I'm posting this because: 1) I just know nobody else will, and 2) it's important.
There are two military exercises underway in the Arctic right now. Putin decided to stage his polar war follies and the West hastily responded.
The Russians are putting on the whole land/sea/air package in Siberia and elsewhere in their north. Our side is staging air exercises, perhaps to show Putin we're ready and willing on short notice to push back if the Moscow strongman gets uppity.
Ready and willing, eh? Well not entirely.
We've got an impressive coalition (isn't that what we call these things now) comprising NATO stalwarts - America, Germany, Britain, France, Norway and the Netherlands. Sweden, Finland and even Switzerland are lending their aerial muscle also. We're showing Putin that he'll not run roughshod over the Arctic on our watch.
Impressive as our coalition may be, there's one country missing and it just happens to be the nation that has far more Arctic coastline than any other. That's right, the no-show is Canada.
Why? Good question. Who's asking? Is Mulcair asking? How about Junior? No, apparently not.
Yet it's a question that has enormous significance. Are we the glaring no show for some reason? Is it because, with our air deployments to Latvia and Kuwait, we're tapped out? That's my guess. I think we're running on empty, simply unable to muster the extra fighters and refueling tankers and support aircraft to join our allies in the collective defence of our True North.
This is on Harper's shoulders and his alone. Putin is wasting no time re-militarizing the Arctic. He's pressing claims to the Arctic seabed and he's very aggressive about it. There are some important people in Moscow who have said that Russia should ignore the niceties of international law and just take whatever it wants on the Arctic sea floor. We'd be reduced to Polar Palestinians.
Even China has stated that it has legitimate claims to Arctic resources and China is building the largest non-nuclear ice-breakers in the world and they're armed.
Canada has the most at stake, the most to lose. As Putin has shown elsewhere - Georgia/Ossetia, Ukraine - if he considers Russia has a claim, he's not adverse to simply taking it by force. When you're in a pissing match with Vlad Putin, military weakness is like blood in the water to a bull shark.
Harper has cut Canada's defence budget to barely 1% of GDP at the same time as the armed forces are running out of kit. The army's gear is clapped out after a decade of pseudo-war waging in Afghanistan. The navy has no anti-aircraft destroyers, no replenishment ships and an antiquated submarine force that's unfit to sail into combat. As a result, Canada's navy is in a degraded condition that hasn't been seen since prior to WWII. We can't deploy a single task force to defend even one of our three coasts. The air force? They're skint too. If he had his way, Harper would buy the F-35 light attack bomber in small numbers that would be hopelessly unsuited to defending Canada's vast and now imperilled far north.
When it comes to the rough and tumble quest for Arctic resources, Canada is the prime target. And, thanks to Harper, we stand empty-handed. Even neutral Switzerland is willing to take part in Arctic defence exercises. We're not. That speaks volumes.
Remember that old saw about he who would have peace must prepare for war? Maybe Justin and Tommy are oblivious to what's going on. I know one guy who isn't.
All of which reminds me of another point that we overlook at our peril. The Norwegians, the Finns and even the Brits have reported the intrusion of what are believed to be Russian submarines in their home waters. The Brits even detected subs in the approaches to their own nuclear submarine base at Faslane, Scotland. Meanwhile many NATO states are reporting surveillance flights by Russian warplanes nearing their own national airspace.
Curiously, given that we're Putin's prime target for his Arctic seabed resource ambitions, we've heard nothing about similar Russian activities in our territorial waters or at the fringes of our airspace. Does that mean they're not happening, that there's nothing to report? Are our frontiers secure?
Here's the problem. Harperland is a place of total information lockdown. The public service, even the armed forces are gagged. We hear from them precisely as much or as little as Harper's Stalinist PMO wants us to hear.
If, for example, our armed forces did detect the presence of unidentified submarines in our waters, we will know nothing of it unless it serves Steve's political purposes that we should know of it and, even then, the information is likely to be tailored or incomplete or in any of several ways unreliable.
When Steve is slashing defence spending in pursuit of a Potemkin 'balanced budget' it stands to reason that the last thing he'd want on voters' minds would be threats or challenges to our national sovereignty. I'd wager Putin could sail his entire sub fleet into Hudson Bay and we'd never hear a word about it.
That's a government that uses information control, secrecy and deception as a weapon against its own people - you and me.