It’s time to shore up the Northern Canadian D-Line
By: Tim Cusack
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 02, 2013 06:00 am
With autumn’s glorious colours comes the start of our nation’s favourite obsession: NHL hockey. Last night the Oiler faithful turned out in full force sporting team jerseys, toques and caps to hail newly minted captain Andrew Ference who leads the charge this season as the Oilers strive to defend home ice and break the ice in opposing rinks.
The official start of the regular season is exciting and full of promise. The Canadian anthem resonates in Rexall, “The true north strong and free.” Whenever I hear those particular words, my thoughts for some mysterious reason, and only for a moment, are whisked away to some remote northern island in the Canadian Arctic. I find myself wondering if our true north is truly protected?
As a naval officer, I have always appreciated the fact that Canada is a maritime nation. We depend on a commerce system that consists predominantly of export and import that is conveyed by ships. In protecting our seaways and economic exclusion zones, we safeguard the goods that we rely on for our day to day subsistence and our way of life.
An interesting parallel is drawn from hockey (any sport really) as to how we rely on a team effort to defend and protect our common interests. Without adequate surveillance from wingers and strong coverage on the D-line, it becomes easy for an opposing team to infiltrate, interfere, and disrupt. Simply put, no one wants to be scored on! On the contrary, we want to be vigilant, diligent, and take the game to the other end of the rink. We need to be prepared.
Our navy, coast guard and other government departments do just that. Collectively they maintain a maritime picture that monitors, and when necessary interdicts suspicious sea traffic. Considering the vast coast line and territorial waters we have to cover, this is a massive undertaking that can never be taken lightly. It is a task that requires considerable assets and resources to maintain. The “true north strong and free” should not simply be a few words we sing at a hockey game. It should be a call to action for every citizen to heed. It is a call that demands attention, education and collaboration in addressing. Recent exercises in the far north and government efforts to raise the profile of our claim to sovereignty of northern sea routes are what is needed to show the world that the resources of the Canadian north are ours. There is still more we need to do though; sooner than later.
With the call for a new class of robust icebreakers and to need to build additional naval vessels and aircraft, comes the response that Canadians should be aware that the cost of procuring these assets is what is needed on our D-line. Spending money up front will go a very long way in defending our interests and our way of life from sea to sea to sea.
Other nations are very interested in exploiting northern resources. The one thing they must never exploit is our defence. For Canada to maintain sovereignty of our sea-lanes and waterways, all citizens, especially those of us who are land-locked, must remember that many of the items on our grocery shelves and in the stores comes to us via sea.
In supporting our Canadian Forces we ultimately support our way of life, our freedom. Let’s never take that for granted. The Esks on the other hand could use an icebreaker to help them exert their sovereignty on the gridiron!
Tim Cusack is an educator, writer and member of the Naval Reserve.