Archive for the ‘DEFENCE STRATEGY’ Category


February 11, 2010



Federal government officials say the security is in place for the Olympic Games with more than 16,000 police and military personnel involved in the operation.

The 2010 Winter Olympic Games open in Vancouver on Friday but Rear Admiral Tyrone Pile, commander of Joint Task Force Games has told Defence Watch that the Canadian Forces presence is expected to be low-key.

“Our role has always been to be behind the scenes and low profile to support the RCMP as the lead security agency,” he said. “But obviously as we deploy into theater with a total of 4,500 Canadian Forces personnel we will be visible. There will be ships and aircraft and people moving about. It’s still our intent to be there to take on those unique roles that really nobody has the capacity to do.”

Defence Minister Peter MacKay is expected to visit military personnel at the Games either Thursday or Friday.

On Wednesday federal representatives held a press conference in Ottawa as well as a technical briefing to outline security details.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said the Olympics was a good example “as to how organizations can come together effectively.”

Naval, air force and army units, as well as those from CANSOFCOM are all contributing the Games security. Other federal departments and various police forces are also involved.

“We have Auroras, we have maritime helicopters, and Griffon helicopters for land surveillance,” Pile said in a recent interview. “We’ll have NORAD dealing with aerospace surveillance, writ large and that will be a bilateral effort between Canada and the United States. We’ll have an AWACS aircraft deployed assisting with that and Canadian F-18 aircraft.”

The military contribution is varied. A component of JTF2 is expected to be on standby in the Vancouver area. A Port Security Unit, made up of naval reservists from across the country, is now actively enforcing security zones 24 / 7 in Vancouver Harbour. It is supporting the RCMP for waterborne security operations within Vancouver Harbour, including Force Protection of the three temporary accommodation vessels sheltering Olympic security forces.

The Combined Operational Dive Team, comprised of clearance divers and port inspection divers from across the country, has completed more than 115 dives since Jan. 7. CODT has also conducted searches of waterside Olympics venues such as Canada Place and the Athletes’ Village.

U.S. Navy and Coast Guard units will also be involved on the American side of the border. “They will have Coast Guard cutters deployed,” Pile said. “They will have United States Navy assets deployed. It’s in their security interests and it is a border area. That’s why we want to share information rapidly and correctly with them.”

At the Wednesday press conference Toews also mentioned the security co-operation with the U.S. “We’ve been working every closely with the Americans, part of the security area does include parts of the United States,” he said.

Protests are expected against the Games but according to the RCMP it does not plan to be heavy-handed in how it deals with such issues. “In terms of the Olympic Games, it will be a measured response,” Bill Sweeney, deputy commissioner of the RCMP, said at Wednesday’s press conference.


January 28, 2010


By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

The Politics of Procurement: Military Acquisition in Canada and the Sea King Helicopter

By Aaron Plamondon

254 pages

Publisher: UBC Press

ISBN-10: 0774817143

ISBN-13: 978-0774817141

With black and white photos

In The Politics of Procurement, University of Calgary military historian Aaron Plamondon skillfully lays out the multi-decade saga of the Defence Department’s quest to replace the air force’s aging Sea King helicopters.

Plamondon argues that the procurement of military weapons and equipment in Canada has often been controlled by partisan political considerations and not by a clear desire to increase the capability of the Canadian Forces. As a result, he maintains that Canada has often failed to be effective in the design, production, or even the purchase, of weapons and equipment.

Plamondon touches on some early Canadian military equipment procurements to prove his point but his prime example to argue his case is the Sea King helicopter procurement.

It is probably the most famous or (infamous) military procurement of recent time. The EH-101 was originally selected in the early 1990s to replace the Sea Kings but that contract was cancelled by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien when he came to power in 1993. Chrétien had made the EH-101 an election issue and he cited the helicopter as an example of how the Conservative government was poorly using taxpayer’s dollars. His government paid $478 million in cancellation fees to scuttle the deal.

The military had to restart the process to buy a Sea King replacement, with the project divided into two elements, the acquisition of a search and rescue helicopter and the eventual purchase of a maritime helicopter.

In 1998 the winning search and rescue aircraft was selected but much to the embarrassment of the Chrétien government, the Canadian Forces had selected the EH-101 variant, the Cormorant.

