THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON NATIONAL SECURITY AND DEFENCE
OTTAWA, Monday, April 4, 2022
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met by videoconference this day at 2 p.m. [ET] to examine and report on issues relating to national security and defence generally.
Senator Tony Dean (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Welcome to this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.
I am Tony Dean, senator from Ontario and chair of the committee.
I’m joined today by my fellow committee members, Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais, representing Quebec, who is deputy chair of the committee; Senator Dawn Anderson, representing the Northwest Territories; Senator Pierre-Hugues Boisvenu, representing Quebec; Senator Gwen Boniface, representing Ontario, and a former chair of this committee; Senator Donna Dasko, Ontario; Senator Mobina Jaffer, representing British Columbia; Senator David Richards, representing New Brunswick; and Senator Hassan Yussuff, representing Ontario.
Those participating virtually are asked to have their microphones muted at all times unless recognized by name by the chair and will be responsible for turning their microphones on and off during the meeting.
I would also like to remind all participants that Zoom screens should not be copied, recorded or photographed. You may use and share official proceedings posted on the SenVu website for that purpose.
Today we welcome by video conference the Minister of National Defence, Minister Anita Anand. She is joining us to provide a briefing on current issues related to national security and defence generally.
The minister is accompanied by Deputy Minister Bill Matthews; General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff; Colonel Robin Holman, Acting Judge Advocate General; and Shelly Bruce, Chief of the Communications Security Establishment.
Thank you all for joining us today.
Minister Anand, let me begin by thanking you, and thanking you on behalf of Canadians, for the hard work that you do and have done every day on our behalf. That certainly goes for your current portfolio but also the important portfolio that you held before this. We’re all very grateful for that and to have you here today. I now invite you to provide your opening remarks.
Hon. Anita Anand, P.C., M.P., Minister of National Defence: Thank you so much, Mr. Chair and members of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.
Good afternoon. When I was appointed Minister of National Defence, I was given a broad mandate: ensure that the organizations under my purview are equipped to protect Canada and its interests in close collaboration with our allies and partners around the world.
The events of the past six weeks have made this work all the more urgent. Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s efforts to divide and destabilize other like-minded countries have reminded us that conflict is never as far away as we may hope. We need the tools in place to safeguard our country and our continent, while making sure we are ready to assist our friends and allies.
In the face of our greatest challenges, we must remain engaged internationally with our allies and partners in the name of peace, security, freedom and democracy, while also safeguarding our own borders and people.
I recognize that the people who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces are the most valuable and the most essential element of Canada’s defence. The strength of our Armed Forces comes down to the well-being of those who serve in it. All that we do — from procurement, to health care, to culture change — must be focused on the people who put service before self, each and every day: the members of our Armed Forces.
I want to take the next few minutes to tell you about how we are advancing our priorities. In particular, my remarks are broken into three parts: first, multilateralism; second, strong at home; third, support for people.
Multilateralism: In response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, we have provided Ukraine with more than $100 million in military assistance as well as significant humanitarian and financial aid in collaboration with Global Affairs Canada.
We have also helped strengthen Ukraine’s resilience in cyberspace in co-operation with the Communications Security Establishment.
Outside Ukraine, we also continue to work closely with our NATO allies to help protect central and eastern Europe in this crisis.
As part of these commitments, we are in the process of deploying up to 460 additional personnel to Europe, bringing the total number of Canadian Armed Forces members deployed in support of Operation REASSURANCE to approximately 1,375 — our largest international operation. We have 3,400 members on standby to deploy to the NATO Response Force, if required. We know that a multilateral approach is the only way to tackle our biggest defence and security challenges, and we have shown that we will not stand by as others try to sow division and discord.
Strong at home: The current defence and security climate has also underscored that we need to do more to bolster our defences in Canada and North America at large. To that end, in the coming months we will be bringing forward a robust package of investments to bolster our continental defence, in close cooperation with the United States.
Our efforts to keep our countries and our continent secure are closely intertwined, including through the North American Aerospace Defense Command, NORAD, and our joint efforts in the Arctic region. It’s important that we remain full and equal partners and that our efforts cut across multiple domains, including in cyberspace.
With this in mind, we are ensuring that our Communications Security Establishment (CST) personnel has the ability to carry out its critical work of protecting Canada against various cyberthreats.
Over the past year, the CST has been authorized to conduct operations that block the activities of foreign adversaries in cyberspace.
Support for people: The only way we will succeed in all of these endeavours is with well-supported, diverse and resilient people, with sufficient numbers to sustain operations and step up in times of crisis.
In response to the impacts of COVID-19 on CAF readiness, recruitment efforts and force generation, Chief of the Defence Staff, General Wayne Eyre, who is with me here today, has launched a forces-wide reconstitution program.
A key part of reconstitution is ensuring that our workplaces are free from harassment, discrimination, violence and sexual misconduct. That is why we have launched the Chief Professional Conduct and Culture organization last year, which is being led by Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan. Her organization is responsible for aligning our culture change efforts across the organization, with the goal of creating an environment free from sexual misconduct and other harmful behaviours.
We are also preparing ourselves to accept the final report from former justice of the Supreme Court, Madam Louise Arbour. She will deliver the report later this year and we will put ourselves in a position where we can accept her recommendations to eliminate sexual misconduct and harassment in the Canadian Armed Forces.
We know that a healthy workplace is essential to our success.
Mr. Chair, in conclusion, in an uncertain and changing world, Canada must remain a force for stability. We must do all we can to support our allies and partners around the world especially in times of crisis.
We must ensure that we are strong at home, especially as we face threats in traditional and non-traditional domains.
All of this comes down to having an engaged and dedicated workforce, one where our people feel safe and empowered to do their jobs. As minister, I look forward to supporting this institution as it tackles these challenges.
Thank you, meegwetch. I’m happy to take your questions.
The Chair: Thank you very much, minister. We will now proceed to questions.
I would like to note that the minister will be with us until 3 p.m. We will do our best to allow time for each member to ask a question during this first hour. A second round of questions with the officials will take place from 3 to 4 p.m. Four minutes will be allotted for each question, including the answer. I ask that you keep your questions succinct in an effort to allow as many interventions as possible.
I would like to offer the first question to our deputy chair, Senator Dagenais.
Senator Dagenais: Thank you, minister. I would like to let you know that I have been a member of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for 10 years, and you will understand my question.
I would like to know what has suddenly changed that you are announcing the purchase of F-35 aircraft, which is the same plane that was being considered seven years ago. Seven years ago, your Prime Minister stated that he would “never” buy the F-35. What has he understood in 2022 that he did not understand in 2015? I have to say that over all those years we have lost ground on the military front.
Ms. Anand: Thank you for the question and I fully understand. It is very important. What is most important is the process; that is the difference. The last time, it was not a process where we could have several suppliers with several options for a contract. This time, Public Services and Procurement Canada has conducted a process involving several suppliers and it is a rigorous process.
At the end of this process, which has not concluded, we will be able to identify a supplier that has withstood the rigour of 13 different analytical teams across four different government departments, and we will know that that is the best plane at the best price for Canadians.
I have my deputy minister, Bill Matthews, who was the deputy minister at Public Services and Procurement Canada before joining me here. I will ask him to say a few words on this issue as well.
Bill Matthews, Deputy Minister of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: I would like to add one thing. After having finalized the results, we have two suppliers who qualified. We have to proceed with negotiations to finalize a contract with Lockheed Martin, and that is the work we have just begun.
Senator Dagenais: Minister, you mentioned Lockheed Martin. Did you or your Prime Minister have meetings with Lockheed Martin lobbyists, and if so, how many meetings did you have with them?
Ms. Anand: I didn’t have any meetings with this or any other supplier. That is not my role. It was not at all a political process. I was informed of the name of the supplier just last Monday just before the news conference about this matter.
The Chair: Thank you, minister. We will have to move on.
