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I'm just spitballing here, but maybe the difference is that after WWII, Australia knew that the chance of it happening again in a future conflict is pretty high, as they're the big "western" power in that region. Canada knew it has the US next door.But to your point a significant number of ships were sunk within the confines of the Gulf of St Lawrence but we Canadians seem to conveniently forgot about this.
My guess - because of our proximity to the US, it can be.Why is defence procurement not as much of a political football? Why do we understate or minimize our past exposure to danger?
I think any country would do the same - if Australia and Canada were reversed (ie. we're in Oceania, they were in North America) they would do exactly the same thing to save $ for other efforts. NZ does the same thing with Australia - even to a larger extent since NZ dismantled its fighter force, so Australia literally provides their air cover.
It's human complacency on a national scale.