After that there were more delays on the purchase of the maritime helicopter,  allegations of political meddling and legal battles.

Plamondon’s coverage follows the early days of the Sea King replacement program to Chrétien’s cancellation of the EH-101 and on to the purchase of the Cormorant. The book also takes the reader into the current controversial and much delayed Cyclone maritime helicopter project.

The strength of the book is that it ties together the story of the helicopter procurement over many years. Plamondon uses DND documents obtained through the Access to Information process, records from the National Archives and DND’s history branch, interviews with former procurement officials as well as news articles from over the years about the EH-101 and Cyclone acquisitions (including some of this writer’s articles – ones I had forgotten I had penned since the Sea King replacement stretches back more than two decades).

The book is a very good read for anyone interested in Canadian defence policy and a must read for those studying procurement issues.

One suggestion, however, for readers. Unless you are independently wealthy I would take a pass on hardcover version of this book which costs $85. Instead try to get the more reasonably priced softcover version at $32.95. UBC Press says the publication date for the paperback is July.


January 27, 2010


By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Is purchasing military equipment made with U.S. technology becoming more of a burden these days than it’s worth?

It’s a question some militaries are asking as they try to deal with U.S. regulations and restrictions on what the purchasing country can and cannot do with equipment that is outfitted with U.S. technology.

The latest to deal with the issue is the Canadian Navy. Faced with delays and restrictions about what it can and cannot do with U.S. technology, navy has opted to modernize its frigates using as much non-American equipment for it key systems as possible.

The Defence Department had stipulated that the command and control system on the multi-billion dollar Halifax-class frigate upgrade project be free of the U.S. International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Lockheed Martin Canada’s vice president Don McClure told Defence Watch.

The only way to do that is to choose equipment that isn’t using sensitive U.S. technology.

ITAR problems have caused delays in the Canada’s Cyclone maritime helicopter project and other defence programs.

It has also presented hurdles in the past for Canada to receive approvals to donate Canadian Forces equipment to allied nations such as Afghanistan, according to a November, 2007 briefing note obtained by Defence Watch.

In the case of the frigate upgrade, prime contractor Lockheed Martin Canada in Ottawa has assembled a team that isn’t using U.S. technology for the C2 system on the vessels. Saab Aerospace of Sweden is Lockheed Martin’s main partner.

Key radars, sensors and software to be installed on the Halifax-class frigates are coming from Canada, Sweden, Israel, Germany, and the Netherlands.

According to a briefing provided to Defence Watch, Thales of the Netherlands is handling the 3D Air and Surveillance Radar and IFF, Raytheon’s German firm is doing Nav Radar and Display Unit, Elisra of Israel is doing the ESM, etc.

McClure said that the idea is to deliver an ITAR-free, low risk command and control solution.

The Navy wanted the flexibility offered by non-ITAR controlled equipment because it didn’t want to have to seek U.S. permission each time it wanted to modify or upgrade its command and control system.

There will be U.S. components on the ship but many of those will be commercial-off-the-shelf and not governed by ITARs, McClure said. (The frigate’s missile systems will be built in the U.S. and are governed by ITAR.)

It is still clear that the U.S. will continue to be the main supplier of equipment to its various allies around the world.

But there is a movement afoot in some areas to deal with the problem of ITARs by not buying U.S. equipment.

ITARs are supposed to be designed to keep U.S. technology out of the hands of particular nations such as Iran.

But they are also used by the U.S. as a vehicle to give American firms a leg up on the competition, according to representatives of Canadian defence firms.

For instance, if a Canadian defence product has a U.S. component in it, the State Department mat not approve of a particular sale, if that Canadian firm is going head to head with a U.S. company in that market.

A study last fall, partly funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, found that some European governments were looking for systems that weren’t covered by ITAR.

“Everybody tells us that ITAR slows the speed of obtaining licenses, limits the release of technology, creates the business uncertainty and makes the process very difficult,” Jeff Bialos, former deputy undersecretary for industrial affairs at the Pentagon and the author of the study, noted in a interview with Defense News in October.

“European countries are very concerned about their operational autonomy being limited by not having access to technology, by having a ‘black box’ and not being able to change it. They’re worried about program delays and risks.”