Senator Anderson: In your mandate letter, in reference to Arctic sovereignty and the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, it states that you will ensure that Indigenous and northern communities are meaningfully consulted on its development and benefit from the work. Can you tell me what is being done to meaningfully consult with Indigenous and northern communities on Arctic defence and security and development to ensure not only are they informed and consulted but also benefit from the work? Thank you.
Ms. Anand: Thank you for that question. Of course, protecting our Arctic, especially in this changing threat environment, requires strength in domestic and continental defences, but as you said, my mandate letter requires consultation. In fact, I believe that we must consult with Indigenous peoples in order to continue down the road of modernizing Europe and ensuring our continental defence. To that end, I have been engaging directly with stakeholders — Mr. Natan Obed, for example — and I have had a number of conversations in order to ensure that I am meaningfully consulting with our northern stakeholders. I will continue to ensure that I’m doing whatever I can to engage Indigenous communities across our country and certainly in the North.
In fact, I plan to visit the North. I have spoken with the premiers of the territories as well as Mr. Obed about assisting me with formulating a meaningful and valuable way to consult.
So I’m not assuming that I know this way. I believe that part of consultation is engaging in how to undertake the process itself. I know that my department has also been very much engaged with Indigenous peoples. I will ask Mr. Bill Matthews, my deputy minister, if he could explicate those engagements as well.
Mr. Matthews: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Very quickly, a couple of points. As the work around North American Aerospace Defense Command modernization is planned, there is ongoing work to maintain the current system, so there are economic benefits there for peoples of the North. So we have been working diligently to make sure all are aware of the economic opportunities and get a fair share in terms of contracts. There has been recent news on that front as well.
Ms. Anand: I want to build on that response. I would mention that I believe Mr. Matthews is also referring to a $600 million contract that went to Nassittuq Corporation, an Indigenous supplier for the maintenance of the North Warning System. That’s the type of engagement we want to continue with to make sure that Indigenous communities are part of the process.
Senator Boisvenu: Welcome, minister. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces were very pleased with your appointment as the head of this important department.
I would like to comment on your response to Senator Dagenais. In 2015, Mr. Trudeau did not state that the process was not appropriate, but that the plane’s effectiveness did not meet requirements for protection of the Arctic.
My question is on another matter. During Ms. Joly’s last trip to Europe, when she met with NATO leaders to discuss Canadian contribution to NATO funding, we were contributing 1.3% or 1.4% of the contribution, whereas it should be 2% of GDP. Did Ms. Joly come to an agreement with NATO that instead of contributing 2%, Canada would accept 10% of Ukrainians who have fled their country, or 400,000 people. Is this true?
Ms. Anand: The way I would like us to be thinking about our commitment to NATO is at least twofold. First of all, there is the up to 2% commitment specified in the Wales agreement that NATO countries signed on to and that Prime Minister Harper advocated for. Second of all, there are the in-kind contributions that Canada continues to make to NATO.
Let me speak to each of those two items. First of all, we will see an increase in our defence spending by 70% between 2017 and 2026. The 88 new fighter jets that we discussed and announced last week are part of Strong, Secure, Engaged — part of that spending already allocated — as well as the 15 surface combatants, 6 Arctic and offshore patrol ships, 2 joint support ships and Victoria-class submarines. Seventy-five per cent of our projects under Strong, Secure, Engaged — our defence policy — are in the implementation phase near completion or completed, and we are forecasted to spend approximately 1.36% of GDP on defence in this fiscal year. This will increase by —
The Chair: We’ve lost the sound again. We just lost the last five or six seconds.
Ms. Anand: What I was explaining was that under Strong, Secure, Engaged, we are having a 70% increase in military spending over a nine-year period. We will see a number of continued procurements — 88 new fighter jets, 15 surface combatants, 6 Arctic and offshore patrol ships, 2 joint support ships, 16 fixed-wing search and rescue and Victoria-class submarines as well. That’s under Strong, Secure, Engaged where we have 75% of our projects in the implementation phase near completion or completed.
That is defence spending that is going to continue to increase over the next number of years. In addition, in terms of NATO we have to remember that Canada is the sixth-largest contributor to NATO’s commonly funded budget, and we have a number of in-kind continued commitments to NATO. For example, we recently indicated and reactivated our commitment under Operation REASSURANCE by committing up to 460 more soldiers on NATO’s eastern flank in Latvia where we had the Enhanced Forward Presence battle group and where we have a presence in the air, on land and at sea.
The bottom line is that our commitment is multifactorial. It is in multiple places. We are increasing our defence spending and we are also increasing our in-kind contributions to NATO with 3,400 troops at the ready if they are called up by NATO. My Chief of the Defence Staff, General Eyre, could further explicate our military contributions.
The Chair: We will come back to that in our next round. We have to move on.
Senator Jaffer: Minister, I’d like to welcome you to the Senate of Canada, and it’s a real honour for me to welcome you to this committee. I was in senior leadership on this committee for many years and never knew a minister offer proactively to come and speak to us. This is a first, and I’m very proud that it is you who has done so.
I have two questions, one on racism and another on harassment. Minister, you said we have to be strong at home, and I know you also agree that means we have to be representative of all populations in our country and not just a few and to support people from diverse populations — you said — to be free from discrimination. I’ll share my experience with you. While I was Canada’s envoy to the Sudan, I travelled with many Armed Forces. As the envoy, I learned from young soldiers that they often had issues with racism, but they were not able to go to any place and complain because they were fearful about promotion.
Minister, since you have become a minister, have you reached out to our diverse population in the Armed Forces?
Ms. Anand: Thank you for this question. Let me tell you that it is my honour to be here to present before your committee and senators of our government. It is the first time that I have presented before you, so thank you for having me.
I will say that this is also the first time that I have ever been asked a question about racial discrimination, and I find it striking that it has taken one visible minority woman to another visible minority woman for that to occur. So thank you for the question.
My top priority as Minister of National Defence is to foster a work environment that is inclusive, respectful and diverse so that everyone, when they put on a uniform and come to work, feels safe, protected and respected.
I have reached out to a number of our Armed Forces members. I’ve reached out to survivors and victims of sexual assault, for example. I’ve reached out to visible minority women, for example. I believe that this is part and parcel of my job every single day. To advance inclusion and diversity in our institutions, we need to have leaders at all levels of the organization embrace these principles. I feel honoured to be working with a leadership team that values inclusion and diversity the way I do.
As a visible minority woman, you can appreciate that this isn’t just an item on a check list where we tick the box when we have these conversations. For me, being a diverse and racialized Canadian means that every single day when I come to work, I am living the principle of ensuring that everyone feels included in the work that we are doing. This is an ongoing issue and an ongoing struggle, but is one that I take extremely seriously. Whether there is trouble at home or abroad, we can never lose sight of the importance of equality in our country, in our institutions and certainly here at the Department of National Defence.
Senator Dasko: Welcome to the minister for being here today. It’s really great to see you. I had no idea that previous ministers had to come kicking and screaming, but I will have to ask Senator Jaffer about that.
Well, I think Ukraine may be the most serious situation we have right now. Minister, I’d like to ask you what you and your military officials think is going to happen. I want you to tell us, if you can, what you think the scenarios are going forward. What is the end game? What is going to happen? What precisely are you expecting to happen and what are you preparing for? I know the situation changes almost daily, but where are we as of today from your perspective — from where you sit?
Ms. Anand: Thank you for the question and for the invitation to be here.
Only Vladimir Putin knows what Vladimir Putin is going to do. I think that much is clear. And our approach has been to be prepared for any and all eventualities. That’s why, even before there was a further invasion of Ukraine, we had increased our commitment under Operation UNIFIER. We had committed to the delivery of lethal and non-lethal aid and made sure that it was on the ground by February 22, again, prior to the onset of the further invasion.
