Monday, August 20, 2007

Gordon O’Connor’s remarkable legacy

If all you had to go on was opposition criticism and day-to-day MSM coverage of defence issues, you would probably conclude that Gordon O’Connor was pretty much a flop as Minister of Defence. But if you were to take a closer look at his list of accomplishments during a very short tenure you could come to a much different conclusion.

In today’s National Post, Douglas Bland, in his article "Gordon O’Connor: A distinguished defence minister", reviews the upside:

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.

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.

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.

3 comments:

softtalk said...

I hope McKay starts giving examples of the good being done in Afghanistan. I don't understand why the government is not pushing these facts.
They are playing a defensive game in Canada. Stop letting the left set the agenda for the debate. I think approval ratings would go up if Canadians saw more about Afghanistan than dead soldiers and Jack.

Babbling Brooks said...

Everyone, including the PM, the PMO, the ministries of external affairs and international development, among others, had a role to play in that failure.

Too true, and well said.

Of course, that doesn't excuse O'Connor's performance, just puts it into context.

JR said...

Softtalk,BB -
Agree. One hopes MacKay was appointed to go on the offensive and actively promote the mission. I have my doubts but we'll soon see.