Posts Tagged ‘Ottawa Citizen’


April 15, 2010

By David Pugliese

Defence Watch

At a meeting with Air Force officers and defence industry representatives in Ottawa last week the extent of the paralysis that plagues the $3 billion Fixed Wing Search and Rescue project was front and centre.

An Air Force officer was running through the various equipment projects on the go while images were projected on to a screen.

When the slide came for FWSAR, the screen was filled with a giant question mark.

The defence industry representatives laughed but a number told Defense Watch that the incident was truly indicative of the state of the program. “The Air Force doesn’t know where it is going on this one,” said one industry representative.

The official line from the government is that it is studying a National Research Council report on the FWSAR project.

The NRC report was sought by the Department of National Defence, Public Works and Industry Canada as an independent view of what the minimal standards for the aircraft should be. That report came after allegations were made that the requirements for the fixed-wing search-and-rescue ((FWSAR) project had been rigged by the Air Force to favor Alenia’s C-27J.s

“A recommendation to Government on a proposed solution to acquire FWSAR is planned for Spring 2010,” DND stated in January. “The DND project office, with their counterparts at PWGSC and IC, is currently formulating the recommendation that will be advanced for Government approval.”

A spring 2010 “solution” appears highly unlikely now; thus the question mark when it came to the FWSAR slide in the Air Force equipment briefing.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay has not indicated if the government would follow the NRC recommendations to redo the requirements.

FWSAR was originally launched in the spring of 2004 as the top priority for the Air Force but it quickly became bogged down amid allegations from industry representatives about the favoritism towards the Alenia plane. In December 2008 MacKay said he was going to fast-track the project but again that quickly derailed amid the similar favoritism allegations made in the House of Commons and among industry.

At an industry day for the project, held last summer, company representatives were told the Defence Department would require all deliveries of aircraft to be completed within 60 months of a contract being awarded.  However, the department did not provide details on a timeline for the procurement, nor the number of planes needed, say industry officials.

At that time Canada said it was looking for an aircraft that could conduct search and rescue maneuvers equivalent to those currently performed as well as able to fly from one of four current bases to conduct a search for a minimum of an hour before returning to an airfield. According to a 14-page power point presentation from Public Works and Government Services Canada, presented at the industry day the aircraft must have a cargo compartment of sufficient height and width to allow search and rescue technicians to perform all necessary tasks and cockpit visibility to allow the crew to safely conduct maneuvers.

The FWSAR statement of requirements has never been formally released.



March 11, 2010

By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

Canada’s new Chinooks will be outfitted with a new state-of-art laser-based counter-missile defense system, military officers have told Defence Watch.

The first of the 15 Chinook F models ordered by Canada are scheduled to arrive in the summer of 2013.

They will have undergone some modifications that the military deemed to be worthwhile for Canadian scenarios. Those include the installation of larger fuel tanks for increased range and an upgraded electrical system that is designed to handle improved avioncis as well as a laser-based counter-missile defence system.

The Canadian Chinooks are different from those being operated by the U.S. Army because of the increased fuel capacity, defensive suite and improved electrical system, said Canadian Air Force Lt. Col. Rick McLaughlin, operational requirements manager for the medium-heavy lift helicopter project.

The Canadian Chinooks will be outfitted with an enhanced survivability package using a directed infra-red countermeasures system, he noted. The turreted system constantly watches for missile launches and “defeats the eyeball on the heat-seeker (of a missile) using a laser shot,” McLaughlin said.

Also on board will be more traditional countermeasures against missiles such as flares. The upgraded electrical system that is being installed on the Canadian Chinooks is designed to handle the extra power needs to run the laser-based countermeasures system.

McLaughlin also said Canada will have large-size fuel tanks installed in the Chinooks for increased range, to deal with the country’s large geographic size as well as a result from lessons learned from Afghanistan. He noted that many operations being flown in-theater with Chinooks involved the use of fuel bladders, outfitted in the rear cabin area, to provide added range.

McLaughlin said Canada had safety issues about using such fuel bladders as well as concerns that putting the extra fuel containers in the rear of the aircraft would cut down on the number of troops that could be carried.

“For each one that goes in there you loose upwards of a dozen seats in the back,” he explained. “The whole issue of carrying gas in the back and losing cargo capability came into the discussion.”

All aircraft are expected to be delivered by June 2014.


February 8, 2010


By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

The official word from the Defence Department on the Fixed Wing Search and Rescue aircraft project is that the various government players will be ready in the “spring” to make a recommendation on how to proceed on the program.

And the unofficial response from the aerospace industry? Don’t hold your breath.

Most people in the aerospace and defence community remember Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s boast in December 2008 that he was going to buy a new FWSAR aircraft fleet by the spring of 2009. Yes, buy.

“As Minister MacKay has noted, these aircraft are a critical component of Canada’s home guard and, simply put, we need to have them,” Jay Paxton, the minister’s press secretary, told Defence Watch on Dec. 17, 2008. “The minister’s goal is to procure FWSAR early in the new year. Beyond that, it is premature to speculate on the exact nature of the aircraft.”

It also appears it was a little premature of MacKay to claim that the government would buy a FWSAR aircraft in the spring of 2009.