There are other consequences for the U.S. as foreign firms in countries fed up with have to deal with ITARs start making their own systems.

In 2008 retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Craig Weston, an associate fellow at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, told reporters that ITAR was hurting innovation in the U.S. space industry and threatening national security. “Rapidly emerging foreign industrial capabilities are challenging U.S. space superiority, which is contrary to the intent of ITAR,” Weston said. “Moreover, ITAR has blocked the U.S. from benefiting from the growth of foreign space capabilities.”


January 26, 2010


By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

As the Canadian Navy’s Joint Support Ship remains stalled, the Royal Netherlands Navy is moving ahead with the construction of its own similar vessel.

The Royal Netherlands Navy has signed a contract for the construction of its JSS with Damen Schelde Naval Shipbuilding (DSNS) slated to build the vessel. The JSS will replace HNLMS Zuiderkruis, a supply ship more than three decades old.

Canada’s JSS project is still in limbo, waiting for the Harper government to move on producing a national shipbuilding strategy. Canadian defence industry representatives told Defence Watch on Friday that they expect the shipbuilding strategy to be completed by the spring. “There are indications it’s coming by the end of the first quarter,” said an industry official said.

The three Canadian JSS would replace the existing 40-year-old plus supply vessels which haul fuel and ammunition for naval task groups at sea. The ships would also provide support to the Canadian Army and special forces, carrying troops, vehicles, helicopters, ammunition and a hospital, as well as act as a command center for ground forces sent ashore.

The Royal Netherlands Navy’s ship appears similar. It  is to measure 205 metres in length and will displace over 28,000 tons. The JSS will be used for a wide variety of missions, including replenishment-at-sea,  transport of materiel and personnel, medical, technical and logistic support, and for strategic sea-lift and sea-basing missions. The number of crew is set at around 150. The ship’s speed is expected to be 18 knots.

The Dutch JSS would have roll on/roll off capabilities and a steel beach stern for accommodating cargo transfer via landing craft. The JSS is to be delivered in July 2014.  The Canadian JSS is supposed to be around 28,000 tonnes and 200 metres in length, with a speed of 21 knots. It would carry a crew of a little more than 200 and have a roll-on/roll-off capability as well.

The difference between the Canadian and Dutch JSS is in the procurement approach. The Dutch vessel’s hull will be built at the Damen shipyard in Galati, Romania, with the rest of the construction in the Netherlands.

Canada’s JSS fleet would be built entirely in Canada.

The JSS was originally announced in 2004 by the Martin government but the focus on Afghanistan diverted DND’s attention to equipment issues related to that war.

As a result, JSS went on to the backburner for a bit. It did eventually proceed, only to derail in August 2008 after industry failed to meet the government’s specifications within the allotted budget.

“We’re pretty much ready to be talking to the [defense] minister about what we need to do to advance the JSS so we’re ready to go,” Vice Admiral Dean McFadden told Defence Watch in the summer.


For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:


January 26, 2010

Forces attack expenses to save $190M; Money to be redirected to Harper government’s Canada First defence strategy

The Ottawa Citizen

Dec 28 2009

By David Pugliese

The Ottawa Citizen

The Canadian military is looking for savings of more than $190 million by March to help pay for the Harper government’s defence strategy.

The navy will cut training for its reserve forces in January and reduce infrastructure maintenance and repairs while the air force will scale back on non-operational training, cut some of its flying time as well as scale back non-essential repairs.

The army recently revealed its cuts including trimming some training and reducing the number of reserve soldiers employed full-time.

The reductions come as the federal deficit has climbed to more than $55 billion this year and the Conservative government has signalled the public service will face cuts.

The air force is required to cut $59 million while the navy has $52 million in reductions to make, according to the Canadian Forces. It was recently revealed that the army’s portion of the reduction is $80 million.

The air force’s reductions represent seven per cent of its annual budget; the navy’s is six per cent. The army’s share is five per cent of its budget.

All three services are reducing travel and attendance at conferences.

The Defence Department could not say whether other organizations within DND are also facing reductions.

The Canadian Forces is not calling the reductions a “cutback.” Officers are instead referring to them as “adjustments” as the money saved is being redirected toward the priorities of the Canada First defence strategy.

