Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 4 - Evidence, Morning meeting
KINGSTON, Monday, November 29, 2004
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 8:10 a.m. to examine and report
on the need for a national security policy for Canada.
Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the chair.
The Chairman: I call the meeting to order.
Good morning. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and
Defence. Today, the committee will hear testimony relating to its review on defence policy.
My name is Colin Kenny. I am a senator from Ontario and I chair the committee.
On my immediate right is the distinguished senator from Nova Scotia, Senator Michael Forestall. Senator Forestall
has served the constituents of Dartmouth for the past 37 years, first as their member of the House of Commons, then
as their senator. He has served as parliamentary secretary to several Cabinet ministers, including the Minister of
Transport and the Minister of Regional Industrial Expansion.
On his right is Senator Tommy Banks, from Alberta, who is well known to Canadians as one of our most versatile
musicians and entertainers. His musical career has spanned over 50 years. He is a Juno recipient, and is an Officer of
the Order of Canada. Senator Banks is chairs the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and
Natural Resources and is the chair of the Alberta Liberal caucus.
Beside him is Senator Jane Cordy, from Nova Scotia. She is an accomplished educator with an extensive record of
community involvement, including serving as vice-chair of the Halifax-Dartmouth Port Development Commission.
Senator Cordy chairs the Canadian NATO Parliamentary Association.
On my immediate left is Senator Joseph Day, from New Brunswick. He holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering
from Royal Military College, here in Kingston, an LL.B. from Queen's, which is also here in Kingston, and a Masters
of Law from Osgoode Hall. Prior to his appointment to the Senate in 2001, Senator Day had a successful career as an
attorney. He is deputy chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and a member of this committee's
Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.
At the far end of the table is Senator Jim Munson, from Ontario. Senator Munson was a trusted journalist and
former director of communications for Prime Minister Chrétien before he was called to the Senate in 2003. Senator
Munson has twice been nominated for a Gemini Award in recognition of excellence in journalism.
Our committee has published a number of reports, but I will not go through them now. I think our witnesses are
both familiar with those reports.
We are turning our attention now to a review of Canadian defence policy. During the next year, the committee
intends to hold meetings in every province of the country and to engage Canadians, to determine what their national
interests are, what they see as Canada's principal threats and how they would like the government to respond.
The committee will attempt to generate debate on national security in Canada and to forge a public consensus on
the need for the military.
Our committee is the first permanent Senate committee to examine security and national defence and we are eager to
proceed with this review, which we hope to do in tandem with the Commons' review, once they finish their inquiry into
Our witnesses this morning are Mr. Douglas Bland, who is Chair of Defence Management Studies at Queen's
University. Mr. Bland's research interests include defence policy-making and management at the national and
international levels, the organization and functioning of defence ministries, and civil-military relations.
We also have with us Brigadier General retired Donald Macnamara, who is a Senior Fellow at the Queen's Centre
for the International Relations. As part of the Canadian Forces, Dr. Macnamara has spent a portion of his career
researching strategic analysis and policy planning.
My understanding is that you are going to go first this morning, Dr. Macnamara. That being the case, you have the
Dr. W. Donald Macnamara, Senior Fellow, Queen's University: Senators, good morning and welcome to Kingston,
to Queen's University and to our Royal Military College, where you spent some time last evening.
Mr. Bland and I have been working on and organizing a program for you for the next day and a bit, and it is a
broadly based program. This morning, we wish to begin by addressing the whole issue of defence policy. If our
presentation sounds a bit academic, at least from my perspective, I apologize in advance, but I think it is important for
us to set the scene with a few definitions and explanations, if for no other reason than to having a set of common
First and foremost, if we are going to talk about defence policy, what do we mean by defence policy? Just exactly
what is defence policy? What should it be?
Well, fundamentally, defence policy, for Canada, at least, is about the ways and means that are chosen to defend
Canada's interests. That is a fairly simple statement. It should be the most significant component, however, of a much
more broadly based national security policy.
Secondly, what is policy? What is a policy? The term is often used but more often is abused. Policy is really a
statement of a chosen action or direction, or for that matter inaction, by a government organization in response to a
perceived impact of events, issues or trends that may have some significance to the interests. Hence, policy is about
choices about what is to be done and why it is to be done.
Next, what are interests? Many of you come from the business community, or at least from private-sector
experience, so you recognize that interests really are an expression of the combination of the fundamental values and
goals that a corporation — in this case, a country, an institution — will seek to preserve, protect and promote in the
conduct of its operations. Interests in the context of national interests are really those things that are important to the
There is one other aspect of policy that is often forgotten, and that is the plan or the ultimate policy statement. That
is the detail, the means by which the policy will be implemented. This should clearly identify the aims, the resources, the
responsibilities and timing, the how, the who, the where and the when of the policy implementation. It defines the
problem, the issues, the goals, the instruments and the means.
If one were going to be assessing what a defence policy should look like, one would be able to go through a policy
example and tick it off and say, "Well, first of all, we should see a
statement of the country's interests, the national interests, founded in the
fundamental values and goals of the country."
The second thing one would look to see is an overall review of the trends and issues or events, nationally and
internationally, that can affect or threaten those interests. Notice that I say
"affect" or "threaten," because people are
often caught up in the term "threats," when, in fact, things that can affect us can be perhaps not threatening, but
something that we do have to deal with.
One would then look for the policy, and the policy should be a clearly identified set of choices of what interests are
to be defended by military means, in particular, and why.
Finally, the plan, that is, the how, the where, the when and the who, which is a clear statement of the military
instruments and resources, that is, the overall capabilities that are perceived necessary to apply force up to and
including the use of lethal force in the defence of Canada's interests.
At the risk of sounding too academic, as I said, it is important to get some of these things on the table and hopefully
reflected at least in your reports as well.
You asked the following questions: What are Canada's interests? What are the national interests? This is a topic that
can lend itself to a very complex academic discussion. There are those who are for the concept of national interests;
there are those who are against it. Those who are against the concept of national interests simply dismiss it and say that
national interests is whatever you want it to be. That does not lend itself to any substantive and analytical process.
Hence, I would argue that national interests can, in fact, be something that can be much more specific. However, we
still have to face the fact that it is a term that is used frequently by politicians and other leaders, when the concept is not
really clearly understood.
Canada has yet to clearly articulate a set of national interests, and I would argue that one could derive them
implicitly from the 1995 white paper on foreign policy, but they would remain generally obscure. If you asked the
average Canadian what Canadian national interests are, even if they went to the foreign policy paper, they may not
find that they could actually pull them out and articulate them in detail.
In the absence of such a declaration, we can start with, first and foremost, that a clear national interest would be the
defence of the homeland, Canadian national defence. That has to be clearly a fundamental interest. It is the defence of
the people, their assets, their values and the territory, the sovereignty, of this nation. These form the foundation of
Furthermore, a second important and direct national interest must be, as reflected in the foreign policy paper,
economic well-being. The economic well-being of the country is important. Without a secure and vibrant economy, the
income necessary to support national programs, from defence through infrastructure and ultimately even our social
support programs, will be lacking. A fundamental national interest has to be the economic well-being of the country.
The secure and vibrant economy for Canada, which is a solid trading nation, and particularly dependent upon the
United States in that regard, is very much dependent upon a stable international environment, so that we can pursue
Finally, there is the issue of the interest of projecting our values abroad, and that is those values that we would like
to defend: democracy, freedom and social justice. Democracy, freedom, peace and justice can be a fundamental
interest, but it also a means to contributing to the other interests of economic well-being and democracy.
If the interests of Canada are formed by the above values and goals, then we already have some clues as to what we
would like to see in a paper.
I will not get into the detail of the foreign policy paper because I expect that most of you will be familiar with that,
but I would like to suggest that an approach to the identification of national interests would also be important to
identify the degree to which those interests are important.
I expect all of you have heard and probably used from time to time the term "vital interests," and, indeed, vital
interests are the critical interests, the interests that are critical to the survival of the nation.
A colleague of mine in the United States, Don Nuechterlein, has written a number of books on this subject, and I
think he has covered the waterfront very adequately. He categorizes the interests in the terms, first of all, vital interests,
secondly, major interests, and thirdly, peripheral interests.
I would suggest that the way in which Canada has viewed its interests has been, first of all, vital interests, those
things that are important to the security of the country. Those vital interests are generally speaking, and it is
particularly important that, in the United States, when they say "vital interests," they are prepared to use military force
to support them. So vital interests are those things that you are prepared to fight to defend.
We have to remember that when we talk about interests and values and how values form our interests, we fought
several wars in the 20th century to preserve the fundamental values of democracy, freedom and social justice. Hence,
those are really important vital interests that we are prepared to use military force to defend, at least historically.
Major interests are more those things that you can seek to promote through international treaties, so-called
multilateralism, negotiations, free trade agreements, and things of that nature, and they can be very important to the
economic well-being. However, they are not necessarily things that you would use military force to defend. Although, if
access or some threat to one's nation's resources is of concern, you may use military force to secure access to those
resources if you become economically dependent.
With respect to the third level of interests, however, unlike Nuechterlein, who uses a peripheral interest reflecting
commercial interests, I would say that our recent history indicates that we look at the world through a lens called
"humanitarian interests." These are interests that are other issues to which Canada does feel a need to contribute — for
example, issues of natural disasters, local conflict, serious injustices, collapsed states or the likes — which may demand
a response from Canada that may be political, economic or military.
An example of humanitarian interests that combines all three of these would be the case of Haiti, for example. Also,
as Prime Minister Chrétien said, when we went to war in Kosovo in 1998-99, when the question was asked,
we do that?" he said, "Because our values demanded it, our humanitarian values
What are those things that we are likely to have to address in terms of a defence policy? I will not give you a
comprehensive review, but there are a number of pertinent documents. The Department of National Defence has
produced a strategic assessment document and a future security environment document. The Canadian Institute of
Strategic Studies and the International Institute for Strategic Studies also have similar comprehensive documents.
Distilling the contents of these things, I have constructed what I call the top 10 international issues, trends or events
that could ultimately lead to be sources of threats that could affect Canada's interests.
First and foremost, right at the top of this, is terrorism. That is probably no surprise to you. I put terrorism at the
top. I would tell you, incidentally, that I have used this list since 1979, and I have modified it every year since then. It is
amazing those things that have been constant for over the last 25 years.
Terrorism, which used to be number 10, when I first put this list together, has become important because we see the
potential for terrorists to have access to weapons of mass destruction. Many people believe that the most terrifying of
these would be nuclear weapons. Frankly, the most terrifying things to most strategists is biological weapons. Hence,
the potential for use of weapons of mass destruction by terrorists, and therefore terrorism is number one on the list.
The second on the list, however, is the whole matter of world order in general and what is happening with the
political and economic restructuring in virtually every region of the world. We cannot concentrate on one region
because there is this tremendous global interdependency now, certainly at the economic level and increasingly at the
political level. However, understanding what the world order issues are in the political and economic restructuring in
the various regions is important. Within each of those regions there is regional conflict and, in particular, failed states.
The failed-state situation that we see in Sudan, at the moment, in Haiti, in Congo — former Zaire — in many places,
for that matter, in Africa, are things that, whether we like it or not, we cannot ignore them. There are a number of sub-issues in each of those contexts.
The international economy is extremely important — trade and regional blocks, the World Trade Organization. We
seek, in this country, to have a rules-based trade, but that depends on everybody else obeying the rules, as well as us.
We have to obey the rules if we expect others to do so.
The international economy, as we can see from the performance of our dollar and the dependency of the world
economy on the state of the U.S. economy, debt and investment capital, is a very important element of the world
economy. The excessive deficits, both the trade and budget deficits in the United States, will soak up a tremendous
amount of both domestic and international capital. We would be on the short end if such capital is going to be pouring
into the United States, particularly if they respond with their interest rates appropriately.
Weapons proliferation is the next on the list. This is not only in the context of terrorism, but just general weapons
proliferation, including weapons of mass destruction. Where there are concentrations of weapons, there is a tendency
for them to be used.
Resources, oil and now water, much more commonly water. I have just come back from 10 days in the Middle East,
where "water" was probably the commonest word uttered the whole time we were there.
"Water." If we do not have
water, we do not have anything; we do not have life.