As I said, our goal is to uphold the principles of security, sovereignty and stability for Ukraine by providing whatever aid we can. For my part, that has included six tranches of military aid, totalling over $110 million, as well as ensuring that we are very much committed, in lockstep, with NATO and our allies in that partnership. That means living up to the principles of deterrence and defence, the principles on which the alliance is based.
In terms of our Canadian Armed Forces, they have been undeniably important in preparing Ukrainians for this fight. Since 2015, under Operation UNIFIER, the Canadian Armed Forces have trained over 33,000 Ukrainian soldiers, including 2,000 members of the National Guard of Ukraine.
Those skills are with the Ukrainian armed forces at the current time, and we will continue to be committed to Operation UNIFIER once it is possible to do that.
All that to say, in answer to your question, we have to be prepared for every eventuality because this is a very uncertain world. The number of, I would say, very difficult scenarios that have emerged from Ukraine requires us to be all hands on deck with our allies, which is exactly what we’re doing. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, minister.
Senator Yussuff: Thank you, minister, for taking the time to be here. Thank you for your ongoing efforts as Minister of Defence.
As has been said many times both by you and the government, the modernization of NORAD is a priority for the government. Of course, since then, there was a joint statement issued in August of 2021. Can you tell us what progress has been made since the joint statement and what the engagement with the Biden administration has been so far, since the joint statement?
Ms. Anand: Thank you so much. You are exactly right to reference August 2021, in terms of that joint statement. Since I have been the minister, I have engaged a number of times with my counterpart Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the issue of NORAD modernization but also continental defence writ large.
In particular, what we are doing is working with the United States to ensure that our systems are interoperable, that our systems are compatible and that our systems will serve continental defence in the long term.
That’s why, in Budget 2021, we invested $252 million over five years to support modernization. This has included research related to all domain awareness, the North Warning System and the sustainment of the North Warning System, as well as the modernization of long-range communications and Over-The-Horizon Radar, or OTHR system.
The Arctic will continue to be a key focus of the work in terms of NORAD modernization. We will continue to engage, as I have said, with Indigenous, provincial and territorial partners. I know my Chief of the Defence Staff was just in Colorado at NORAD. He may have something to add. General Eyre?
General Wayne Eyre, Chief of the Defence Staff, Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: Thank you, Minister, and thank you for the question.
It was instructive going down to Colorado Springs last week because the threat to our continent is very clear, and it is rapidly advancing as we take a look at technological advances that adversaries are making in terms of hypersonic glide vehicles, in terms of other capabilities that could reach out and affect us here at home.
We are no longer as safe as we once were in North America. We don’t have that sense of isolation from the rest of the world. That’s why modernizing NORAD and being able to understand what is approaching our continent, to be able to control our airspace and to have an understanding of what is happening in the Maritime domain is increasingly more important as the world becomes a more dangerous place.
Senator Yussuff: Given the challenges, of course, that we face with new hypersonic missiles in development by both China and Russia, will this obviously be a primary focus in regard to NORAD modernization?
Ms. Anand: We are always focused on the threat environment. We are continually seeking to ensure that our systems, and defensive systems, in fact, are able to respond as necessary to the threat environment. That’s why the research relating to all-domain awareness and the North Warning System and the sustainment that of system has been so central. General Eyre?
The Chair: I’m sorry, we may return to this later when we have more time with you.
Senator Boniface: Thank you for being here, minister. We certainly appreciate it. I have been on the committee previously, and I’m actually filling in today for Senator Boehm.
Given the almost-five years that I served here, I would like to focus on the support for the front line, your pillar three.
You made reference to former justice of the Supreme Court, Madam Louise Arbour’s report. First, can you tell us when that may arrive? Two, in terms of expectations — and I know you won’t know the content of her report yet, but — can you tell us what you are hoping will come out of it in terms of recommendations or such like?
And, too, how do you wish to reassure Canadians through this process? Because we have seen the support for the front line in different frames, in different forms, for a number of years now. Yet we seem to still struggle with the behaviour within the Armed Forces, for whom I have great respect, for their duties and such. I must say, even I begin to question whether the reform that is required can be successfully undertaken. Could you comment on that for me, please?
Ms. Anand: Let me start with the last question, relating to reassuring Canadians. Then I will move to the arrival of Madam Arbour’s report and the expectations that I may have for it.
In terms of reassuring Canadians, I understand that when we are continually confronted by behaviour that is disrespectful and non-inclusive, then we question the ability of our institutions to change. That is why my top priority is to ensure, no matter what the rank, no matter what the position, that we take action on allegations that are brought forward.
That is why we are prioritizing work through three lines of effort — supports to survivors, accountability and culture change. As I said, we’ve committed $236 million in our last budget to eliminate sexual misconduct and gender-based violence in the Canadian Armed Forces.
When I was first appointed, I accepted the interim recommendation of Madam Arbour to transfer misconduct cases to the civilian system from the military justice system. We have passed the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. We have the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, which is expanding its services and will continue to improve processes to meet the needs of survivors. We are changing our approach so that survivors feel supported every step of the way. We are establishing a case management system to ensure that cases are investigated and resolved in a timely manner. We are increasing training from experts. We are making sure there are supports on the ground.
All of this is critical to culture change. There’s not going to be one silver bullet that we will implement that will change this overnight, but as I have said, I am deeply committed to cultural change in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Defence team writ large. I have with me here today and every day a team that is also committed. It is my top priority, because without this cultural change, we can’t build a military that is able to continue to defend our country in the strongest possible way.
That’s on your third question. Moving now to Madam Arbour’s report. We expect to receive the final report on May 20. In terms of my expectations, I have been meeting regularly with Madam Arbour. I know that her process has been very thorough and that she herself has undertaken a number of consultations and meetings. I will accord her recommendations the highest respect. I look forward to receiving them, and I look forward to acting on them.
The one thing that we should all remember is that we are not waiting for that report to act. Time is of the essence, and that is why we have been implementing the number of reforms that I have indicated. We will continue to be very forthcoming in terms of our efforts in this area. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, minister.
Senator M. Deacon: Thank you from the bottom of all of our hearts for your being here today, and your team. It is so refreshing and greatly appreciated.
With the minister present, I want to acknowledge our job to be ready to speak with you and to listen to you and to be prepared. I do have to acknowledge our Library of Parliament analysts and the work they’ve done in outlining your organization, the links between the mandate letters and so on. It is very helpful.
Mr. Martin Auger, Ms. Ariel Shapiro, Ms. Katherine Simonds, Ms. Anne-Marie Therrien-Tremblay and team, very well done. And some great questions today.
I am trying to think back only six months or five months when you move from the world of procurement and into this leadership role.
First, Afghanistan and the issues continuing in the work there are very important. As we went through, we had a domestic issue with the convoys, and then literally minutes after, the escalation of Russia and Ukraine.
I am trying to put myself behind your and your team’s mindset and how your work has shifted, particularly as a result of Ukraine and Russia, but not exclusively, with these events happening in such a short period of time over the last six months. If you don’t mind starting there.
Ms. Anand: Thank you for the question. I would say the most important thing in terms of a person’s mindset in these roles is the determination and focus that you need to bring to the role each and every day, because, as you say, the problems that have been confronting our country and government have been enormously challenging. Unless we are determined and focused, as well as collaborative, we aren’t able to reach solutions.
I can give you an example from procurement and then an example from the response to Ukraine in response to your question.
From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, in August 2020, we received from the COVID-19 Vaccine Task Force a list of vaccine suppliers with whom we should engage, and the recommendation was that we should enter into contracts with Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, and the list goes on.
All countries in the world at that time were trying to reach contracts with these same suppliers. My team at PSPC and I were very determined to be one of the first countries to reach agreements with these leading suppliers. We reached seven agreements with the suppliers in very short order, because we basically worked around the clock. We said that we don’t know which vaccine is going to be successful, so we have to have a diversified portfolio of vaccines so that we have access to whatever vaccine crosses the finish line first. Luckily enough, we were able to conclude those contracts. When Pfizer and Moderna came up with an over 90% success rate, we were well placed for Canadians to have access to the vaccines as one of the first countries in the world. That was because we were determined, focused and collaborative.