The strategy, the Harper government’s blueprint for the future military, promises to spend tens of billions of dollars on new equipment.

Steve Staples, president of the Rideau Institute in Ottawa, said DND is in a better position than other departments to weather the expected cuts to the federal government. He said social, health and arts spending will likely be hit hardest as the Conservatives tighten budgets.

“These cuts that DND has to make are a drop in the bucket since the department has been enjoying large increases each year for many years,” said Staples, who has criticized what he calls excessive spending on the military. “Compared to other departments, DND is the teacher’s pet of the government.”

The money saved is to be “allocated to best meet responsibilities defined by the Canada First Defence Strategy,” an e-mail from the Canadian Forces noted.

Some defence analysts had questioned where the money would come from for the strategy, but in May 2009, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the policy was fully funded. “The funding will be there, I assure you. It’s locked in,” he told an audience of hundreds of industry and defence representatives in Ottawa during a military trade show.

MacKay also assured the audience the recession would not affect Canadian Forces’ plans to spend billions on new equipment and that he had the support of Finance Minister Jim Flaherty.

Military officers characterized the “adjustments” as a normal part of the Defence Department’s financial management process.

A recently released report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, done in conjunction with the Rideau Institute, determined that for the fiscal year ending in March, Canada will have spent a little more than $21 billion on national defence. That’s nearly 10 per cent of all federal spending.

After adjusting for inflation, Canadian military spending this year was up 9.6 per cent compared to last year and is 15 per cent higher than Canada’s defence spending at the peak of the Cold War in 1952-1953, the report noted.

But other groups have argued that more money needs to be spent on the Canadian Forces to re-equip it for the future.

Air force spokesman Maj. Jim Hutcheson said most of the cuts for that service are based on its fuel and oil budget. “While some of this year’s budget adjustment is absorbed due to the fact that fuel prices have remained lower than last year’s average, there may be some selective reduction in flying hours,” Hutcheson explained.

He did not give further details on what aircraft flights might be reduced.

Although the navy is cutting its spending on petroleum and oil, those reductions will not affect ship operations, Lt.-Cmdr. Sue Stefko noted.

Normally the navy would use extra money at the end of the government’s fiscal year to buy additional fuel for its strategic reserve. As a result of the reductions, there will less fuel for that reserve.

Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Jay Janzen said the money saved by that service will be used to support other higher priority programs such as training soldiers for international and domestic operations and purchasing new equipment.

The army has a $5-billion plan to purchase several types of new armored vehicles as well as refurbish light-armored vehicles damaged or heavily used during the war in Afghanistan.

The reductions that hit the army reserves, however, have angered some of the part-time soldiers who said they left their civilian jobs for temporary full-time work with the regular forces, only to be told they are no longer needed.


For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:


January 26, 2010


By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Defence Watch

The Army, Navy and Air Force are all facing budget “adjustments” that have to be made by the end of March but the extent of the impact appears to be felt the hardest on the Army reserves.

“The main thing for the Reserves is that training has stopped,” said one Defence Watch reader in the reserves recently noted. “We can’t train any new recruits, drivers, signallers, junior NCOs, nothing.”

The navy will cut some training for its reserve forces in January and reduce infrastructure maintenance and repairs while the air force will scale back on non-operational training, cut some of its flying time as well as scale back non-essential repairs.

The army is cutting some training and reducing the number of reserve soldiers who are employed full-time as Class B reservists.

The air force is required to “adjust” $59 million of its budget while the navy has $52 million in adjustments to make, according to the Canadian Forces. The army’s portion of the adjustments is $80 million. The money is being redirected to priority areas, according to DND.

The air force’s adjustments represent seven percent of its annual budget; the navy’s is six per cent. The army’s share is five per cent of its budget.

“We’re moving around about $80 million to support higher CF priorities this fiscal year,” Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Jay Janzen told Defence Watch. “Of that about $2 million have been assigned to full-time reserve budgets.”

“But local commanders may decide to make further reductions in that area,” he added.

Officially, the unit budgets have only been cut by 10 per cent, some reservists told Defence Watch. There are still parade nights, and possibly a weekend exercise or two.  “But the meat and potatoes of our training cycle is gone and there is no information whatsoever,” said one reservist.