An issue that is familiar to some Canadians but not to others is the whole matter of refugees and population
migration. I think you recognize that we, in Canada, have significant minorities of virtually every nation in the world.
This means that we have, in Canada, a significant minority who will be interested in whatever goes on in whatever
country in the world. This means that we have to be aware of what impact they may have on us domestically, as well as
how those interests may play out with parts of our population.
Next on the list is the issue of HIV and AIDS. We hear a lot about it in Africa, but it is really burgeoning in Russia
and China. Are we going to be able to ignore that? Is this simply a health issue, or is it something that could rise to be a
more substantive issue, either at the humanitarian level or, for that matter, in the context of international trade?
Environmental degradation and climate is next. We think we have had some climate change already, but we think in
terms of the long term and the possibility of the opening up of the Northwest Passage and what that means for
Canada's defence interests?
Finally, and far from last, is the whole matter of drugs, organized crime and money laundering, all of which are
linked. One of the things we often forget in that regard is that this really is a corrosive element in our Canadian society
I will end with a very quick review of what I consider to be a list of our interests and where we are.
Our vital interests, first and foremost, are the sovereignty and defence of Canada, the protection of people of
Canada, our values and our assets, protecting us against direct attack by land, sea or air enemies; another vital interest
is terrorists, including the possible use of nuclear, radiological and biological weapons; the disruption, depletion, or
theft of resources, including our oil and fisheries is also a vital interest.
A second component of our vital interests has to be our relations with the United States, not only for economic
reasons but also for defence and security reasons, the defence of our common security of the North American
perimeter and our borders and approaches. It is also in defence and support of our common values, not only
domestically, but also internationally.
Our major interests, the economic well-being of Canada, which would include maintaining that trade relationship
with the United States, contributing to rules-based trade environment, the free flow of essential resources, both imports
and exports including our oil, monitoring the flow of immigrants, policing organized crime, including drugs and money
laundering, protecting the environment, including monitoring the effects of climate change.
A major interest also is contributing to world security and order, first and foremost, through the containment and
treatment of endemic diseases, trying to contain them so that they do not become global or pandemics; peace-building
operations in areas of chronic conflict is also a major interest. Another major interest is responding to the needs of
failed states, and I suspect that you have heard already a lot about this whole issue of the responsibility to protect, but
this is one that is something more than a sleeper as far as we are concerned in the security context. Next is the policing
of organized crime, and the safety and security of Canadians and assets abroad.
Finally, at the level of humanitarian interests, I would say that our interests are certainly the promotion of Canadian
values through our response to disasters and/or humanitarian intervention, as the circumstances may demand. That
means also, of course, providing appropriately targeted international development assistance.
I have a number of recommendations with regard to what we would like to have in terms of the nature of the
Canadian Forces, but I think I have used up all my time from an introductory point of view.
I would be pleased to answer questions in that regard.
The Chairman: Thank you, Dr. Macnamara. We would welcome a copy of your list in writing, if you could provide
it to us. I am sure we will cover parts of it in the question period, but we would welcome a further submission.
We will now hear from Dr. Bland.
Dr. Douglas Bland, Chair, Defence Management Studies, Queen's University: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Let me welcome you to Kingston and to the Kingston Defence Strategic Studies Network people you will meet today.
I am going to take a bit of a different track and look at defence policy as public administration and mingle that with
some history because the two obviously go together. I will also talk to you as a frustrated contrarian, to describe the
challenge I see before your committee.
If you were to ask most informed people, "What is Canada's national defence policy?" the honest answer would be
that it is whatever the prime minister says it is at any particular moment and whatever we happen to be doing at any
Like many other people and many on this committee, a lot of us have worked for a long time to try to persuade
Canadian politicians and prime ministers that defence ought to be a front-burner issue for Parliament, that it ought to
be a rational policy of some sort, especially when we try to alert them to the present crisis of falling military
capabilities. It is a quest driven by the assumption that brute sanity will change public policy.
A lot of people also in the last few months have said that, given the large and impressive accumulation of
presentations to Parliament and studies by your committees, the House, by academics, by NGOs and so on, and given
the crisis that we are facing, the fact that, in some respects, Canada is at war, and the political circumstances and the
great pile of money that seems to be in Ottawa, if we cannot get it done now, we never will be able to get it done.
I am coming to the conclusion that we are not going to get it done. Nevertheless, I do support the committee's effort
to try to make defence policy relevant to Canadians and to Canadian politicians, so I will have another try at it.
As I said, most Canadian defence policy over a long period of time has been, if not erratic, handled in an ad hoc
way, issue by issue, situation by situation, free from the dictates of strategic studies and military principles and
unfettered by any national strategy. It simply illustrates that our defence policy over a very long time — at least the
period I am interested in, since the Second World War — has been hard to break free from our national history.
Brooke Claxton in 1950 warned the chiefs of staff about the activities of officers engaged in force development
planning for NATO, and he said: "The great danger of planning activities of this kind is that the planners, generally
very bright officers of the rank of colonel, major and captain, live and work without regard for the facts of national
life. Unless they are very closely supervised, they are apt to draw up plans that are utterly unrealistic and impossible of
fulfilment. Military planning on this scale sought ideal solutions; military programming invariably in Canada has to be
aimed much lower." After letting that phrase slide for a long time, I thought about the facts of national life in regards
to defence planning and then set out to list what I think are the nine facts.
I will briefly list the facts of national life, as I see them, support them with a couple of pieces of evidence and then
turn to the issue of building a national defence policy once more into the breach, so to speak, and offer some ideas
about what a new model defence policy statement might look like.
What are the facts?
The first fact is that there is no threat, and if there was a threat, the Americans will save us. Wilfred Laurier said, in
1910, "One must not take the militia seriously. While it is good for putting down internal disturbances, we are saved by
the Monroe Doctrine." Every prime minister has probably said that to himself and his cabinet, maybe not to Canadian
citizens in such an open way, but it is the fundamental belief behind our defence policies.
Fact number two: Since there is no implicit purpose in defence policy and that that idea is carried from the political
community into the public service, it affects the way public servants in the Department of Finance, in the Treasury
Board and other important areas look at advice that comes from the military. Robert Sutherland, as Senator Forestall
probably remembers, in 1963-64, when he worked for Paul Hellyer, wrote: "From the point of view of the Department
of National Defence, it would be highly advantageous to discover a strategic rationale which would impart to Canada's
defence programs a wholly Canadian character. Unfortunately, such a rationale does not exist and one cannot be
invented." People still believe that, I think.
Fact number three: National funds are limited, and because there is no threat and the Americans will save us,
defence policy can be driven or supported by the funds available, not necessarily by the funds that are required.
In 1970, in his defence white paper, Donald Macdonald wrote: "It is not
possible simply to state 'defence requirements' and call that the defence
budget. There is no obvious level for defence expenditures in Canada."
David Collenette, responding to the joint committee of the Senate and the House, as some of you will recall, looked
at that committee's recommendations and then wrote in the 1994 white paper that
"although the recommendations were sound, it was judged by the government to be
inconsistent with the financial parameters within which the department must
The lesson is that policy then, now and in the future will be managed by what is available, not what seems to be
Fact number four: Prime ministers and most political leaders, with the exception of Lester Pearson, arrive in Ottawa
on a domestic bandwagon. For everyone in Ottawa, in my experience, and more so over the last few years, it is the
domestic content of defence policy that is really important. MacDonald, in his 1970 paper, also wrote:
"The size of the
defence budget can be made only in the context of the government's national priorities in the light of its consequent
domestic programs." Collenette said the same thing in 1994: "The defence of Canada is first and foremost a domestic
concern." To put that into context, it has to be set within the parameters of the domestic budget.
Fact number five: Prime ministers will not become involved, are not interested, generally, in building an efficient
and effective armed force, as those terms are defined by the military; rather, they try to look at them from another
point of view. When Hellyer presented his far-reaching 1964 white paper on national defence to the cabinet, before it
was tabled in the House, he was dismissed in a few sentences by Lester Pearson and Paul Martin, the older, with the
words: "Paul, we do not need an efficient armed force. We do not need to be a model for NATO. Let us just keep doing
what we have always been doing." That essentially shattered the strategic basis for Paul Hellyer's ideas on unification.
Fact number six: Political leaders and most citizens have a weak view of defence history; they believe that Canada is
a peacekeeping nation. By any objective measure, that assumption, that perception is false. People believe it though, as
do members of Parliament and the media. It is an idea engrained in the culture today. People cannot talk about any
operations the Canadian Forces are on in Afghanistan, where they are shooting people and so on, without referring to
Canada's "peacekeeping" operation in Afghanistan, for instance. You cannot advance very well in this country an
image of what the Canadian Forces will do that insults this notion that we are an unmilitary peacekeeping country, no
matter that our national game is hockey.
Fact number seven: Generally, politicians have a poor relationship with the officer corps, not with individuals.
There are many examples of fine relationships between prime ministers and chiefs of defence staff, but as a profession,
the officer corps and military planners tend to put before members of Parliament and cabinets demands and
assessments, issues that are difficult for them to deal with, and so they do not often believe what they see or want to
listen to what they are told.
Only recently, at a meeting this time not with a politician but with a former member of the civil service, a senior
member, when I mentioned the crisis of falling capabilities, he said: "You
guys are always saying the same thing. Every time we ask you to go some place,
you do it anyway and you do it well. We do not believe what you are saying. You
are just Peter crying wolf."
I had to remind him that, as I remember the story of Peter and the wolf, the wolf eventually showed up. I think the
wolf is on the horizon now, although people do not believe our wonderful research all the time.
Fact number eight: Colonel, later General, Maurice Pope wrote a long time ago, in 1937, that officers have to resist
the idea of presenting service-based advice to Senate committees, governments and other places:
"From the standpoint of government, the problem of national defence has always
been a single one, incapable of complete division in terms of the fighting
Try as you might, it is very hard to break this military fact of national life. If you walk around Ottawa and look at
the coloured uniforms, you will see that Paul Hellyer's legacy has not lasted all that long. More seriously, I think you
will find, at least I have found, that much of the advice and analysis that is done within the defence planning system is
Finally, fact number nine, the last fact and perhaps next to fact number one, the most important one, is that officers,
officials and apparently academic strategic studies courses and so on cannot force politicians to obey the strategic
military principles. Fact number nine tells us that you cannot change fact number one.
These fact, as I say, what Claxton called the facts of "national life," are embedded in our political culture; more than
that, they are embedded in our public service culture, in some respects, maybe even inside the Department of National
Defence. Making defence policy relevant for Canadians, the challenge before this committee, I believe, is to attack this
Let me then change to a few words about what a new model defence policy would look like.
Defence policies in the past have been built almost always in a traditional set of organizational ideas. The emphasis,
when you look at the number of pages, the discussion and so on in white papers since 1964, at least, has been on setting
out for Canadians the rationale — the strategic, academic and military strategic studies rationale — for having armed
forces and for deploying them.
I am suggesting that we need to abandon that model and put much more emphasis on the public administration
aspects of Canada's defence policy because policy that is built or announced simply or even on very sophisticated
strategic analysis premises does not reflect what we actually do, does not provide much guidance to administrators
within the departments, does not direct the armed forces and leaves, therefore, the main drivers of defence policy by
A new policy would be a new policy statement. Something really different would be set up to illustrate the four
interrelating matrices of defence policy planning in Canada, those matrices being: strategic sets of decisions about ends
and means; organizational decisions about the arrangement of defence resources, units and internal responsibilities;
social sets of decisions regarding the armed forces in society, relations between the society and the armed forces; and
finally, operational sets of decisions about the employment of forces.
These sets of decisions that lead to policy outcomes are interrelated and ought to be reflected, at least in generalities,
within a defence statement.
The starting point for many discussions is the question: What is it we want the armed forces to do? The question
usually produces a wide range of particular and immediate things that soldiers, sailors and airmen can do.
I think it is important to generalize the answer. What is it that armed forces do for society that no one else can do?
The answer is that they can provide a sustained, or at least they ought to be able to provide a sustained, organized
capability for applying violence, managed by a group of people set aside by society and especially skilled for that
purpose. In other words, the general end-use purpose of armed forces is to apply force, and deadly force if necessary, in
the interests of government policy, period.
