As the world prepares for the Toronto Men’s Fashion Week in August, there is one big question at hand: will the Canadian Military men get an invite? In a move that likely shocked top designers Hugo Boss and Tommy Hilfiger, the Harper government has decided to invest $4.5 million in new dress uniforms for the military. This means new wardrobes for a large portion of Canada’s almost 100 000 soldiers. The only thing left to wonder is if this was a good move, or a fabulous one?
If you’re the military commander in charge of budget recommendations, the changes might not be so pretty. In the latest budget, the Harper government committed to cut defence funds by billions in the vaguely defined future. Sure, these cuts are heavy, but they’re even heavier when you have to spend the remainder of the funds on new frocks, Crocs, and Reebok socks instead of tanks and pump-action shotguns. At this rate, the next time the Harper government calls on troops to join NATO in Eastern Europe, we might see some soldiers heading over with potato guns – but damn they’ll look sharp!
That said, we should realize that the Harper government isn’t really in power to please military commanders – at least, we hope that isn’t the case. They’re here to please the people. For us Canadian citizens, the uniform decision is a win-win. For the military advocates among us, the forces are revamping to honour historical military traditions while they continue to protect peace on the home front. For those in favour of disarmament, happiness is found in the fact that we’re spending money on new thread rather than new dead – every dollar spent on uniforms is one less dollar spent on weaponry.
It seems like this decision really is fabulous. Congratulations governm – wait… who could we have missed in this military budget decision? Surely not the individuals affected most, that is to say, the soldiers risking their lives when their government calls them into action.
Spending $4.5 million on new uniforms probably doesn’t help many of the military personnel and veterans who need support in their battles against mental illness, physical ailments, and housing challenges. These are real problems that “buy[ing] new jackets for […] formal events and on parades” just won’t fix. Perhaps refocusing the defence budget to address the military’s real concerns could improve the lives of many individuals who currently do not receive the attention they need. Perhaps it’s time we shift our attention away from just looking good to actually doing good, both from and for the members of our armed forces.