WATCH: Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan weighs in on the state of the Canadian Military
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was in Vancouver today to mark Remembrance Day, and dropped into the studio for an interview with Steele & Drex.
On a day when Canadians are honouring their fallen veterans, Sajjan admits there’s a ways to go when it comes to supporting this generation’s soldiers.
He says his ministry is working towards its “zero suicide policy,” as he undertakes a defence policy review that could reshape the look and role of the military, and that it’s something he discusses regularly with the Chief of Defence Staff. But he says change won’t happen overnight.
“One key component that will always be there is welfare and caring of our troops, in trying to prevent any situations like this and also stay flexible enough because not one solution is going to be suited for the long term,” he says.
Sajjan says the Forces are trying to learn from experience, and are recognizing that some programs work better for some people than others and that there can’t be a one-size fits all solution.
Freshly returned from Mali, he also touched on the future of Canada’s Armed Forces – who have just committed to a three-year deployment to Africa; a new look mission that will break in important ways from our traditional role as peacekeepers.
Sajjan says the key is going in with eyes open, and recognizing this is not the same kind of mission as peacekeeping of the past.
“Today, now conflict is intermingled with radicalization. It’s intermingled with social issues as well, we need a new approach,” says Sajjan.
He says the focus now is ensuring Canadian troops get the right equipment and training, along with thoughtfully developed rules of engagement.
Of course, Sajjan also weighed in on working with the incoming Trump administration.
While Donald Trump has been critical of NATO allies ‘failure to pull their weight,’ Sajjan says he’s optimistic Canada and the U.S. will maintain a good relationship.
He says he’s personally served under a U.S. general, and doesn’t anticipate trouble building bridges with whomever Trump appoints as Secretary of Defense.