This past weekend both my daughter and I celebrated our birthdays. The teenagers staged an elaborate version of the Hunger Games in the Ontario countryside (water guns and nerf arrows, no knives), while the grownups sipped wine and tried to ignore their newsfeeds. This was a futile endeavour. Between the Wagner Group’s aborted march on Moscow, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alighting in Iceland for a meeting of Nordic leaders, and Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly talking foreign policy on CTV, the news kept intruding, to the point where Suzanne Collins’ dystopian novel seemed an apt metaphor for the current state of the world.
Quite simply, authoritarianism is on the rise, and our government is asleep at the switch. Starting in 2017, Iran viciously cracked down on pro-democracy protesters. China expunged any semblance of human rights and freedoms in Hong Kong and held two Canadians prisoner for over 1,000 days. And then Putin decided to march on Kyiv — a bloody war that has dragged on with no end in sight.
We know that these and other foreign governments have attempted to undermine Canada’s institutions and national security. But for eight years, the federal government did little to counter — or even acknowledge — mounting threats to Canadian sovereignty at home and abroad. Our Arctic remains woefully undefended; our air force won’t fully replace its aging fleet until 2032, and Russian hackers are targeting our oil and gas industry in cyberspace.