The immediate end-use of armed forces can always be determined and will always be determined by the sum of the
commitments governments have developed over time, and sustained coercive force is part of those immediate
objectives. More or less coercive capabilities equal more or less opportunities to use force in the armed forces in a
variety of ways to meet government's foreign and defence goals by giving depth, experience and flexibilities to those
This is the relevance I think we ought to be searching for and the relevance that we ought to be putting before
Canadians. Sure, the Canadian Forces can fight fires, find lost kids, support military bases, build dams in Winnipeg,
but so can everybody else. Armed forces are there as a coercive force.
In summary, then, the object of the policy statement must be to define the government's national goals, the
resources it will commit to those goals, the rules governing their organization, the rules governing the application of
force and, finally, the rules governing and defining the process by which the civil authority, the Senate and the House,
will oversee military compliance with this policy.
The object of defence management is to establish, equip and sustain armed forces to produce as much coercive force
as possible from the money that is provided — the old saying, "As much
bang for the buck or rubble for the rouble as you can get out of your defence
The object of military command, the third element in this statement, is to prepare the Canadian Forces to apply
coercive force effectively and efficiently according to military principles at the direction of the government.
It is against these objectives that we should look at defence policies, choices and decisions into the future.
I believe that defence policies, like most other public policies, are not made but found, and they are found in a
discussion that arrives at a consensus on what are the objectives in each of these categories. This kind of meeting,
despite my Eeyore complex at the beginning of this discussion, is important because you are on the track of trying to
find what is sustainable within the system.
We need to remember, I think, that, in the end, defence policy will be whatever the prime minister says it is at any
particular moment, in the immediate sense, but in the longer sense, we need a new statement that looks at the
interrelationships of strategic outlooks, resources, management and command. If we do not have a statement that is
comprehensive in all these areas that links them logically, then we will have another white paper that is fine to look at,
interesting to read and immediately put aside by the people who have to produce armed capabilities for Canada.
The Chairman: Before we lead off the questioning with Senator Forrestall, perhaps I can be the Kanga to your
Eeyore and ask you to elaborate, for the committee's benefit, the single principal differentiating feature that you
described that the military had from everything else, and that is the application of the use of force. Goodness, it sounds
totally un-Canadian. How could we possibly think about that?
Could you talk to the committee briefly about how, if this is the single distinguishing characteristic that you would
see the military having from other resources that the government has, that would affect how we really structure the
armed forces and should they really be focusing on anything other than that, if that is their unique characteristic?
Mr. Bland: Yes, it does sound, in the present context, un-Canadian. I do not think it would have sounded so un-Canadian to my father.
That aside — and I think that is fact number five — when someone is doing a value audit of national defence policy,
the first place to look to is the sharp end of the spear and not the blunt end of the spear. How many battalions do you
have? How many ships do you have? How many aircraft do you have?
What often happens, in my view, is that when people come before committees, they talk about reducing, they want
to attack the front end of the spear and leave the rest alone. We need to engage in a policy of reallocation of as much
defence resources and funding from the blunt end of the spear to the front end.
What we need to say in our policies — if you believe that the purpose of having armed forces is to have armed forces
that use their special skills and in the concept of coercive force to win over other people to your point of view, then that
is what we ought to be building the forces to do.
The committees and so on, therefore, ought to be asking officials how many dollars produce coercive force —
combat output? How much? What is the distribution of resources in this regard? By some estimations, although it is
hard to tell, no one can ever seem to find out how many people work in National Defence Headquarters, about 10 per
cent of the force is employed in that area?
Why do we have so many classifications within the armed forces, military officer classifications and other
classifications? When I first joined the armed forces — and I will not tell you when that was; it was a long time ago —
everyone who was in the army was in one of 11 classifications. That included doctors, dentists, lawyers and everyone
else. The air force and the navy were similarly constructed in small groups of people. Today, there are over 100
classifications, I believe. Each classification carries with it costs, career managers, training establishments and so on.
We need to look at what it is in the next policy statement that will get us to having more. If we get 5,000 more
people, will they all go to the sharp end of the spear, and they ought to, and how are you going to control that sort of
I know that is a rambling answer to your question, but Canadians can easily lose focus, and the bureaucracy, the
military and the civil bureaucracy, often loses focus that what we are supposed to be doing is producing armed force
for use by the Canadian government. I do not think we have been doing a good job in that over the last number of
Senator Forrestall: I must say immediately to Dr. Macnamara that, in his capacity as the honorary colonel in the
Force College of Toronto, I enjoyed a most pleasant two and a half, three hours with 100 of the brightest-looking
prospective senators I have ever seen in my life. They were enthusiastic and curious, and, boy, did they ever look at
home in those seats.
Dr. Bland, pardon me if I jump around a little bit. Quite contrary to your closing observation that you were
rambling, perhaps you were beginning to focus. Like me, you have been around so damn long that you do not know
when you are in focus or out of focus. You and Dr. Macnamara take me back to some other days.
I want to talk about the availability of dollars, and I want to ask you to imagine, if you can, the growth of this great
country. They say Ontario is taking over from Michigan in the automotive field, that Ontario is the new
kingpin." Unbelievable, but there it is on the front page of today's Globe and Mail.
Do we have the sustainable dollars? Do we have the dollars to sustain a force structure capable of withstanding the
onslaught of this great white paper we are going to get on foreign affairs?
Mr. Macnamara: It is a matter of choices, of course. We, in Canada, spend approximately $320 per capita on
defence, compared to about U.S. $2,500 on health care, for example.
Your committee put that report out — I cannot remember the exact number — of how many dollars per person it
would take to improve the forces, but it is something of that order that people have to be discussing vis-à-vis how much
they are prepared to pay for their security insurance policy.
It is interesting to me that if we were to compute this in terms of how much the average family spends to go out to
dinner every month, for that matter, and bring that out to an annual cost, it would turn out to be substantially more
than the cost of armed forces.
So, it strikes me that, yes, we do have the capacity. I do not think there is any doubt about it because the proportion
of our GDP and the proportion of the overall government budget that goes to defence and security is exceptionally
small, by any international standard, and certainly, in terms of our national history, it is exceptionally small. Hence, I
believe there is sustainable money there.
I would agree very much with Dr. Bland, however, that we have to make sure that what we are spending now is, in
fact, giving us the best bang for the buck. The difficulty in trying to assess how that is done and why that is done is
compounded by the fact that the Department of National Defence is a combination of civil and military organizations.
In the olden days, so to speak, there was the Department of National Defence on the one hand and the Canadian
Forces on the other, and you knew exactly at any given time what you were dealing with. Today, there is a complete
intermingling of both civilian and military personnel in National Defence Headquarters and elsewhere. So the cost of
defence is not just military; it is the substantial civilian infrastructure as well.
Second, with regard to the bang for the buck, people will count the number of infantry battalions we have, but it is
not just a matter of infantry battalions. I was asked to do a review of the human resources system a couple of years ago
by the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, and at about day two we came to the conclusion that the single most limiting
factor on the deployment of the Canadian Forces, a task force, was the absence of senior logistics officers.
A number of these logistics positions had been civilianized in the course of the ASD process — the alternative
service delivery process — some years ago, as were a number of other classifications. Hence, there is a tendency to
forget that if you are going to have a sharp end, there have to be people who are going to get them there, the
transportation people. The transportation people are not just the ship drivers and the airplane drivers, and the aircraft
and ships themselves. There are also the mechanics. If you are going to deploy a force to the Middle East, for example,
or beyond, to Afghanistan, you have staging bases, and on those staging bases there are mechanics to service the
aircraft. If you do not have the aircraft to get there and the mechanics to service the aircraft, there is no point in having
a sharp end to begin with.
It is a complex issue, and not one that can lend itself just to counting battalions and counting ships and aircraft.
On the other hand, it is also important to know that there are all kinds of other things that go on that are allocated
or attributed to defence that may not be contributing directly to the defence mission, and that, I think, is something
that is worthy of much more substantial analysis.
Many here are aware of the paper we put out last year, entitled Canada Without Armed Forces? In that, there were
some attempts to delineate some of the issues in this regard. It is a complex issue.
In direct answer to your original question, "Do we have the capacity?" yes, we have the capacity. I do not think
there is any doubt about that. However, the first thing we have to do is to make sure that we know what we are
spending on now and that what that is getting us is worthwhile.
Mr. Bland: The question is typically Canadian. "How much should we spend on national defence?" The question I
would rather ask is this: "How much do we need for national defence?"
Senator Forrestall: I was going to ask a third question.
Mr. Bland: Canada can afford enormous amounts of money for national defence if we are sufficiently frightened.
Nobody knows, I do not think, how much is needed for national defence right now.
"This is what we are going to
give you, after the Cabinet decides all sorts of other things, and this is what is available for National Defence," is
typical of the way we have done things for a very long time. That money is then handed to the department, to the
minister, to the deputy minister and to the CDS, with the instruction, "Go see what you can get." It would at least be
useful to have a normative budget that could tell us what we think we would need, a budget that was developed with a
great deal of discipline to keep the service rivalries out of it, and so on. The department tried that in 1986 when Bev
Dewar was the deputy minister and General Gerry Thériault was CDS. They designed what was called the
process," and after a great deal of difficulty, they added up what was needed for national defence based on the
commitments the government had given to the armed forces. At the end of the process, Bev Dewar, whom I respect
great deal, said "We cannot tell the government that. Let us have another
I am told that someone has computed how much it would cost for 5,000 more people, program costs, not wages —
the whole program over time to bring 5,000 more people into the program — and the figure is $1 billion.
"We cannot tell the government that! Let us tell them $750,000."
There is this difficulty in deciding how much is enough, although you cannot always come to an exact figure,
corrupted by trying to react to the facts of national life. It would be useful if we had — and I am not volunteering — a
statement of what we need and then to go from there as a model, as a target, over time to work towards sustaining that
kind of a force.
On the bare question of "How much would I give to the armed forces right now?" I would give them nothing if the
purpose of the spending were for the armed forces. However, if someone were to say, as I have said to senior people, if
you want to have instruments for foreign policy then you better start spending a lot of money on the armed forces. It is
okay to have a policy about responsibility to protect, but in Canada what we are doing is we have a responsibility to
talk about a responsibility to protect, period. If you have no instruments, these are mere platitudes.
The measure is how much spending do you need on national defence capabilities to make your foreign policy
relevant? That is the way to approach this too.
Senator Forrestall: I remain very much committed to the concept of the Polar 8, the vessel we were to build on the
West Coast of Canada for operation in our high Arctic. A large measure of the impetus for support for that was found
in the wisdom of those who foresaw ownership, sovereignty questions in the North as much, if not more, than military
I am told that, while there is rapid thawing of the Arctic, we will still need access to heavy icebreakers for a long
time. It is not melting that fast. As the ice drifts back off the shallow coastal plain, the melting process will be longer
and much slower, leaving the problem of national sovereignty still with us.
Second, there is the difficulty of demonstrating sovereignty by presence. The Polar 8 was a vessel that we had hoped
to have on board a federal court, the territorial court, soon to be a provincial court — that is how much time has gone
by — an RCMP detachment, a detachment of Rangers, a good library, good diagnostic services for the people living in
the area and its presence in the Arctic for three, four, five years at a time, bringing it south when it had to be hauled,
the bottom cleaned up, that type of thing.
All of these things came together at the time to suggest to me that it had enormous potential as an instrument of
demonstrating national sovereignty.
National sovereignty has become an issue again. In my mind, the question of the Polar 8 cannot be dismissed, but if
it was expensive 15, 20, 30 years ago, what is it today? Do we have a national capacity to generate that kind of money?
I have no idea what it would be. I ask the question to both of you. If the funds are not there, if the notion is crazy, I will
not bother my colleagues on this committee by raising it. I will just revert back to my promotion of the Halifax Rifles,
the concept that it is there to serve Canadian defence needs at an appropriate and reasonable cost level.
Perhaps Dr. Macnamara could comment on Polar 8.
Mr. Macnamara: I believe the capacity for the Polar 8 is there. However, when the concept was first put forward, it
was just an icebreaker; it then it grew to include all of these elements that you reflected.