So now the project will be moving forward in the spring of 2010.

But then again, DND can’t even give a specific date or define what the term “spring” means.

Would that be April, May or even June?

Asked what month in the “spring” that DND expects to make its recommendation on the way forward on FWSAR, Defence Department spokeswoman Lianne LeBel responded, “Spring.” (You have to feel sorry for some of these public affairs officials who are sent out with five or six printed “media response lines” that say nothing. The FWSAR project office is too scared to put someone up front to deal with the news media since they would be facing some tough/embarrassing questions, such as how come it is taking so long to buy an aircraft?….so they shove Ms. LeBel into the fray)

That aside, LeBel did give Defence Watch a rundown on the official government “media response” on what is happening with FWSAR.

“In July 2009, the Government of Canada requested industry’s feedback on the proposed requirements and key considerations detailed during the FWSAR Industry Day,” LeBel pointed out. “Industry was given 60 days to comment. The submission period concluded on September 15 and the Department of National Defence (DND), Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), and Industry Canada (IC) have reviewed the submissions from industry. Industry’s feedback will complement the work already done by DND to ensure the new aircraft is the best possible solution for Canada’s complex SAR environment. A recommendation to Government on a proposed solution to acquire FWSAR is planned for Spring 2010. The DND project office, with their counterparts at PWGSC and IC, is currently formulating the recommendation that will be advanced for Government approval.”

“Don’t buy into that DND line for the media,” one aerospace industry veteran told Defence Watch. “This program is moving at a snail’s pace. Don’t expect any fast action, spring or summer.”

Added another long-time FWSAR observer: “They told you it would be ready in the spring? Well, at least that’s an improvement over their usual the program will be moving forward ‘soon’.”

The Defence Department, Public Works and Industry Canada have brought in the National Research Council to look at search and rescue in the country and make recommendations on what is needed in an aircraft. In turn, NRC has brought in some researchers from various universities to help out. The report is due March 5 but could be delivered as early as Feb. 15, according to some observers.

DND does have some breathing room on FWSAR. The Buffalo will continue to fly until 2014/2015 or even perhaps beyond that date.

C-130s could also be used to contribute to SAR coverage as they do already. With the arrival of new C-130Js, older C-130s used for SAR could be replaced with “younger” C-130s now currently in the transport fleet. The only problem is that it the C-130 is an expensive aircraft to operate for SAR, air force officers acknowledge.


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

Foulup leaves troops out pay, benefits

‘Administrative error’ to blame: National Defence

By David Pugliese, The Ottawa Citizen

December 8, 2009

Troops now training at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa for a mission to Afghanistan next year are in the midst of a battle against the military bureaucracy over pay and health benefits.

It’s the second time in less than eight months that reserve soldiers assigned to the Afghan mission have run into pay problems. In February, soldiers contacted the Citizen after their pay was cut off while they fought in Afghanistan.

This time, soldiers say they have lost the extra pay they are entitled to because of a bureaucratic screw-up. According to the soldiers, the pay problems are due to a backlog in processing paperwork and an inadequate pay system at National Defence headquarters in Ottawa.

As well, there are problems with health coverage for families of the part-time soldiers.

“A caveat to the fact that they aren’t inputted into the regular force pay system is that their families (eligible dependents) at home are not eligible for medical coverage under the Public Service Health Care Plan (PSHCP),” one individual wrote to the Citizen, complaining about the problem.

“Soldiers who once had coverage under their previous civilian careers are left with the medical expenses for their children and spouses until their contracts are processed.” About 300 reservists training at CFB Petawawa will head to Afghanistan in the spring.

Army spokesman Lt.-Col. Jay Janzen confirmed there are problems with pay. “The army is aware of pay issues affecting some reservists conducting pre-deployment training at Petawawa and we’re working quickly to address them,” he said.

Janzen said the soldiers are receiving their basic pay, but the problem centres around incentive pay they would receive. That problem is “due to an administrative error.”

Janzen didn’t have specific numbers affected, but added it is believed to be fewer than 100 reservists. He said that once the problem is sorted out, the soldiers would receive the money owed. A military source said the health-care issue will also be taken care of once the paperwork goes through for the reservists and they are assigned to the full-time regular force.

It’s not the first time there have been pay problems for part-time soldiers. From December 2008 to February of this year, some reserve soldiers fighting in Afghanistan said they had their pay cut off because their contracts with the army expired while they were serving overseas.

The troops continued to serve, but some told the Citizen they were worried they would not be covered by health insurance and other benefits if they were injured in battle.

At the time, the army confirmed in an e-mail that there had been problems, but it claimed that “at no time were the members’ pay and benefits at risk.”

The e-mail also added that emergency financial assistance was offered to anyone who needed it while the error was being fixed.

In 2006, former Canadian Forces Ombudsman Yves Côté launched an investigation into what he warned was a lack of services and inconsistent care available to members of the reserves when they are injured on overseas missions or during training at home. The investigation, completed in April, revealed numerous problems for reservists injured in the course of duty to Canada and subsequently required health care.