At 31 Canadian Brigade Group in Southwestern Ontario, the budget has been cut by about 16 per cent. That works out to about $2.5 million on its $18.2-million budget, according to news reports. The brigade also cut 25 full-time jobs.

Reservists report how the cuts have affected their units:

— Ongoing courses including the BMQ (recruit course) and PLQ (junior leadership course) were shut down at the last minute even though they were ongoing.

— Emails came in from Army in the morning to “cease training” immediately and reservists were phoned at home to inform them not to show up for pre-scheduled training that night.

–There is little information provided for units about the way ahead. More is expected in April when the government announces its budget.

-Until the BMQ courses are complete, other training (SQ, DP1, etc…) cannot be done so everything else gets backlogged.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has remained silent on the cuts. However, Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton, the government leader in the Senate, has said she read about the cuts in the newspaper and that every effort was being made to ensure that reservists are prepared for any operational activity.

The Harper government, she noted, is committed to treating the reservists reasonably so that they remain fully operational.

But when asked about the reserve cuts in December by Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, LeBreton originally denied that such a thing had happened.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:


January 26, 2010

China stocks up on earthly resources; The vast majority of rare earth oxides needed to build everything from nuclear weapons to aircraft engines is now controlled by China, a Pentagon study concludes.

The Ottawa Citizen

Jan 24 2010

By David Pugliese

The Ottawa Citizen

As David Pugliese writes, some say the United States is right to be concerned about the country’s push to own the resources required for military might.

This spring, the Pentagon will produce a report for Congress acknowledging what has become obvious to military and high-tech firms in North America over the last several years.

The study will conclude that the vast majority of the rare earth oxides that the U.S. needs for its military might and economy are now controlled by China.

Such minerals are used in everything from nuclear weapons and Tomahawk cruise missiles to laser targeting systems on Abrams tanks to sonars and aircraft engines. The materials are also key for various electronic systems and green energy technology used in the construction of wind turbines and hybrid vehicles.

The U.S. government acknowledges that it imports 100 per cent of the rare earth material it needs for weapons and economic purposes.

The Pentagon study, to be ready by April, will look at how much of that comes from China, but with the Asian country controlling between 95 and 98 per cent of the world’s supply, the details are almost a foregone conclusion.

Defence analyst Martin Shadwick says the U.S. should be concerned.

“Anytime you’ve got one nation controlling certain materials, there is going be concerns raised,” said Shadwick, a professor at York University in Toronto. “When those materials are key for strategic purposes, then that just raises the level of worry.”

Rare earth materials are found in other countries, including the U.S. and Canada, but environmental concerns and high processing costs have caused such mining operations to all but shut down.

Analysts argue that China has already been using its monopoly on rare earth minerals to its advantage. It has manipulated prices and reduced exports, with the end result being to force some companies to set up manufacturing plants in China to be assured of access to the materials.

China also plans to further tighten world access to rare earth minerals, and in the future, will impose a ban on exports of dysprosium, a material essential to strengthening magnets used in the electrical systems of hybrid vehicles.

In October, the United States Magnet Materials Association called for more support for U.S. companies to identify and mine rare earth elements in North America.

“Worldwide demand for these materials is escalating rapidly, and over 95 per cent of currently available rare earth mining occurs in China or is controlled by Chinese-led interests,” the association noted. “Nevertheless, sizable deposits of the materials exist in the United States and Canada and are available for large-scale mining operations.”

But China’s interest is not just in rare earth minerals. Flush with cash, it has been buying up various resources at a time when prices are cheap because of the global economic downturn.

China is increasing its influence in Africa, offering billions of dollars in low-interest loans to various nations who are rich in minerals. Its oil industry is becoming more active in Nigeria with various investments.

Several years ago, China entered into a $3-billion deal with Afghan-

istan to develop the massive copper reserves in that country.

In August, it was announced that China was investing $1.9 billion in the Alberta oilsands. Around the same time, it increased its investments in Canadian mining firms, particularly in the area of nickel.

In November, China North Industries Corp., one of the country’s largest defence companies, announced that it would buy more than 1.6 million tons of aluminum from a Russian firm. U.S. military analysts have questioned the reasoning behind the deal since China exports its own aluminum.

But others believe that China was able to get a good deal since the Russian company was going through serious financial trouble.