Then, to just build one Polar 8 would have been extraordinarily expensive, because as you know setting up a
shipyard to build one ship and then dismantling it is a hugely costly effort.
The second thing then becomes, why do we only get one Polar 8? Why do we not get the most efficient use of those
resources and build a minimum of three? So instead of $10 billion for one — which I think was the price at the time —
for $18 billion or $20 billion you would have had three. There was a huge economy of scale.
The other thing I found interesting at the time — and this is not uncommon in a lot of defence and security issues.
As I mentioned at the beginning, defence policy is about choices. It was very easy to make the case for the Polar 8 on
strategic and sovereignty grounds. It was very easy to dismiss the case on financial grounds. At some stage of the game,
we are going to have to accept that the price of sovereignty is $25 billion, or something like that. We cannot just say
that we will have sovereignty up to the point that we can afford it.
I used to have a colleague — he is now dead, unfortunately — who, when I was in strategic planning, would visit me
in my office and share his frustrations about operating in the budget area. He would say:
"You give me another $1
billion and I will give you another $1 billion worth of threat." All we are doing is tailoring the threat to the budget.
That does not make sense to me. We either have a threat or we do not have a threat.
The issues that Dr. Bland referred to a few moments ago of the previous chief and the deputy, I was involved in that
process. I was called on the carpet by a member of the minister's office, asking if I was trying to get the minister fired
with the numbers that I had produced. I was responsible for putting together the strategic overview and the expectation
of increases to meet the commitments.
He said, "You go down there and change this. Remember one thing — we are only
dealing with the national interest, which is as follows: The national interest
is to keep the allies from squawking. When the allies squawk, we increase the
budget until they stop squawking. That is the national interest."
That may be a political reality, but to me, it does not represent our security needs and our sovereignty realities.
I do not think we can just trade off the two. We have to decide what it is that we want to do and then pay the bill.
You either want to own a car or you do not want to own a car. If you want to own a car, you are going to have to buy
one, or lease one, but you cannot have a car without it costing some money. We are sufficiently a consumer society that
we should be able to understand those simple facts.
Mr. Bland: On the icebreaker thing, just briefly, as I recall, we went through this hoop lots of times, but in the 1970s,
when there was enthusiasm for Arctic defence, the question of whether there would be an icebreaker was in fact settled
— or not settled, I guess — in an argument between the Department of Transport and the Department of National
Defence. They argued that it was the other's responsibility, because neither department wanted to spend the money on
it, and alas nothing was spent on it.
To come back to the Arctic, I am not convinced of the demand for military forces in the Arctic. I have always
believed that sovereignty is a legal concept requiring legal solutions, not a concrete military problem.
A lot of mounted policemen deployed in the Arctic with their dogs is as effective as a few soldiers riding around on
snowmobiles. I think we need a presence in the Arctic, but I am not sure that a permanent presence of the armed forces
is called for.
However, if you look at it as an aid to the civil power problem, when the Mounted Police efforts fail, then you call in
the forces of the armed forces to back them up.
In 1970, when Trudeau and Macdonald were enthused about protecting the Arctic, after they issued the white paper
in 1970, there was a large meeting of officials in Ottawa to try to determine what problem they were supposed to be
solving, because it was not obvious that there was a military problem to be solved.
Senator Banks: Gentlemen, you have been so accurate and so inclusive that it is hard to know where to start. We are
looking at the question of a national defence policy, and I think you are right when you said that, at least at the
moment, and maybe always, the defence policy of Canada is what the prime minister says it will be at any given
moment. The question of what it ought to be is, as you have said, a moving target.
It really does move depending on the perception of the threat. The defence policy and the willingness to spend to
support it was one thing in 1938 and quite another thing in 1939.
The perception that you talked about in your list, Dr. Bland, of what the threats are is the thing that will, in the end,
determine what the public thinks is appropriate to spend on defence. Elected politicians and, therefore, the prime
minister are susceptible of the views of the public.
If you went out to the street today — and the chairman referred to this — even a street here in Kingston, let alone
anywhere else, and asked people, "Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: The application of deadly
force in the support of government policy is what we understand to be the business of the Canadian Armed Forces,"
there would not be a whole lot of people jumping onto that bandwagon, I do not think, because, wrongly, the first
thing we forget is that sooner or later, if you are going to defend the things that are most important to you, you have to
be prepared, willing and able to fight, and we have done that a few times.
I am not much interested in defence policy papers because the last one was sophistry. It said,
"Here is what we are
going to do," and if we had done that everything would have been fine. However, we did not. Hence, papers do not
mean anything. What means something, I think, is public perception and the force, which is inexorable, exerted upon
politicians by public perception.
You addressed that question. I am sorry to be making statements instead of asking questions, but you talked about
people being afraid to go to their government and saying, "We cannot tell the government that." Well, this committee
has told the government that, whether it was well informed or otherwise. We have said,
"Based upon what the
government is requiring now of the armed forces, this is how many more billions of dollars you need to do it."
Obviously, we do not expect them to do that next Thursday, because the ship moves incrementally.
How can anybody bring about an expression of public opinion, which is the determining factor, I think, that would
require or coerce the government into spending more money, if that is what is needed, on defence, not on defence
Mr. Bland: It is a nice distinction. I do not want people to spend money on defence policy necessarily. I want them to
spend money on building armed capability, and an armed capability includes the people, the training, the equipment,
the logistics support, the command and control structure that allows you to use armed forces efficiently and effectively.
I do not like to use — in fact I refuse in classes, and I have some students sitting back there who will correct me, no
doubt, when we finish — the threat as the beginning of the policy analysis. It is much too difficult to use. In
bureaucratic or public administration terms, most people will tell you about the threat that they want to see. The navy
wants to see a naval threat, a submarine threat, and that is natural in the way that the organization is put together.
I believe it is more useful to talk to Canadians and to people about vulnerabilities. Where is Canada vulnerable?
Where is Canada vulnerable if the United States will not protect us? Where are we vulnerable when they will protect us,
to use Niles Orvik's concept of defence against help? Where is our foreign policy vulnerable because we do not have
any assets to do more than jabber on about things? Where are we vulnerable in the Arctic because we do not have
One way to move the agenda along perhaps is to say to Canadians, "You are vulnerable here, you are vulnerable
there." I think people understand that better.
Senator Banks: One of you said that at the top of your list of 10 was terrorism, that the number one threat right now
is terrorism. You said that it had moved, I think it was you, Dr. Macnamara, from the bottom of the list to the top of
Given what Dr. Bland just said, how can we argue that the right way to respond to a terrorist with a vial full of a
biological weapon is with a military force? I agree that Canadians believe that terrorism is the number one threat right
now. What does that have to do with the army?
Mr. Macnamara: Your original question talked about how to get Canadians to understand this? I do a fair amount
of lecturing to Canadian clubs and to Rotary clubs, and trying to bring the global situation into a focus that has some
meaning is not easy to do in 20 or 25 minutes.
What I have concluded, and what I have included in my text here that I will hand back to you, is that there are six
points that resonate with Canadians. After an overview and listing the six points, tell me if you agree that this is the
kind of thing that you would like to have.
First of all, we are concerned about defence security and sovereignty because our prosperity and way of life depend
Yes or no? Yes.
Second, there are factions in the world, as indicated by both 9/11 and the Madrid bombings and other elements, that
do not accept the foundations of our way of life, democracy, the rule of law, individual freedoms, and human rights
and social justice, and will stop at nothing, including their own self-destruction, to disrupt us.
Is that a case that you accept or not?
Third, we can expect to have to deal with these factions and their point of origin in their homeland, as well as in our
homeland, meaning that we have to have the capacity to deal with them both at home and abroad. Dealing with them
abroad may be a military function; dealing with them at home may be a police function.
Fourth, we are not alone in this battle, and so we have to see that we are sharing our values with the U.S., NATO,
Australia and New Zealand allies, but we must have the capacity to do our share, and particularly to be able to look
after our own interests at home, as well.
Do you accept that or not? Overwhelmingly, they say yes.
Fifth, we must recognize that both the need and our responsibility to contribute to the stability, security, economic
and social development of failed states and other areas that foster or fester the terrorists and other criminal elements
through a combined defence, diplomacy and development interagency approach is a long-term, multigenerational
When you talk to people about this, generally, people who have any understanding at all think that our bandied
approach to dealing with these issues really gets us nowhere, that they just keep recurring.
So a long-term commitment and dealing with these issues as they affect us and our economy? Yes.
Finally, because we are out to protect our vital interests, our homeland and our way of life, we must accept and bear
the substantial costs that this may entail as a first national priority because the alternatives are unacceptable.
Frankly, having put that to lots of people, I have never had anybody say, "No, that is not what we want at all."
Never. So that may or may not be an approach, but it is one that I have found gets some kind of positive response.
That list may not be exclusive, by any matter or means.
Senator Banks: I am sorry for having interrupted you, Dr. Bland.
Chair, that was my last question. I do not know if there is time to permit Dr. Bland to finish his answer.
Mr. Bland: No, I think they are intermingled questions and answers. This is public administration. They are not
puzzles. Actually, these are difficulties without answers, in most respects. We have to manage them as we go along.
I agree with Dr. Macnamara's approach. Another way to address Canadians is to ask them, in matters of
sovereignty and defence of Canada and so on, what it is that we will not put up with. Hans Island, the rock some place
up in the Arctic that the Danes took over, seemed to get people excited. We need to ask Canadians, from that point of
view, what is necessary.
On the question of terrorism, we have to be careful that we do not begin to think that because something is number
one on the threat list today it is the only thing we have to deal with. We have to be able to deal with a range of threats
and that is where either police or armed forces is necessary.
In the present context, I agree that it is a good idea to spend a lot of money having the federal police and intelligence
service chase the bad guys around Canada and get them, while you send the armed forces overseas to get them at their
place before they get here. I think that is an integrated strategy.
On the question of armed forces as a coercive means, perhaps it is hard to sell to the man on the tractor. However, I
do not think so necessarily. It is a kind of simple logic: Why do you have armed forces? Because you need armed forces.
However, I would hope the idea would be embedded in our political community, the senior leaders in the cabinet
and in the senior public service, that they thought that what we were doing in the Department of National Defence and
in the armed forces is building combat capability, period. If they do not believe that, nothing much is going to happen
through PCO, through the system, Treasury Board and so on.
Senator Cordy: Thank you both very much for very informative and very well-organized presentations.
In dealing with the issue of sovereignty and defence of Canada, if you talked to average Canadians, who are not
necessarily involved in the military, they would talk about the defence of our homeland, the defence of Canada as being
a priority. Having said that, I think I would agree with you, Dr. Bland, that they would also say,
"Well, we really do not have to worry about it that much because of where we are
positioned geographically. We are next to the United States, and they have the
best military in the world. They will take care of us because we are part of
North America. We will sort of fit into their realm of security."
Having said that, the world is so much smaller. We cannot be insular; we cannot just look at Canadian sovereignty.
Canadians, whether we like it or not, also look at the Canadian military as being peacekeepers. The Canadian mindset
is also that Canadians tend to have a strong social conscience, and we tend to think that we are responsible for
protecting others who are not nearly as fortunate as us around the world.
Dr. Macnamara, in your presentation, you also talked about how Canada has changed because of the number of
immigrants, the number of refugees that we have in Canada. Here in Canada, we probably have people from every
corner of the world. Hence, when there are problems in Haiti, we have people in Canada who have lived there but who
left Haiti as refugees or have come to Canada as immigrants.
It is the same thing when we talk about Sudan or other countries in Africa, the same thing when we talk about
problems in the Middle East, when we look at what is happening in Ukraine. When we were in Ottawa last week, we all
saw the huge number of protesters on the Hill to ensure that Canadian politicians were very much aware of the lack of
democracy that took place in the last elections in Ukraine.
There is an expectation by Canadians that we play a role, whether it is by sending money or by medicine, or whether
it is by sending the military.
I am wondering about the issue of failing states in the world, whether or not this is going to dominate or, in fact, is
already dominating the international scene and how the issue of failing states is going to affect global security and the
role that Canada and the Canadian military would play in that.
Mr. Macnamara: That is one of my favourite questions, and there is no collusion in advance.
Let me use the example of Haiti, which you have raised. There are well over 100,000 Haitians in Montreal. There are
225,000 Jamaicans in Toronto. There are 555,000 Caribbean-nation origin people in Canada. That is more than all of
those from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Mexico combined.
Is Haiti an area of interest for Canada? What happens in a failing state on our doorstep?
The fact is that they have links with Canada, so if things go wrong down there, there are opportunities for things to
go wrong in Canada as well. Haiti has already been seen to be a location where criminal elements take advantage of the
vacuum of security to do their own thing, be it the transmission of drugs, a home base for terrorists, or what have you.
It is close to the United States and Canada.
Hence, it is in our combined interest to have a secured Haiti, apart from, but very much as well, our humanitarian
interests. The first and most important thing we heard this morning is that three or four street children in Haiti have
been killed. The first and most important thing in every one of these areas is security. You cannot do a thing without
security. Who is going to do the security? It is not going to be citizens. It is the sharp end of the military that will
provide that security.
One might think that this is peacekeeping. This is peace enforcement, and can involve combat. So we have to
understand that peacekeeping is peace building, peace enforcement, peace intervention, humanitarian intervention. All
of these things require sharp-end capabilities. It requires the capability to get people there. It requires the capability to
sustain them there, and not for six or eight months. It has to be two generations in the case of Haiti. We have already
gone through two generations of getting nowhere, because every five years we leave, only to return two years later.
This is where we have to do some really solid analysis, and ask ourselves, "What are our interests?" If our interests
are in failing states like Haiti, then let us do something about it. The military will have to go in and establish the
security. There will have to be police training and judge training, to establish the rule of law. Election monitors will
have to come in to help with elections. There will have to be teachers who will help with education. There will have to
be investors, to help to restore the economy. There will have to be agronomists, to help them restore the basic
agriculture, which has been destroyed by a combination of floods and overuse of the forestry, and so on.
This is not a simple case of the military. This is a national security interest that broadly involves all kinds of other
government departments. It starts with security. Without security, nothing else happens. It is followed by, first of all,
political development, then economic development and then social development, and it takes a couple of generations to
That is why we cannot have this up and down in the military. If we are going to look at this in the long-term interests
of Canada, we have to have sustainability. This is not going to happen just in one place. It is going to happen in several
I just came back from the Middle East, where I would watch BBC International. Every 15 minutes, there is an ad on
BBC International that says "Darfur, the first genocide of the 21st century,
and we stand by and watch."
Is that something that Canadians would want to hear every 15 minutes? I do not know if they hear it, but that is a
reality. It is a reality in Haiti, by the way, and that is very close to home and it involves a lot of Canadians.
I hope that answers your question.
Mr. Bland: If we were to select Haiti as our point of interest and employ all resources of the Canadian forces there,
we could not effect security in Haiti. We do not have enough people to do such a thing, even if we could get our Hercs
to go there and come back.
These are enormous problems, even in that small state. We need to understand the enormity of some of these
problems when political leaders are taking Canadians down the road to the responsibility to protect. In many cases, the
states, like people, fail in many ways, different ways, combinations. Some are just economic basket cases. Some are
what I call "thugocracies," criminal states. Many in the Caribbean states are turning in that direction. Obviously,
different remedies are required for different problems, but I agree with Dr. Macnamara, of course, that security, like
here in Canada, is the beginning.
Canadian leaders need to temper their remarks so that we do not build up expectations that Canada can actually do
something without the resources. Canadian politicians want to give expression to Canadian ideas and values, and so
on. That is fine, but we should not build expectations that we cannot fill, not because it is immoral and unethical and
ruins our reputation abroad, but because our allies actually can count. They know how many battalions we have. They
know the difficulty we would have rotating.
To come back to the deployment into Haiti, if we were to send our three main infantry battalions, they would be
there forever. We would have to move toward some sort of conscription, to raise enough people to manage that.
We are not going to do it by ourselves, so can Canada lead the rescue effort? Some may remember the attempt to do
that in Zaire, as the boys call it, "the bungle in the jungle." We could not get there, we did not have the resources, and
we did not have the intelligence. On arrival, some of our people were arrested by the receiving nation for having guns
without proper customs clearance. There was enormous difficulty.
The bookends of our national policy since the end of the Second World War are defined by the Zaire mission, on the
one hand, to rescue a failed state and on the other, in 1956, when we went to the Middle East as an influential power in
our own ships, in our own planes, with our own major units. A Canadian commander in charge took many other
nations, put them together, got on the line and interceded as though we were a neutral nation, but we were not of
course. We could do that, with the impression that we could actually function. Look at Zaire.
That is the image I find depressing — maybe I will study poetry or something. That is the state we have got ourselves
into. It would take an enormous effort, what I call the seven-year plan, for us to turn around the capabilities of the
armed forces, to stop things from getting worse — that is, if the government decided to inject a lot of cash immediately.
What kind of world are we going to be facing in the next 10 years? I think policy at this level ought to be framed
around some important generalizations, one of them being this: For the next 10 years, we are going to do what we have
done for the last 10 years. Have we, Canadians, made the necessary military, foreign policy, bureaucratic changes to
prepare ourselves for the next 10 years? No.
National Defence Headquarters, just because I like to pick on them, is a Cold War anachronism. It has not been
reformed since 1972. They have increased the number of people, decreased the number of people, shuffled, changed the
names on the doors, and so on. Fundamentally, nothing has changed. We still recruit people like we did for the Cold
War. We still buy equipment like we did for the Cold War. Nothing much has changed.
Senator Cordy: You mentioned that other countries realize how many battalions we have when we go to countries
and recognize that it is not as many as Canada should have, considering its economic status.
Do Canadians realize that? Every time there is an issue that comes up, Canadians respond by saying to send forces
to wherever it might be — and I agree with you that when you get in there, sometimes you are there for a long time,
that it is often easier to get in than it is to get out.
Do Canadians realize that we have to improve the capabilities of the armed forces? Do they realize that we have a
tremendous job to do in that area? What we hear in the media from the military is, yes, we will get the job done. We do
not hear very often — starting to — "We cannot send people; we do
not have the sustainability to send people for long periods of time."
Mr. Bland: I know that Canadians are aware of the state of the armed forces, sadly because they laugh about it on
television. Jokes are made on television: "Why does Canada not send its ship?" I do not think Canadians are proud of
that. I know they are not proud of that, in my conversations.
As a rhetorical question for the committee, does the government want the people to know the state of the armed
forces? The reaction to some of the studies my colleagues and I have done is "not at all," because you get attacked by
the bureaucracy for saying some things.
We need not to dwell on second-order questions of what the force structure ought to be and how many people there
ought to be in there, and so on. After all these years, it finally dawned on me that what we need to do, what somebody
needs to do, is change the facts of national life.
There is a threat and the Americans are not going to save us. We are not a peacekeeping nation. Spending what is
available rather than what is needed is not the right thing to do. We need an efficient and effective armed force as
defined by somebody's sense of capabilities.
If someone could find the magic key to change the facts of national life that are now embedded in the political and
bureaucratic community of this country, maybe I will get back in the game, because we could actually change
something. However, as long as the list, which I think is valid in some respects, is there, I do not think we are going
Mr. Macnamara: Just as a quick follow up. Sometimes Canadians are better informed and further ahead of the
government than we think.
A survey within the last couple of weeks indicated that well over 80 per cent of the population that were asked —
and I think it was a sample of 1,200; and I do not know if Senator Munson would trust these numbers or not — replied
that the Canadian forces' capabilities had to be improved. I do not know the details and the depth of the question, but
I think the Canadian population is pretty well informed.
As Mr. Macnamara says, when you see the committee and so on television making these comments and the crowds
laughing uproariously and some of them coming from Halifax, of course, and the people in the audience clapping when
they make these statements, the public knows. For some reason, the public is not able to speak to the government.
Senator Forrestall: Truth to power is not confined to the military.
The Chairman: Sadly, we have run out of time. In fact, we have run well over time. It has been an extraordinarily
good start to the morning, depressing, but a good start to the morning.
I know for a fact, because I have spoken to them, Senators Munson and Day have a number of questions they
would like to put to you. I think we are going to have to ask you to come back and appear before us again.
We appreciate very much having you attend here, starting off our first hearings, as we travel across the country. It
has been sobering, it has been valuable. We thank you as a committee for the work you do in Canada's interests and we
are grateful to you for sharing your views with us. You can be confident that we will come back to you again to have
you elaborate on some of the difficult issues that are facing this country.
Honourable senators, our next witness is Dr. Kim Richard Nossal, from Queen's University. He is an expert on
Canadian foreign policy and is well versed on Canadian defence policy issues.
Dr. Nossal has taught international relations for over 25 years. Before arriving at Queen's in 2001, Dr. Nossal
taught at McMaster University in Hamilton, where he served as head of the political science department from 1989 to
1990 and from 1992 to 1996.
Dr. Nossal is at present on the editorial board of several scholarly journals, including Études internationales and
Revista Mexicana de Estudios Canadienses. Dr. Nossal is also the vice president-elect of the Canadian Political Science
With him is Dr. Charles Pentland, also a professor in the department of political studies at Queen's University. Dr.
Pentland has had a diverse teaching career across Canada and in Europe. While based at Queen's, Dr. Pentland's
career has taken him to Université libre de Bruxelles, in Brussels, the Centre d'études et de recherches internationales et
communautaires, Université d'Aix-Marseille, Carleton University and University of Manitoba.
Dr. Pentland's current research concerns include the political development and external relations of the European
Community, in particular, the security implications of its impeding enlargement to include countries in Central and
Eastern Europe, its role on the Balkans and its development of a common foreign and security policy.
Dr. Pentland recently wrote an article entitled "Sailing from St. Malo: The Renewed Quest for a European Defence
and its Implications for North America," which is likely to be of interest to the committee.
Welcome, gentlemen, to the committee.
Dr. Nossal will present first. Dr. Nossal, you have the floor, sir.
Dr. Kim Richard Nossal, Professor and Head, Political Studies Department, Queen's University: Thank you very
much, senator. Before I begin my presentation, I wanted, on behalf of the political studies department at Queen's
University, to welcome the committee to Kingston.
As Doug Bland said earlier this morning, it is appropriate, I think, that Kingston should be your first stop, given the
amount of expertise there is in this town, not only in the political studies department, but in the Centre for
International Relations, which Dr. Pentland heads, with the colleagues across the causeway in the Royal Military
College, and also, of course, the expertise of the practitioners themselves in Fort Frontenac and CFB Kingston.
Welcome, and I hope that it proves to be an interesting day.
I will focus my remarks this morning on only one of the questions that you posed for interveners in these
proceedings, the last question: "What kind of armed forces do Canadians want?" I am hoping that we will get an
opportunity to discuss the other questions in the question and answer period that follows presentations.
At first blush, the question, "What kind of armed forces do Canadians want?" is not an unreasonable question for a
parliamentary committee to be asking. It certainly flows naturally out of the notion that, in a democratic policy, the
governors should be responding to the interests and the preferences of the governed.
With the greatest respect, I would submit that this is actually the wrong question to be asking. It is the wrong
question to ask because the kind of answer I think you will get will not be helpful at all for the making of policy.
You discussed in the first section this morning how Canadians would respond to questions about defence. Most
Canadians, if they were asked this question, would probably respond with a blank look, very simply because,
historically, Canadians have not really cared about what kind of armed forces we have in times of systemic peace, as
long as not too much has to be spent to sustain them.
This is not particularly surprising, as Professor Desmond Morton, of McGill University, has put it so eloquently:
"Canadians come by their cheapness on defence honestly because of the very
impossibility of securing this vast country and because of Canada's safe and
secure location next to the United States. Historically, Canadians simply have
not really needed to care what kind of armed forces they have in peacetime."
Even if Canadians were moved to respond to a probe from their governors about what kind of armed forces they
would prefer, as Drs. Macnamara and Bland — specifically Dr. Bland — this morning responded, there is really no
logically right or logically wrong answer to the question for any country that is in the luxuriously safe and secure
position that Canada has traditionally enjoyed in world politics.
Thus, faced with a bewildering array of possible policy options, Canadians, it seems to me, will respond in a variety
of ways to such a question, reflecting that array. Moreover, all of the various possibilities are going to sound equally, in
my view, quite logical.
In short, when you ask 33 million people in a very safe and secure country what kind of armed forces they want,
what you are going to end up with is a cacophony of voices, a cacophony that will be completely unhelpful for serious
In that sense, I agree with Dr. Bland, in suggesting that there is a much better question to ask, which is this:
"What kind of armed forces does Canada need?"
Of course, posing this question would require that our governors do something that they have studiously avoided
doing for many years — that is, devoting some serious intellectual attention to the question of what Canadians might
need armed forces for and then making the funding decisions that flow from that calculation. Instead, it seems to me
that our governors have spent the last 30 years at least leaving it to the military brass to make the key strategic
decisions about the actual details of defence policy. Instead, they have contented themselves with simply writing an
annual cheque in the amount of a couple of percentage points of GDP to the military, a sum that is always less than the
military wants, but always more than the politicians feel comfortable giving. After all, the cheque is always written with
an eye to the essential stinginess of Canadians. It is always written keeping in mind that the military budget is the
largest discretionary item in the federal budget, so vast that it can, in fact, be used for all manner of other policy
purposes, such as industrial development or regional economic development or, as we have seen most recently, deficit
The military leadership, for its part, has also spent the last 30 years resolutely avoiding making their own strategic
decisions about how to spend the vast sums received each year from the politicians. Instead, the brass at NDHQ simply
take in the $10 billion to $12 billion that they receive and have simply spread it across an ever-shrinking military
apparatus, always trying to grease the squeaking wheels of the various military tribes who are always arguing that you
cannot have a proper armed force without their particular expertise.
If you think that this is a particularly cynical view or an overly cynical view, simply ask when was the last time you
heard a Canadian prime minister or any Canadian political leader, for that matter, actually articulate a strategic vision
for Canadian defence. Then follow it through by costing out that vision, providing funds for that vision and then
insisting that the generals at NDHQ implement it. It simply has not happened, at least not in the last 30 years. To be
sure, this approach is entirely understandable from a political scientist's perspective. Canadians are not terribly
interested in defence, and politicians of all political stripes know that and they respond accordingly.
Passing responsibility to the military, claiming, as many politicians do, that the military are the experts and,
therefore, should be making these decisions flows naturally from this lack of public interest. Likewise, it is entirely
understandable that the military leadership, for its part, should be unwilling to make the hard, strategic decisions
about the Canadian armed forces. That is, after all, they would argue, properly the job of the politicians, and in
absence of such leadership, what is a CDS to do, except do what his predecessor did, that is, try to keep the tribes
This system, while entirely understandable from a political scientist's perspective, is in fact entirely dysfunctional
from a policy-making perspective, not to mention hugely troubling from a taxpayer's perspective, for such an
approach, in my estimation, wastes vast sums of money. It is wasted in the sense that, over a 20-year period, we can
spend hundreds of billions of dollars on defence and still not get armed forces that are as useful for foreign policy
purposes and the promotion and defence of Canadian national interests as they should be.
What we need, it seems to me, is a different approach, one that actually has our political leaders leading, one that
features our governors engaging in the business of governing, making hard choices and, most important, and
something that really was not brought up in this morning's discussion, justifying those choices to Canadians. In other
words, it seems to me that what our leaders need to do is to identify what Canadians need armed forces for, then decide
on how to structure these forces, determine how much is needed to pay for them and pay for them. Then they need to
go out and do what I have never heard a Canadian political leader do, ever, and that is explain to the Canadian public
why this particular way of organizing armed forces should be the kind of armed forces that Canadians should want.
Senator Michael J. Forrestall (Deputy Chairman) in the chair.
The Deputy Chairman: Dr. Pentland, you have the floor.
Dr. Charles Pentland, Political Studies, Centre for International Relations, Queen's University: Thank you very much,
senator. First of all, let me echo the welcoming that Kim Nossal has given you all to Kingston. It is a pleasure to have
you here and it is indeed highly appropriate that you should begin your inquiry here. I wish you well with the rest of it
as you move across the country in the succeeding weeks.
Let me begin by apologizing for the paper I sent you because; it appears not to be entirely appropriate for what you
were calling for in this exercise. The day after I had sent it off, I received the guidelines, which seemed to suggest a
somewhat broader scope, not so much focused on one particular region of the world.
Nevertheless, I will stick to the task that I assigned myself, to look at Canada's role in European security, while
trying as much as possible to zero in on two of the questions that were listed on the first page of your letter, namely:
"What are Canada's national interests" and "What are the threats to those
interests as perceived by Canadians?"
The broad theme of my paper is that Europe remains the central Canadian concern beyond North America in both
these respects, in respect of our national interests, in respect to the threats that might emerge to those interests. I think
it is fair to say that in debates over Canadian foreign and security policy, those of us strongly committed to the
transatlantic relationship seem forever to have been on the defensive. At times, we have been reduced to arguing that,
while deep structural changes in the global, political and economic systems and in Canadian society may, in the longer
run, turn us ever more to the western hemisphere and to Asia Pacific, that time has not yet come. At best, we often find
ourselves insisting that, for the moment at least, Europe still matters. It can be a little disheartening, frankly, to find
oneself promoting the traditional and the familiar while questioning the immediacy of some seemingly inevitable and
possibly more exciting imagined future.
My paper has tried to take a somewhat more optimistic and aggressive view of Canada's transatlantic relations,
because, in the first place, it argues that, far from diminishing, Europe is, in fact, a growing part of the future
international environment in which Canada must seek security, prosperity and community.
Second, it argues that Canada has an interest both in maintaining and in improving its access to Europe and in
helping to shape the architecture through which Europeans go about their political, economic and military business.
Third, the paper suggests that Canadians need to think more, not just about why transatlantic security relations
matter, but also about how to deal with them. Here, it is helpful to consider what it means for us to both be in Europe,
as we have been for a long time, and to work with it.
During the Cold War, the relationship needed little defending in Canadian policy circles, although occasional
irritants, shifting definitions of the threat, and recurrent existential crises in NATO often led to sharp debates on
At the end of the Cold War, we saw the emergence of NAFTA and the rise of the Asia-Pacific markets. With these
developments, Europe lost some of its allure, but a series of dramatic and consequential events through the 1990s kept
it in Canada's sights. I do not think I have to review those events to this committee.
While these were difficult times, the early post-war years, for the transatlantic relationship, and while Canada
sometimes felt left in the margins of critical decisions or important fora — I am thinking here of the contact group on
Bosnia, for example, where after a considerable commitment to UN peacekeeping, we found ourselves on the outside,
looking in when the big decisions were made on the future of Bosnia — for the most part Europe still remained the
prime regional focus of Canada's foreign and defence policy.
In the first decade of the 21st century, the case for our being in Europe and working with it in matters of defence and
security has both familiar and novel components.
The economic argument has always been there, of course, but dwindling trade figures relative to those with the U.S.
and elsewhere have long made it a somewhat diminishing asset for those of us who were making the European case.
Now, however, I think we can point honestly to the shear scale of the newly enlarged market of 450 million people in
the EU, to the advantages of the euro zone for Canadian business, to the size of the reciprocal direct foreign
By the way, Canadian investment in Europe in 2002, direct foreign investment, amounted to about $100 billion, or
23 per cent of all Canadian foreign direct investment abroad, and E.U. investment in Canada, in the same year,
amounted to $94 billion, the stock of investment, 27 per cent of all foreign direct investment in Canada — figures that
are not perhaps as widely known as they should be, much larger, obviously, than the trade figures. The long-heralded
decline of the U.S. dollar, which we seem now to be witnessing, makes EU markets relatively more attractive for
The security argument for the link with Europe relies both on the past, not so much the weight of tradition,
although I would never discount that in government matters, but also the recognition of sunk costs, if you like, past
investments of blood and treasure. The security argument also rests on future consideration. It still matters for
Canada's own security how Europe is governed, both in individual countries and collectively, and how it conducts its
Finally, the argument about shared values has to do with enduring but revitalized issues such as democratization
and the proper relationship between state and society. The shared-values argument is, of course, sustained by cultural,
social and ethnic ties, which growing immigration from sources other than Europe has so far done little to weaken as
influences in Canadian foreign policy.
The balance of the paper goes on to argue that the prospects of closer links between Canada and Europe in matters
of security and defence now look somewhat better than they did during the Cold War.
During the Cold War, we had some difficulties flowing from the fact that we were drawing down our troops in
Germany and these cost us when it came to trying to get better access to the European Union markets, for example. On
the other hand, since 1992, there have been contingents of Canadian troops in Bosnia, first under UN and then NATO
auspices, and the Canadian Forces played a considerable role in the Kosovo campaign. So we have some currency
there with which to bargain, even though, of course, the Bosnia contingent will be terminating this year as the
Europeans take that role over.
Second, during the Cold War, Europe's defence identity was centered on NATO. The European Union, or its
predecessor, the Community, was not in the military business. However, in the last 10 years, it has moved assertively
into that role with the common foreign and security policy and, since 1998, the emergence of a security and defence
policy as the result of a Franco-British initiative. That policy has been a target for some sceptical comment, both in
Europe and on this side of the water, of course. I think, however, that we have to pay attention to the rapid emergence
of very specific plans and, in fact, commitments to spending, which have sometimes been overlooked.
Just recently, we have seen the announcement that the Europeans are prepared, over the next two years in effect, to
design 10 rapid reaction battle groups of about 1,500 troops each, which could be used in Europe's immediate
neighbourhood or further afield, perhaps in Africa, to be deployed in less than 15 days from a decision to do so. This is
a remarkable capability — it will be, if realized — and I think we should take seriously the possibility that that will be
in place and to think about how we might relate to it.
Having said that, one should not overlook the fact that NATO remains the prime link for Canadians with Europe;
and, of course, with the new priority that NATO has given to out-of-area activities, it takes on a rather different
colouration from that of the Cold War period.
We have, of course, played an important role in NATO's work in Afghanistan, which I do not think I need to deal
with more here. We work closely with the Europeans in that context.
I do not want to take too long, so I will skip over some of the other points about Canada's involvement in Europe
dealing with the Balkans, dealing with Kosovo in particular.
Let me conclude by underlining the importance of developments with respect to Canada's relationship to the
common foreign and security policy and, in particular, the military side of that, the security and defence force.
When that proposal came forward from the British and the French in 1998, we had some of the same reservations in
Canada about it that the Americans expressed. Our concerns were, first, to ensure that the aims, structures and
processes of the ESDP — a European security and defence policy — did not detract from or weaken NATO. Second,
we tried to make the case for a selective Canadian involvement in the project.
On the first of these points, Ottawa's position, which was rooted in our traditional concerns for the health of the
Alliance, complemented the far more influential efforts of the United States from outside and of the U.K. from within
the project to make sure that it did not jeopardize the Atlantic Alliance.
Most of the concerns raised in that early debate about ESDP have been met, including the quarrel about the
planning, headquarters and all the rest of it. What lingers from the debate, however, is a fundamental and enduring
question — that is, whether the European allies can indeed muster the political will to build the military capabilities
required of them in NATO and committed by them to ESDP.
As I say in the paper, that they can is by no means certain, although recent evidence suggests they are going about
the task much more vigorously than they ever have before in committing resources and working jointly. However, on
the question of committing resources to defence — and I could not resist making the point — the Canadian
government is not exactly in a position to preach.
The second issue emerging, whether and how Canada might actually take part in EU security operations, has taken
some time to resolve, and the pieces are not all in place yet.
As the project took shape from 1999 through 2002, our diplomats did manage to gain recognition of Canada's right
to be invited to contribute to and have a voice in the so-called Petersburg operations, that is to say, humanitarian and
peacekeeping types of ventures that the new force will undertake. This concession was not easily won. It was finally
agreed at the Seville European Council in 2002. How it will actually work in practice has yet to be tested, but the
concession, the agreement with the Europeans, is a recognition that Canada now has the profile of a competent middle-sized European power with a suite of military skills appropriate to the tasks for this new force.
To conclude, if we think about Canadian interests in being involved in Europe, we can apply a sort of standard
method that most of us in the international relations discipline try to apply in discerning what the interests of any
country might be. That standard method is the following: look internally at the pressures arising from the political
forces, from civil society, from parties, from public opinion, and then make a sort of strategic assessment of the global
system and your country's position in it and try to deduce policies and interests from that.
If you look at Europe and you apply both those measures of interest, the old continent continues to ride pretty high,
I would suggest, on the list of priorities.
What is happening in Ukraine at the moment I think is a very strong illustration of that. If you look at domestic
interest, we have had demonstrations all across the country, thousands of people turning out in the streets.
Last night on CPAC, quite by accident, I came across four Canadians arguing vigorously about what we should do
for Ukraine, including one or two who were decked out in the orange livery of one of the two sides in that current
Clearly, what happens in Ukraine viewed from Canada's external interests is enormously important. Viewed from
our strategic assessment of the globe, it matters how that country is governed, in which sphere of interest — and I am
afraid we are again talking about spheres of interest — it lies, given its geographic location, its size, its military
potential and its links to this country demographically. Those stakes are enormously important.
That is just one example, but I think it is a very striking example of where you get the domestic political forces and
the strategic assessment of the global situation converging in a clear Canadian foreign policy interest and one that
absolutely demands that we work together with the Europeans.
Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the chair.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, both Dr. Nossal and Dr. Pentland.
On your last remark, Dr. Pentland, do you not think Canada is joining too damn many clubs? Do you not think we
sign on to every club du jour and, as a consequence, find ourselves vastly overstretching our resources and our
If that is the case, then the last example you gave may be a very important one. Should we not be focusing much
more on narrowing down the number of clubs and organizations that we are getting involved with, given the fact that
we do not have the resources to, I guess the popular phrase is, walk the talk?
Mr. Pentland: We all have our favourite clubs that we want Canada to join, and perhaps others that we wish we had
not. It will be no secret to you which ones I think we should be part of. We already are part of Europe through NATO.
It is a huge force magnifier for us and we, in fact, do have reasonable capabilities to commit to its exercises as we have
shown in ISAF, for example.
I look a little more charitably on the propensity of Canadians to join clubs because I have never thought that we do
so out of some sort of mindless reflex to belong to things. I think we join them out of a fairly clear calculation that we
are often safer and more effective in the company of like-minded countries, hence the importance of the transatlantic
relationship. It has, as everyone here knows, to do in part with our wanting to work with the Americans in the
company of others, where possible.
With respect to the European Union, we are not trying to join a club. The point about working with them is that we
would pick when a particular European military exercise is of vital interest to us, that we would not climb on board
every operation that the Europeans felt like doing for their own interests. We would select and we would commit what
we could to that operation.
I think it is usually an interested act when we join a club or when we try to participate in these one-off ventures.
Senator Day: To follow up on that point, Dr. Pentland, just so it is clear in my mind, what you said the diplomats
were able to achieve with respect to the European defence and security force was that Canada has the right to be
invited to contribute. Very interesting diplomatic words.
Can we invite ourselves? Is that what they have achieved through diplomatic circles?
Mr. Pentland: We cannot insist on being there.
Senator Day: We cannot.
Mr. Pentland: We cannot insist on being there. We simply say we are interested, we are willing to contribute. If you
want us on board, here we are. However, if you invite us on board, we do want to be at the table when decisions are
taken about how to use those forces.
Senator Day: It is my understanding that the forces are essentially the same forces that the European community
contributes to NATO, just wearing two different hats. We are in there, obviously, in NATO, so presumably then it
would be when some of the specialization or some of the activity that we are contributing in NATO is being taken over
or used by the European Security Defence Force, then we would want to participate at that time.
Am I reading that correctly?
Mr. Pentland: That is correct and this all flows from a very difficult set of negotiations that went on for about two or
three years on how exactly the E.U. would gain access and under what circumstances it would gain access to NATO
assets, a lot of which would be American and to a considerably lesser extent, Canadian. That is certainly the process.
Senator Day: Dr. Nossal, one of your comments was that the politicians know that Canadians are not very
interested in defence matters.
I would like you to comment on the phenomenon that we have seen over the past two or three years, the outpouring
of sympathy that Canada has shown when, most recently, Lieutenant Saunders died in the submarine accident and,
prior to that, the soldiers who died because of the friendly fire in Afghanistan.
Does that not indicate to you that maybe Canadians are interested in their armed forces and that there is a deep-seated respect and feeling for the armed forces that is not being appreciated by the politicians?
Mr. Nossal: I am not trying to suggest here that Canadians do not care when something happens to a member of the
Canadian Armed Forces, but there is no doubt that Canada's armed forces simply do not occupy, within the Canadian
political culture, the kind of honoured position that armed forces occupy in other political communities.
This has everything to do with our history. It has everything to do with the fundamental duality of the origins of this
country that continue to be manifest today.
In that sense, if you look historically — it is not a particular surprise, but if you compare, for example, the way in
which Canadians view their armed forces with, for example, the way in which Australians view their armed forces, you
will see a fundamental difference in the political culture of the community.
Yes, Canadians will, of course, be upset when members of the armed forces are killed in a friendly fire accident or in
a submarine accident, or when their jeep is blown up by a mine in Afghanistan or a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
The reality, it seems to me, is that Canadians, generally speaking and historically, have rarely, except for particular
times of national emergency, as in the two world wars or as in the run-up to the Boer War in the fall of 1899, been
much interested in devoting the kind of national treasure to this institution.
From that point of view, in my view, the politicians, the elected politicians, read the situation extremely well.
Wartime is a different matter, but in times of systemic peace, I think that there is a fundamental stinginess that
politicians know implicitly.
Senator Day: We do not, of course, have conscription here. We do not have mandatory military service, but we also
have cancelled at universities the military service program that existed for a long period of time. We also have a major
influx of immigrants.
Would you apply any of those phenomena to the fact that there tends not to be the same appreciation of the military
in our country as there is in other countries?
Mr. Nossal: Let me suggest here that part of the lack of appreciation comes in large measure from a kind of circular
dynamic that has a lot to do with the way in which the political leadership in Canada has tended to treat the military.
Canadians take their cues from their political leaders as much as their political leaders take their cues from
Canadians. When a prime minister spends an entire period in office not visiting National Defence Headquarters, that
signals to ordinary Canadians the kind of mentality and the kind of approach that a particular administration might
have towards the armed forces.
Canadians, I would argue, pick up on that, both Canadians who perhaps were around during the last periods of
overseas fighting on a large scale, Second World War and Korea, and newer Canadians.
Senator Day: My final question, before I pass it to my colleague — either one or both of you can reply to if you will
— is whether we are on a fool's errand here in trying to develop a defence policy when, as we have heard in the
previous session, foreign policy, defence policy, in effect, is whatever the prime minister decides it might be at a
particular time. The government signs us up for various clubs, as our chair just referred.
Is it realistic for us to develop a defence policy in the abstract when the rest of this is floating around and evolving so
rapidly and is so ill-defined in terms of a defined foreign policy and in terms of the overall security issues that we have
Mr. Pentland: I will comment briefly on that.
With respect, I wonder if this committee should be aiming at developing a defence policy, which the committee
would then present holus-bolus and argue for across the country, whether that is, in fact, the end that you are seeking,
or whether what you are doing represents a contribution to a heightened level of discussion in this country about
defence and foreign policy issues.
Again, I suspect that from where Dr. Nossal and I, and the other witnesses you are going to talk to, sit it may well
appear that there is a continuous, fairly sophisticated level of debate about foreign and security policy across this
country, but I suspect if we were sitting elsewhere, we might see it rather differently.
My sense of it, having spent six months in Britain recently and having watched as well the development of policy
debate in Brussels and, like every other Canadian, in Washington, is that the general quality and sheer quantity of
discussion of foreign and defence policy in this country suffers by comparison.
I would think it a valuable contribution of this committee if it could simply spark the debate and raise it to a new
level, introduce some new ideas, and then, we would all hope, have the government pick from that environment of
discussions some useful ideas going forward.
Mr. Nossal: I agree with Dr. Pentland. This is a valuable exercise. No one is going to be able to challenge in any
effective way the pre-eminence of the prime minister in foreign and defence policy. In a sense, that is a given.
The point, however, surely is to think about ways of challenging that pre-eminence when it is manifested in
particular ways that are damaging to this political community as a whole.
This morning, the subject of the 5,000 troops the prime minister promised in the last election was raised. That figure,
by all accounts, was simply pulled out of the air, and embraced. There are very few checks and balances, even from a
minority, what turned out to be a minority parliament, to challenge that particular singular contribution to the fairly
radical overhaul of Canada's defence capabilities.
It seems to me that part of the purpose of exercises like your committee is to put ideas out there that essentially alert
people to some of the dangers of simply listening to the centre without listening critically, let us put it that way.
Senator Munson: Following on that theme, and using the statement from an earlier witness about a band-aid
approach getting us nowhere, it was politically expedient for Prime Minister Martin to promise that during the election
campaign because it looked good, it made headlines.
Is that approach a band-aid approach as well? Does that not seem, from your discussion, to be helping at all?
Mr. Nossal: I would not use a band-aid approach, because a band-aid approach suggests that something is hurt and
In a very real sense, I am one of those, like Doug Bland, who is not necessarily convinced that much is hurt and,
therefore, the band-aid analogy does not really matter.
What is problematic, it seems to me, is that some crucial strategic decisions have yet to be made, despite the fact that
we continue to spend huge sums of money on defence.
Senator Munson: Dr. Bland also said this morning — and I was struck by his statement — that he has come to the
conclusion that we are never going to get it done, a sense of pessimism. In your opening statement, you said that the
conversation it is not about what kind of armed forces we want but rather what kind of armed forces does Canada
Could you give us some ideas about what kind of armed forces Canada does need?
Mr. Nossal: It is a little impertinent of me, sitting here, to suggest force structure.
One of the things that studies of history suggests is that, whether it be sending troops off to fight imperial wars in
South Africa or sending troops to Russia to try to overturn the Bolshevik Revolution, or whether going to the First
World War, the Second World War, to Korea or to fight in the Gulf War or in Kosovo or in Afghanistan, or whether
we are talking about sending troops overseas in any number of peacekeeping operations, true peacekeeping, first-generation peacekeeping operations, the essence is essentially that, apart from aid to the civil power and apart from the
misuse, in my humble estimation, of the armed forces for domestic catastrophes such as cleaning the streets of
Toronto, essentially, Canadians have always organized our armed forces in an expeditionary way.
One of the concerns, I suppose, that I would have as an observer of the process is that, despite the fact we have
always only ever used our forces in an expeditionary way, they are not well organized for expeditionary exercises.
In a sense, if I look forward to what the uses of the Canadian forces are in the next little while, I cannot avoid, in a
sense, the weight of history. My suggestion would be, in essence, to begin organizing ourselves quite explicitly in such a
What that would mean is having or developing a combat capability that could be put into the field and sustained
there. That means a full combat capability, which means, as Dr. Bland argued so forcefully this morning, thinking
about being able to put troops in the field with the combat capability.
For what particular purpose, that is for the political leadership to decide. If the prime minister is serious about the
responsibility to protect, then it means organizing ourselves with others to engage in precisely that kind of exercise, so
that in the future someone does not end up thinking that they have been shaking hands with the devil.
Senator Munson: Maybe we could redeploy all those people who work at DND Headquarters who do not seem to
have too much to do, it seems, from some of the observations.
One small observation. I cannot leave you this morning without defending my old boss. We did not go to DND
Headquarters, but we did go to Kabul and Bosnia to visit the troops.
I accept your criticism, but I just had to put that on the record.
Senator Banks: May I first say how impressed I am with the alacrity of your questions compared to mine. I would
like to hear further what you have to say about the disconnect which seems, in my mind at least, to exist between the
prime minister's talking about R2P, as the phrase has become, on the one hand, and our actual capacity to do anything
It seems to me that that whole idea and maybe what we are doing here, in view of what we heard earlier from Dr.
Bland and Dr. Macnamara, all combined, are nothing but sophistry.
Is there any light at the end of this tunnel? Are you moving towards cynicism? Do you see that there is anything
behind the prime minister's argument about the right to protect?
Does that imply, in the way you see it, that there is a new commitment, a new buying into the idea of expeditionary
Mr. Pentland: It is hard for me to judge what motives lie behind this and to what extent it has been thought through
in all its operational detail.
In a sense, a vigorous adoption of our R2P by the Canadian government is a fairly safe position at the moment,
given that —
Senator Banks: But this is part of my question. It is not when you go to the international table and we find that we
are being accused of — "accused" is the wrong word — when we are admonishing other people to get on a bandwagon
and we do not have any resources to put on the bandwagon.
Mr. Pentland: That is precisely what I meant, senator, that it is a safe thing for us to do at the moment because there
is by no means a consensus, even one that you can see forming out there in the international community among states
like us in favour of R2P. There are all kinds of reservations about it, even among states that you might expect would be
on board rather quickly.
In a sense, in that respect anyway, it is a cost-free thing for us to argue at the moment. Down the line, it may be
more expensive, because I can see situations where again the Europeans will be seeing cases emerging in Africa, in the
Caucasus, in the Middle East perhaps and even closer to their own yard where R2P might be invoked and where we
would be called upon to deliver in the context of this emergent, rapid reaction capability that the Europeans are
The Europeans have already begun to demonstrate this in a small way. Last year, they sent a couple of thousand
troops into the Eastern Congo for a very short time under French leadership. This was the first example of an ESDP-based insertion for humanitarian purposes. It was short-lived, but I think we can see a lot more of those, particularly as
we see a series of failed states continuing to impose themselves on us in Africa and elsewhere.
We will be called upon.
Senator Banks: We are arguing which one is right. If we are going to subscribe to and advocate R2P, that means that
we must, at the same time, repudiate rule one of the UN charter, right?
Mr. Nossal: And therein surely lies the problem, which is one of the reasons why, when you get right down to it, the
advocacy of R2P, as long as it is kept to the UN General Assembly and the encouragement of other states to think
about what national sovereignty continues to mean in the early 21st century, is, as I think Charles argues, a safe bet.
The reality is that we Canadians are as attached to national sovereignty as any other folks in the world, and there is
no better example than Senator Forrestall's earlier question this morning.
The fact is, when it comes down to it, when a United Nations commission orders Canada to dismantle our
denominational school system in Ontario, what is the reaction of Canadians?
When Canadians want to impose unilateral changes to international law, in the case of, for example, the 200-mile
limit in the mid-90s, or imposing a pollution zone in 1970, utterly at variance with international law, Canadians
applaud. The reality is that Canadians are not half as multilateral-minded as they have been led by their governors to
From that point of view, when the rubber hits the road, as it were, R2P, because of the implications it has, will
actually not go very far, quite apart from the obvious hypocrisy of advocating something that you simply are not really
prepared, in any serious way, to devote blood and treasure to defending.
Senator Cordy: Dr. Pentland, I would like to discuss the enlargement of the European Union and the ESDP and
their plans for military groups. I think those plans have moved along a lot faster than anybody would ever have
I have just returned from NATO meetings, and certainly every time that we attend NATO meetings and talk about
forces within the European Union the comment is made that these are not meant to be competitive with one another
but, in fact, are meant to be complementary to one another.
The reality is that when we are on this side of the Atlantic, Canada and the United States, the United States is not
likely to be left out of anything in the world if they should want to participate.
Realistically speaking, what position is Canada left in with a stronger and enlarging European Union and with a
stronger military put together by the European Union countries? What position is Canada in?
I know you said that perhaps we will be invited to humanitarian and peacekeeping decisions; other than that,
however, are we going to be a participant?
I guess I am also asking what is going to happen to the NATO forces if the European Union continues to expand
Mr. Pentland: The realistic prospect of Canada getting involved in a lot of European Union-led operations is pretty
slim. We will, of course, pick and choose.
It is clearly the case, for example, with respect to Africa, that there will be instances where many or all European
states feel a strong need to intervene. Côte d'Ivoire, I suppose, is a current example. Those may be cases where we
really cannot make a good argument for being involved in any EU-type operation.
The issues where we find ourselves wanting to get engaged may be fairly few and far between, but I think it is
important that we have at least negotiated the possibility of doing so.
With respect to the effects on NATO, I do not know that it is possible to project. To some extent, there has been a
lot of discussion about whether or to what extent the European Union's new policy runs counter to NATO's interests.
For my part, I have always believed that a lot of that debate was artificial. It involved a lot of spinning on both sides as
to what it was all about. When you really strip all the rhetoric away, it is a non-issue. If the Europeans build capacity to
have a serious expeditionary forces abroad, whether for peacekeeping, for classic peacekeeping or for rather more
robust insertion of forces in some cases, that will benefit NATO itself.
The overlap of forces works both ways. People say the EU will use NATO forces. It will be exploiting the same
forces that are committed to NATO. It works the other way. If you build up those EU forces, you are building up
NATO. There is no necessary contradiction. There is no necessary cost passing from one to the other.
Enlargement has added considerably to the EU's capacity — you think of the Polish forces, in particular the Czechs
with their rather specific set of capabilities — but it, of course, also has extended Europe into potentially new areas of
I do not quite go with the more apocalyptic arguments that one now hears that over Ukraine, that we are getting
into a new Cold War situation, Russia bristling and being concerned about the extension of NATO eastward and so
on. Clearly, the borders of the new E.U. are much less secure, not only with respect to what we call
security concerns but with respect to some of the newer ones, illegal flows of people, drugs, money, arms and so forth.
In that respect, increased assets are being met by increased risks, and to the extent that we are involved with this
expanded EU, we are going to have to make decisions about how we respond to those risks.
The Chairman: Gentlemen, this has been an interesting discussion to date and I wonder if we could wrap it up with
comments from both of you that would be of assistance to the committee on how we structure our work and how we
focus our work.
The committee is persuaded that defence review and changes to defence policy are not going to come from the top
down but rather that they are going to come from the bottom up.
The comment earlier that the politicians have been getting it right is true. The politicians have been reading the
Canadian public well.
There are probably four motivators that we think we can talk to the public about. One is their vulnerabilities. What
are they concerned about? What do they want to be protected from? Two are lifestyle questions, quality of life, job,
how well they live. The third is pride, national pride in the country. Fourth is anger, and anger will come after we get
attacked and do not like the causes of the attack. Sadly, the fourth is likely to cause the best results fastest if you believe
in having a robust military.
Could you assist the committee with your views on how best we can encourage that debate and create that debate
Our objective is not just to come away with "a good paper." Our objective is to come about with a change in
attitude, a societal change, and we think we have an opportunity to start that discussion in Canada over the next six
Mr. Nossal: As I noted before, I think that this is a very worthy goal for the committee.
The committee, I think, has an opportunity to contribute to the discussion about the broad totality of Canada's
relations with the world, in particular because its work is going to occur after the release of the international policy
review which will provide, as I understand it, a particular perspective on Canada and the world.
The Chairman: You are an optimist. You are an optimist, sir, but anyway.
Mr. Nossal: Well, that is true, but if you think about the international policy review perhaps appearing in the year
2005-06, you will have at least an opportunity to be conducting your deliberations perhaps contemporaneously to that
In that sense, you will also have an opportunity to challenge some of the assumptions that are going to be made by
that IPR, and some of those assumptions are going to be very much — in my view, judging by the rhetoric that one
hears out of the Prime Minister's Office since December of 2003 — firmly in the tradition that was established in the
1990s. That tradition, essentially, is going to give primacy to the feel-good tradition in Canadian foreign and defence
policy very simply because — and Doug Bland was in a sense a little too polite to say it this morning — Canadians
have become seriously addicted to the kind of ear candy fed to them by their politicians over the course of the 1990s
about what great guys we are in the international system, about what a marvellous job we do. In fact, it seems to me
that one of the problems here is the disconnect between what our politicians say to us about what we are in the world
and what we actually are in the world.
In that sense, it seems to me that a proper defence review that focuses on national security will provide an
opportunity to rethink some of those.
The only caution I have is that I would urge the committee not to fall into the trap of, in a sense, threat creation. Are
Canadians vulnerable? Well, yes. For the most part, defence analysts say we are. The problem is that, for the vast
majority of Canadians, the vulnerabilities are things that no national security policy can in any real sense address.
The real vulnerability — and I take Mr. Macnamara's point about terrorism — is to our involvement in a
war on terror." It has to be put in quotation marks. There is no doubt that Canada is part of those who are in a state of
war with a fairly large number of people, in particular, Islamist fundamentalists and extremists.
Until and unless Canada is actually attacked or Canadian interests are actually attacked, most Canadians are very
simply not going to be convinced that there is a serious vulnerability.
In that sense, it seems to me that the committee has a bit of problem, because it would be inappropriate for the
committee to go out and portray threats that many Canadians simply do not think are there.
I was very struck by a poll that the Canadian Institute of International Affairs commissioned in October that
revealed that Canadians do not necessarily feel threatened by traditional sources of threat, that they feel actually far
more threatened by HIV/AIDS and global pandemics than they do by more traditional threats. Likewise, the threats
and vulnerabilities to what you call "lifestyle" or, very simply, "quality of living," whether under attack from changes
in the global economy and Canada's and Canadians' location there, or threats to the environment — and Senator
Forrestall mentioned the considerable threat that we may face over the next 20 years in the North — those kinds of
things, likewise, armed forces and the traditional role of Canadian defence cannot address.
From that point of view, I think that your committee has a fine line to tread in terms of galvanizing that debate
Mr. Pentland: I can only add a gloss to what Professor Nossal has said.
If we want to look closely at issues of vulnerability and threats to Canadians' lifestyle, a lot of those do seem to be
domestic in nature or, in fact, have more do to with economic security than with the sorts of security issues that the
armed forces are an appropriate response to.
I was at a conference a couple of weeks ago where someone asserted that the greatest single threat to Canada would
be some sort of destructive action against the Windsor-Detroit bridge, given the daily flow of commerce across that
bridge every and what it means to Canadian workers and so on.
That combines the economic and the domestic in ways that probably extend beyond this committee's reach. I am
The Chairman: We are going there tomorrow. This committee involves national security and defence, and our
hearings after this are right at the bridge, in fact.
Mr. Pentland: I take your point, but in terms of the uses for the Canadian forces, that was where I was going with
Other kinds of response, other kinds of language have to be used in connecting Canadians to security issues; other
kinds of responses to those needs have to be considered.
Let me just make one other point on the issue of national pride. Again, I have just come from a conference out West
where we were talking about pride in the Canadian Forces and their history, and a great deal was made of the possible
contribution of Canadian military historians. I note that the museum in Ottawa will be opening fairly soon with the
marked purpose of making Canadians more aware of the history of those forces. That is part of it, pride in the forces.
To come back to, Mr. Chairman, the question that you began with, our apparent addiction to multilateralism, the
Canadian tradition of multilateralism is not something we should throw away all that quickly. An assertive and
responsible multilateralism, in other words, one for which we are prepared to pay is, in fact, a good thing. It is
something we should pursue and it is something that resonates with Canadians.
The trick is to separate out the frivolous club joining from the real hard work that we do in those fora and present
that to Canadians in a realistic way.
The Chairman: Thank you very much. It has been a very instructive morning. We have had two first-class panels and
we are very grateful to you for helping us off on our start.
Clearly, it is a daunting challenge to focus Canadians on these issues. We are looking forward to assistance. We
hope that you will stay joined and connected with the committee. We need all the help we can get.
More to the point, we see it as a collective exercise, one in which like-minded people should work in a cooperative
way towards finding a solution, and we feel that you two gentlemen, as well as the panel that preceded you, share the
concerns that the committee shares and we hope that you will work with us to assist us in helping this debate move
forward and ultimately arriving at a solution that serves Canadians well.
We appreciate very much your attendance here today. We hope to hear from you again soon.
Senator Forrestall has a closing thought.
Senator Forrestall: Recently, in London, evidence of what you have been talking about came to our attention.
While we were sitting in the British House of Commons precinct, five or six people invaded the floor of that
Chamber, literally invaded it. One lady was seen to be relaxing and really enjoying it. Who she turned out to be is
interesting. She was in favour of what they were protesting about. We were advised of this. We missed it and one of our
colleagues barely missed it.
When I went back to my hotel room, I turned on the television, and what did I see? Batman and Robin had been
arrested, Batman on the walls of Buckingham Palace.
So where the hell does the threat come from and how do you recognize it?
The Chairman: Once again, thank you all for your participation here today.
The committee adjourned.