In today’s National Post, Douglas Bland, in his article "Gordon O’Connor: A distinguished defence minister", reviews the upside:
Damian Brooks over at ‘The Torch’, offered a more mixed review, pointing to Mr. O’Connor’s poor performance in handling the external politics, the media and the message to the public.
By any criteria that matters to Canada's national defence, Gordon O'Connor's brief time in office was an outstanding success. In less than two years, he reversed more than 10 years of Liberal neglect of the defence policy and the Canadian Forces.
He wrote the ... defence platform ... guided it through a defence establishment that at times fought vigorously against it. He wrestled a commitment of $20-billion for new military equipment to rebuild the Canadian Forces from Cabinet and a reluctant Finance Department bureaucracy.
On Aug 10th the first of four new Canadian CC177 heavy-lift aircraft landed in Canada ... It would have been noteworthy if Mr. O'Connor had only forced the notoriously dysfunctional defence procurement system to consider buying such major new equipment. The fact that he has the aircraft ready to fly operational missions in a mere 18 months is remarkable.
New artillery weapons, drones and armoured vehicles are today in the field protecting Canadian soldiers.
Medium lift aircraft and helicopters are about to be ordered.
Most astonishing of all, a new fleet of the most modern tanks are on the way to Canada, a country usually allergic to the very idea of owning such a "war-like" capability.
Granted, the government’s communications strategy on Afghanistan often seemed somewhere between non-existent and seriously flawed. But in my opinion, that can’t be blamed entirely on O’Connor. Everyone, including the PM, the PMO, the ministries of external affairs and international development, among others, had a role to play in that failure.