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Tarnished Brass: Crime and Corruption in the Canadian Military.

Scott Taylor and Brian Nolan. Lester Publishing, Toronto, Canada. 1996. ISBNtarnished brass.jpg (5460 bytes)

Tested Mettle: Canada's Peacekeepers at War.

Scott Taylor and Brian Nolan. Esprit de Corps Books, Ottawa, Canada. 1999.
ISBN: 1895896088. $24.95

SINCE THE 1993 debacle in Somalia, scandals in the Canadian military have been the subject of intense media coverage. Some of the attention has come from the left-wing anti-war crowd, but there has been some serious examination on the sorry state of the Canadian Armed Forces from former servicemen. Scott Taylor, a former private in the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) has led the way with his hard-hitting magazine Esprit de Corps, and with his two books, co-authored with Brian Nolan.

In their books Taylor and Nolan document how the Canadian military is run by cliques of careerist senior officers and bureaucrats who are more concerned with feathering their nests than with the welfare of the troops. More than most western countries, Canada, is always ready to put its forces at the ready disposal of the UN, and/or NATO. One example has been the overextension of the ill-equipped and under-equipped Canadian army to "peacekeeping" operations in the turmoil of the former Yugoslavia.

For Ulster readers the most interesting chapter in Tarnished Brass is number three. Why? The subject is General John de Chastelain (known as "Prince John"), the current head of the International Commission on Decommissioning. "Prince John" was the Chief of the Defence Staff during much of the period of scandal. While the aristocratic "Prince John" has a reputation as a top notch infantry officer, he is also known as a political yes man. Taylor and Nolan wrote: "de Chastelain made a name for himself as a callous micro-manager whose fingers were in everyone's pie." (Interesting that de Chastelain has been praised by the pro-Agreement politicians.) Since his retirement to take on his Belfast duties "Prince John" still receives: "...a federal per diem, and all travel and other expenses are publicly reimbursed. This remuneration is in addition to his three government pension cheques."

Hence by his personal example, de Chastelain "altered the public's perception of the Canadian military high command from one of dutiful service to one of career opportunities where greed, pettiness, self promotion and self-preservation flourished." It is doubtful that this problem is limited to Canada.

Alex Greer

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