simply speculation without access to a list of the participants, but I am willing to guess that anyone with an interest in securing some of the contracts for the next few years, was there, starting with Lockheed Martin Canada.

The Canadian government didn’t waste any time in starting to put forward that $490 billion dollars, ‘Defense First Strategy’ as the Tories plan on giving a $1 Billion contract to upgrade the navy’s frigates to Lockheed Martin Canada this week, according to David Pugliese in his Sunday article published in the Ottawa citizen. As well the open secret Canadian mercenaries JTF2 will be moved to Trenton at a price tag of $300 million. Another $200 million will be used to revamp infrastructure in Trenton and another $140 million will be used to improve conditions at CFB Gagetown, N.B.

The Military industrial/corporate complex in Canada is happy this first week of electioneering that is for sure! As the rest of Canadians probably never heard about this conference, with the 500+ military and war makers in attendance, not much debate is expected.

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