When in doubt outsource your defence problems to a former imperial power:
At least two senior British officers already on exchange in Ottawa will be available to help the Liberal government and National Defence conduct a major review of the country's defence posture.
Lt.-Gen. Mark Poffley, deputy chief of the British general staff, said in an interview with The Canadian Press that the two nations are friends, with shared values and a shared outlook on the world.
"Canada, like every nation, will have to work out how it sees itself in the world and how it's going to play," he said.
Britain recently completed its own defence review and some of its lessons could be valuable to Canada, which has not refreshed its military marching orders since the Harper government's Canada First defence strategy in 2008.
What differs from previous review exercises is the pace of globalization, Poffley said.
The era in which both countries could enjoy a relative degree of isolation — either as an island nation or as country separated from turmoil by an ocean — is coming to an end, he said.
When exactly has Britain been in any real sense isolated? The country has spent its entire history within spitting distance of its various mortal enemies. On a reasonably clear day you can seen France from Kent. On a reasonably clear day the only country Canadians can see is the United States. For Britain "splendid isolation" is a deluded conceit. For Canadians it's the essence of our foreign policy. There is only one country that poses an existential threat to Canada, it also happens to be the one country that would never bother to threaten us. The phrase "attack Canada" is a punch line not a battle cry south of the 49th.
There is very little that Canada needs from outside the North American continent. As a practical matter we outsource our foreign policy to Washington - as one once did to London - and the consequences are essentially nothing. No one cares what we do or what we don't do. The whole of the Canadian military could be disbanded and much of the diplomatic corp put into abeyance and I doubt anyone would notice. We fight wars, sign international treaties and debate foreign policy questions as a matter of preference not necessity.
This is not a call for Canada to become an autarkic state. I'm simply establishing the context to understand why much of our defence and foreign policy is so utterly immature. Like a perpetual adolescence we are free from the consequences of our actions or inactions. We as nation face few serious problems and so refuse to act in a serious way. The Harper Years saw a brief respite of maturity on defence and foreign affairs questions. But it was only a respite. Our serious engagement with the world is a mile wide and an inch deep.
Canadians don't care about our foreign and defence policy. Outside of war time elections are not won or lost on Canada's role in the world. This democratic indifference allows both policy areas to become the hobby horses of the serving Prime Minister. From Pierre Trudeau's Peace Tour to Jean Chretien's slash and burn of the military, we have no long term interests or goals that might act as a counter weight to political whim-worshiping. On Monday the PMO wants a robust military. On Tuesday we're a nation of peacekeepers again. On Wednesday the budget must be balances on the backs of our armed forces. The rest of the week is dedicated to photo-ops.
We are a bubble nation and so act accordingly. Inevitably the bubble will burst and how little prepared we will be.