I had the privilege of watching people question my MP today, it was a wonderful exhibition of democracy. They were asking tough questions about the Joint Strike Fighter. I don't really know a lot about the particulars of the program, but it seemed clear they probably didn't want Canada to make this investment.
As a veteran, I'm tickled to see citizens asking tough questions of their elected officials, and even more tickled to see a good election that is hard fought. It is, I suppose, the very essence of what I signed up to defend when I joined the Army. Later in the day, as my mind wandered back to that chance encounter, I was reminded of some of the memories of my own time in the Army.
There are a lot of good memories and I had a lot of friends. Unfortunately, some of them died because they didn't have the best possible equipment. Any Army veteran will tell you how much they appreciate the other branches of the forces because they comprise a team. I, for one, will always stand ready to pay a few dollars more, by way of taxes, in order to make sure our forces have the best possible equipment before sending them into battle. What's the price of about one cup of coffee a year compared to the life of one of my fellow citizens who is out there fighting for me?
Sometimes people get lost in debates of national policy. But consider for a moment, that it is a very different matter for a politician to send their military into harm's way than it is to actually draw weapons, lace up combat boots, and head off to actually fight. Soldiers don't make policy, they simply follow orders. It is right, then, to see our citizens question politicians about these matters. And no matter what we as individuals might think about one policy or another, it is the fact that we can have public debate upon such policies that makes our society great... that's what I think.
One more thing, and I don't think a lot of people know this. The person who least wants a war is the person who will actually have to go and fight it. Military personnel want peace, perhaps even more than most, simply because it will be their lives on the line when the shooting starts and not the lives of those who debate and vote.
Together, as a nation, we form one big family. Isn't it our sacred duty to treat each other with respect and dignity? I did have the presence of mind to say that I wish, from the bottom of my heart, that no nations would ever fight and that there would be no need for war or military spending. But until the day arrives that all nations can agree to disarm and do exactly that, I am not prepared to allow my country to be weak.