Lest We Forget? We Forgot A Long Time Ago

Most Canadians do not realize that from the beginnings of Canadian Confederation until 1940, Canada maintained a very small regular military and a very large reserve force.  What today we would call the “Regular Force” was then called the “Permanent Active Militia” (PAM) while the “Reserve Force” was then known as the “Non Permanent Active Militia” (NPAM).

Unlike today, the regular PAM was a fraction of the size of the reserve NPAM, with most of Canada’s soldiers being volunteer, citizen soldiers serving in militia units whose area of operations was no bigger than the municipality they lived in.

In fact, most of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces that fought both World War One and World War Two was initially comprised of volunteers from NPAM units and then new recruits or conscripts.

By both wars end, less than 1% of those who fought were regular, “professional” soldiers before the war.

Put in perspective, at the start of World War One, Canada had 3100 regular troops, but deployed 620,000 troops by wars’ end.

At the start of World War Two, Canada had 4100 regular troops, but deployed 1.1 million troops by wars’ end.

During both conflicts, Canadian military units earned a reputation as being some of the fiercest, most combat effective units on the battlefield.  It is a well established fact that German commanders in both wars considered the Canadians “shock troops” and would position their most elite units against them.

This in spite of the fact that virtually none of those Canadians were “professional” soldiers.

That standard of military excellence continued during the Korean War, when the Shilo, Manitoba based 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry prevented the defeat of the entire UN operation at the Battle of Kapyong.

During the battle, the Patricia’s (along with a battalion of Australian infantry) held the line against an entire division of Communist Chinese infantry.

(A battalion is a few hundred soldiers, a division is tens of thousands).

These undeniable facts of history are not common knowledge among Canadians.

Today, though Canada is not formally at war, the Canadian Forces has 68,000 regular force soldiers, 27,000 reservists, and 5000 rangers.

Though most Canadian civilians remain blissfully unaware about the realities of their military the fact is that the Canadian military is more a political football than it is an instrument of national defence.  Federalist Canadian politicians, both Liberal and Conservative routinely use the military to push their own agenda in the circus of the Canadian Federal government.

While the general attitudes, motivations, and characters of individual service people are still commendable and worthy of respect, the military as a whole bears no resemblance to the military that gained international acclaim during the wars of the 20th century.

Instead, it is gigantic, Federal “make work” project, designed to award lucrative (and generally undeserved) contracts to Eastern Canadian industries.

Most of the military’s ammunition, uniforms, vehicles, and computer systems are manufactured in Quebec or Ontario.

There is a general, unwritten rule of thumb in NDHQ in Ottawa when it comes to procurement: it does not matter how terrible the kit is or how much the troops hate it, if it creates a single job in Quebec, it gets awarded millions of dollars of tax payer funded contracts and becomes standard issue.

The next time you meet anyone who has served in the Canadian military during the past decade, ask them what they think about the LSVW, TCCCS, the army issue Tac Vest, or Logistik Unicorp.

(To be fair, TCCCS was originally designed in Calgary, although it was heavily influenced by subcontractors from Quebec, including by CGI – the same company that created the Canadian Federal Long Gun Registry.)

Moreover, the Canadian military and especially the Regular Force largely discriminates against Anglophone Canadians (essentially all of Western Canada) in that bilingualism is a requirement for career progression.  Even though speaking French fluently is of very little benefit to anyone in Western Canada, it is a critical requirement to attain a rank higher than Major.

In this way, the Canadian military today will always be Eastern oriented and dominated at the highest levels of command by Quebec.

Personally, I do not fault the individuals who serve in the Canadian Forces.  They generally do so with the noblest of intentions.  I served alongside many when I was in the Reserves.

However, one of the most exciting possibilities in Western Canadian separatism is the possibility of creating a military like the one that historically gained Canada international respect and admiration.  One that lives up to the standard of decency and excellence that present serving members of the Canadian Forces deserve.

What worked very well for Canada during the first 73 years of Canada’s existence is something we could make a reality when we in Western Canada gain our independence.

As opposed to another bloated Federal bureaucracy that funnels billions of dollars into Eastern Canada, our Western Canadian military can (and I say should) be an exact image of the Militia system that gained Canada international prestige during this country’s infancy.

Moreover, as opposed to being a divisive political instrument controlled and manipulated by the Eastern elites who own the country, the military of Western Canada can be an agent of positive change instilling a sense of civic pride, regional loyalty, providing essential services to our local communities, and helping build industries that spur on local economic growth.

I make no secret the fact that I am a gun enthusiast.

It is a fundamental part of my character I learnt during my service in the Canadian Forces that I carry on today, 15 years after I first joined (and 8 years after releasing).

Though I own (and have owned) many guns, one of the last guns I will add to my collection will be a rifle designed to be classified under Canada’s draconian gun laws as “Non-Restricted.”

The Alberta Tactical Rifle Supply (ATRS) Modern Varmint.


ATRS is a Calgary based business that manufactures high end, precision firearms.

The ATRS “Modern Varmint” rifle was designed to be operationally similar but fundamentally different mechanically from the AR-15.

The AR-15 is the base model rifle that the present Canadian Forces standard issue rifle is derived from – the C7A3, manufactured in Kitchener, Ontario, by Colt Canada.

Colt Canada, much like most things of value in Canada today, is American owned.

When the West Separates what I look forward to the most is the prospect of citizen soldiers in local militias serving their communities with honor and distinction.  Just as they did 111 years ago when Alberta and Saskatchewan first joined Confederation.

I hope when that happens, each of those Western Canadian soldiers will be proficient at arms with a standard issue, ATRS Modern Varmint rifle, proudly stamped “MADE IN ALBERTA, WESTERN CANADA.”

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