Mr. Harper's plan for the militarization of Canada is based upon the false premise that, "If a country wants to be taken seriously by the rest of the world, it needs to have the capacity to act [militarily]. It's just that simple."
Although Conservatives are constitutionally incapable of admitting it, Canada wielded considerable positive influence in the world through the Liberals' use of "soft power" - setting a good example and moral suasion. Using those tools, Canada was highly instrumental in creating the Land Mines Treaty and the International Criminal Court, two major steps towards a safer and more civil planet. The Liberals' support of the Kyoto Protocol was also a positive contribution, although it was tainted by their failure to do much about implementing it. For decades, Canadians held a high reputation in the eyes of most of the world, to the extent that Americans travelling abroad often carried Canadian flags in an effort to show that they were good guys.
However, although most of the planet, including many Americans, admired and respected Canada, the American government and the American military did not. I am sure that Canadian officers who participated in joint commands with the US military felt like younger siblings, and of course the Conservative chattering classes (who perceive that Canada's manifest destiny is amalgamation into the USA) were appalled that Canada was defying Uncle Sam by enhancing international law rather than blindly following him in his myriad military adventures.
Those who long for the moment when Canada merges into the USA deny Canada's 40 year tradition as a peace keeper. They ceaselessly point to Canada's heroic role in WW II and claim that fighting, not peace keeping, is our true tradition. They ignore 40 years of history, and they do not recognize that the world has changed a lot since 1945.
In the last 60 years or so great strides have been made in the mass destruction game, such that open warfare between major powers is now truly unthinkable. The kind of strife that persists in the world stems mainly from two causes: (1) the ongoing resentments stemming from the old colonial era, and especially its principle of divide to rule, and (2) the resentments stemming from the new colonial era, where power has been wielded more by the (waning) fiscal power of the Bretton Woods institutions than by force of arms. For many years the "Washington Consensus," enforced by the IMF and World Bank has permitted the G-8 and especially the US to keep many countries in poverty and want while they send their produce and resources to the G-8 and their closest allies.
In a world where the human footprint has become so large that many resources such as oil and the biosphere's capacity to cope with CO2 and other industrial byproducts are growing scarce, we have two choices. We can either try to live behind razor wire in vast gated communities, pouring all our economic surplus into guns and soldiers, or we can do our honest best to reduce global inequity and foster global peace.
Since the 1980's, the US has chosen the former path, culminating in the rule of George Bush, who has alienated most of the world's governments and plunged both the American people and the nation into unprecedented debt, so that the USA can function only by constant cash infusions from its rivals, especially China and Japan.
Canada has vacillated, and too often knuckled under to pressure from south of the border, but we have generally adopted the rhetoric and often the reality of trying to foster equity and peace rather than providing more guns and razor wire. It is ironic that the Conservatives are seeking to tie Canada to the Uncle Sam's coattails just when the American Empire is clearly in decline, up to its eyeballs in debt and unable to manufacture much of anything except military hardware!
The US military-industrial-corporate complex now has a tentacle in almost every congressional constituency and it is the only flourishing part of the US economy. It appears that Mr. Harper is determined to reduce Canada to the same condition.
Canadians face a stark choice: either adopting Mr. Harper's no-longer-hidden US-inspired military industrial agenda, or reclaiming our role as a vital and largely independent voice for peace, equity, and sanity in the world.