Protests over DND recruitment based on ignorance and fear-mongering

The recent protests carried out by a group of students from the University of Toronto in response too Department of National Defence (DND) information session for master’s and PhD students interested in a prospective career as policy analysts were absolutely irrational and uncalled for.

Students have been circulating a petition to the U of T administration calling for the campus to be a “military-free zone,” shamelessly denigrating the important role that these employees of the federal government involved in national defence have in Canadian society. While freedom of speech and political activism are values that ought to always be championed, it is unethical for them to be abused by groups of ideologues who misrepresent facts in order to pursue their own agenda.

It is unacceptable for student movements that seek to completely remove any presence of the Canadian Forces or the DND at universities to use slanderous rhetoric that portrays these public servants as being on par with vicious killers and criminals. 

Much of the reasoning behind these sorts of movements can be traced to an apparent ignorance of the military and national defence. First of all, it is necessary to understand that the DND and the Canadian Forces are two distinct entities; the Department of National Defence being a civilian department concerned with national defence and the Canadian Forces being the armed institution of the federal government. 

The policy analyst profession that was being advertised by the DND is held by highly educated civilians with graduate degrees who contribute to the knowledge base of our nation’s defence through research and informational analysis, not as a soldier of the armed forces in a battlefield. 

It is evident that an ignorant misconception that is widely held among such groups is such that all members of the Canadian Forces are employed in a combat arms role. They fail to recognize that there is more to a military than soldiers on the ground.

A state military is such that it requires the staffing of occupations that absolutely cannot be practiced without post-secondary education, such as engineers, doctors and lawyers as well as knowledge-based occupations like administrative personnel, intelligence analysts and scientists.

Military personnel come to university campuses to offer a respectable career option to future professionals, not to lure young men and women into violent and dangerous adventures. In addition to there being both a civilian and a military dimension of national defence, both of which being essential to national security, the Canadian Forces also fulfill an imperative duty needed of any country to have an armed capability.

It is incumbent upon these individuals to look beyond the bubble of freedom and security for which so many have died throughout our history. They must realize that although we should always advocate for peace, we do not live in a perfect world without external threats. When the security of our country is legitimately jeopardized, it is necessary for the vital institution of the military to defend it.

What needs to be understood by those who oppose the deployment of our armed forces is that the institution of the military is not an autonomous actor and is legally obligated to act upon the orders of the government of the day.

If these groups have a problem with the way in which the military is being used, they need to take their issues to those holding political office rather than the neutral public servants our society trusts to act as an extension of public policy in our democracy.

Those that mindlessly seek to create a “military-free zone” on campus should take the time to actually engage in dialogue and properly educate themselves about the nature of national defence in Canada rather than acting on misrepresentative ideological propaganda.

They should realize that those holding careers in the defence department are in fact individuals of respectable integrity and decency who have selflessly dedicated themselves to a life of public service to their country.