April 08, 2016 - 2:42 PM
HARJIT SAJJAN'S SPEECH DRAWS A FULL HOUSE
KELOWNA - Canada’s defense minister Harjit Sajjan was in Kelowna this afternoon speaking to a rapt audience from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
Sajjan has enjoyed close to rock star status since taking over the defense portfolio and he showed why, with a straight-forward speech centred mainly on what he says is a long overdue national defense review announced two days ago.
“This government is recognizing the importance of a well-equipped military with a wide range of capabilities,” Sajjan declared, pointing to the national ship building strategy that will see navy ships constructed on both coasts.
He says his mandate from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rests on three points; ensuring the country has a well-equipped, action-ready armed forces and developing a new defense policy while taking care of individual members of the military.
“We have already begun to address those needs,” he says. “My job is simply to serve all our men and women in uniform. If I serve them, our national defense capacity will be served very well.”
Sajjan touched directly on the ongoing efforts to combat sexual harrassment of female military members and deal with the crippling effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“As a former solider, I know the success of any mission depends on having healthy, trained and motivated personnel,” he says. “As a father I want to ensure that Canada’s sons and daughters belong to an organization which offers a safe workplace free from harrassment and discrimination."
The defense minister also touched on the ill-starred F35 replacement program started under the previous Conservative government.
“The F-18 replacement program is on a separate track to the defense review,” Sajjit says. “These are highly complex procurement projects but I will admit some of the complexity we created on our own.”
Sajjan says support for Canada's military includes built-in budget increases for the military starting with two per cent or $360 million this year and three per cent the year after.
Harjit Sajjan is a former solider and police officer raised in Vancouver.
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