In terms of the response to Ukraine, the same holds true. At the beginning of receiving intelligence relating to the buildup of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border, we said to ourselves that we need to have a response to this. We are not going to wait until an invasion occurs. What are we going to do?
We developed an approach. We said Operation UNIFIER, which had been in place in 2015, is an incredible commitment where we’ve trained 33,000 troops. How can we re-up our commitment to Ukraine? How can we get lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukraine? What we were able to do was, as I said, put together $110 million worth of military aid in six tranches for Ukraine, with continued efforts to ensure that we have more aid on the way.
My role is to ensure that I continue to keep up the momentum as well on long-term issues: culture change in the Canadian Armed Forces, NORAD modernization, continental defence, recruitment and retention. These are issues that are not one-offs. These are issues that are long term. While we are responding to the procurement of vaccines and the war in Ukraine, we can’t forget the long term as well.
As I said, the benefit of having an excellent team is that you feel well supported, and I certainly do as minister. I hope that you will see that in the next hour when you question my officials. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much, minister.
Senator Dagenais: Minister, in 2017, the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence tabled a report, in which we voiced our concerns about our military’s urgent need for equipment. Are you aware of this report?
Ms. Anand: Yes, I am.
Senator Dagenais: That was five years ago. Why has not much been done over the past five years about the military’s urgent need for equipment?
Ms. Anand: I am aware that some people hold that view; however, I do not hold that view. I believe we have made strides in our delivery for Canadians under Strong, Secure, Engaged, our defence policy.
As I said, we are increasing our defence spending by 70% between 2017 and 2026. We have had a number of successful procurements. I will point to the six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships. Two of those ships have been delivered. One has circumnavigated the North American continent. They are incredibly important for our defence, especially in the Arctic.
In addition to that — which your previous question highlighted — 88 future fighter jets, 15 Canadian surface combatants, 2 joint support ships, Victoria-class submarines and 16 fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft. These are procurements that are ongoing now.
I do not hold the view that you expressed in your question, namely, that we are not having success in our procurements. On the contrary, we will continue to deliver for Canadians under Strong, Secure, Engaged. Thank you.
Senator Dagenais: The 98 fighter jets have not been purchased and the contract is not signed.
Ms. Anand: We are in the final phase of contracting for the 88 future fighter jets. We are at this place because we have run a process that has been fair and efficient and that has the ability to withstand the rigour of ex post facto examination.
Unlike the previous government, which was prepared to enter into a sole-source contract with a bidder, we have actually done the work to ensure that this process is not politicized and is not solely focused on one bidder. In my mind, that is what a good procurement for these fighter jets looks like and that is what we are delivering.
Senator Jaffer: Minister, I want to ask you a question about sexual harassment. I asked these questions about sexual harassment many years ago, when ministers were not so open as you’ve been today.
I was wondering if you have looked at approaches in other countries that can help us in our country to implement cultural change concerning sexual misconduct in the Armed Forces.
I want to follow up on what Senator Boniface said. From where we sit, we often wonder if there is really any change from what we hear. Have you looked at other countries in terms of what they are doing?
Ms. Anand: Yes, of course. We have done a comparative analysis of other jurisdictions that have similar institutions in place. However, I will say that the ability to implement systemic change in any institution will not occur simply as a result of passing new laws and putting in place new policies. The ability to change culture rests with individuals and the desire they have for change at all levels of an organization, in whatever country the organization exists. In other words, unless people, in their hearts and minds, want the organizations to change, the institution will not meaningfully change, in my respectful opinion.
That is why, along with General Eyre, I have been visiting bases across the country to discuss with the Canadian Armed Forces issues relating to cultural change. I believe that the will to change does exist and that the Canadian Armed Forces serve our country so well and want to continue to do that and live up to the highest principles. I have seen with my own eyes the desire to change at all levels of the organization.
As I said, this will be a process that evolves over months and years, not days, but it does require us to work on it every single day. I have already listed the various items that we have been implementing, so I will not go through that again. I will say that change is possible, but we have to remain committed to it.
Senator Boisvenu: Once again, minister, we are very pleased to have you here. You certainly have quite the challenge and you can rest assured of our co-operation.
We have never seen so many people leave the Armed Forces as we have in the past few years. I am thinking of the women who have left because of their mistreatment in cases of sexual assault, and also of others who have left because of the climate. These people find themselves under the purview of another department, the Department of Veterans Affairs.
I am the Deputy Chair of the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. We are very concerned by the lack of communication between the Department of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada. For people transitioning from military life to civilian life, there is no interaction between these two departments.
I am going to ask you a political question. Do you not think that these two departments should report to the same minister so that military members, after their career, transition more smoothly to civilian life? At present, they are completely forgotten.
Ms. Anand: I will make two points. First, on the ministerial question, I will say that the Minister of Veteran Affairs is the associate minister to the Department of National Defence. We work collaboratively. In fact, we were together at a meeting this morning discussing some of our shared files. We will continue to work collaboratively.
On the issue that you raised about recruitment and retention, I agree with you that we need to prioritize efforts to enact meaningful culture change. That is why we have launched a new retention strategy in 2022 to retain members, including from under-represented groups. The bottom line is that we are reviewing training at every level.
We have recently requested $8.5 million to improve compensation, recruitment and retention in the Canadian Armed Forces, as well as money to provide timely quality health care services to all CAF, in other words, to create an environment where members want to stay and where individuals, Canadians from all walks of life, want to come.
As I have said, we are in a rebuilding and reconstituting stage of the Canadian Armed Forces. Our efforts every day are targeted at engaging with communities across Canada to increase our membership, as well as representation from under-represented groups, so that we create a diverse, modern and agile Canadian Armed Forces. Thank you.
Senator M. Deacon: Thank you. I certainly look forward to the day you and your team can come back to talk to us about the reconstitution program and other things.
I want to return to the comments made that we’re no longer immune, that our continent is being imposed with higher and higher risk and we’re no longer a place of safety that we might have assumed, certainly over the last decade.
With that in mind, and focusing specifically on the area of cybersecurity threats, what are your thoughts on the most pressing issues in that area? I look forward to the conversation being elaborated upon by your staff after you depart the committee. Thank you.
Ms. Anand: Thank you for the question. I encourage you to engage with Chief Shelly Bruce of the CSE, who is here with me today on this question.
I will just say that her team at the CSE and in particular the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Center’s teams worked 24-7 to identify compromises and alert potential victims within the federal government and Canadian critical infrastructure. For example, the CSE’s Cyber Centre has alerted Canada critical infrastructure operators to be aware of risks and has provided them with expert advice to mitigate against known Russian-backed cyber threat activity. We are very much conscious that we need to have the tools in place to monitor, detect and investigate potential threats to take active measures to address them. We will always make sure that we are alerting Canadian organizations, the Canadian public and government actors relating to any mitigation advice we might have, any alerts relating to malware and other tactics, techniques and procedures that may be being used by foreign actors to target victims.
I’m really glad you raised cybersecurity. It is one of the most important areas for us to continue to focus on in the long term as the type of threats that affect countries in times of war. Thank you.
The Chair: This brings us to the end of our time with Minister Anand.
Minister Anand, thank you on behalf of this committee for taking the initiative and asking us proactively to come here. Thank you for giving generously of your time and your openness in responding to some very difficult, tough and relevant questions. We hope to see you back. We will look forward to talking to your officials. We wish you all the very best. So thank you for joining us again.
Ms. Anand: Thank you so much for having me.
The Chair: Senators, General Eyre, Deputy Minister Matthews, Colonel Holman and Ms. Bruce will be with us for the remainder of the meeting. They have graciously agreed to stay behind to continue answering our questions. I know you have many questions.