Tai Ming Cheung, author of Fortifying China, points out that while China is a significant aluminum producer, it is also a major consumer. The deal, which runs between 2010 and 2016, appears aimed at both the production of military and consumer goods, he suggested.

University of British Columbia political scientist Allen Sens doesn’t see sinister motives behind the Chinese moves. He understands the U.S. concerns over rare earth material and other minerals, and agrees the situation should be monitored. But Sens also noted that, over the decades, other nations such as the U.S. have also undertaken policies to secure access to mineral and oil resources.

“In the case of China, this appears to be an economic-driven agenda, not a security one,” said Sens.

Shadwick said the Chinese have several motives, including securing supplies for the military as well as protecting their economic base. “A lot more exotic materials go into automobiles or civilian airplanes these days than 40 years ago,” he explained.

“If you want to be the workshop to the world, you better lock in the raw materials as much as you can and that’s what they appear to be doing,” he added.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:

NDATE: 20100124

DOB: 2010-01-24 03:33:08



January 26, 2010


By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Marjory LeBreton, government leader in the Senate, has assured that chamber that no cuts have been made at the Department of National Defence, even as militia units have their budgets reduced and the jobs of reservists are eliminated.

Speaking to Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire, LeBreton said “there were no cuts” to DND and questioned Dallaire’s claims that there were.

Dallaire has raised concerns that ongoing reductions will hit the Defence Department’s budget. In a recent exchange in the Senate, Defence Watch sources said Dallaire warned LeBreton that the reductions will have an impact on operations and pointed out that militia units are already feeling the impact.

But LeBreton suggested that isn’t the case and instead she highlighted the money the Conservatives spent on Chinook and Griffon helicopters. She said that DND has been the biggest benefactor of the Harper government and noted that Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natyncyk recently told a Senate committee that he was happy with the level of funding.

LeBreton again told Dallaire that she had no idea what he was basing his claims on, and again praised the Harper government for its contributions to the military.

Conservative Senator David Tkachuk also praised the Harper government.

Said one source: “I don’t think those two have a clue the militia has been cut back.”

The Canadian Army is cutting 300 full-time reserve jobs from the force’s to save about $15 million, according to news reports. That money will be earmarked for other needs.

Reserve unit budgets are also being reduced. For instance, 31 Canadian Brigade Group in Southwestern Ontario had its budget cut by about 16 per cent, noted one media report. That reduction means that $2.5 million will be taken from its $18.2-million budget.

In total about $80 million in Army funding is being shifted to make up for shortfalls in other areas. More reductions may be on the way.

For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:


November 20, 2009



Liberal Senator Romeo Dallaire is warning that impending cuts to the defence budget from an ongoing Strategic Review could see military spending in some areas  scaled back.


Defence Department officials confirm that the department is now undergoing a Strategic Review to try to find savings. Dallaire says the review is focused on the department’s operations and maintenance budget.


Last year, the Strategic Review process saw 14 federal organizations examine their spending. Savings of $586 million were determined and redirected to fund new initiatives as part of the Economic Action Plan announced in the 2009 budget, according to Treasury Board.


Dallaire says he is worried that any budget cuts imposed by such a review would eventually impact other programs as well and hurt, in particular, quality of life programs for Canadian Forces personnel. He brought up the concerns about the Strategic Review during question period in the Senate.


But Senator Marjory LeBreton, the government leader in the Senate dismissed Dallaire’s concerns, noting that the Harper government has “massively increased” the budget of the Department of National Defence.”


I am not talking about the Capital Acquisition Support Program; I am not even debating the personnel envelope,” Dallaire responded. “I am speaking of the operations and maintenance envelope, and it is going through a strategic review, like every other department, and rumours are it is being cut to the 2006 level.”


He asked LeBreton to review the situation and update the Senate about the extent of the budget cuts that could happen at National Defence as part of the Strategic Review.

LeBreton, however, declined. “I am quite certain that, as we go through the whole strategic review process, rumours will run rampant,” she said. “We have known that for years, but I cannot and will not respond or answer a serious question based on a rumour.”


As part of the Strategic Review process, organizations examine their direct program spending and the operating costs of their major statutory programs to assess how and whether these programs: are effective and efficient; meet the priorities of Canadians; and are aligned with core federal responsibilities.


Defence Department officials privately say they expect some impact from the Strategic Review but at this stage it’s too early to tell what that might be. They note that defence and the Canadian Forces has been a priority for the Harper government. “We’re confident the savings can be absorbed,” said one official.


For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news or articles by David Pugliese of the Ottawa Citizen go to David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at:



March 16, 2009

 MacKay begins cross-country contract tour


Military infrastructure announcements part of government stimulus plans


By David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen


March 14, 2009



Defence Minister Peter MacKay says the infrastructure contracts he is announcing are ‘an important part of the government’s effort to stimulate the economy.’


Defence Minister Peter MacKay says the infrastructure contracts he is announcing are ‘an important part of the government’s effort to stimulate the economy.’

Photograph by: Mathieu Belanger, Reuters, The Ottawa Citizen


Defence Minister Peter MacKay launched a cross-country tour Friday to award infrastructure contracts on military bases in an effort to show the Harper government is helping put Canadians back to work during the recession.


Some of the projects are new while others have been under way or planned for some time. But defence insiders say the tour is designed to generate positive publicity in various regions for the Conservatives, as well as send the message the government is being decisive in pumping federal money into the economy.


In Victoria, MacKay announced $266 million worth of work, the bulk centred on the fourth phase of an ongoing modernization project for the navy’s fleet-maintenance facility. That project originally started in the early 1990s and has been unfolding over the years with the renovations of existing structures and the building of new ones.


Also included in the announcement is the construction of a hazardous-material facility. Work began last year on that project.


In addition, MacKay said a contract has been awarded to a Vancouver firm to design hangars and other facilities at Pat Bay, B.C., for the air force’s new Cyclone helicopters expected to arrive several years from now. The Defence Department’s contribution to road work near Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt was also included in Friday’s announcement.


On Sunday, MacKay will make an early-morning announcement at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton and then fly to Winnipeg that afternoon to unveil other infrastructure projects involving the air force’s 17 Wing.


The next day, MacKay will be at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown, N.B., to announce yet more construction contacts.


“This is a first round of announcements,” MacKay said of his cross-country tour.


He noted that other contracts will be made public in the coming months.


MacKay said the contacts are “an important part of the government’s effort to stimulate the economy.”


He said the contracts announced at CFB Esquimalt will generate an estimated 1,400 direct employment opportunities over the course of the work.


Some defence analysts have pointed out that infrastructure improvements to military bases could be used to significantly stimulate regional economies. The Defence Department’s infrastructure holdings are immense, including about 21,000 buildings; 5,400 kilometres of road; and 3,000 kilometres of water, storm and sewer pipes. Much of that infrastructure is aging and needs to be replaced or upgraded.


Some Conservatives have privately complained that the government’s previous announcements of big-ticket defence procurements have not generated the political goodwill they had hoped for.


In the summer of 2006, then-defence minister Gordon O’Connor announced billions of dollars in new projects to purchase transport aircraft, helicopters, supply ships and trucks.


But defence analyst Allen Sens said the Canadian public expected that the Harper government would re-equip the Canadian Forces. “When they did do that people just shrugged,” said Sens, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia. “So the Conservatives were left standing around wondering where was all the music and confetti from Canadians on this.”


In January, the government was also criticized in the Commons and by the Canadian Auto Workers union after MacKay went to Quebec to announce a $274-million contract for new army trucks. But the selected firm, Navistar, is going to build the vehicles in Texas. At the same time, Navistar is laying off 700 Canadian workers at its Chatham, Ont., truck plant.


Navistar has said it would cost too much to retool its existing truck-assembly plant in Chatham to build the army trucks.


In addition, domestic aerospace firms have complained they have been frozen out of the defence equipment projects the Conservatives announced in the summer of 2006 or that such contracts have not created high-quality jobs in Canada.


The infrastructure projects being announced by MacKay are different, however, since they involve local companies and the results can be seen directly in the communities involved, Sens said.


“I’m not surprised that MacKay is hop-scotching across the country announcing infrastructure contracts,” he said. “It’s when you start spending locally that not only do you get constituency attention and support, but you get a bit of countrywide attention.”


For more Canadian Forces and Defence Department news go to the Ottawa Citizen and David Pugliese’s Defence Watch at: