Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 3 - Evidence, April 19, 2004
OTTAWA, Monday, April 19, 2004
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 5:17 p.m. to examine and report
on the need for a national security policy for Canada.
Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the Chair.
The Chairman: Honourable senators, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence. Tonight we will hear testimony regarding the upcoming foreign policy and defence
My name is Colin Kenny I am a senator from Ontario and I chair the committee.
On my immediate right is our distinguished deputy chair, Senator Forrestall from Nova Scotia. After an early career
as a journalist with the Halifax Chronicle-Herald he was elected to the House of Commons in 1965 and has served the
constituents of Dartmouth for more than 39 years. He has followed defence matters throughout his parliamentary
career and served on various parliamentary committees, including the 1994 Special Joint Committee on Canada's
Defence Policy. He has chaired the Special Committee on Transportation, Safety and Security and the Subcommittee
on Transportation Safety. Currently, he is a member of the Standing Joint Committee on the Library of Parliament.
On my far right is Senator Jim Munson from Ontario. He is best known to Canadians as a trusted journalist and
public affairs specialist. He was nominated twice for a Gemini for excellence in journalism. He reported news for close
to 30 years, most recently as a television correspondent for the CTV network. After a brief period of consulting with
the minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, he joined the Prime Minister's Office, first as special communications
adviser and then as director of communications.
Senator Munson is also a member of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration
economy and the Standing Senate Committee on Official Languages.
Beside him is Senator Norman Atkins from Ontario. He came to the Senate in 1986 with a strong background in the
field of communications. Senator Atkins served as an adviser to the former Premier of Ontario, Mr. Bill Davis. During
this time as a senator, he has concerned himself with a number of education and poverty issues. As well, he has
championed the cause of Canadian Merchant Navy veterans. Over the years Senator Atkins has been involved in the
community with a number of charities, including the Canadian Diabetes Association. Senator Atkins is also a member
of the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration and on our Subcommittee on
On my far left is Senator Meighen from Ontario. He is a successful lawyer and businessman who is active in a wide
range of charitable and educational institutions. He is the Chancellor of King's University College in Halifax and was
appointed to the Senate in 1990. He has a strong background in defence matters and served on the 1994 Special Joint
Committee on Canada's Defence Policy. Currently, he is chair of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. Senator
Meighen is also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce and the Standing
Senate Committee on Fisheries and Oceans.
I would like to pause now from our usual introduction for a special commemoration.
Last summer, our committee was saddened by the sudden death of our researcher, Mr. Grant Purves. In our recent
report on emergency preparedness, we included a dedication to him as a tribute to his many years of service on
Parliament Hill. The dedication read:
Grant Purves joined the Parliamentary Research Branch of the Library of Parliament in 1974. He was assigned to
the Committee at its inception in mid-2001 and he worked for it until his passing two years later.
Grant was a warm, kind, easy-going person and a wonderful colleague. He approached everything — be it
fathering, his work with the Branch, or his reading and research — with a thoroughness and dedication that was
respected and appreciated.
He was a multi-faceted person. He was intellectually curious but also practical, a builder of his home, a scholar
and a gentlemen.
We miss him very much.
This evening we would like to present formally a copy of this report to Ms. Monique Hébert, Mr. Purves' widow.
We have a copy of the report and the committee's plaque that we would like her to have.
Hon. Members: Hear, hear!
The Chairman: I am honoured to be able to make this presentation to you. Grant was very, very important to all of
Ms. Monique Hébert: Thank you, senator. I am very honoured that Grant would be remembered with such kindness
The Chairman: You are welcome. It is only about 10 pounds in weight. Grant would have loved it!
Ms. Hébert: Grant would have probably hated the fuss. Thank you.
The Chairman: Ours is the first permanent Senate committee mandated to examine security and defence. Since the
committee's inception in mid-2001, we have completed a number of reports beginning with Canadian Security and
Military Preparedness. This study, which was tabled in February 2002, examined the major defence and security issues
facing Canada. The Senate then asked our committee to examine the need for a national security policy. To date, we
have released five reports on various aspects of national security: first, ``Defence of North America: A Canadian
Responsibility,'' in September of 2002; second, ``Update on Canada's Military Financial Crisis, A View from the
Bottom Up,'' November of 2002; third, ``The Myth of Security at Canada's Airports,'' January of 2003; fourth,
``Canada's Coastlines: the Longest Under-Defended Borders in the World,'' October 2003; fifth, ``National
Emergencies: Canada's Fragile Front Lines, An Upgrade Strategy,'' which was released in March of 2004.
The committee is continuing its long-term evaluation of Canadian security and defence policy and is in the process
of preparing an assessment of the government's responses to the recommendations to date before we proceed with new
phases of our evaluation. Our first witnesses tonight will be Lieutenant General (Retired) Richard Evraire, who is here
tonight as the chairman of the Conference of Defence Associations with 42 years of service in Canada's Armed Forces.
He has done two United Nations peacekeeping tours: one as military observer in India and Pakistan; the second as
commander of the Canadian contingents of the United Nations in the Middle East.
General Evraire served a total of 14 years in NATO, including more than four as Canada's military representative
on NATO's Military Committee in Permanent Session in Brussels, Belgium. He is currently a member of the NATO
Defence College academic advisory board. He is accompanied today by Colonel (Retired) Alain Pellerin. I would like
to welcome you both to the committee.
General, I understand you have a short opening statement and the floor is yours.
Lieutenant-General Richard J. Evraire (Ret'd), President, Conference of Defence Associations: Mr. Chairman,
Members of the Standing Committee on National Security and Defence, I want to thank you for inviting me to speak
Although Canada's national defence is the responsibility of every Canadian, it is incumbent upon the federal
government, through decisions and actions, to ensure the safety of every Canadian citizen. The Conference of Defence
Associations, CDA, is therefore extremely pleased for having been given this opportunity to contribute to a policy
development process that will, within the coming months, result in the creation of a national security policy
encompassing newly minted foreign and defence policies designed to ensure the security of Canadians. It is principally
to this latter element of policy development the CDA is pleased to contribute.
The federal government recognizes the need for international armed intervention. Over the past 10 years, for
example, Canada has provided some 4,000 service personnel to an average of 15 operations a year. Unfortunately,
during that same period of time, the government has downsized and underfunded the military. The aging and failing
equipment issues appear daily in the media. Less reported is the increasing demand for military intervention and the
reduced number of available and qualified military personnel. The army commander has warned that by September he
will only have some 500 qualified personnel available for overseas deployment.
The joint Queen's University and Conference of Defence Associations Institute recent Claxton study, ``Canada
without Armed Forces,'' further warns that reversing the downward trends of personnel, equipment and support will
not be achieved until the next decade. The recent acknowledgement of the need to sustain the aging Sea King maritime
helicopter until 2012 is but one more illustration of that which is to come.
The CDA believes that the military demographic, the lack of investment, and the decisions of the 1990s have placed
the Canadian Forces on a steep slide that is irreversible in the medium-term. Reversing the military decline will require
approximately $50 billion for new equipment; $30 billion to restore intellectual capital — that is, the required level of
training and experience based on rank — $20 billion to $30 billion to rebuild support; and $10 billion to restore
Informed Canadians are aware of the perilous state of the Canadian Armed Forces on active service today.
Numerous studies — including those of this committee — point to the stresses and strains on members of the Armed
Forces and their families, and military capabilities resulting from policies that have demanded, for a decade, that
members of the Canadian Forces ``do more with less.'' Support for equipment and operations is disintegrating and
little can be done to stop it because, in some cases, spare parts and technicians are not available and will not be
available in the years to come.
When the government moves to solve these problems it will find that the time required to rebuild and transform
fundamental capabilities will exceed the life expectancy of many major capabilities in service today. Put another way,
even if the government were immediately and substantially to increase expenditure allocations to National Defence,
this pending crisis could not be avoided. The challenge facing this government, therefore, will be to find ways to
conduct a credible foreign policy and reconstruct relations between Canada and the United States as the operational
capabilities of the Canadian Forces continue to decline through the next five to ten years.
Senior military officers and defence officials are routinely concerned with both the present force and the future force
that is intended to replace it. The present force and the future force can compete so intensely with each other for
attention and funding that one becomes the enemy of the other. The present force consumes most of the budget simply
to pay salaries and housekeeping costs of military activities or operations. Consequently, the capital-investment
account, whose purpose is to satisfy future force requirements, gets what might be left over after this immediate
overhead has been paid.
Modern armed forces can rarely be divided into discrete service packages. Although the Navy, Army or Air Force
may be prominent on certain missions, never have recent operations been completely the purview of one service alone,
if only because logistics support in the Canadian Forces is a function provided by a unified military system.
Those who suggest that Canada might develop niche roles based on one service discount the negative effects such a
policy would have on operational efficiency and effectiveness.
The CDA continues to believe that the maintenance, within the Canadian Forces, of multi-faceted core capabilities
will provide governments with the best possibility support. The evidence from the missions the Canadian Armed
Forces have undertaken over the past 10 years supports this fact convincingly.
The most serious problem facing the Canadian Forces today is the shortfall in trained personnel. Characterized by
an imbalance between the young and relatively inexperienced on the one hand and the older and more experienced on
the other, this shortfall in personnel cannot easily or quickly be overcome. Trying to do so — by rapid recruitment, for
example — will only aggravate the situation.
While it is encouraging that the federal government has begun to address the Armed Forces' outstanding equipment
requirements, much work has yet to be done to satisfy the forces' need for other necessary capabilities as well as
personnel issues, including those of recruiting and training. The current defence policy review should address these
issues. Upon completion of that review, the CDA hopes that the government will develop a long-term funding plan
designed to fulfil this expectation.
The tempo of operational demands on the Canadian Forces over the past 10 years is most likely to continue. What
we see today in Kabul, Bosnia and Haiti will likely become the template for future Canadian military operations. The
current strength of the Canadian Forces will therefore not be sufficient to meet the demand. The strength of the CF
will have to be substantially increased, up to 75,000, in order to meet these future commitments.
In addition, the problems of the future force are now so serious that leaving its management to the usual routine will
no longer suffice. The Chief of the Defence Staff and the deputy minister, even with the aid of an understanding
defence minister, simply do not have the resources or the power to solve the gathering crises by themselves.
Canada and the government are about to enter a period where there will be few credible resources to ensure
Canada's national defence or pursue a credible independent foreign policy. This is a matter that requires the urgent
attention of the prime minister for only he can redirect the sources to begin the long recovery of the Canadian Forces.
Only he can redirect the governing party and bureaucracy towards this task.
The federal government has indicated that it's foreign and defence policy review is to be founded on a national
security framework, the hoped-for principle tenet of which will be the ``unit of security'' framework. To be clear,
security has many parts, yet one purpose — the protection of Canadians and their way of life. The ``unity of security''
framework is likely to operate on two axes: The vertical axis would unite federal, territorial and municipal security
issues; the horizontal axis would extend to other nations, principally through the federal government instruments of
diplomacy, defence and development.
From a Canadian perspective, the geometrical resultant of the ``unity of security'' actions on one and/or both axis
will be the well-being of Canadians at home and abroad.
The vertical axis of security requires the integration and coordination of many continental and national intelligence
agencies and institutions. The Canadian Armed Forces provides an established link to several bilateral defence and
command arrangements. The Canadian Forces Reserve community brings many assets to national security, notably
communications, littoral patrols and chemical, biology, radiological and nuclear response teams. Whereas the regular
component, you know, is the force of last resort against internal security threats and national crises. As the national
security architecture develops, the Canadian Armed Forces will likely be given more tasks related to maritime, land
and aerospace surveillance and security.
Before exploring the horizontal axis — the international component of ``unity of security'' — I want to be sure that
everyone has some understanding of the foundation upon which the next foreign and defence policy review and its
demand on Canada's military will rest. I need not tell you that defence policy will be significantly shaped by the
national security policy.
At the centre of the national security policy, I would hope to find a description of the values and interests that
Canadians are willing to protect with their lives, if necessary. Given that no national security policy currently exists, I
am forced to examine the writings of those who are influencing public officials. At the risk of offending those who are
not mentioned in my short list, I offer that the recent address on interest and values by internationally renowned
Canadian author Michael Ignatieff's recent address on interests and values is likely to resonate well in the minds of our
Former chairman of NATO's military committee, German General Klaus Naumann's work on the responsibility to
protect has been well-received in both the United States and here in Ottawa. The co-authored publication, ``A National
Security Framework for Canada,'' written by retired Brigadier-General Don Macnamara, the current president of the
Conference of Defence Associations Institute and professor at Queen's University, and Dr. Ann Fitz-Gerald, a lecturer
at the Royal Military College of Science, Cranfield University in Shrivenham in the United Kingdom, is a reference
document of many national security policy writers.
These thinkers are unanimous in their assessment: The interconnectedness of our complex world requires that
security measures — humanitarian and armed intervention, national and international presence, and public and
private assets — need to be integrated. General Naumann's paper provides the moral and jurisprudence arguments for
international security engagement. Michael Ignatieff's paper lays out Canada's national interest and values rationale.
Brigadier-General Macnamara and Ms. Fitz-Gerald, finally, provide a model to integrate the many and varied and
complex security measures.
All of these authors advocate the need for stable and law-abiding states having the capacity to intervene with armed
force when all else fails. Given the devolution of military technology and the shift to ``private'' wars, we believe the
armed intervention model is no longer that of blue-beret peacekeeping but rather that of green-helmeted peace, law
and good government builders. It is not in everyone's national interest to have a world comprised, in part, of 20 to 40
failed states. A peaceful, stable world benefits everyone, Canadians included.
Rich sources of information and opinion on defence issues can be found in parliamentary studies, particularly those
prepared by the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs, in addition to those of this
committee, and in other studies prepared by non-governmental organizations such as the Conference of Defence
Associations Institute. A careful assessment of these documents and conversations with their authors ought to be an
order of business of any defence policy review.
The range of options on defence policy open to this government is more limited than some might expect. However,
since every core capability contributes to some extent to all of the usual defence objectives, cutting one in favour of
some other would only diminish government's ability and flexibility in meeting necessary domestic and foreign policy
Recovery in 20 years is feasible, we believe, but the years 2030 to 2050 are probably a more reasonable target date
for achieving the wellness of Canada's armed forces. For the foreseeable future, the government and its military will be
forced to place force generation — that is training personnel, rebuilding units, replacing equipment — ahead of all
other endeavours. Notwithstanding the conflicting priorities of sending a qualified infantry sergeant on international
operations and sending the same sergeant to the infantry school to train soldiers, we believe the viability of the military
institution trumps operations. The viability of the military institution trumps regional development. This reality has yet
to be embraced by departmental officials and, we believe, in part also by government.
In the life of the next defence policy review over the period from 2005 to 2020, Canada's military should, for the
most part, be kept at home as much as possible. If Canada does not pause and rebuild now, the recovery of Canada's
defence capabilities will slip to a date beyond 2030.
The defence policy assumptions developed 10 years ago are not sound in 2004. The CGA therefore recommends that
the defence policy review concentrate on the gathering crisis of the future force and its serious consequences for
Canada-United States relations and foreign policy generally; provide advice to the government on how Canada is to
manage domestic security and foreign policy with ever-decreasing military capabilities; recommend ways in which
present force capabilities might be stretched and preserved until replacements come on line; construct a costed future
force program to direct the rebuilding and transformation of Canada's vital military capabilities; identify high priority
capabilities and the costs to rebuild them; indicate ways to reform government-wide acquisition policies and processes
to facilitate the rapid recovery of failing capabilities; initiate a fundamental examination of Canadian Forces personnel
policies to bring them into line with predicted operational realities; and finally, outline the parliamentary process for
overseeing the recovery of military capabilities.
This type of targeted defence policy review is without question of the utmost importance, and it is the only sure way
to inform the government and the public about the seriousness of the defects in present defence policy. The degree to
which the Prime Minister personally directs this review and supervises the recovery of military capabilities will signal to
Canadians, the federal bureaucracy and Canada's allies the extent to which the country is acknowledging the
importance defence plays in ensuring Canada's security and prosperity. Otherwise, if the future force is allowed to fall
further into disrepair, then Canada cannot help but become the first modern and major power to disarm itself. The
government's defence policy ought to be directed towards saving Canada from this outcome, too terrible to
The Chairman: Thank you very much. I appreciate how comprehensive your recommendations are. I also noted the
references you made to other papers that would be of use to the committee and we are grateful for that as well.
Senator Forrestall: I wish we had had your presentation a week or so ago so that we might have had not just simply
read it but given some thought to four or five points that you made that were very cogent.
First, you have, I might say right off the top, made us look like pikes. We suggested a three-year moratorium, so we
do have some idea of what you were intending.
Senator Meighen: For which we were criticized.
Senator Forrestall: Yes, heavily criticized.
The Chairman: Since we are intervening, I might take this opportunity to indicate that the general could not have
sent the report to us any sooner because he was only invited a couple of days ago, so it is remarkable he has it here at
all. I am impressed that we have this before us.
Senator Forrestall: It speaks well to what he knew what he would say had we invited him a month ago it would not
have made a difference. We are the more grateful for his having come at such short notice.
I want to pursue a couple of these points. You are absolutely right. We are beyond the point now where we can train
soldiers to train soldiers. We are at the point now where you can send the trained sergeant off to his place with his
regiment. There is not much point in sending him to Queen's to face empty classrooms. That does not help.
It is an enormous task that you have thrown out to us. Some years ago we argued that while integration and
unification was, in the eyes of government at the time, one way to go, it certainly was not the view of some of us.
However, I remember very distinctly having a concern about the vertical integration that we had, the horizontal
integration being proposed, and what would happen should one arm of that break down. What would happen to the
In other words, what would happen if there was a major catastrophe such as we have seen in the air, which is
perhaps the least offensive of those supporting structures? It is gone, but in the going it took the resources that, had it
been on its own, it would not have had to take to sustain it at its current rapidly dwindling level. The same is true with
the navy and the military. That question is still in the back of my mind.
The policy that we get around to writing in Canada this summer or this fall will indeed be a 15-year to 20-year one.
Technology is such that the length from concept to training in some instruments of war is very extensive and very long.
Although in the past we may have thought of five or 10 years as a useful life for a defence policy, 10 is no longer
enough. It has to bridge the full life of a piece of equipment and its replacement and the critical decisions about half-life
and replacement before we start writing the next one.
How should we go about a new defence policy? We will hear later today from learned individuals that perhaps the
government should put the 20 points on paper and then ask Canadians to tell the government whether this will work
and, if not, what will work, where it needs to be amended and where is it failing.
Colonel Pellerin, you and others have spoken often about matters of this nature. Where should we start? What
would be the best course for Canadian parliamentarians, the Canadian government and the Canadian people
themselves to follow?
Mr. Evraire: In my prepared notes I indicate that there is, in preparation, an overall national security policy that
would put in place an agreed series of values and interests, out of which requirements to protect these very same values
and interests would fall. We also recognize that under the umbrella of this overall national security policy will be
incorporated or developed a foreign and defence policy review.
We are all aware that both foreign and defence departments are preparing these very documents. The process is in
motion and should proceed apace with both these departments, as well as with Minister McLellan's department,
consulting as broadly as possible with interested Canadians and groups wishing to testify and present their opinions
before these groups to validate or to discuss whether the values and interests are agreed upon. We have rarely had this
debate in Canada. I do not recall the last defence policy in 1994 having gone through that process and I think that
would be an excellent place to start. However, the foreign and defence ministries would require an indication of what
the values and interests are so that they are not off the mark, as it were, in the first instance.
If an overall policy is developed based on the requirement to protect these values and interests, the rest of it —
assuming that the proper amount of money is made available to achieve the stated aims — is relatively mechanical in
the sense that we know what the missions are. The military can provide an indication of what personnel and equipment
are required in order to accomplish the missions and what structures are required, and the process, which has been
gone through many times before in developing defence policy, could occur.
However, in the first instance, a requirement does exist for an indication from the very top as to exactly what
Canada wishes to protect in terms of its values and interests, from which, I repeat, a requirement to provide the assets
needed to protect those would fall out.
I do believe that that process is underway. We know that Minister McLellan's department is working on a national
security policy and that both the Department of External Affairs and the Department of National Defence are
currently developing initial responses without, as far as I know, an indication of the overall agreed definition of
national security, for example, and what precisely those factors should be agreed upon.
It is fundamentally necessary for the government to make it very clear at the initial stages of this process what the
Department of National Defence is required to protect.
Senator Forrestall: If there is going to be an abrupt departure, perhaps we must also consider whether part of that
departure should not include a review of the usefulness today of the Prime Minister and his office being the sole source
of decisions on funding.
Within the scope of proper communications, there has always been a reaching out by the political process to ensure
that there was a national interest being served in the directions to forces, and that includes size, funding, equipping,
and everything else. For the first time that I can remember, this decision has been taken out of the Prime Minister's
realm and is now in the hands of Minister McLellan. I am not apprehensive about that. Heaven only knows that men
have failed often; perhaps we should have more women making fundamental decisions in this regard.
Do you see any need for rational departure from old processes? If we do not, do we merely take the collective
wisdom of the defence associations, for example, and the university professors who have written and have kept us well
advised, that we are going downhill?
I do not think it is simply a question of not enough money. That is too simplistic. If it is, we are in serious trouble. Is
there enough information in coherent packages that is visual, written and anecdotal? Is there enough around for
someone to prepare a document that the Canadian public could review and say, ``Yes, that seems to be right. That
seems to hit the balance. That is quite a departure, but it seems to be in the right direction''? Is that capacity within our
grasp? Do we have to do something else first?
Mr. Evraire: I believe you have posed two questions. The first relates to the question of credibility of a policy. If
there is broad consultation across the country, and to the extent that people wish to contribute to the process if they are
given the opportunity, the policy will be so much more credible, saleable and supportable. If it is done strictly in-house,
then something is lost or not gained, and then the policy is not as good a one as it could be.
With respect to the amount of information available, it is true that the average Canadian probably does not want to
get terribly involved in considerable detail about defence policy. However, there are many large groups that are
interested and would benefit greatly from as much transparency in issues as possible. There are so many means of
communication today that one assumes that we have the wherewithal to provide that information broadly. Of course,
it is the government that must decide.
In respect of what the CDA refers to regularly as an ``extensive consultation,'' it might take the better part of a year
to have hearings across the country, et cetera, as has been done in the past. However, if such a consultation is
undertaken, it must be very clear that we are undertaking a policy review, not a program review. There has been great
confusion about that.
If we are looking at what we can afford in respect of a program review, then we are looking at a defence policy that
is limited and constrained by the amount of money available. That, obviously, is an approach that we recognize as
having been used in the past.
Can we afford to do it any other way? Is it possible to do a top-down or bottom-up review without constraint by
specific amounts of money? I suggest that also is unreasonable. There must be limits provided.
It is necessary that a policy indicate what Canada hopes to achieve, given the limits that do exist on resources. With
that sort of a policy clearly stated, Canadians would be able to better understand what it is that the government is
putting in place to protect specific things and would be much more likely, as a consequence, to fully accept that sort of
a policy. The widest possible consultation is required, given time constraints, because, indeed, as the policy is being
developed, a requirement exists to make sure that we do not lose any other operational capabilities. There is a danger
there. The defence policy should be finished as soon as possible with the caveat that it be as transparent, public and
thorough as possible.
At the same time, and in fairness to all involved, there should be included clear parameters in terms of funding. We
have said that unless a defence policy is accompanied by indication of available funding, then, as was the case with the
1994 white paper, it does not mean very much. An indication of funding would make all the difference, in my opinion.
Broad consultation, clear parameters, and funding indication are needed so that a reasonable time frame can be put
in place to achieve the results hoped for.
Colonel (Retired) Alain Pellerin, Executive Director, Conference of Defence Associations: I have two concerns with
the current exercises in place. One is the issue of the national security policy review. Indications were that the definition
to be used would be a narrow definition of national security policy — essentially, the North American continent and
deal with intelligence and security in the narrow sense.
I would suggest that as it is our first time, we should have a broad definition of what we want from a national
security policy, similar to what the Americans have produced in their national strategy. We might not like the content,
but it is a holistic approach to national security, and the defence and foreign policy review would flow from that
logically. Now it appears that there are two parallel reviews and there does not appear to be a bridge between the
national security policy review and the international security policy where DND would plug in.
In respect of the defence and your original question, my concern is that the review as it was originally started — and
I am told that is changing — was that the fundamentals are sound. The problem is not with the fundamentals. You
tailor the program and then you have defence policy. That is what the general was mentioning before. That, to me, is
not a defence policy review. That is a program review.
I would suggest that the fundamentals are not sound. A lot of things have happened in the last 10 years. Of course,
9/11 was never predicted, nor was its impact on our national security.
In the 1994 white paper, we talked about peacekeeping but nobody ever predicted the impact that the up-tempo
would have on the forces over the last decade. If the past is any prediction of the future, then the forces will be under
the same strain if we do not conduct a full defence policy review and look at the priorities and the resources
remembered. That is why we concluded that, if the past is an indication of the future, the size of the forces has to be
looked at, not just the capability and the training of the forces.
I would suggest that anyone involved in defence policy review should read the first chapter of the Claxton paper,
which was written by Doug Bland. It addresses the fundamentals of national defence policy and says they are not
Senator Meighen: Gentlemen, if we had the time, I think this could go on until the wee hours of the morning. It is a
vast subject, and Senator Forrestall has opened up the general underlying principles that we would have to work over
and that we would want to work over and consider.
I have a rather pessimistic view. I am discouraged by the fact that I do not detect within the Canadian people a
change in their attitude with respect to matters of national defence and security equivalent to the fundamental change
that occurred in our world as a result of 9/11.
I always believed the government should lead, but apparently that is not necessarily a universally held belief. The
government should get out and, as you say, set out the basic principles of ``what do you want to do and here is vaguely
how much in the way of resources that we have to do it.''
By your own evidence and by the recommendations of our committee, if we want to do even the minimum, we have
to allocate a great deal more in the way of resources than we have been thinking of doing. I do not know that the
Canadian public is ready to do that because I do not think the Canadian public yet appreciates — maybe I am wrong
— to what extent it is in their interest to do so. If that is so, those who have failed, primarily, are we politicians because
it is our job to explain the issues that we feel Canadians must consider and must opt to go one way or another.
You, too, if I may be so bold, share a bit of the blame. I do not think that we are getting through. Now that we are
two years past September 11, people are much more relaxed. If we have not been able to change the minds of the
policy-makers and the public in the two years since September 11, when will we have an opportunity to do it?
I apologize for that editorial outburst. Let me ask you a couple specific questions.
You are dead on about how our foreign policy options will be limited by weaknesses that have been identified in the
Canadian Forces. Could you elaborate on that? Obviously, we cannot send the people we want to send, let us say to
Haiti. If another crisis breaks out next week, we will not be able to send people there. If it were in our area of the world,
everyone would understand that it is in our interest to ensure stability in the northern hemisphere.
Do you have any more thoughts as to how we can bring home to people that it is in the interest of all Canadians not
to have a weak Armed Forces and, thereby, limit our options as a nation?
Mr. Evraire: There are a number of examples that one could give. There are certain communities in Canada that
think that Canada's foreign policy is extremely important. Canada's Armed Forces, diplomacy and foreign aid are
issues of considerable importance to them. The large Haitian community in Montreal is an example. It was delighted
that Canada was able to participate in an operation there.
Senator Meighen: We sent all our instructors, because they were the only ones left.
Mr. Evraire: Of course. This is a familiar problem, is it not? Nevertheless, there is a perfect indication of the
importance of a viable armed force, or at least a limited armed force in that particular intervention. That was a
completely unexpected mission.
I suspect that were we to wish to provide foreign aid to a particular country in which a conflict continues, it would
not be a particularly good foreign policy approach. However, it could be made better by Canada, and possibly other
nations, participating in solving the military conflict in that particular region and then achieving better results with the
aid that is provided. I need not elaborate. I am sure that many other examples come to mind.
That is precisely our point. Canada is hampering its ability to execute foreign policy by not being able to execute it
in a way that it would like simply because in some instances the foreign policy requires peacekeeping, peace-making or
some form of military intervention.
It also hampers the government's ability in its relations with other countries. In some of our alliances, Canada
cannot contribute a viable quantity or capacity of military capability to contribute to the alliance. Those of us who
have had the great pleasure of serving within NATO understand how, through a smile, an ally can be very cutting
about the lack of contribution that our country is making to a particular mission.
Therefore, trying to make that link understood by Canadians, I agree, is an extremely difficult task. You alluded to
our problem in achieving that. We find it hard to do so. As I mentioned, unless it is undertaken at the very most senior
level of government to make that clear to Canadians repeatedly, then we will not succeed. Canadians have been
attentive to the prime minister's recent personal involvement in Gagetown, his visit to NDHQ and his announcements
of programs. Coming from him, it appears more important. More Canadians are hearing what is being said.
That will not happen at the provincial level. Health care, education and the environment is on the hit parade at the
provincial level. We all understand that. The federal government's responsibility is to ensure that information is
constantly put out there for Canadians to hear and to understand.
Senator Meighen: You have been understandably critical of the acquisition process within NDHQ. It takes a long
time. Do you have any suggestions as to how that can be improved?
Second, there is the question of niche capabilities. You argue for multi-faceted core capabilities within our forces. I
presume that equates to a multi-faceted operational capabilities. In other words, the forces should be able to do most
of the basic things that a military is called upon to do.
You hear from people all the time that we cannot do everything. We do not have heavy bombers. Notwithstanding
the picture on one of our national newspapers today, we do not have an aircraft carrier. We seem to be moving towards
what you gentlemen call a heavy APC as opposed to a battle tank, which to a layman seems understandable. In most of
the missions that I can remember have required that type of equipment as opposed to a main battle tank. It may not be
moving to a niche capability but it is certainly implying that we are not in that particular game. We cannot do that. We
cannot play there. It seems that the government now recognizes the critical need for lift capability in order too we can
get our troops to where the government wants them to be to solve the problem they have identified. That is
encouraging to us all.
Do you agree, however, that there are things over and above what I have mentioned that we cannot do because it is
too much for a nation of our size?
Mr. Pellerin: In respect of how to make the capital acquisition process go faster, the prime minister's announcement
concerning the new ships in Gagetown is a good example. The ships that they will replace are now 35 years old; by the
time they are replaced, they will be close to 50 years old. It is a priority to replace the two re-supply ships if only to
support our expeditionary force. If you do not have any ships and you do not have strategic airlift, you must rely on
someone else. It is like a time-share condo: When you need it, someone else also needs it because they are all going to
the same place.
The ship is a good example. We do not have a capability in Canada to undertake major shipbuilding. We are talking
about ships of 25,000 to 30,000 metric tons. However, instead of starting from the first step in designing the ship, we
could go abroad and buy designs. The British are designing ships. The Dutch are in the process of doing something
similar, as are the Americans and the Australians. That would reduce the time required to build a ship.
The contract, according to the minister, will not be signed until 2005. One of the reasons for this is that you have to
start the process from scratch and then identify a shipyard and then build a shipyard to do that. Although the minister
has said the first one will be finished in 2011 it will be more likely, based on past experience, 2015. If it is a high priority,
as the Sea King was in 1983, then something should be done to hasten the process to get it faster than it is being done.
Senator Meighen: Is your suggestion that it be off-the-shelf purchases?
Mr. Pellerin: The design could be purchased because it takes a long time to identify what is required and get a team
together to design such a big ship. We have not done that. The frigates are only 3,000 metric tons. We have not built
that sort of ship.
Senator Meighen: No one bought our design, did they?
Mr. Evraire: That is right.
Senator Meighen: All right. What about the niche capability?
Mr. Evraire: As Mr. Pellerin mentioned, you may find yourself with a condo situation, where if you go into a
particular niche area and discover that no one wants it or makes use of it, then you have seriously hampered your own
overall military capability by focusing on something that you may or may not require but then also that others might
Why would we focus, for instance, only on anti-submarine warfare, for example? Well, that would certainly leave us
incapable of carrying out a number of other very essential military requirements, if not offshore certainly at home as
Senator Meighen: Did we not agree to focus on anti-submarine warfare as part of our NATO obligation?
Mr. Evraire: That was just one element of the number of operational capabilities that we did undertake. There was
the land combat capability of the brigades in Germany over the years, the air force as part of the NATO air force,
indeed as well with the NORAD context.
We had at that time — and still have to a lesser degree — a variety of capabilities. If we focus on one or two or a
lesser number than we with able to do now, yes, I suppose we could get by with that. However, I am not convinced that
we would necessarily make the best choice. We might find ourselves wanting seriously in a particular area.
Let me give you one example. Currently, our missions for the army require on a regular basis in time 4,000 soldiers,
most of them infantry. To maintain viable army units, we have chosen to regroup some of the elements of infantry
battalions. We removed the anti-tank elements from the infantry battalion; we have removed the mortar elements from
the battalions and grouped them together in other formations. Consequently, we have fewer ``legs'' on the ground in
the infantry units. One of the problems we have in maintaining our missions in Afghanistan, among others, and in
Bosnia, is that we do not have enough infantry soldiers.
We are focusing on a particular operational commitment but that does not necessarily allow us to provide infantry
and other army elements in other areas. There just are not any available. We have focused on that approach and that
limits us in any number of other military operations. We are essentially focused in one direction and therefore limited
in the degree of flexibility that we could have from a broader spectrum of military capabilities.
Finally, within NATO the whole concept of niches was considered for years. Every nation considered it as
``interesting, but we do not really want to do that mostly because it will not allow us, when we need it, to make use of
that capability since we expect other countries to do it they may not make the capability available.''
Mr. Pellerin: To add to that, some of us would suggest that the army is already pointing into a niche capability and
that the current Kabul commitment is the template for the future for the army. If you look at the various conflict
scenarios — which is from the rather benign search and rescue to general war — that if you look at the acquisition, for
example, of the mobile gun system it means that the army will no longer be able to take part in a general war situation
in an offensive operation. It would only be able to participate in a defensive operation.
The structure of the army is being decided without that defence policy review having been completed. All these
decisions are taking place. If you had the commander of the army today in front of this committee, he could give you a
briefing on all the equipment that he would like to have for the future: a light mobile army that would not be capable to
take part in a general war scenario. Therefore, we are already pointing in a niche situation.
Senator Atkins: I found your presentation interesting because you included many things that were part of our
recommendations in our report. Yet, I remember when the report came out we got more criticism than we got credit
from organizations such as yours. It was at a time, I think a critical point, when we really needed it, going back two or
three years ago just after 9/11, when this committee was formed.
In any research, if you ask the public what they consider to be the most important issue facing Canadians today, you
will find that defence is at the bottom of the list. However, leadership is the issue. It is a question of the government
running with the issue. I do not ever remember any strong criticism of the government when they announced the
frigates or when they announced the EH-101s. The politicians debated it but the public did not react. It seems to me
that we make the assumption that because it is low on the polling that it is not an important issue.
The Prime Minister announced that he will extend our commitment to Afghanistan by 900 troops for another year.
Where did that come from? Is that part of a foreign defence policy, or is this just ad hoc? Where are we at in this thing?
Is the white paper of 1994 still in place or have changes since 9/11 that added a whole new dimension, which is the
national security policy? That has to be part of the mix.
Do you wish to comment on any of this?
Mr. Evraire: The problem we continue to have, and we have been complaining about for the longest time, is that
indeed the 1994 white paper is essentially a document that has no validity given that the changed situation today. Yes,
it does contain some fundamental issues that would still apply today, however, the details place emphasis is in the
wrong place. Peacekeeping is hardly mentioned. Terrorism is mentioned in that document, but it certainly does not
have the importance of place that it should, given the situation today. There is a great deal of ad hocery, I suspect,
when you consider that decisions on major pieces of equipment are being made without the support of any
fundamental policy that would follow structure and equipment requirements.
We seem to be making these changes on the fly based on the latest requirement, as opposed to looking at the much
broader requirement with a longer view. This is why we have been carping constantly about the requirement for a
fundamental defence review.
We have been criticized for saying that because some people believe that once a defence review starts, everything else
stops. In our own submissions we have been saying that we must do a defence review, for the reasons I have just stated,
but at the same time we must ensure that we do not lose any more capability. We must provide what is needed to
maintain the current level and, at the very least, not lose any more capability. From that solid base we should move on
to a restructured Armed Forces.
Yes, we are troubled that it has taken so long — 10 years — for the policy to be examined when most of our major
allies have done it more than two or three times, in some cases, in that period. The United Kingdom and Australia
have, just to name two. There is a serious requirement to get on with it.
Senator Atkins: I was interested in what Colonel Pellerin said about off-the-shelf purchasing. It did not occur to me
that, in terms of the purchase of ships, for example, if we got the design, we might solve the political problem, because
every time National Defence gets into one of these arguments it is a question of where the ships will be built, and that
becomes an issue in itself. However, if we did have a national defence policy and could come to a realization of what
equipment is required to deal with the overall policy commitment, we would be better off if we could purchase off-the-
The Chairman: I thought that if we were to get three ships, one would be built in Halifax, one in Quebec and one in
B.C. That would be the standard procedure.
Mr. Pellerin: You make a good point, senator. If we say that we should have a holistic approach to national
security, it should include, for instance, a ship-building policy in Canada. Here we are, the country with the longest
coastline in the world, and we do not have a ship-building policy. About nine months ago, we closed the shipyard in
Saint John, and now the government has announced a big contract for the three largest ships that we have ever had.
There is a disconnect here that needs to be addressed.
Both Senator Meighen and yourself have addressed the issue of defence as a priority of the government. The
difficulty we face is that the priorities of the government are health, the environment, Aboriginal issues and now
municipalities, which are all responsibilities that either belong to the provinces or are shared. There is a very strong
lobby group to apply pressure on the government. However, if the Prime Minister does not give priority to defence,
defence becomes an orphan and we are left on our own.
I am surprised that, in a mature nation such as Canada, the head of the government does not say that the first
priority of the government is to ensure the security of our citizens, and the rest flows from that. I am glad that we saw
that in the Speech from the Throne. For the first time since I have been reading the Speeches from the Throne that
mention was there. However, the logic must be built around that paradigm shift.
Senator Atkins: You are right. If the Prime Minister does not buy it, it will not happen. Just look at the Red Book.
Going back to our report, we recommended 75,000 troops and $4 billion a year. That is peanuts compared with
what you are suggesting here.
Mr. Evraire: We are looking over a much longer period.
Senator Atkins: What is the period?
Mr. Pellerin: Fifteen years.
Senator Atkins: We were saying that we wanted the budget to be $20 billion by 2010.
Mr. Evraire: Yes. We read your report very carefully. The initial reaction might have been that it was a little off-the-
cuff in terms of returning our troops home. You might have noticed that I indicated that we have reached the point,
whether we like it or not, that we are actually doing that. However, there are some commitments that it would be
inappropriate, silly or almost impossible to withdraw from. Certainly, the large commitments are looking like they will
have to be delayed for a while or terminated simply because, as I have said, the army commander says that, starting in
September, there are only 500 troops to redeploy.
Senator Atkins: How do we deal with the 900 in the extension of a year in Afghanistan?
Mr. Evraire: We are about to come to a crunch, and I suspect that we should be hearing about it fairly soon. There is
a mismatch in commitments and capabilities that will, I think, severely surprise a lot of people.
The Chairman: Not this committee, Senator Atkins.
Senator Munson: General, this has been rather a depressing evening. You said that the pending crisis could not be
avoided. You said that the road to recovery will be long and that if Canada does not pause and rebuild now, the
recovery of Canada's defence capabilities will slip to 2030 or 2050. That is a long time away. Most of us will not be here
Getting back to the 1994 white paper, how would you modify the fundamental missions of defence of North
America, participation in multinational organizations and provide assistance to civil authorities in other government
Mr. Evraire: I would not change them one iota except to fund them to provide the resources required to accomplish
those missions adequately. It is not the statement of the missions themselves, as much as the inadequate funding or
provision of resources generally for those missions to be accomplished.
The one about international commitments is the most obvious one to look at in terms of our having reached the
point where resources have reached the end of the line resulting in our withdrawing a number of our forces from
Bosnia and we will find it very difficult to maintain our commitment in Afghanistan.
Mr. Pellerin: One part of these three priorities that has changed substantially and has an impact on the other two is
our own national security. During the Cold War it was pretty straightforward: there was the Soviet Union, the
bombers, the threat against Canada, et cetera. Now, however, our national security is much more threatened, as we
have seen from September 11. That may not have yet impacted our defence and security policy, but it should. We must
also consider the link between our national security and international security. As we saw in Afghanistan before
September 11, we must recognize that we, as a trading nation, need stability in the world, and therefore we need to be
committed to the world with our Armed Forces.
That explains, to a large extent, why we are in Kabul. The government has not made that very clear from the start,
but there is a good reason for being in Kabul. If you follow Canada's history in the 20th century, all our wars have
been fought abroad. I think we want to keep it that way. If there is instability in the world, we should address that
instability where it is, so that it is not imported into Canada or exported into Canada.
Senator Munson: If it does come to Canada, should the Canadian Armed Forces be more involved in national
Mr. Evraire: More involved?
Senator Munson: I mean with respect to domestic national security, dealing with the Deputy Prime Minister's Office,
that sort of thing?
Mr. Evraire: Very definitely. The Armed Forces are the force of last resort. If the normal security institutions of the
country are overwhelmed, then we must resort to the armed forces as a final force to protect us. Indeed, if we are
committed, as we are now, with most of our available deployable army to foreign commitments, and if, at the same
time, we have a serious problem in Canada, where do we go? There is the concern that there simply would not be
enough to go around.
Senator Munson: My last question follows up on what Senator Meighen and Senator Atkins were referring to: the
$50 billion for new equipment, $30 billion to restore intellectual capital, $20 to $30 billion to rebuild support, and $10
billion to restore reality assets. That is military jargon.
How can Canadians who are watching this session buy into those kinds of numbers and support? How do we create
a climate so that they can buy into these kinds of numbers, that spending on the military is as vital as health care or as
child poverty? How do we get Canadians to care about this issue? You talked about certain areas of the country where,
obviously, people do, but I do not think the military is on anybody's lips in a majority way.
Mr. Evraire: I am afraid you are right. I admit that many of us in the process of trying to bring the information to
Canadians are not very good at communicating. We provide statistics that are probably lacking in facility to
understand. We do not necessarily have all the means as well to make that information available to Canadians as
broadly as we would like. For instance, this particular presentation was put together with this particular committee in
mind, with the understanding that there is already a great deal of understanding of defence issues. If we were to try to
present this information to a broader, uninitiated audience, we would have to do it in a very different way.
One of the ways that it is done, of course, is through the presence of Canadian forces in the community — the
reserve forces and regular forces, for example. Canadians are delighted to see the military respond to aid civil power
and give assistance to civil authority, the floods, forest fires, et cetera. As soon as the problem goes away and the forces
return to barracks, then it is forgotten all too quickly. That is something we live with. I guess we should be delighted
that the military are not on Canadians' minds all the time because it is the case that we are not in a situation of conflict
Our problem is to make sure that when the fire bell goes, there is a fire truck to come out of the fire station. Right
now, there are holes in the hoses, and if we try to put out a fire, we will discover the pressure is not there. To use those
somewhat corny analogies, they may at least remind people of the importance of being prepared for the worst.
The biggest difficulty is knowing how much of a response or resources are required, and that is not anything that
any single person involved in this process could come up with. I suspect that only through considerable exchange of
information and discussion could we achieve a level of Canadian Forces' operational capability that ideally would
respond to the worst-case scenario.
The Chairman: I would like to wrap up, if I could, General, just with an observation or two and a question.
You talk about a time frame of 2030 to 2050, well beyond the perspective or horizon of any politician, way beyond
an election cycle, even beyond the expectations of a senator. It is very difficult to contemplate people motivating a
nation to support a goal that is that far away.
You have touched on, but not addressed head on, the question of political will. We see in this country a lack of
political will to achieve these goals. The lack of political will has been carried through a number of succeeding
governments. It is not a problem unique to one. We can go back over the last half-dozen administrations, and we see
the same trend lines.
This political will, or lack thereof, appears to me not to be an accident. Canadians do not feel threatened. Canadians
feel fairly secure. Canadians also do not share the objectives of an expeditionary military. The case has not been made
that Canadians have reason to feel threatened or that the proper role of the military is expeditionary. Frankly, it has
been more than 50 years since the case has been made and accepted by Canadians.
How do you move the country that feels secure and does not feel that the objectives of sending its young men and
women overseas are worth it?
Mr. Evraire: Without wishing to sound glib, of course, one can only do that with great difficulty. It is a very broad
problem of education, not only of history. Our history has many examples of the fact that life in Canada continued
reasonably calmly despite the fact that there were world conflicts going around and that many Canadians lost their
lives in protecting that situation back home. Unless these sorts of things are provided as reminders on a regular basis,
then we will not succeed.
I mentioned the Haitian community in Montreal. That is a small group. They certainly felt threatened and were
delighted that Canada contributed something to stabilize the situation down there.
Unless we are constantly reminding Canadians of the importance of maintaining peace and security worldwide and
providing concrete reasons about the difficulties resulting from the lack of peace and security, we will not succeed. I
suspect that 9/11 and the temporary closing of the border was probably frightening to a number of people who very
directly have jobs that depend on trade. Fortunately, although the situation was not made as smooth as it was in the
past, it is greatly corrected now, but it was a serious problem for a short while. We all understand the difficulty of
attention span in terms of issues that are happening, however important they may be.
The message that all these things are important must be conveyed in a convincing manner at the highest political
level. Canadians must understand that Canada will not be the wonderful country in which we are living unless we
maintain security and stability worldwide. Otherwise, we will continue to have this enormous difficulty of convincing
Canadians that defence does not matter much.
Senator Forrestall: Is international terrorism versus the old reasons for going to war — territorial, political and so
forth — not in itself sufficient to alarm people? We hear now of threats against 20,000 people in one centre in Chicago.
It is incredible; it is almost like the plague.
Mr. Evraire: I am continually amazed that Canadians seem to be so unconcerned about terrorism and terrorist acts,
despite the existence of a border between the United States and Canada and certain situations — 9/11 being the
obvious example — happening so close to that border. I mentioned the attention span; it is very short. The last thing in
the world any of us would want is a situation that would involve Canadians directly in a horrible terrorist act. As a
result, a great angst and interest for security would develop. We do not want that. We want to prevent that from
However, it is difficult to convince Canadians that there is a requirement to prevent that from happening. Indeed, I
cannot come up with any other solution but a barrage of information from the highest political levels to make the point
to Canadians that our way of life needs to be protected and that Canadians need to contribute to that.
The Chairman: General, Colonel, on behalf of the committee, thank you for appearing before us. The paper you
provided to us is very valuable.
We will reflect on it at some length. We have appreciated your candid answers to our questions and we hope to see
you again soon.
Our next witness is Dr. David Bercuson. He is director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the
University of Calgary. Dr. Bercuson has published on a wide range of topics specializing in modern Canadian politics,
Canadian military history and, of particular interest tonight, Canadian defence and foreign policy. Dr. Bercuson is the
2002 winner of the J. B. Tyrrell Historical Medal from the Royal Society of Canada and the Honorary Lieutenant
Colonel 33 Field Engineer Squadron, a land force reserve military engineer unit of the Canadian Forces. Welcome to
the committee. Please proceed.
Dr. David J. Bercuson, Director, Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary: As I forwarded a
very long statement, I will not take everyone's time by reading it. I will expand on a few of the main themes.
First, although 15 years in the post-Cold War world, we are operating in a cold-war policy framework. From
roughly 1945, 1950, depending how you want to count it, until the fall of the Berlin wall and the end of the Cold War in
1989, 1990, it was relatively easy for us to coast when it came to foreign defence policy. I do not mean that in a
pejorative way. I mean that, through background, history, culture, geography, trade, interests and values and being a
solid and firm member of the western alliance and a partner with the United States in the continental defence of
Canada, our foreign defence policy could coast from year to year and from government to government without very
much change. Despite the issuance of a number of white papers, some of which you will remember, the fundamentals
of that policy remained the same, and indeed, remain the same today.
However, the challenges have been considerably different since the end of the Cold War. We have not taken the
opportunity to explain to our fellow Canadians that we cannot really do it any longer simply by rolling downhill. The
interests of this country, let alone its values, require us to keep an active foreign policy and to examine our defence
policy far more often than we have in the past. We will not question the basic assumptions about the need to defend
Canada, the need to help defend North America, and the need for occasional international intervention. However, as a
trading nation, we rely greatly on the continuing development of a global community, borders that are easily crossed
by people and ideas, and the continued development of freedom. International disorder will eventually enter into our
country, as it always has for hundreds and hundreds of years. Canadians need to be reminded of that on a fairly
regular basis; they have not been.
Whatever our foreign and defence policy eventually evolves into over the next year or two, it must be something that
is easily seen by Canadians to be Canadian and to serve the interests of Canada. It should not be seen to serve the
interests of any other country nor the interests of the NATO. The missions have to be seen by the Canadian people to
serve their interests, values and pride.
The government needs to take a leadership role. I do not say this in a pejorative way either. In most of the major
issues of any day, governments lead. That is why we have governments; that is why we have representative democracy.
You folks, with all due respect, are the people we expect to run our daily business for us. Whether that is a matter of
medicare at the federal level or power and water at the provincial level, we select political leaders to do the governing
for us and to lead. We expect them to take the measure of what we want to see happen from time to time, but it is not
the business of Joe Canadian or Jill Canadian to take the lead in matters of national defence. It is not their business to
take the lead — especially in abstract matters. Defence matters are abstract because we do not live in a dangerous part
of the world. We are not directly threatened.
Therefore, it is very important that the government take the lead. Whatever policies emerge should be policies that
that will be seen easily by Canadians to serve Canadians and serve Canadian policy. If it is a Canadian policy, our allies
will be well served.
We also need to have more accountability in the running of our defence establishment. I was listening to the
discussion before. It simply is an outgrowth of our parliamentary system that our legislative branch does not have any
direct say in the way our military is run. You can inquire, as you do. You can write reports, as you do. The Standing
Senate Committee on National Security and Defence can do that. However, our system will not allow the Senate or the
House of Commons to play the lead role in the development of defence policy or the management of the military forces
of Canada, as is played by the legislative branch in the United States. That is fine. We have our system of government.
However, we need to modernize the system of accountability, as we need to close the democratic deficit in many
other ways in parliamentary reform. I would hope that in future we would have greater parliamentary interest and
greater parliamentary involvement. After all, it is the voters and citizens to whom the military is responsible. If
Parliament does not take a greater hand in the managing and oversight of the military, then Canadians, operating
through Parliament, will continue to be alienated from the military.
We need to have mandated regular policy reviews. We cannot go 10 years between policy reviews any more. No one
can predict the future, but there was a certain degree of predictability in the Cold War. We knew who the guys in the
black hats were and we knew their objectives. There was a certain balance in the world that allowed us, as I was saying
earlier, to coast, more or less, from review to review. Who could have foreseen September 11?
Indeed, in 1994, when the white paper was issued, peacekeeping as a blue beret operation was already in mortal
danger. One could say that it died with Canadian soldiers fighting a battle in Croatia in 1993, and no one seemed to
have noticed it. I am referring to the Medak Pocket. I do not mention that to merely throw plaudits at the Canadian
Forces. It was that episode, if not some others — we are marking the 10th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide this
month — that was really the beginning of the end of peacekeeping as we knew it from 1957. We did not notice it at the
We need to have regular mandated reviews of our policy. We need to look at the stuff that people do not seem to
very much want to look at and have not looked at in the past because it is not especially sexy. It is pretty tough to get
into the details. We need to look at procurement. We need to look at the system of how we do procurement.
Many mistakes were made in the past by all governments. I say that in a non-partisan way. Why is it that stories
continue about continued wasted dollars on M-113 upgrades? Why is this happening with great regularity? Maybe it is
something that cannot be avoided in our system of government, but the Australians have appointed a special adviser or
deputy minister or associate minister of defence strictly for the purpose of examining their own procurement policies.
Should we not be doing the same? Soldiers without guns are just people in uniform. The procurement is very important
and we need to look at that.
We need to look at how the national defence headquarters is functioning. In 1964, the Cold War was about four
years old. I do not think we foresaw at the time that kinds of challenges would be presented to NDHQ as an actual
command authority. I know that there are historical reviews that go on after every major Canadian Forces operation.
Why are these reviews not made public so that we can all look and see and decide for ourselves whether the system of
command, which evolved in the early 1970s for a Cold War world, is still working in the 21st century?
In respect of unification, what is working and what is not? I think unification was the right policy at the time. I am
not sure it was carried out correctly. What I know today that is that we really do have three militaries again. Is that the
best thing? What do we do with situations, for example, where we have taken a unified function like recruiting, we
operate a Canadian Forces recruiting group and there are issues that arise as a result of recruiting being done on a
Canadian Forces-wide basis but the interests of one particular element or force or another are not being served? I will
give you a perfect example, and that is the recruitment problems that continue to plague the Canadian army reserves.
Why have we not been able to fix them?
It is a simple issue. Some of these problems have been complained about, written about and been studied by
organizations such as one that I was just a member of and which went out of business in the fall of last year — the
minister's monitoring committee. These have been well documented. Why do they continue to exist? It seems to me
they continue to exist because there is something that is not quite working about the distribution of authority and
responsibility with regard to unification.
I have one more final point. That is, I am at sea quite frankly on what is going on with regard to our policy reviews
right now. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent Canadian and I do try to keep up with what is going on out there
through various publications and the news and whatnot. I cannot tell you where the international policy review process
is right now, where the defence review process is right now and how these fit in with the security policy review — in fact
I cannot say review, because we have no security policy, we are coming up with a security policy. Where do the three fit
together? Why is there not greater transparency in trying to explain to the Canadian people what exactly is going on,
what the schedules are, what the process will be, who will be consulted and who will not be consulted? After 10 years of
a policy review, it is incumbent on the government to let the people in on the secret.
I am at your pleasure for any questions you might ask.
Senator Munson: I would like to hear your observations on the announcement just recently in Atlantic Canada by
the defence minister and the Prime Minister. To you, is that still the same old, same old, or is that a new way of doing
Mr. Bercuson: Senator Munson, it is the first real hint that I have had since this new administration of the direction
in which the policy review process is going. If the press reports are correct and if the policy review process will confirm
what was announced, I believe it is a step in the right direction. Joint support ships are certainly the way to go. I am
glad that the Prime Minister has put this on the national agenda. I do not know whether these ships will be the ones
that the navy has been dreaming about for the last few years, or some variety thereof, whether they be smaller or do
not fulfil quite the mission roles that the navy has had in mind. It is certainly a step in the right direction. That is okay,
that is good, because I do not think that the policy review should be open and everything on the table.
What I tried to say in that article that I distributed before was let us set down the five or six major principles that we
know we will be moving in that direction. That is one of them: jointness and lift. Let us get them out there on the table.
I think it is a good idea and I was very glad to hear it. I hope there is a good follow-through with regard to the
announcement on how we will acquire these ships.
Senator Munson: You say that, ``a more educated and canny Canadian public will only support its military if it can
take greater ownership of it.'' Could you explain that to us? Are you talking more about parliamentary oversight of
operations and how it works, how you empower M.P.s?
Mr. Bercuson: Yes, not of operations but of the way the military is spending its money, what the military's plans are.
There must be more of a division of labour — if it is possible — between the executive branch and the legislative
branch of government in this country. I know that legislative and executive in Canada are fundamentally the same, but
we must have a means of getting the word out from the military as to what is going on that does not only go through
the Minister of Defence, the cabinet, the Prime Minister.
For example, every now and then we will have another story that says this base will be closed, that base will be
closed and — wait for it — the Snowbirds will be shut down. Why does that happen? In my opinion one of the reasons
it happens is because the military has no means of venting its side of the story in effect, other than by spreading these
kinds of stories in the press. The reasoning seems to be if they get the Canadian people upset, they will be cognizant to
the defence question if the Snowbirds are not going to be in the sky anymore. That is it not really what the military
wants to say. The air force wants to talk about air force issues but because it cannot, it has no outlet, it cannot come to
you and tell you what it really thinks about XY or Z because of the way our legislative system is set up. Therefore, it
announces that it is so strapped for money they will have to kill the Snowbirds, or they will have to close the base in the
Minister of Justice's riding or something like that, and then the local paper gets a hold of it.
That is the way they get the message out. That is not the proper way of conducting business in my opinion in a
modern parliamentary democracy.
Senator Munson: Are you proposing a more formal structure, such as a political/military/national security council
type of structure?
Mr. Bercuson: I want to see parliamentary committees generally have more power and authority than they do now.
However, I certainly want to see the SCONDVA at the very least, or some combination of Senate and House of
Commons committees having more authority to call witnesses to subpoena information, to impact legislation and so
on. I want to see more of the people's representatives getting involved in the making of defence policy — not in
operations, let the professionals do that, but in oversight.
Senator Meighen: On that point, is my understanding correct, that in the United States people serving in the Armed
Forces are able to speak with greater frankness or immunity in front of congressional committees?
What forum would be appropriate for members of the Canadian Forces to speak frankly and say, ``I think the policy
that the politicians enacted is absolutely hare-brained for the following reasons...'' which they cannot do now, or if they
do it where do they do it?
Mr. Bercuson: They cannot do it, and it is not proper for them to do it. It is not constitutional for them to do it. If
they did do it they would be liable to be dismissed, and rightly so given the current system. This is the reality.
There is a significant difference between our system and the American system: The legislature pays for the Armed
Forces and the executive decides how the Armed Forces will be used. However, in deciding how the Armed Forces will
be used the people who pay for it feel that they have a right to try to figure out whether or not those Armed Forces are
being used properly and being served properly by the executive.
Issues that arise in our military, for example, could be more easily resolved, or would be more quickly resolved if we
had the legislature somehow more involved at least in an oversight capability. I will cite a perfect example. Several
years ago, SCONDVA, which was chaired by the current Minister of National Defence, did a nationwide tour into
standard of living on the military and their pay. They did not have any authority to enforce on the government pay
raises and improvements in the living standards of Canadian Forces personnel. However, because it was the kind of
issue that resonated in the hearts and minds of Canadians — that is, that their soldiers were delivering pizzas to
supplement their salaries — the committee had a significant impact on policy. It was not long before the government
decided to put in another couple of billion dollars to raise the salaries of the military.
However, that was a moral effect; there was no political or constitutional necessity to do it. It was a happy
coincidence of an issue that resonated, a committee that did a good job, and something that needed to be done. I want
to see more of a legislative or constitutional connection between what you folks recommend and what actually
Senator Meighen: The conclusion is that there is no forum outside inner military circles where the military can
express their frank opinion as to policy?
Mr. Bercuson: There is not today, no.
The Chairman: You do not need a constitutional change to do what you are suggesting. To suggest that you need a
constitutional change means that it will never happen. That is the reality. The reality is that the game we are in is one of
persuading the public.
Mr. Bercuson: That is right.
The Chairman: This committee understands perfectly well that the government does not adopt recommendations
because of the inherent wisdom of its recommendations; it adopts the recommendations because, first, the media
embraces what we say, and then the public does. If that does not happen, the government does not move.
Do you not agree that that is exactly how it should happen, that committees should sell their positions and, if they
can persuade the public, the public will, in turn, persuade the government?
Mr. Bercuson: Of course. That is fundamentally the way that democracy will always work. I suppose you could say
that, in a way, that is the way it works in the United States as well. However, I would like to see your committee or
SCONDVA have more authority to question members of the military on their views on things and more authority to
discern from them what directions they think policy should go.
Today we have, in a sense, a chain of command of thinking strategically in the military that points to the top, goes
to the minister, goes to the Prime Minister, goes to the cabinet and ends there. I think that there ought to be another
outlet for it because, under certain circumstances the military may have a message that needs to get through to the
Canadian people so they can decide whether it is best to do A or B.
The Chairman: We agree with the general principles you have stated. We have reported on that. We have been quite
critical of the military, for lack of candour, and the government, for muzzling the military. Frankly, it is a cabinet
directive to the military that has caused the lack of candour, but there are ways around that.
Frankly, we do not need a general to tell us that we are running short of parts. We find that out by talking to
sergeants and master corporals. They will tell us that and they do not give a hoot what the minister thinks.
Mr. Bercuson: Of course, that is true. I was not thinking about part shortages. The current fiscal crunch for the
military is well known and well documented by your committee, by SCONDVA and by many private organizations.
I was thinking more along the lines of what sort of policy development we should be looking at in the future, where
we should be going with regard to force structure, or what is a wise procurement decision as opposed to an unwise one.
I think, for example, of the role of Congress in mandating the pace at which the U.S. Navy should be replacing its
capital ships. That is congressionally mandated. The navy must replace X number of ships over Y period of time
because Congress has mandated that. Why does Congress mandate that? It is because they have oversight over the
navy's capabilities and they do not want the navy fooling around with its capabilities. They do not want the navy to
mortgage its future, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, they do not want the executive branch to be playing
political games with the navy.
There was a case last year, for example, where the USAF was dealing with Boeing on tanker leases. Congress had a
definite opinion on whether the USAF should have been leasing tankers as opposed to buying them, and that opinion
had a significant bearing on what happened. That is because they are able to exert certain oversight in areas such as
spending, program renewals and procurement that Parliament cannot do here. I would like to see more of that happen
in this country.
The Chairman: I take it you are in favour of the so-called democratic deficit being fixed?
Mr. Bercuson: Very much so.
The Chairman: — and not having the total intellectual capacity of this committee sitting over on your left — that's
it, that's all. We will take note of this for the next time we go before the Internal Economy Committee.
Senator Munson: You talked about the empowerment of the House of Commons. You did not mention the Senate. I
assume you mean the Senate as well?
Mr. Bercuson: I meant Parliament. Like most of us, I do tend to say that from time to time and I apologize for it.
Senator Munson: We are here, alive and kicking.
Mr. Bercuson: Yes, you are.
Senator Munson: You said that the Canadian Forces must be combat capable, but within a realistic range of possible
scenarios. Could you elaborate on that? Are you talking about niche capabilities?
Mr. Bercuson: I knew the ``niche'' word would arise. I will avoid using that word because, in a sense, with great
respect, it is a red herring. Aside from the all-purpose, all-singing, all-dancing militaries of the great powers — of which
there is now only one — that can do more or less everything, yet, as we are now seeing in Iraq, not everything. All
militaries in peacetime are niche militaries, if you want to look at it that way. I do not think there has been a military —
back to and including Roman times —that could do everything all of the time. It certainly is not in the nature of
democracies to spend large amounts of money to maintain capabilities that may have never been used and that have a
remote chance of ever being used.
Realistically, we will always need infantry. Will we always need fighter jets? With regrets to my friends in the air
force, I am not sure that we will. I am not sure that we will always need manned aircraft. There was a story in the press
today that the X-45, which is the new generation of unmanned aerial combat vehicle, did a test in the desert of Nevada
and put a precision-guided munition within 50 feet of a target. Maybe that is where the future lies. Should we be
signing up for the F-35 joint strike fighter? That is a much more problematic issue than whether we need to continue to
If you put it that way, it stands to reason that a country like ours needs to be realistic in its choice of combat
capabilities. We do need full combat capability, but ``full'' meaning we need to train our people to be able to handle
situations that will include the use of deadly force by them and defence against the use of deadly force against them.
There is no question about that. However, I do not think it is realistic to have it in all ranges.
Senator Forrestall: Not that long ago we wondered out loud about some of the things you are talking about today.
Some years ago, a number of people pursued some interesting areas of thought. One of them was that perhaps the time
had come when officers of the general rank should be allowed — indeed encouraged — with very moderate guidelines,
to speak out publicly; to write publicly in learned journals; to attend conferences at reasonable levels for the purposes
of discussing broad issues such as the ones we are discussing here tonight. The very thoughts you expressed with
respect to this were that they could not do that because that is against the law.
However, it was interesting when this was raised with the last Associate Deputy Minister of National defence — Léo
Cadieux, if my memory serves me correctly. It had been raised in the context of extending the right to join unions of
members of the Armed Forces in their final year or two of service so that when they went out they had some seniority
with their unions. This other proposition was thrown out. He at once rejected it for the traditional reasons and said
that he would take a look at the union. He did and eventually we had a change of policy in that regard.
He came back some months later and said that he thought that the principles upon which he flatly rejected the
suggestion that men of senior rank, perhaps using a buddy system, be allowed to write and to speak publicly for the
purpose of advising the public so that they could understand and make a reasonable contribution.
That was 30 years ago. We are still discussing it today. What do you see inherently wrong with a four- or three-star
general writing in learned journals of your university or Queen's or Dalhousie? What is wrong with that?
Mr. Bercuson: I do not see anything wrong with it. In fact, I think if we could get there we would be better off. We
would have public debates about certain things.
We must be realistic. There is something called the chain of command and it must be maintained. The chain of
command says that the four-star general — and we have one — that four-star general is responsible to the minister and
the three-star general to the four-star and so on all the way down.
You need to find a balance between the ability to express yourself and the necessity once you are told what to do —
and there is a certain degree of collegiality involved in all of this, it is not simply orders. There is a certain discussion at
the higher levels. There must be a balance. We are not there and I do not think we can get there without the kind of
change that I was discussing earlier. For example, we have today a great deal of intellectual freedom in the military
when it comes to things like doctrine. The Canadian military today is probably a smarter, intellectually sharper
military than it has ever been. It is certainly a more educated military than it has ever been, and it is using opportunities
that have been presented to it by the government through changes over the last several years in education policy and a
variety of things that we could go into if we had the time, to get out there and to discuss things. However, most of what
they are discussing lies in the area of doctrine and not policy. In other words, they are having intellectual debates about
the profession itself and what are ways of achieving Canadian doctrinal objectives, but they do not have debates about
policy. It may well be that it is not proper for them to debate policy because policy needs to be laid down by the civil
As I was saying before, there must be a way in which there is a broader representation of governance that gets
involved in certain kinds of decisions. That is an area in which you folks — and I include all of the legislators — need
to get involved in that.
Senator Forrestall: It has been suggested to us that we think about and discuss in a private way, the usefulness to this
system. In response to what you are saying, to the usefulness or utility of an oversight committee named the Privy
Council, in achieving this. They have suggested using the term ``parliamentary,'' which suggests the Senate and the
House. There are some inherent difficulties with that, given the nature of the Senate and you people who want to rush
out tomorrow and get us all elected. We have been there for 24 years and did that.
Mr. Bercuson: I have given up on that.
Senator Forrestall: I am pleased to hear that.
Mr. Bercuson: I do not think that will happen.
Senator Forrestall: Would you comment on the usefulness of the Senate — if you would put your thoughts around
that — that is separate from the House of Commons? The Commons has the difficulty that once they are sworn to the
Privy Council, frequently their hands are tied.
When I was in the chamber in the House of Commons, I did not want someone to tell me something unless I had
asked them a question, because once he told me something, I felt restrained about asking, about making that public.
Could you comment on the utility of that?
Mr. Bercuson: I can only do that from the perspective of someone who reads these reports — or many of them. I am
not an expert in parliamentary rules or that sort of thing. I perceive that you are taking on very different subjects than
the Commons committee has taken on in the past. I do not know whether that is pure accident or there is consultation
between the two committees as to what ground you want to tackle as opposed to what they do.
Ultimately, we read your reports and their reports and we think, ``Well, these are really good.'' They certainly tend
to tickle most of my prejudices, but at the end of the day they do not seem to have a lot of influence on policy.
The Chairman: How do you measure that?
Mr. Bercuson: I admit that it is hard to measure that because it is a cumulative effect. As other people have said
before me, it is almost as if we are pushing wet noodles up a slippery slope. Who knows who will get the noodle past the
line first? I do not think you can say — especially in a parliamentary democracy as opposed to a presidential system —
who has the bulk of the push at the end of the day.
However, in areas, for example, critical of the military spending that we have seen in the past several years, I think
the government's agenda today is changing with regard to military spending. However, whether it is changing because
of the reports of your committees or because of the new Prime Minister's view that the government should take a
different course with respect to our relations to the United States, NATO, who can say?
The Chairman: Does it matter as long as the recommendations are being implemented?
Mr. Bercuson: I suppose you are right. I guess I am one of these people who reads a report and thinks that this is just
so correct I would like to see this happen tomorrow. I would like to see the government come out at the next budget
and say, ``We have been convinced by these parliamentary reports that we need to do this, that and the other thing.''
That is one. I suppose, in that sense, I still remain naive despite my 58 years. On the other hand, you are right, you have
to be realistic about these things.
The Chairman: In fairness, I think the committee sees it as a political debate and an exercise in public persuasion. We
do not think we have any special wisdom towards which the government should necessarily gravitate. We think we
have to badger them into it, persuade them, beat them up, spit them out and sooner or later they will say, ``uncle.'' One
of the beauties of an unelected Senate — since we are on that subject — is that we will stick around for a while and we
have the capacity to keep coming back to the issues until they do.
Mr. Bercuson: Let us take the report that you did recently on airport security. At the end of the day, when you have
done all that research, you are the national experts on airport security. You know far more, in my opinion — or you
ought to, in order to produce a report like that — than anyone in government or in the higher reaches of the civil
service who is dealing with that because that is what you focused on and studied. If I take on a graduate student to do a
master's degree or specially a Ph.D., at the end of his or her course of study I expect that student to know far more
about that subject than I do. In that sense, there is a collective wisdom that forms in these committees when they do
these studies. When I look at those, I wish the government would listen to that, but it is not that clear that it does.
The Chairman: At the end of the day, we have the absolute expectation that airport security will change. I do not
think that anybody on this committee has any doubt that we will see a different paradigm on airport security. We do
not expect the minister to go out and say, ``Thank you very much, Senate committee.'' We just expect him to do it, and
Mr. Bercuson: Point taken.
Senator Forrestall: I appreciate what the professor is saying. Is there anything he can add to the debate that we will
have to go through this summer? If we go the route of the privilege committee, how do we get civil liberties and civil
rights? How do we balance the information that comes to us privileged with our need to communicate lessons from
that information? Is there a trick in balancing that against care and concern for human rights and civil liberties?
Mr. Bercuson: You are asking a question beyond my expertise. I have a personal view that I want the government to
err on the side of more information. I know that sounds like a fatherhood statement.
Senator Forrestall: I asked you that because you said that before.
Mr. Bercuson: Information that should be reserved and secret should be absolutely necessary for national security,
and I understand that that is a reality in this world.
Senator Forrestall: You do not see any immediate danger there?
Mr. Bercuson: The greatest danger in a democracy — this is probably a cliché and if it is not, it should be — the
greatest danger in a democracy is an under-informed public.
The Chairman: To follow on a comment by my learned colleague, we do not think that there is much secret that
relates to national security. We think there is an awful lot secret that relates to political comfort.
Mr. Bercuson: I tend to agree with that.
The Chairman: Frankly, we have been disinclined to have off-the-record briefings because when we have them, we
find that all the information tends to be available in open sources anyway but comes in a way that we cannot use it. I
think that is what Senator Forrestall is driving at.
Mr. Bercuson: I was not sure, but I would agree with that.
Senator Forrestall: There is not much point in our being the most intelligent and well-informed group of 10 people in
the country if we have to sit here and twiddle our thumbs.
Mr. Bercuson: You have to share that information, in any case, for it to be valid or useful.
Senator Forrestall: I want to find a useful role for the Halifax Rifles in what is going on in Canada today, but I do
not see it in communicating that kind of information.
Senator Munson: That is the least we can do.
Mr. Bercuson: Not to the Halifax Rifles.
Senator Forrestall: Be careful. I am the honorary colonel as of this evening.
Senator Atkins: Professor, we had, over the period when this committee was established, a number of academic
experts appear before us. I am curious. Do you have any association among the academics?
Mr. Bercuson: Do you mean such as a professional association? There are a number of them. I am not a member of
any those national ones. I think there are a number on security studies, for example. My centre at the University of
Calgary is part of a national network partly funded by the Department of National Defence, which is called the
Security and Defence Forum. Inevitably, many of the academics appearing before committees such as this are part of
SDF centres or ``institutes,'' as we call them.
Senator Atkins: Democracy is a great thing, and communication is an important aspect. I get a sense, as maybe it
should be, that there is a lot of disconnect between the views. Maybe that is one of the problems that we have in terms
of educating the public about some of the more general or even specific issues that maybe the public should have a
greater understanding of.
As we said in the previous panel, if you do a study and ask the question, ``What is the most important issue facing
Canadians today?'' defence does not come on the Richter scale. In terms of leadership, it is an important responsibility
for government to act, regardless of what public opinion says. Do you have any comment on that?
Mr. Bercuson: We could probably solve this problem over the next 50 years by starting in elementary school and
teaching Canadians what it is to be citizens of a country that needs to sell more than 80 per cent of what it produces
into international markets every year and what the implications are for Canadians as, in a sense, citizens of a larger
world community. If you are the guy that just sings ``Kumbaya'' while everybody else is hauling buckets to put the fire
out, sooner or later they will notice that you are not hauling any buckets, and that will have costs.
When I talk to my students about World War I and II, I say, ``Kaiser Bill was not coming over here in a rowboat,
and, for that matter, neither was Hitler,'' but we had certain responsibilities as free citizens and those who benefit from
existence of certain international systems that basically pay our salaries and support our medicare. Either we are
prepared to go to the wall occasionally in support of those systems and to keep those systems intact or we are not. That
is in the international sphere.
I also think that Canadians feel themselves to be a people of some justice and take some pride in trying to ``make the
world a better place,'' and I say good on them. However, you cannot make the world a better place until you can do
something about the bad guys. It is wonderful to talk about aid for this country or that one, but if those countries are
being terrorized by certain groups of people who just want to kill folks for reasons of religion or race or whatnot, then
we Canadians need to put resources in place to help stop that from happening.
I could talk about how another major incident like September 11 — if there is one, God forbid — could close our
borders for four more days. How many businesses will relocate south of the border and never locate in Canada
because, if they do, they have to worry about a border closing for four days or a week and they cannot take that
Canadians are not stupid. They can understand the connection between their national and individual well-being,
and they need to put some shoulder to the wheel when it comes to these issues. I do not think the issues have been well
explained. You can start with elementary, go to high school, universities, political leadership, and people like me —
whatever it is. We need to start thinking differently than we did during the Cold War when it was just automatic. It is
not automatic any more. You have to be thinking about what are the implications if you do not do this for your own
Senator Atkins: If you had the opportunity, is there a way in which you would reorganize the national defence?
Mr. Bercuson: In 25 words or less?
Senator Atkins: I ask that question because it seems to me that within that department, perhaps under the minister
there should be a deputy minister of operations.
Mr. Bercuson: I will say one thing, and it is something I have said in other fora: I think we are very well served by the
current minister. I am a big fan of his, the work that he did as chair of SCONDVA and so on. Aside from that, I think
that ministers of national defence in general need to have a broader pool of expertise upon which they can rely when
they make decisions. That is certainly one thing I would recommend. I do not know whether that is a matter of a
minister's personal preference or a matter of legislative duty. I just wish that more disinterested parties were able to
have input at least into the preparation for decision-making.
Senator Atkins: That is interesting. When this committee travels and it meets officers of middle ranks, colonels, like
colonels, we get a more candid presentation of what needs to be fixed or what the problems are than when we sit here
and members of the higher command appear before us from the Department of National Defence.
It addresses what you said to us earlier in your presentation. It is almost prohibited for senior officers to appear
before a committee and tell us what they really think.
Mr. Bercuson: I have had a little experience with this on the monitoring committee and that was an education in
civil-military relations. I will not go into specifics, but I can tell you of innumerable times when the committee was told
one thing by persons of a certain rank, and when we went out into the field and did a little investigating we found that
things were quite different.
Senator Atkins: That is why we, as a committee, are tempted to travel more in this country to address some of the
issues that are facing the country.
Senator Munson: You have had strong views on the defence acquisition process. You say it requires streamlining.
What changes would you like to see in this process?
Mr. Bercuson: We have to grow past the time when we decide that we will buy Canadian for the sense of national
pride. I do not think that works any more — not with the cost of equipment today, not when there are five or six
possibly major technological centres of innovation in the world out there. We may be one of them. We have an
excellent defence industry and they do some good things. When they do it best we should go to them and when they do
not we do not.
I am waiting with great anticipation for the announcement of how we will acquire these ships. If the announcement
is made that we are going to build them in Canada, I can tell you I will be very disappointed. We do not have the
capability; we should not be doing it.
Senator Atkins: We did have.
Mr. Bercuson: I am a historian. The past is prologue. That was then, this is now. We build some very good civil
aircraft today but we cannot build jet fighters. We did once; we do not now. That is the reality.
When weapons systems are procured, they need to be procured more for their own efficiency and utility than for
industrial offsets. That is probably politically incorrect, and I do understand that jobs are very important and no one
has pure hands in this one. Maybe the Americans are worse than everyone else and not better than everybody else with
needing to make tires in one district, and toilet seats in another, but we cannot afford waste. I do not know if they can
afford it but that is their business.
Senator Munson: Does that mean the same things as strategic lifts? Is not being able to rent strategic lifts a more
cost-effective method of getting troops?
Mr. Bercuson: I do not know. I have not seen the figures and I do not think the case is made. I am prepared to admit
that may be the case with long-range strategic lift, but for medium-range strategic lifts — with the Hercules for
example — we have to replace them and they can probably only be replaced by the newer model. Whatever the
government decides about long-range strategic lift, whether we will buy it or lease it, whatever, that is one issue.
I do not presume to tell them what they should be doing because I do not know the figures, but it stands to reason
that just for domestic operations in a country as large as this one you have to be able to get military equipment from
one side of the country to the other. Sometimes you need to do it quickly and it cannot be shipped by train.
Senator Munson: You are on the record as saying the 1994 white paper is outdated. How would you change the
fundamental defence missions of defence of North America, participation in multinational organizations, and
providing assistance to civil authorities and other government departments?
Mr. Bercuson: I would not. I would just cast it differently. The military have two fundamental missions and they are
not much different from what you just said. The first would be domestic operations but I include in that today
continental operations. We have to be realistic that in the area of continental defence we are moving closer, through the
binational planning group and probably down the road, some kind of NATO-like arrangement with the Americans
about continental defence. Yes, Canadians will scream, and so on and so forth, but it is inevitable in my opinion. It will
We are dealing with domestic operations that include continental defence, and we are dealing with operations in
support of Canadian foreign policy. That is how I would put the other one. We would make certain foreign policy
decisions that sometimes require hard power, and we need to be able to bring that hard power to bear.
Senator Meighen: I should like to start with a totally different question. What about the reserves? How do you see
their role? How do you see them spreading the military ethos among the population? To what extent are they genuinely
required to beef up our forces since they seem to be understaffed at every level? To what extent do they bring about a
cost-saving, on the grounds that they are not full-time soldiers, or airmen or whatever?
Mr. Bercuson: The reserves will be even more necessary in the next decade than they have been in the past 10 years in
augmenting our military forces. As I am sure you know, reserves have been anywhere from 20 per cent on up of our
deployed forces, and we will continue to do that.
In a democracy that role is inevitable, because it is almost impossible to anticipate what your regular force
requirements are going to be. I believe it was Eisenhower who once said that war always comes as a shocking surprise
to democracies. How can you plan in January for operations that may begin in July, when you did not even know in
the first place that they would be required in June? For how many wars of the last 10 years have we had any real
warning beyond a month or two or three or six at the most? Reserves are required to fill the gap between what you
have on the shelf and what you need to deploy at any given point. That is inevitable.
Second, real domestic operations — that is, what you sometimes call aid to the civil power, whether it be as a result
of natural disaster or terrorism, — is a role that will only be fulfilled by the reserves down the road. There are simply
not enough regular forces in the country. If I remember correctly, we have Gagetown, Petawawa, Edmonton and Val
Cartier. There are four major bases in the country. If there is a natural disaster in the Fraser River Valley there are only
reservists there to respond. That is another reason you need them.
The third — and most important — reason is that the most important role that the reserves fulfil is to implement
mobilization planning. We need mobilization planning because we cannot tell from one month to the next what our
requirements will be. Although the military probably does not want to admit it publicly, we are fundamentally in stage
two mobilization right now. We have everyone out there, for all intents and purposes.
What if something else occurs in the next six months? We talk about a moratorium on operations, but it is just not
realistic in certain circumstances. If we have a major crisis in Latin America that would impact the flow of oil to the
East Coast of Canada and we were required to contribute military forces to the solution of the problem, where would
we find them? If we had a mobilization plan on the books and a means of digging into resources to get those additional
forces, we would have the answer.
We have to begin with mobilization planning, with reserves forming the skeleton of that, then go to augmentation
for overseas operations, and then talk about domestic operations — responses to natural disasters and to internal
Senator Meighen: Given that warfare in this day and age has become highly technical, is it realistic to think that
reserves can be more than just the grunts? Can they really run a ship? Can they operate highly technical equipment?
Mr. Bercuson: Not today on 37 days of reserve service a year.
Senator Forrestall: The navy does it.
Mr. Bercuson: The navy reserves do a different kind of job than the army reserves, and skill fade is a major problem.
Without being too technical, the new radio system that we adopted a few years ago is highly complex, and if one is not
operating it all the time, one will forget how to operate it.
We need to look at different forms of reserve service. We could possibly have a contract with people agreeing to a
guarantee of 60 days of paid training per year with arrangements made with their employers, et cetera. It would be
creating two different classes of reservists — similar to what the Australians have been doing.
If there is to be realistic use of reserves in the future, we will have to have something different than we have now.
Senator Meighen: Are you in favour of the law that exists in the United States that an employer has to take back
someone in the reserves after they have served their time or, as is the case in this country, no law, the argument being,
as we understand it, that if there were such a law, employers would be loathe to hire such people in the first place?
Mr. Bercuson: I have heard arguments on both sides. We have a not-invented-here syndrome. We look at the
American system and say it is no good because we did not create it ourselves. Therefore, let us not look at the
American system but rather at the system that Britain or Australia are implementing, where they work with employers.
It is not simply a matter of throwing out the law and forcing employers to agree to it. There is compensation for
employers in real monetary terms from the government, and so on. I do not have the specifics at my fingertips, but I
know that when they decided, after East Timor, that their reserves were not really deployable, they decided to work
some fairly significant changes in their reserve structure. One of the things they tackled was employer compensation. If
we go that route, we will have to do more than we are doing now.
The Chairman: Dr. Bercuson, on behalf of the committee I thank you for appearing before us. We admire your
work, we read what you write and having you here before us was long overdue. We are pleased that you could come to
talk to us this evening. We hope to have an opportunity to see you again before too long. On behalf of the committee,
thank you very much for coming and for sharing your views with us.
If you have questions or comments, please visit our Web site by going to www.sen-sec.ca. We post witness testimony
as well as confirmed hearing schedules. Otherwise, you may contact the clerk of the committee by calling 1-800-267-
7362 for further information or assistance in contacting the members of the committee.
Colleagues, you have before you a draft report. May I have a motion for its adoption?