Moving forward, I will ask that members identify to whom each question is directed, if possible.
The next question goes to Senator Yussuff to follow up with his question to General Eyre.
Senator Yussuff: Maybe the general still remembers the question and has an answer that he was about to give. Please continue, and I have a brief follow up.
Gen. Eyre: Mr. Chair, if we could confirm the question again.
The Chair: The question was on the new generation of missile technology and in particular hypersonic missiles. I think the senator was asking for your thoughts on that as we go forward. How far are we behind? Can we catch up? That was the nature of the question.
Gen. Eyre: Absolutely. A key component of NORAD modernization is going to have to be investing in research and development because this technology is advancing so fast.
If we look at the security environment and the major drivers of change in the security environment, the technological acceleration in a number of these key technologies is one of the things we have to stay ahead of. Specifically with hypersonic glide vehicles, the challenge it presents is one of detectability. It’s very difficult to detect because they are moving so fast. What that means is it reduces decision space, so decision makers do not have as much time to decide what to do and be able to communicate what those decisions are. That means much more investment in the digital backbone to enable our command and control to happen.
Senator Yussuff: My question is along the same direction of the modernization of NORAD. What’s the time frame that both Canada and the United States have set to complete the modernization of NORAD?
Gen. Eyre: Mr. Chair, it’s my understanding that no time frame has been set yet. Once we have policy cover, that would allow us to go into negotiations. Perhaps our deputy minister may have a more informed answer on that one.
Mr. Matthews: It will be a multi-year process of many years. Depending on the detailed project plans, obviously that will shift. You’re looking at a multi-year endeavour working hand in hand with our allies to prioritize and land the specific plans. Until there has been a formal decision made, I cannot be more specific than that.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Jaffer: My question is to General Eyre. General, I want to say that I’m a child from Africa, and I often hear from family members and others that one of the most amazing things about our Canadian Armed Forces is that they work during the day, and during their free time they help build hospitals and orphanages and become very much part of the community. General, it’s a real pride to know that our Canadian Armed Forces are involved with the community. Please share that message with the people you work with because it’s amazing what they do on the ground.
General, you heard my question to the minister on racism. Before I ask that question as to how you are implementing it, personally, I want to find out from you — in the past I asked questions on sexual harassment and found that one of the things the Armed Forces implemented is bystander responsibility. Does that still exist and how is it being implemented?
Gen. Eyre: Thank you for the recognition, first of all, and for the question.
I have been on numerous overseas peacekeeping and other operations where I have seen the generosity of our members getting involved in their spare time to embark on projects to help out local communities. It’s really a generous sharing from them. I think that speaks to the culture of our country being reflected in your Armed Forces.
In terms of racism, bystander training in particular, that is one of the many different initiatives that we must continue. First of all, bystanders must be empowered to intervene, to report and to do something. They have a duty to do something. That training must continue. But it speaks to the wider value we have to embrace, and that’s the value of inclusiveness. In the short term, we will be publishing a new military ethos. In there, the value of inclusion is going to be front and centre because we have to. When I look at our culture and aspects of it that has to change, it’s the exclusionary nature of pockets within this institution. Embracing the value of inclusion where we can attract and retain talent from all segments of the Canadian population, where all feel like they can truly belong, contribute and be part of the team. We recently launched a number of initiatives with respect to inclusion, which will help address the racism issue you talked about.
Senator Jaffer: I’m really glad you’re doing that. I speak to a diverse population of the Armed Forces. Attracting them is easy because you go into the schools, you go to the cadets and you attract them, and they are very much committed to the Armed Forces. What they tell me is that being recognized, being promoted, those are challenges, and they perceive that it’s because of who they are.
What I want to know is what you are implementing on the ground to keep and retain the people who look like me.
Gen. Eyre: Thank you for that question. Numerous initiatives are being put in place to ensure that we have a much greater fairness and perspective of fairness, whether it’s the composition of promotion boards, the composition of succession boards, to introducing more of what I like to call the human dimension in all aspects of leadership training — understanding emotional intelligence; power dynamics; understanding biases, unconscious biases and being better able to cater for that. There is not one single standalone initiative that will solve it. There will be multiple initiatives that are implemented with vigour.
Senator Anderson: This is an open question as I’m not sure who is best positioned to answer it. Given the renewed urgency for Arctic defence security in the North and the need to ensure that Canada is prepared for threats and rapid advancements, last week, in the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, there were questions on the delay of the Inuvik airport runway extension, a time-sensitive project due to weather and seasons in the Arctic. It is a critical infrastructure project that would allow the airport to operate as a forward operating location.
Can you speak to the delay of the Inuvik runway? What does this mean to the timelines? Further, what is being done in the interim in the Inuvik region to ensure there are military infrastructure and necessary operational space until such a time as the runway is extended?
Mr. Matthews: I will start. It’s possible the chief may wish to add something; I’ll leave that up to him.
There’s a lot in that question so maybe some of this will have to be sent to you in writing afterwards. The project has encountered some delay, no doubt. We are working with the territorial government and my colleagues up there to figure out the best path forward, both from a project timeline perspective but also from a budgetary perspective. As members would know, projects of this magnitude are always complex. They are more complex in the North with the short seasons, et cetera. Certainly, we are acknowledging the importance of the project and the need to do a bit of a reset and come up with revised timelines. That work is ongoing now. I can’t give you specific information on new timelines or project details at this stage, but it has been raised at the highest levels.
The Chair: Do you have a follow-up or a different question, Senator Anderson?
Senator Anderson: I have nothing further, but I would appreciate anything further in writing.
The Chair: I’m sure that will be provided. Thank you.
Senator Boniface: I have two questions. The first is for General Eyre.
I was struck, again, by some issues that were reported in a recruit class. You may be aware; you are nodding. It strikes me that you’re in difficulty as an organization from top to bottom in terms of the work that you’re trying to do. I appreciate the work you’re trying to do, but it worries me that you are detecting issues in the very first days when people are in your organization. I wonder how that has impacted your recruitment processes and how you look for different candidates.
I have a second question for Ms. Bruce when you are finished with your answer. Thank you, General Eyre, for being here.
Gen. Eyre: Thank you for the question. I have to say when I heard of this case I was disappointed — disappointed that there are those who still harbour these attitudes and beliefs.
We have to remember we’re talking about recruits who had maybe five or six weeks in the military. How do we get better at identifying those beliefs? It is very hard to do if they are not manifested in behaviours beforehand. That’s something our recruiting group is looking at. It’s far from perfect when these beliefs are out there in Canadian society.
On the other hand, I am happy that the staff and the chain of command took decisive action when they realized there was a problem. They said, “Okay. We’re going to stop it right here. We will take action. We will get investigations under way and do what is necessary.” There was a realization that, yes, these beliefs and behaviours are incongruent with the values we are pushing.
Senator Boniface: Ms. Bruce, welcome. You will recall that Bill C-59, from our last Parliament, gave you powers to initiate active cyberoperations. You may not be able to tell me whether those powers have been used, but perhaps you can tell me whether or not those powers have become an effective tool, among all the tools you have in defending Canada’s information sovereignty.
Shelly Bruce, Chief, Communications Security Establishment: Thank you for the question. You are absolutely right. The legislation did give us the authority to conduct foreign cyberoperations, both defensive and active cyberoperations. I can confirm that authorizations are in place for both those activities, but I can’t really speak to any operational details and the frequency of their use.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms. Bruce.
Senator Dasko: Thank you to everyone for being here today. My question is for General Eyre, and it has to do with the issue of sexual harassment, which seems to be such an intractable problem for the Armed Forces.
As the minister said, the policies seem to be in place but what is needed is a culture change. I want to drill down on that for a moment to ask you how culture change happens. How does it happen? Is it dealt with through attrition, or is it dealt with only through recruitment? Is there a focus on particular sections of the forces? I would like your point of view as to how that process actually does happen. Thank you.
Gen. Eyre: Thank you for the question. On culture change, I’ll admit right up front that I’m not an expert, nor do I have all the answers for this. We have sought answers from within the organization, from experts outside of the organization, to help us on this journey because our history speaks for itself, and we have not gotten this right. We need to get that help.
Second, there is no one single initiative that will get us out of this. I do think, though, that we need a change in philosophical approach from what we have had before.
What we have had before is very rules-based, regulations-based. We have a “thou shall not” list of rules and regulations. We still need that, but we have to couple that with a values-based approach as well. “These are the values which we espouse. These are the values we want you to live up to. These are the values we want you to weave through your daily lifestyle.” So one can either rise up to the values or sink to the level of the regulations that are in place. We absolutely need both. I talked earlier about the value of inclusion. Again, I firmly believe that embracing and incentivizing that value is what we need to do. One of the many initiatives that have been put in place very recently is that we published a guide to assessing inclusive behaviour. Building that into our assessment framework will be important as well — and keeping this up day in and day out.
I myself talk to survivors on a regular basis to make sure that what we’re doing is survivor-informed. We’ve been standing up with the Chief Professional Conduct and Culture. It’s super important, I can tell you, as we’ve been consumed with crisis after crisis in the security environment, to have an organization that is solely focused on making the changes that are so necessary for our future. This is not delegating our responsibility because responsibility still ultimately rests with the minister, myself and the deputy minister. But having an organization that is focused day in and day out on making these changes while we continue to deliver operational excellence on behalf of Canadians is so important.
I will finish by saying that the other aspect to make lasting culture change — and I’m happy to see this — are initiatives coming up from the grassroots level. Young, junior members who want to change, who realize things need to be changed and who feel empowered to make that change are putting in place initiatives at their unit level to make those local initiatives for local issues. What we’re trying to do is harvest the ones that work and collect these as best practices.
So hopefully that answers your question.
Senator Dasko: Yes, thank you very much.
The Chair: Senator Richards, I know that you’re challenged in terms of reaching us. If you want to email a question to us, we will present it on your behalf.
Senator Richards: I’m going to write to the minister with my questions, and she said she would answer.
Senator Boisvenu: Welcome to our guests. My question is for General Eyre. General, as you know, our committee is undertaking a very important study on security and defence in the Arctic. This study will permit us to report on the Armed Forces’ resources to carry out this role.
I would like to know about the situation with respect to communications between the Americans and the Canadians. We know that the Americans fund 60% of the cost of protecting the North, whereas Canada funds 40%. We also know that in the past few years, the Russians have established 18 military bases. I believe that Canada has three. If my information is correct, the Russians have about 20 planes, 100 submarines and 1,200 military personnel in the Arctic while we only have about 90.
Can you tell us if Canada has a short-term action plan to catch up to the Russians? Are discussions taking place about the Americans funding part of the costs that will have to be incurred to better protect the Arctic?
Finally, does Canada intend to establish as many military bases in the Arctic as the Russians have in the past few years to ensure an increased presence in the Arctic?
Gen. Eyre: Thank you for your question. I can say that we continue to work with our American colleagues. We just finished two exercises in the Far North with the Americans, the first in Alaska and the second at our bases in the Far North.
You spoke about infrastructure, and, in my opinion, this is a major challenge for us.
There is no way we will be able to match the amount of infrastructure that the Russians have in the North. What we have to do, given the limited nodes of infrastructure that we have in the North and for the protection of our sovereignty, is to increase our options in terms of deployment.
The Russians have permanently stationed troops in the North. I’m not convinced that is a viable solution for us. I am more convinced that if we have a series of sets of austere infrastructure, we can project force from the South on a persistent basis and project those capabilities that are required given the situation at hand, whether it’s additional forward-operating locations for our jets that are part of NORAD, projecting search and rescue capabilities based on certain events or projecting additional land forces to deal with climate change and natural disasters resulting from that. I think your point on infrastructure is a key one.
The Chair: Thank you very much for the question and answer. We now go to Senator Dagenais. Senator Dagenais, please speak slowly because we have been having a little bit of a problem at picking up your words.
Senator Dagenais: My question is for General Eyre. General, Canada sent two ships to Europe to participate in NATO naval forces. I would like to talk about Royal Canadian Navy members.
Just last year, we were told that we are short about 1,000 sailors. Will Canada have to abandon, reduce or turn down participating in certain operations because of a lack of well-trained personnel? In how many months or perhaps years do you think you will be able to train new members for the navy?
Gen. Eyre: Thank you for your question. That is why I ordered the Canadian Armed Forces Reconstitution Plan. We have a shortage of personnel in the navy, army and air force.
With every mission, we find a balance between what is required overseas and what we need to do back here to reconstitute the Armed Forces. As part of the reconstitution plan, I have three priorities.
One is people, and the first part of that is addressing the cultural aspects that we need to address. Two is operations because we absolutely have to continue to deliver on operations for Canada. Three is modernization. We cannot mortgage our future by being overly focused on what’s happening in the present. Really, it’s the mid-level leadership, the implementation capacity and the change capacity that is so important.
So every decision we make, whether it’s starting a new course or deploying a capability overseas, we make through the lens of reconstitution to be able to achieve the balance —
— among the three priorities.
Senator M. Deacon: I would like to come back to where I left off with the minister and that is this area of cybersecurity and growth, both domestically and internationally, as a very rapid, growing issue. Could you comment from your perspective? Thank you.
Ms. Bruce: Thank you so much for the question. You’re absolutely right about the growth of the threat surface out there. This is something that we see growing in terms of the number of actors out there, the sophistication of the actors and the types of activity that are being carried out. It’s a 24-7 proposition, and our mandate positions us nicely with our foreign intelligence cyber mandate — as well as our cybersecurity mandate — to see what’s happening out there, to be prepared for Canada and to pass that information along.
We write up some of the insights we have in terms of national threat assessments. The last one really focused on state actors and how sophisticated and strategic that threat is to Canada. We named Russia, China, Iran and North Korea as the key actors in that space, but we also noted that it’s actually non-state actor — cybercriminals — that pose the greatest threat to Canada.
Among their tactics, you will know ransomware is a popular technique. Just before Christmas, four ministers joined to do a bit of a ransomware campaign in an open letter to Canadians and small and medium enterprises to help raise the bar and to alert them to the threats that are out there.
We’re always trying to do more to remove the threat that is out there. We have been able to take down about 12,000 entities that are pretending to be the Government of Canada, for instance, and spreading false information or trying to dupe or lure Canadians into different malicious spaces. We’re working to share our unique intelligence-informed threat feeds with commercial entities so that they can take actions to help protect their systems and to pass that on to Canadians.
The bottom line is that we’re trying to focus on the best defence being a good defence, regardless of who the actor is, because even the most basic cybersecurity measures will help raise that bar and inoculate most of us from the kinds of threats that are out there.
Gen. Eyre: Mr. Chair, if I can add from a Canadian Armed Forces perspective. We continue to invest in our cyber capability as well. That’s absolutely necessary, because the character of conflict is changing, and we’re seeing much more integration of the five domains of operations: air, land, sea, space, cyber. Getting that integrated on operations is very important.
We’re investing in our defensive cyber capability and our offensive cyber capability. It’s nascent. We’re working very closely with Ms. Bruce and her team, but it is definitely a growth industry for the Armed Forces.
The Chair: Thank you. We have a question from Senator Richards for General Eyre: Do we have one full division within our Armed Forces?
Gen. Eyre: Mr. Chair, it would depend upon how you define a division. If we look at it in the classic manœuvre sense of a division headquarters and three brigades plus division troops, I would say we would be very challenged to deploy that overseas right now.
The challenge is not the manœuvre of brigades. It is the division troops that would come along with that, so the ground-based air defence and the long-range precision strike capability that would go along with that. That being said, in the Canadian context and with most of our allies, with the exception of the Americans, the division is still relevant but less relevant than the brigade level in the structure.
In the Canadian Armed Forces, we continue to train at brigade level. We continue to have a brigade on high readiness and everything that is associated with that.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Boisvenu: My question is for General Eyre. General, according to our information, the Canadian Armed Forces are short some 12,000 men and women — which is huge — to form brigades, as you just mentioned. I am undoubtedly past the recruitment age for the armed forces, however, at the time, there was a lot of information in the media. There were promotional campaigns in schools and CEGEPs, because we know that the Armed Forces provide very good training programs — that cannot be denied — in the air force, the navy and the army. I no longer see that kind of advertising in conventional media or even on social media. Do the Armed Forces have a strategy that will soon be implemented to get young people to join the Armed Forces?
In Quebec, 50% of male students do not finish their secondary studies. In my opinion, the Armed Forces would be an excellent option for pursuing a trade or profession. Some families cannot afford and encourage their children to pursue post-secondary studies. When will we see a strong advertising campaign to get people to join the Canadian Armed Forces?
Gen. Eyre: Thank you for the question. I will start by addressing the first point.
Right now, in terms of our strength on the regular Force side, our trained effective establishment is short by about 7,600 members. That is on the Regular Force side. The reason for that is over the course of the pandemic, our recruiting has gone down while, at the same time, what we should have has gone up because of the additional positions we received as part of the defence policy. So that is a huge problem.
Second, to go straight to your question, yes, I was recently briefed on the new attraction campaign that will be coming out shortly. That is focused on those groups that we would like to attract to the Canadian Armed Forces, whether it is different segments of Canadian society or different occupations.
Finally, I would like to address one of the other parts of your question, which is the nature of the people that we attract. We have to remember that many of our trades are very technical in nature and require a certain degree of education before coming in. High school graduates, for example. These trades are becoming increasingly more difficult to attract. The technicians for all services. We have to be much more targeted in whom we’re reaching out to.
Senator Boisvenu: If we are having trouble recruiting young people because they often do not have a secondary school diploma, could the Armed Forces not complete the training of young people so they can attain a minimum level of education, such as Grade 12 or Secondary V, and then guide them to the trades? Why not bridge that gap in the Armed Forces to retain more young people, who, in turn, could have a career in the Armed Forces?
Gen. Eyre: Mr. Chair, I will take that away and ask the team about the viability of that suggestion.
My sense is, it is going to be one of capacity. How many programs do we get ourselves involved in, given our limited capacity to do that?
That being said, throughout my career, I have seen members of the Canadian Armed Forces who did not enter with a high school education and finished their high school education as part of their service. So there is some possibility there.
Senator Boisvenu: I am thinking of the Royal Military College Saint-Jean in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. I live not very far from the college. This college can accommodate almost 1,000 students; it is under-utilized. If it is difficult to attract young people to technical courses that are about college level, do you not believe that the Armed Forces could give itself the tools to encourage young people without the minimum requirements to stay in the Armed Forces? You will always have this recruitment problem if you do not bridge the gap between the minimum requirements and the qualifications that young people are lacking.
Gen. Eyre: I will ask the team here to study that suggestion.
Senator Boisvenu: Thank you very much, general.
The Chair: Ms. Bruce, Canadians don’t often hear much about the Communications Security Establishment, and probably for good reason. I would like to ask you to give us and Canadians, the people watching, a thumbnail sketch of your mandate and what it is that is asked of you by the government and Canadians, and to comment also on the degree to which your establishment communicates and shares information with other organizations inside Canada and outside of it, just at a general level. I think there would be a great deal of interest in this, and you are here, and we should pull as much information from you as we possibly can.
Ms. Bruce: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
We have a five-part mandate at CSE. It is a very cyber-centric mandate and it is laid out in the Communications Security Establishment Act, which was passed in 2019.
The first mandate is collecting foreign intelligence directed at foreign entities outside of Canada through cyberspace. Signals intelligence is what it is often called.
The second mandate is to help defend and protect Canadian infrastructure — government and federal systems and non-federal systems. This allows us to take some of our expertise and use it to help protect critical infrastructure sectors in Canada.
The third and fourth mandates are tied together. It is the foreign cyber operations mandate. This allows us to conduct defensive cyber operations that could maybe neutralize a threat outside of Canada before it manifests itself in Canada. The fourth part is to conduct active cyber operations. This is taking action online in line with Canada’s strategic objectives to advance our international affairs, defence and security objectives. Both those two mandates, because they focus on activities outside of Canada and infrastructure outside of Canada, are done in a bit of a two-key system between the Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Our last mandate is one of assistance. You can imagine all of the technical expertise and capability that we have to develop for the first four parts of that mandate. What we try to do is to make that available to other national security agencies in Canada, like CSIS or federal law enforcement like the RCMP but also the Canadian Armed Forces. As General Eyre laid out their mandate, first conducting cyber operations. This allows us to recycle some of our capability and expertise to support them.
As you can see, it is a well-rounded five-part mandate. The pieces are very much interdependent. There are lots of checks and balances, of course. The authorities are given to us by the Minister of National Defence, but we’re also reviewed by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians as well as the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency. They have remits to look at everything we do.
The second part of your question was around what we share. We have very strong sharing arrangements within the security and intelligence community here. We partner very closely within our own portfolio here with the Canadian Armed Forces and also, as I mentioned, with CSIS, RCMP and CSA. There are so many other elements within the Canadian landscape that can benefit from both the intelligence that we provide but also the cybersecurity advice and guidance.
There’s not one organization that we don’t really help because we do have to defend Government of Canada systems. So all of those departments are within that remit and we share alerts with them.
We work very closely with our allies, especially the Five Eyes, to share intelligence and tradecraft and research and development.
Of course, there is an even broader almost global arrangement of CERTS, Computer Emergency Response Teams, that are out there. Every country has one. We are the CERT for Canada. We have to exist within that broad fabric to share tips and alerts around cyber incidents with every country in the world. I could go on.
The Chair: That’s lovely, thank you. That is what I was looking for. It is highly appreciated.
Senator Yussuff: My question is for Mr. Matthews. We will face challenges in procurement of new equipment to meet the Canadian Armed Forces’ needs over the next period of time. One of the challenges we face as a country, of course, is to get delivery of this equipment in a timely manner, but equally, of course, getting them to meet the costs that have been agreed to by the government and the department. We have seen, time and time again, cost overruns and delays in the delivery of equipment that we are trying to secure.
Can you shed some light on what we have learned and how we intend to put the mechanisms in place to ensure that we do not see the same challenges repeat themselves as we are going forward in securing equipment? The F-35s are on the top of the list, many of our ships have not been delivered on time and the cost overruns have been broadly known. How can we assure Canadians that we are going to do better as we move forward to secure more equipment?
Mr. Matthews: There are a couple of points in there that I would respond to. It is hard to speak to procurement generically, but I would use a different word than “procurement.” I would say, “acquisition of capability,” because I think when we use “procurement” we focus too much on the competitive process that ends up with a contract. The process started much earlier than that. It is really around where we start. We start with defining a capability that the Canadian Armed Forces needs — that could be a plane, a gun or a ship — and what goes in that.
Can we speed up that process? Yes. I think the member has spoken to both delay and cost overruns. Delays equal cost overruns. We are in inflation, and the defence industry has higher than average inflation. Any bit of delay will generally result in cost overrun.
If you are in a world where you are adding capability, and because of the nature of our Armed Forces, in many cases we try to make our assets do multiple things, and it might be the right decision, but you are adding complexity and risk.
I think more recently you referenced shipbuilding. That was a developmental industry, and we were trying to stand back up in Canada. It came with all sorts of risk. The risk was accepted, but I think underestimated.
You have to separate it. Are we buying something very basic or something more developmental in nature and trying to re-establish an industry? I think that we have to be more tolerant where we’re being developmental in nature versus something very basic.
In terms of how you manage costs, there are a couple of things that you can do. You can do your homework on suppliers. The other thing you can do is to scale your projects to budget. Depending on the project, you can say that we have $20 million available, full stop. What can we get with that and how do we best divide it up? Or, if it is a critical capability that the Canadian Armed Forces needs, you cannot really take that approach. So understanding where you are taking risks, how complicated the project is, et cetera.
I think the more recent announcement around the F-35s, there is a well-established MOU there that offers some price protection that ensures that Canada will be treated like its allies — not a fixed price, but you will see that members will be treated equally. They are all different.
Again, I think the point for me to underscore here is where we are adding complexity and when we’re trying to be developmental in nature, which sometimes we are, it comes with additional risk both on schedule and cost. We need to understand that and probably be a little bit more open in our assessment of those risks.
Senator Jaffer: General Eyre, former justices of the Supreme Court, Morris Fish and Louise Arbour had recommended that all current and future investigations involving allegations and future investigations of sexual assault should be transferred from the military justice system to the civilian justice system. The minister said, from what I understood, that she was implementing that.
Has the transfer begun? When will it be finished?
Gen. Eyre: Mr. Chair, thank you for the question.
Yes, the transfer has begun. I do not know when it will be finished because it is dependent on the willingness of individual jurisdictions to receive the cases. So that’s the process that is under way right now.
I would ask Colonel Holman, our acting Judge Advocate General, if he has more details for you on this.
Colonel Robin Holman, Acting Judge Advocate General, Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: Thank you very much for the question.
The transfers have started. The Canadian Forces Provost Marshal and the Director of Military Prosecutions are both the independent actors who deal with the investigation and the prosecution of offences under The Code of Service Discipline have made public statements. In fact, they have made their policies public in respect of transferring both historic cases, those for which the investigation was ongoing and future cases to their counterparts.
As General Eyre indicated, there are some challenges we’re working through to make sure we have a clean handoff of those cases, or, at least, CFPM and DMP are doing that with their provincial, federal and territorial counterparts. But the effort is ongoing, and I think they would say, if they were here, that they are pleased with the degree of cooperation they are receiving from their counterparts.
The Chair: Thank you.
Senator Boniface: My question is a follow-up to Senator Jaffer’s question. I was going to ask a very similar one.
I’m from Ontario, and it would seem to me that we find ourselves in a very challenging time right now with our provincial court systems, despite the impact of COVID and the backlog. I do not know if this would be for Colonel Holman or General Eyre, but have you taken that into consideration, and have you raised any concerns, because I cannot imagine, if you are moving historical cases, and then they get caught up in the civilian system, how difficult that is going to be for the victims in such cases?
Col. Holman: Thanks very much for the question.
I absolutely accept the concern, and I think it is fair to say that discussions have been undertaken at local levels between the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal and local chiefs of police. Also, at the political level, the minister has engaged with her federal, provincial and territorial counterparts and engaged in writing and in one-on-one meetings occasionally to try and work through the issues to make sure we have that clean handoff.
As I’m sure you know, there are a number of federal, provincial and territorial working groups and committees, all the way from the level of ministers of justice, through deputy ministers, through heads of prosecution and so on, and we have been engaged at all of those levels.
For instance, I had occasion — supported by Minister Mendicino, as it was under the circumstances, because the minister was wrapped up with matters related to Ukraine — to discuss the issue in a brief with federal, provincial, and territorial ministers of justice and ministers responsible for public safety. And similarly at the DM level earlier.
I think it is fair to say all of the issues that you have raised are live and things that need to be considered. But the one piece that is important for everybody to recognize — and this has been the case across all of our interlocutors — is that this is jurisdiction that has always existed in the civilian criminal justice as well. It is concurrent jurisdiction or has been concurrent jurisdiction between the military justice system and the civilian system, so everybody recognizes that we have to find a forum for these cases to be dealt with and to be heard. Everybody is working constructively to that end.
The Chair: Thank you, Colonel Holman.
Senator Dagenais: General Eyre, I would like to talk to you about the vaccination of Armed Forces members. How many unvaccinated soldiers have been discharged since the start of the pandemic? To what extent does their departure exacerbate the personnel shortage of the Armed Forces? Last year, we heard that the Armed Forces were short about 12,000 members.
Gen. Eyre: Thank you for the question.
Gen. Eyre: Mr. Chair, to be clear, I did not say we were 12,000 short. I indicated a shortfall of 7,600 on our regular force side. But losing those members who have refused to be vaccinated, yes, it has contributed to our declining numbers.
Let me be clear: We are an institution that is predicated on protecting others and protecting our team members. We are predicated on teamwork, so we have to be willing to protect others and be willing to not put our teammates in harm’s way. Those whom we lost, those who have left because they have not been vaccinated, we can’t operationally deploy them. They can’t go to many of the countries that we are deployed to, because those countries have vaccine mandates. They can’t go on an aircraft. They can’t go on a ship. They can’t go in dining halls. So the operational deployment of these members was problematic. Having them struck from our rolls has little operational impact, given these factors.
The Chair: General Eyre, our final question goes to Senator Dasko.
Senator Dasko: My question is for General Eyre. I’m back to the Ukraine situation for a moment. I would like to ask you, from a military point of view, given the knowledge and intelligence that you have, what, if anything, has surprised you about the unfolding of events in Ukraine?
Gen. Eyre: Thank you for the question. I’m sure there will be books written on this for decades to come about the surprises that we have seen.
I think the lack of early success by the Russians is something that has surprised many of us, and it is many of the basics that have caused this lack of success: lack of maintenance, lack of the ability to integrate combined arms, lack of their ability to achieve air dominance. We can get into some detail on each of those, but there are many surprises ranging from the tactical level of deployment to the operational level plan to the strategy of it in the first place.
I will say this event has caused us to face the most dangerous time in the world in generations. We have to continue to be prepared for what may come, because I, for one, am worried as to how this could finish up.
Senator Dasko: May I ask a follow-up? I asked this question of the minister, too, but I will pose it to you as well. What are the most likely scenarios at this point in time going forward?
Gen. Eyre: Mr. Chair, I don’t know, but I do know there are certain things we have to keep at the top of our mind. Let’s call them objectives.
I would say the first one is avoiding the escalation to a nuclear war. Over the course of the Cold War, there was a lot of thought on deterrence and the nuclear escalation ladder and how to avoid that. Those lessons are being rapidly relearned right now.
But it is more complex now, because in the Cold War it was bipolar. Now, it is multipolar when you bring China into this.
We have to maintain NATO cohesion, and I think going back to the question of surprises, this is the pleasant surprise, just how cohesive NATO has become. It has gone back to its raison d’étre and the collective defence, and so that is something that has to be maintained.
We have to keep Ukraine free, and that speaks to maintaining the international order and the support for democracies. Reconciling those three things will be the challenge, I believe, of the West going forward.
We have to remember that China is watching. China is learning from what is going on, tactically and operationally, what is happening in the information environment, technologically what works, what lessons they take away as they continue to underwrite the atrocities that are happening in Russia, underwriting through political, moral and economic support.
We are facing a much more dangerous world as we go forward.
The Chair: Thank you, General Eyre.
Great question, and what a terrific answer to complete our discussion this afternoon.
This brings us to the end of our meeting. On behalf of the committee and Canadians, those who are watching this today, and those who don’t have the opportunity to do that, I want to thank General Eyre, Deputy Minister Matthews, Colonel Holman and Ms. Bruce for this helpful and very candid discussion today. It has been a gripping one. I thank you all, and I thank my colleagues for their good questions.
Our next meeting will take place on Monday, April 25, at our unusual time, 2:00 p.m. EST.
With that, I wish everyone a good evening.
(The committee adjourned.)