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 Defence Department is on the look out for a few good men (and presumably women) security contractors to train the Afghan National Army in Kabul.

The contractors will be responsible for developing and teaching the Afghan National Army Junior Officer Staff Course or (JOSC) of the Afghan National Army Command and Staff College, Defence Watch has been told.

The Defence Department and the Canadian Forces committed last summer to sponsor the development and delivery of the JOSC. It is the first of four courses within the larger national CSC Afghan National Army training institution.

The idea behind the JOSC course is to prepare senior level ANA Captains and junior Majors to be assigned as primary staff officers in Kandak/Batallion/ Corps Headquarters.
The Canadian Forces wants to build up sufficient capacity for the ANA to administer and deliver the course on its own by July 2011.

The Defence Department intends to move quick on hiring a company to provide the contractors as the first course is to start in April 2009s and run until July, Defence Watch has been told.

A second course will run from September to December 2009. Then there will be four courses in 2010.

Each class will have between 25 and 40 ANA to teach.

Only companies who reside and carry on business in Canada will be allowed to bid on the upcoming competition.

But the actual instructors can come from a variety of countries as long as they meet certain criteria. Included among those are officers who have graduated from the Canadian Land Forces Command and Staff College Army Operations Course or from U.S. Marines Expeditionary Warfare School Courses, and the U.S. Command and General Staff officer course, among a variety of U.S. courses. Others who have graduated from command and staff courses offered by Germany, France, Norway, Belgium, Australia or the United Kingdom would also be considered, sources have told Defence Watch.

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


By David Pugliese

Ottawa Citizen

It appears another attempt to change defence procurement in Canada has fallen into the black hole of the federal bureaucracy.

Last year the Conservative government asked the Canadian Association of Defence and Security Industries (CADSI) to carry-out country-wide consultations with industry executives and other interested parties to establish more efficient procurement practices.

At the time Public Works Minister Christian Paradis, whose department is responsible for developing procurement contracts, said the consultations would provide for better planning and would build on ongoing initiatives for improving defence acquisitions.

But Paradis is gone with the recent Cabinet shuffle. Rona Ambrose is in and still has to get up to speed on her portfolio, with lots of issues on the go.

CADSI delivered its report in mid-December and it promptly disappeared into bureaucratic oblivion.

Defence Watch contacted CADSI president Tim Page in December shortly after he delivered the report but more than a month later he has yet to return that phone call.

Defence sources, however, say they expect the CADSI report to languish on a shelf collecting dust for quite a while. There are questions whether it will result in any changes.

The report join the government’s much ballyhooed Shipbuilding Policy, which may or may not be unveiled in the spring.

“The Department of National Defence is working with other stakeholder Departments on a recommended shipbuilding approach that will be brought forward to the Government in due course,” DND spokeswoman Lynne Rattray told Defence Watch last month.

She never defined what “soon” meant but industry representatives think that the strategy could be ready by the end of the first quarter of this year – maybe.

Meanwhile the Arctic Patrol Ship program and the Joint Support Ship program remain in limbo until the Shipbuilding Strategy is unveiled.

The consultations led by CADSI to improve procurement were equally ambitious. “The purpose of the events is to ensure the Government of Canada gets broad input from key Defence and Security stakeholders in the development of comprehensive and viable options that could establish more efficient procurement practices and help align domestic industrial objectives with procurement priorities,” noted the invitation to industry last year to take part in the process.

At the time, CADSI president Page said the meetings would allow his organization to determine where Canadian industry believed its top capabilities are centered and in what areas it can meet national security needs. “It’s a good opportunity to quantify and qualify what Canadian industry is good at,” he added.

CADSI represents more than 800 defense and aerospace firms.

At the time Page said the Conservatives appeared serious about improving and changing the defense procurement process.

“I don’t see this, and I don’t believe they see this, as an academic exercise,” he said. “I think they are genuinely interested in understanding how the country can benefit through a strengthened domestic economy in areas of strategic national interest to Canada.”

Some industry observers wonder, however, if CADSI put itself in a precarious position. By accepting a contract from the government it limits the ability of the organization to raise concerns or criticize government action or inaction on defence procurement, according to some observers.

Canada’s domestic defence industry is not happy that the Conservative government has spent billions of dollars over the last several years purchasing new military equipment, with little of that going to Canadian-based firms.

The anger has grown with news of layoffs in the domestic aerospace sector and the fact, revealed in September, that Germany has now replaced Canada as having the fourth largest aerospace industry in the world. Canada is in fifth place with the U.S., France and Britain maintaining their positions as first, second and third, according to the study done by AeroStrategy Management Consulting in the U.S.

The study was done for the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada (AIAC) and the federal government’s Industry Canada.

AIAC president Claude Lajeunesse has praised some the changes brought in last year by Industry Minister Tony Clement to improve how the government approaches Industrial Regional Benefits or IRBs.

But Lajeunesse has also said that industry must continue to be vigilant about the issue of defence procurement and the role domestic firms can play. “While we have achieved success on IRBs and the door is open on engaging industry in revising the approach to defense procurement, we must continue to advocate for a strong Defence Industrial Base in Canada to optimize the impact of defense procurement,” he said.

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: