Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 8 - Evidence - Meeting of November 1, 2010


OTTAWA, Monday, November 1, 2010

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 4:02 p.m. to examine and report on the national security and defence policies of Canada (topic: Arctic sovereignty and security); and the state and future of the Canadian Forces Reserves.

Senator Pamela Wallin (Chair) in the chair.

[English]

The Chair: Ladies and gentlemen, we have a long and busy schedule today, beginning with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and also, later in our session today, we will be returning to the issue of the state and future of the Canadian Reserves.

As you know, we have been doing a study on Arctic sovereignty and security, the future of the North. We have been looking forward to hearing from the minister on this particular topic to wrap up that study. Climate change, massive resource potential, border disputes and new shipping routes are some of the major issues facing Canada regarding our North.

Canada's extensive northern coastline, an area packed with energy and natural resources, has 40 per cent of Canada's land mass. If Canada is an Arctic power and will maintain control of the North, how will we be going about exercising sovereignty and security in the North? This is our number one Arctic foreign policy priority, according to the statement on Canada's Arctic foreign policy, released by the government last summer.

We have before us Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon; Alan H. Kessel, Legal Advisor, Foreign Affairs; and Sheila Riordon, Director General, Energy, Climate and Circumpolar Bureau. Welcome to our committee today.

Minister, we would like you to go ahead with your opening statement.

[Translation]

Hon. Lawrence Cannon, P.C., M.P., Minister of Foreign Affairs: Madam Chair, honourable senators, it is a pleasure for me to be with you here today. As the Arctic is a priority region for this government, it is with great enthusiasm that I come before your committee today.

The Arctic is fundamental to Canada's national identity, embedded in our history and culture. The Arctic has always been a part of us. It still is, and it always will be.

On August 20 of this year, I launched our government's Arctic foreign policy statement. This statement sets out Canada's approach to the Arctic on the international stage. New opportunities and challenges are emerging across the Arctic and North, in part as a result of climate change and the search for new resources, as the chair mentioned a few moments ago. The importance of the Arctic and Canada's interest in the North have never been greater.

[English]

Through international leadership and stewardship, we are promoting Canada's vision for the North. That vision is of a stable region with clearly defined borders and boundaries, dynamic economic growth and trade, vibrant communities and healthy and productive ecosystems. The Statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy provides the international lens to Canada's Northern Strategy. From an international perspective, it gives life to the four pillars of our Northern Strategy: exercising sovereignty; promoting economic and social development; protecting our environmental heritage; and providing northerners with more control over their economic and political destiny. The statement is about realizing the full potential of Canada's Arctic, and fulfilling our duty to the people of the North and all Canadians today and for generations to come.

[Translation]

The first and most critical pillar of our Northern Strategy is exercising Canadian Arctic sovereignty. As Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said, and I quote:

"The number one priority is to protect and promote Canada's sovereignty in our North."

Canada's sovereignty is long-standing, well established and based on historic title, founded in part by the presence — since time immemorial — of the Inuit people and other indigenous peoples. We exercise that sovereignty every day through good governance, responsible stewardship and concrete actions.

Exercising our Arctic sovereignty involves making strategic investments at home. Our government has taken a number of concrete steps in this direction.

[English]

I will begin by recalling some important actions we are taking domestically that will support our international efforts and are clear demonstrations of our commitment to sovereignty. Our government has made it a priority to enhance the security of our Arctic waters by announcing key investments in a new polar icebreaker and Arctic patrol ships, as well as a new generation of satellites. The Prime Minister also recently announced $13.4 million in upgrades to the remote airport in Churchill, Manitoba. Combined, these investments will assist in the exercise of our Arctic sovereignty, the protection of the Arctic ecosystem and the development of our resources.

Exercising Canada's Arctic sovereignty also has an important international dimension. As articulated in the Statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy, our number one priority in exercising our sovereignty internationally is making progress on outstanding boundary issues. Our government is giving high priority to our work on securing recognition for the full extent of the extended continental shelf. We are taking steps to be ready to make our submission to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf in December 2013.

We will also continue to discuss with our neighbours ongoing border disputes. Our sovereignty over Canadian Arctic lands, including islands, is undisputed with the single exception of Hans Island, a 1.3-square-kilometre Canadian island which Denmark claims.

With regard to Arctic waters, Canada controls all maritime navigation in its waters. Nevertheless, disagreement exists between the United States of America and Canada regarding the maritime boundary in the Beaufort Sea, and between Canada and Denmark over a small part of the maritime boundary in the Lincoln Sea. All these disagreements are well managed, neither posing defence challenges for Canada nor diminishing our ability to collaborate and cooperate with our Arctic neighbours.

[Translation]

Canada will continue to manage these discrete boundary issues and will also, as a priority, seek to work with our neighbours to explore the possibility of resolving them in accordance with international law.

The recent announcement by Norway and Russia on their successful resolution of their maritime boundary dispute in the Barents Sea is a case in point. This serves as a concrete example of how Arctic states are able to resolve differences in a peaceful and orderly way. Canada will also continue to exercise our sovereignty through good governance in the North.

Canada does not accept the premise that the Arctic requires a fundamentally new governance structure or legal framework, as some have suggested. But we do accept the fact that the North is undergoing fundamental change. That is why Canada will continue to work to reinforce the Arctic Council, a council which Canada was instrumental in establishing in 1996.

Through this forum, Canada and the seven other Arctic nations will set the agenda for cooperation on sustainable development in the Arctic.

[English]

The second pillar of our Northern Strategy is promoting economic and social development. Creating a dynamic and sustainable northern economy is essential to improving the well-being of northerners and to unleashing the true potential of Canada's North.

[Translation]

Our international work will complement the action we are taking domestically. Canada is actively promoting northern economic and social development internationally on three key fronts. First, we are taking steps to create the appropriate international conditions for sustainable development. Second, Canada is seeking trade and investment opportunities that benefit northerners and all Canadians. Finally, we are actively encouraging a greater understanding of the human dimension of the Arctic to improve the lives of northerners.

[English]

The third pillar of the Northern Strategy is promoting the Arctic environment. Canada has long been a leader in protecting the Arctic environment. We are the first country to pass legislation to protect Arctic waters, and we are leading proponents of ecosystem-based management of the Arctic Ocean.

We have also made a strong commitment to Arctic science, the foundation for sound policy and decision making on the Arctic. Indeed, Canada was the single largest contributor to International Polar Year, taking partnerships in circumpolar research to new levels. The government has announced that the International Polar Year "From Knowledge to Action" Conference will be hosted in Montreal in April 2012. This conference will be the final event to wrap up International Polar Year. It is expected that the conference will attract as many as 3,000 science, policy and political delegates from around the world, who will examine scientific results, policy implications and the challenges and changes occurring in the polar region.

[Translation]

In August, the Prime Minister announced that a new Canadian High Arctic Research Station will be located in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut. By building this leading-edge research station, we are advancing Canada's knowledge of the Arctic's resources and climate while at the same time ensuring that Northern communities are prosperous, vibrant and secure.

Canada has long been at the forefront in protecting the Arctic environment. As far back as the 1970s, Canada enacted the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act (AWPPA) to protect its marine environment. In addition, NORDREG regulations requiring vessels to report when entering and operating within Canadian Arctic Waters have been in force since July of this year. Our international work on the environment will build on this solid foundation.

The final pillar of our Northern Strategy is focused on empowering the people of the North — in essence, providing them with more control over their destiny.

In October, Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced a two-year $60 million extension of the Territorial Health System Sustainability Initiative. This investment will facilitate the transformation of territorial health systems toward greater responsiveness for northerners' needs and improve community-level access to services.

[English]

Through such initiatives, the Government of Canada is making progress to help the North realize its true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada. Territorial governments issued a statement on their Northern vision earlier this year. They have committed to supporting federal efforts in advancing our mutual interests in international forums, and we welcome that support.

Through the Canadian Arctic Council Advisory Committee, territorial governments and indigenous permanent participant organizations in Canada will continue to actively participate in shaping Canadian policy on Arctic issues. Canada will engage with Northern governments and permanent participants to ensure that the Arctic Council continues to respond to the region's challenges and opportunities, thus furthering our national interests.

Canada will assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in 2013. This will give us an increased scope for advancing the interests of Northerners, as well as all Canadians.

[Translation]

As I mentioned at the beginning of my statement before you today, the Arctic is fundamental to Canada's national identity. This year I had the opportunity to meet with some of my counterparts in Europe and the United States to convey this key message. We are a northern nation, we have a crucial responsibility to protect our people and environment in the Arctic, and Arctic sovereignty remains our foreign policy priority.

During very productive meetings with my counterparts in Norway, Russia and Finland in September, I discussed initiatives Canada has taken to promote our interests in the North, and our way forward as outlined in Canada's Arctic foreign policy statement.

[English]

I also had the good fortune to travel to Resolute Bay earlier this year. At that time, I witnessed the scientific research being conducted by Canadians in that challenging environment. They are playing an essential role in asserting Canada's interests in the Arctic.

Interest in the Arctic continues to grow and this has implications for Canada. Our government is dedicated to providing good governance and to fulfilling the North's true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region. Our citizens and Northern inhabitants expect us to continue to show leadership on Arctic issues, and that is what is we are doing. We are not reacting to change; rather, we are shaping it.

The Chair: Thank you very much, minister. Let us clarify something for the purposes of our discussion today and also because we are in the midst of working on the report. You have said in the statement and reiterated again today, as has the Prime Minister, that exercising sovereignty over Canada's North is a number one Arctic foreign policy priority.

Can you give us the distinction between "Arctic sovereignty" and "Arctic security?" These are not interchangeable terms?

Mr. Cannon: In terms of exercising our Arctic sovereignty, we have, as I mentioned, a long-standing and historic claim to the Arctic. This is well documented.

We exercise our sovereignty in two major ways. We do so, first, through international treaties and international obligations we take on. I referred to the mapping of the continental shelf. That is done under the responsibility of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We abide by that. We will table the report on our findings by the end of December 2013 so that the commission can look at it. We are doing that mapping in cooperation with other countries, such as Denmark and the United States.

We also exercise our sovereignty through our Arctic pollution prevention laws. We do so as well by putting in our regulations in NORDREG. We work closely with the International Maritime Organization to be able to ensure that the area is well taken into consideration in terms of shipping. Therefore, we are doing it from that legal perspective.

Second, we are also exercising our sovereignty with our Canadian Armed Forces. As the Minister of Defence has already mentioned, we have increased and will be deploying a larger number of our rangers. We will be giving our Canadian Forces the tools they need to be able to exercise that sovereignty for and in the name of Canada.

In a nutshell, Madam Chair, those are the general considerations I attach to exercising our sovereignty.

In terms of security — and my colleagues here can correct me — we have engaged in discussing with members of the Arctic Council how to better secure our coastlines from smuggling or drug trafficking threats. Those are things this government has put out there and which we will be negotiating with our counterparts.

Senator Lang: Minister, as a senator from the Yukon, we are very pleased with the attention the Government of Canada is giving to our part of the world; we have never had so much attention by Canada. I have to go on the record: It is very symbolic that we have had six visits in five years by the Prime Minister of Canada, and they were not holidays; he was working every day that he travelled across the Arctic. On behalf of my part of the world, I want to say we appreciate it.

There are two areas I want to go into, one of which is the update on the Alaska-Yukon boundary dispute. I know negotiations are underway. Can you give us any indication of the time frame we are working under to see if we can come to a resolution between the United States and Canada as far as the boundary is concerned?

Mr. Cannon: This is about the Beaufort Sea dispute. As a matter of fact, I had discussions with Secretary of State Clinton. We agreed it would be a worthwhile exercise, first and foremost, to bring together our officials to exchange information on a number of issues particularly related to the matter. We also agreed that it was important to complete the mapping of the continental shelf, particularly in that area, before we engage in a more formal type of what one would assume to be discussions or negotiations.

They have come to Ottawa. They came in July, if I am not mistaken. Our team will be going down to the United States early in the New Year to be able to continue that dialogue, which is extremely constructive and helpful for both parties.

Senator Lang: What time frame are we looking at for completion of the mapping of that area for the continental shelf? A fair amount of the project is underway.

Mr. Cannon: I will refer that question to my legal adviser. He is the specialist. I cannot tell you, per se, what part has been done and what part has yet to be done because, as you alluded, the work is ongoing. We are working with the U.S. Coast Guard officials with the Healy and the Louis S. St-Laurent. While I was in the North, I was able to witness the work being undertaken by our team with the autonomous vehicle that goes under the ice, which is all Canadian technology and something of which we can be extremely proud. That mapping is taking place, but your question refers to what areas are left to undertake. I cannot answer that specifically, but I can say we will have completed all the work by 2013.

Senator Lang: In your opening remarks you referred to the new satellite programs that would be coming into play. The Prime Minister was up in Alert or one of the other smaller communities in the Arctic. He announced an additional $200 million, if I am not mistaken, for the completion of RADARSAT-2. There are also plans in the work for the PolarSat I understand as well. These are all major technological changes, and we are looking forward to these commitments by Canada. Could you expand on what you see the satellite programs doing in the Arctic both for Canada and for the people in the North, particularly in the area of telecommunications because that is very important to us?

Mr. Cannon: I do not want to deceive you with my answer because it is really not in my bailiwick. However, I can say that all of the tools that we are putting in place certainly will strengthen our presence there, whether it be in terms of mapping the ice floe, enabling navigation or other purposes that are related to the environment and other fields. Not only are they useful in general ways but they are extremely helpful in exercising our sovereignty in that region.

Senator Segal: Minister, I want to raise with you the problem between the institutional framework for sorting out our challenges with our neighbours in the North and the odd rogue activity that some countries engage in outside the framework.

A Chinese retired general is taking the position that one fifth of all the world's resources is something the Chinese have a right to, and that fits with the Chinese position to the effect that they have legacy interests in the Arctic which would strike most Canadians, I expect, as a bit of reach, but they are articulating that view.

While there has been good negotiation back and forth with the Danes on Hans Island, we have nevertheless run into difficulties with the Russians who, either by dropping emblems of their federation in disputed marine territory or otherwise, seem to make it perfectly clear they will set their own path in the region, which I am sure is completely disengaged from what the minister would have in good faith said to you when you met with him.

Your colleague the minister from Australia is in China expressing profound concern about unpublished and substantial investments in defence spending for a greater Pacific military role by our Chinese friends which would not necessarily exclude the capacity to operate in Arctic waters.

Can you help us understand the way in which any government, and your government in particular, tries to balance the institutional framework, which is a rational, coherent and thoughtful framework you have described to us, and the fact that rogue events seem to be taking place outside the framework in a fashion where clearly countries are trying to establish some a priori right which may not be legally sustainable or in fact substantive in terms of any kind of boundary assessment that emerges?

My supplementary question to that is: Do you see any natural ally for us? I notice, for example, that NORAD was expanded under your leadership to include shipping beyond just air. Clearly in areas like the Beaufort Sea, whatever the final line decided upon is, we share a common interest with our American friends in the environmental protection of those waters as you have referenced in your statement. Do you see any possible initiative where Canada with other allies could begin to move constructively not in a fashion that in any way dilutes the ongoing process of negotiation but affirms allies that will work together until those matters are sorted out?

Mr. Cannon: In terms of institutional framework, Senator Segal, I go back to the Ilulissat Declaration. It is the common denominator from which member countries of the Arctic Council have agreed to go forward, and that refers to the international legal aspects according to the international laws in place.

You are right when you say that some of our colleagues are apt to pull stunts. For instance, when the Russians, and particularly Mr. Chilingarov, travelled to the North Pole and put a flag there, that is more or less a stunt. I had the opportunity to meet with him and my counterpart Sergey Lavrov to explain and remind them that indeed we had all agreed through the declaration at Ilulissat to conduct ourselves accordingly, and incidentally that we had proof that the Lomonosov Ridge was an extension of Canada's continental shelf. We will be able to demonstrate that.

Through all of this, needless to say, a number of countries, including the European Union — you referred to China, Japan — want to be observers at the Arctic Council. We have agreed as members of the Arctic Council that at our next meeting, which will take place in May, we will have on the agenda for discussion the criteria and conditions that will enable observer status within the Arctic Council. Hopefully progress will be made on that front. I am told there will be a meeting here in Ottawa by the end of the year with officials to work on that.

The next 25 to 50 years will be extremely interesting. On the one hand, you will have a number of observers who will say that because of the melting ice floe the Northwest Passage will be open to navigation within the next 20 to 30 years. The Northeast Passage is actually being used as we speak. There are maritime activities that go from Denmark, for instance, into the heart of Siberia and on their way towards the East.

We have to keep a very close eye on that traffic. Canada is poised to have a wonderful opportunity, both economically and otherwise, to eventually develop and use the Northwest Passage to our best advantage. It is not developed now. I firmly believe that that will be a challenge in the next 20 to 50 years in our country. I am pleased to see that the Prime Minister, in his vision, has acknowledged the need to build a world-class icebreaker to be able to do work up there. Indeed, these are the types of tools that we need to exercise not only that responsibility, but to take advantage of the opportunities there.

Things have been well managed up to now from an institutional perspective. Every party, other than, of course, some of the stunts mentioned before, are essentially in agreement with the direction that the Arctic is taking.

Senator Segal: Are you comfortable that you and your colleagues through the use of satellite, unmanned observation, our rangers, the underwater sensing and regular manned overflight have the contextual awareness of what is going on up there minute by minute so that the chance of an unlikely surprise is diminished to the extent it is humanly possible to do so and you and your colleagues have the information you need on a timely basis to make the decisions that are necessary?

Mr. Cannon: The person who would be in a position to answer that is my colleague the Minister of Defence. However, in terms of exercising our sovereignty, these are obviously extremely important tools.

Senator Munson: Minister, I notice that you did not mention the rangers, although that aspect has been alluded to in the statement itself. With regard to the Northern Strategy, the rangers should be a high priority in terms of what is happening there. The military is fond of saying "boots on the ground," but maybe we need boots on the ice that still remains there. We have had rangers there historically, unsung heroes on the front lines. I know there is all of this wonderful technology and new machinery to be used. You saw the rangers when you were up there, and it seemed they were spending more time on open waters, patrolling and on board the Coast Guard as opposed to being on the ground.

When will the government take the initiatives to expand the size and capabilities of the Canadian Rangers, and will there be money in the next budget to expand? What kind of force will the rangers become, a permanent force, a parapolice or paramilitary force? With the engagement that has to go on in the North, there has to be incentives for education and training for indigenous people. They have to be a major player in what we do. When, how large and is it in the next budget?

Mr. Cannon: Those are loaded questions. I would just say to you that the purpose of my appearance here today is to talk about those elements that fall under my domain in terms of foreign policy. Obviously, there is in our Statement on Canada's Arctic Foreign Policy reference to the rangers and that indeed because of their composition, they are the eyes and ears of Canada in the North.

I cannot sit here and pertain that as Minister of Foreign Affairs I will have a word to say on how the Minister of Finance organizes his budget or how the Minister of Defence and the Chief of Defence Staff will organize operational activities. We are exercising our sovereignty. As I told one reporter once, it is better to be able to send our military there instead of sending a dentist to exercise our sovereignty.

Senator Munson: When you were there, you saw the rangers at work; do you feel that they do need more help, more equipment and more structure?

Mr. Cannon: The Honourable Peter MacKay could best respond to that question. What I can say is that, when I was up in the high North the word was that the Russians wanted to send some paratroopers over the North Pole and descend to the North Pole to carry out another stunt. I knew that our rangers were there so that in the event that they were incapacitated — that is to stay the Russians — obviously our rangers could have gone out and given them a hand.

Senator Munson: Canada has expressed support for the creation of a European missile defence system. Does this mean it is reconsidering its position on participation in a North American missile defence system?

Mr. Cannon: I know that there will be at the upcoming NATO summit discussions on the new strategic concept. That concept has not been made public yet. I would suspect that by that time, these discussions will — at least the determination on that specific issue has not changed. Canada is still committed to the same defence policy as years gone by.

Senator Munson: Thank you.

Senator Mitchell: Mr. Minister, I think we all understand that often in life and in governance something that happens here may have profound implications for something over there, and we did not think of the link. You and I will probably disagree on this, but I think many people believe that our failure to gain a seat at the United Nations Security Council was based upon a waning international influence, weakening relationships with key allies around the world based on certain policy initiatives in Canada's foreign policy that have not succeeded in supporting and enhancing our strength and profile in the world.

If that is the case, does that not have implications for your ability to negotiate with Arctic nations over these many issues that will require negotiation? If the United States was not prepared to promote Canada in gaining that seat on the Security Council, how might they feel about negotiating in a reasonable manner with us over critical issues, economic and otherwise, on Arctic sovereignty?

Mr. Cannon: That is an interesting question. In the preamble, you said that we would probably disagree, and I do disagree with what you are saying. There has been quite a bit of comment on the United Nations Security Council bid, so I will not go into that area. I will leave that to the political pundits to determine whether Canada still has influence.

I am reminded after reading Andrew Cohen's book, While Canada Slept: How We Lost Our Place in the World, which book was written well before the Conservatives came into power. Our loss, I guess, in the changing world and the influence in the world is somewhat different from that period of time.

Let me say to you that I, as a member of Stephen Harper's cabinet, am extremely proud of our principled approach to many issues in the world spectrum. I am not at all worried about our level of influence in the world. We have led the way in the G8 and we are doing so in the G20. It might be for some people a fallback, but it is not for me. When one stands up for his principles, he is standing up for something that is important.

On the Arctic, I think that Canada, being one of the founding members of the Arctic Council, plays an important role. I mentioned to you the role that Canada played on our circumpolar year, where we financed a great deal of research and led the way in many respects in that area.

In terms of working with Russia, we have continued working with the members of the Arctic Council on issues of importance in the North. We have a great level of engagement but also a great level of agreement amongst ourselves to such an extent, as I mentioned before, that a lot of countries want to now become permanent observers or observers to what is taking place in that forum. I think that we can all be extremely proud of the work that was undertaken at the Arctic Council level and look forward to a good continuation when Canada will assume the chairmanship of that council in 2013.

Senator Mitchell: I was in Churchill about two weeks ago. This is potentially another one of these unintended consequences stories. It was brought to my attention that 90 per cent of the wheat that is shipped out of the Churchill port, that is to say, the very essence of the commercial viability of the Churchill port, is Canadian Wheat Board wheat. I asked a number of people what happens if the Canadian Wheat Board dies, if the government policy to do away with the Canadian Wheat Board actually were to occur.

Mr. Cannon: We want to give a marketing choice.

Senator Mitchell: Yes, and that would kill the Canadian Wheat Board. Certainly it puts the Canadian Wheat Board at risk, and it would also put at risk your second or third pillar, which is to promote economic and social development in a key community that has a viable economy, unlike many of the communities up there.

Have you considered the implications of a weakened or destroyed Canadian Wheat Board with respect to our Arctic sovereignty?

Mr. Cannon: It is unfortunate, Senator Mitchell, that in what you have just described you forgot to describe the investments that the Prime Minister announced when he went there.

Senator Mitchell: That is my next question.

Mr. Cannon: The rail link to Churchill was, unfortunately, completely neglected by the previous government. A couple of years ago, we introduced the concept of an Arctic gateway with both investments in the rail line, as well as substantial investments in the Port of Churchill. That really does not have any bearing on the conclusion that you came to. That is an important element you have to factor in. I will let you ask the next question.

Senator Mitchell: My next question relates exactly to that. In Churchill, train rides that ran like clockwork, that took 10 or 12 hours, and on which they could base tours, are now taking 24 hours. That rail link has not been refurbished. It is interesting the words you used. You said that you have taken some important actions, such as announcing key investments in a new polar icebreaker and Arctic patrol ships. You could go on to say Churchill and satellites, et cetera.

You have announced some of these initiatives four and five times. Actions and announcements are oxymorons. When will you actually do it? One of these announcements says that you will build the ship within this decade. That is 2020. That is 10 years from now.

Mr. Cannon: We are not surprising anyone, Senator Mitchell. We are being up front and saying that we will do this within the next decade. That is the announcement. There is no magic wand here saying, poof, tomorrow morning here is a world-class icebreaker. We are saying that within the next decade we will do that. In that regard, I do not think we have misled anyone.

Senator Mitchell: I am not saying you are misleading. I am asking when you will do it.

Mr. Cannon: I have told you that we will do that by the end of the decade. My official says it is closer to 2017.

I would add that when Prime Minister announces investments, obviously these are investments that will take place. I am quite confident that when we say something, we will do it. It is surprising when the Auditor General says: You guys have done a great job in terms of putting forward Canada's Economic Action Plan and Building Canada.

There are 23,000 projects across the country, recuperating over 400,000 jobs. That is something.

Senator Mitchell: What did the Auditor General say about the jets?

Mr. Cannon: You ask when we will take action. These are all actionable items that give results.

Senator Mitchell: We forced you to do it.

Mr. Cannon: You did not force anything, senator.

Senator Mitchell: The opposition forced you to do this.

Mr. Cannon: No, you did not do that.

Senator Mitchell: It absolutely did.

Mr. Cannon: Absolutely not. I do not think the opposition can take credit for anything in economics, other than putting us in a dire position.

Senator Mitchell: We are not taking credit for the $56 billion deficit.

Senator Greene: I would like to ask a question about the relationship between search and rescue and establishing our sovereignty. I note, in particular, that search and rescue in the Arctic, at least by air, has to come from either Labrador, or Trenton, Ontario, which are a long way away, and in an environment where time is of the essence.

My supplementary question is in relation to whether there are any new measures or new plans to establish more room for private search and rescue in the Arctic through established aviation companies or new ones that might begin.

Mr. Cannon: There is already in place an agreement between the members of the Arctic Council in terms of a search- and-rescue agreement. It is a preoccupation particularly among the coastal states to develop and find new ways of better providing search and rescue.

We fully expect that this agreement I mentioned will be in place by May of 2011. When we discuss this issue among Arctic Council members, we view it as being extremely important. For instance, when the Russians provide the opportunity for a ship to go through the Northeast Passage, they also at the same time ensure that there is an icebreaker that follows this ship. In many ways, it is a marriage of public-private partnership in that regard.

I cannot see in the coming years a situation where, for instance, you would have cruise vessels or tankers going through the Northeast Passage without being accompanied, because of the vastness of the area. There might be potential for public-private partnerships there, but first and foremost we want to be able to ensure the safety and security of those people who embark in that neck of the woods so that indeed, in the case of a tragedy or in the case of something occurring, there is an opportunity to be able to go and retrieve them as fast as possible. I do not think that anyone would survive in those waters for a long time.

Senator Greene: I was also wondering about the role of private aviation in search and rescue. Are there any private companies in existence at the moment in the area, or others that might start up?

Mr. Cannon: I am looking at my officials. I do not know. Let me get back to you on that and give you a written response.

The Chair: We did have some testimony from General Deschamps that they use private companies in some way, but we would appreciate a fulsome answer.

Senator Day: Minister, welcome.

Mr. Cannon: Senator, it is a pleasure to speak with you.

Senator Day: It is great to have you here. I had not intended to ask a question about the polar icebreaker, but the discussion that has taken place prompts me to ask this: I thought that originally the announcement was for three icebreakers, and now we are down to one. The Russians have offered to loan us some icebreakers until we get around to building one. Is there any discussion going on in that regard?

Mr. Cannon: I do not know about the Russians loaning something.

Senator Day: You have not heard of their offer?

Alan H. Kessel, Legal Advisor, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada: Russians do not loan anything. They charge quite a bit to use their equipment. I am familiar with that particular question.

Senator Day: Should I have used the term "lease" instead of "loan"?

Mr. Cannon: I was in Russia, senator, and no one approached me on that subject.

Senator Day: Maybe it is a dead issue. We will wait until we get our one new polar icebreaker.

My primary area of questioning is with respect to the Arctic Council. As you indicated, we were instrumental in establishing it, and we will take over the chairmanship again in 2013. I understand, as you do, that the European Community has asked to be an observer, and that China has as well. Do we have a position on whether the Arctic Council should expand and bring in observers? What is our view in that regard?

Mr. Cannon: We want to be able to put in place a set of criteria. Certainly we are not against observers coming to the Arctic Council. We think that the Arctic Council is the premier forum for multilateral discussions on related subjects.

We are in the midst of working on criteria that would be shared with our colleagues so that when we get to the next meeting in May of next year, we will be able to put forward a policy that will enable countries to become observers to the Arctic Council.

Senator Day: These would be objective standards for the European Community that, if they could meet those standards, we would welcome them?

Mr. Cannon: I think that is fair to say, yes.

Senator Day: Could you tell us about the relationship, as you see it, between the Arctic Council and the Arctic Ocean coastal group that you have indicated?

Mr. Cannon: The Arctic coastal group, senator, is a more restrained number of countries. They are the countries that border on the Arctic Ocean. We are five in number, and the concerns that we share there are mostly associated to border management, I think it would be safe to say, and safety issues as well. Those are the concerns that we share among Arctic coastal states.

Senator Day: Geographically, Iceland does not fit into that group, although they were disappointed not to have been invited to that meeting.

Mr. Cannon: That is fair to say. I did brief the members before and after the meeting that took place, as well as the members of the permanent participant organizations, not far away from here in Gatineau, at Willson House. I then debriefed all the colleagues on these specific issues so they would be well aware of what took place.

Senator Day: Do you see the Arctic coastal nations continuing as a separate entity?

Mr. Cannon: No, I really do not. There is no reason to pursue that in the immediate future, and I do not see that happening. I think that the Arctic Council is capable of handling pretty well all the other issues. The issues of safety that we related to you before are well under way to being handled.

Senator Day: You mentioned NORDREG. Do we generate regulations under this international convention?

Mr. Kessel: The NORDREG has been in existence for some time as a voluntary process. It is based on providing Canada with an awareness of what vessels are in our waters in order to better provide search, rescue and safety, as well as to be aware of any potential for environmental impact.

The Prime Minister committed to making those regulations mandatory, and that has now been done. This will apply to all vessels above a certain tonnage coming into our area.

Senator Day: What we claim as our area in the North is different from what some other nations claim as international waters in the North?

Mr. Kessel: No.

Senator Day: The United States and Canada are in agreement with respect to the Northwest Passage in terms of whether it is national or international waters?

Mr. Kessel: Senator, I think you are conflating two issues. If you are dealing with whether we own the area in the North that is known as Canada from within our baseline, the absolute answer is yes. There is no question as to who owns the Northwest Passage. Even the Americans agree it belongs to Canada.

The only issue with the Americans is that they wish to treat that as an international strait which has, for a long time, been used as a means of navigation. We have indicated to them it is not an international strait, that it is internal waters of Canada. They have never questioned the ownership. It is a question of whether they can transit through there.

Senator Day: Would countries, like the United States, that believe that the Northwest Passage is available for international travel, believe that they would be required to follow the NORDREG regulations that we promulgated in July, 2010?

Mr. Cannon: Yes.

Senator Day: What are the sanctions if they do not?

Mr. Cannon: The IMO provides for sanctions within that.

Mr. Kessel: That is a speculative question. The reality is that no one has ever challenged that regulation. In fact, they see this as a helpful regulation. There may be an esoteric discussion as to whether you can make something mandatory in that area if the U.S. feels it is not possible. Our view is that we are strongly based in international law, and that Canada worked for 40 years to develop the regime which allows us to implement this type of regulation. We were instrumental in changing law internationally to provide for work within our 200-mile economic zone and on ice- covered areas.

This is the manifestation of the work that Canada has been doing for more than 35 years.

Senator Day: They are following it.

Mr. Cannon: Yes. It would be safe to say that the agreement that Brian Mulroney struck with former President Reagan is an agreement that calls for notifying the Government of Canada when they are passing.

Senator Day: That is helpful.

Senator Lang: Can you give us an update on the Canadian Polar Commission and what your plans are for that particular organization?

Sheila Riordon, Director General of Energy, Climate and Circumpolar Bureau, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada: The government is looking at possible board members for the polar commission. We will be making a decision in the near future with respect to those members. That process is under way.

The Chair: On Senator Segal's earlier point on the question of China's claims, in terms of policy or principle, do you accept the notion that if someone represents a huge chunk of the population they somehow have access?

Mr. Cannon: China has extended its 200-mile economic zone in the South China Sea. It goes into some contested islands with Japan. That is a contentious issue.

The short answer is, no, I do not see any way that China can have a claim, either through the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea or otherwise.

The Chair: Thank you for that clarification,

We have kept you longer than promised, but we appreciate your time today.

We continue our meeting with our look into the state and future of the Canadian Forces Reserves.

We are pleased to welcome from National Defence, John C. Eaton, Chair of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council; and Captain Jamie Cotter, Executive Director of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council. They will take a look at the relationship between the reserves and the regular force, the future and some of the issues we have been hearing over the last few weeks.

Mr. Eaton will start with his opening statement.

John C. Eaton, Chair, Canadian Forces Liaison Council, National Defence: Thank you, senators and Madam Chair. As the National Chair of CFLC, a volunteer organization that has been serving Canada's reserves with distinction since 1978, it is indeed a pleasure to meet with you today and address your many questions. With me today is Capt. Jamie Cotter, our Acting Executive Director.

My council consists of 1 vice chair, 10 provincial chairs and 1 chair for the three northern territories. These Canadians are all well known business leaders, and each province has many additional volunteers who extend the reach of our provincial chairs in accomplishing our mandate and mission: To enhance the availability of reservists for their military duties by obtaining the support and cooperation of organization leaders in Canada. This is achieved through education and generation of awareness.

The creative energy of the council of volunteers informs CFLC outreach methods and ensures a wide and varied guest list of business, government and educational leaders who have come together to understand what it means to serve in the reserves.

Reservists receive military training and experience in the profession of arms, leadership and personnel management. This experience also benefits the reservists' employers, be they municipalities, academic institutions or Canadian businesses. The volunteers within CFLC understand the value that is reserve service to utilize our networks and status within Canada to promote reserve service. We participate in speaking engagements and ExecuTreks to help our peers in the business world to understand the value inherent in reserve training and experiences.

For the past 32 years, we have performed these functions in a quiet yet significant manner. Our activities pave the way for our provinces and territories to enact job legislation that benefits employers, employees and students alike. Although the legislation is new and unique to each province, we are committed to working with the various labour departments to harmonize the legislation and develop regulations that assist reservists, while recognizing that employers need a voice as well.

I would now ask Capt. Cotter to speak about how the CFLC achieves our remarkable results.

Captain (N) Jamie Cotter, Executive Director, Canadian Forces Liaison Council, National Defence: Good evening, senators. I manage the secretariat. As indicated by Mr. Eaton, I will speak to some of the processes and activities that CFLC under takes within our mandate to promote the value of reservists.

As Mr. Eaton indicated, CFLC consists of a national council and a network of volunteers. Supporting that national council is a secretariat, for which I am responsible, and helping us is a network of part-time Class-A reservists dispersed throughout the country. We have aligned our team along the same pattern as the regions Canada Command employs. The secretariat manages the budget, tracks changes to the job protection legislation and produces many of the publications we have for reservists, some of which are before you now.

We plan many of the events undertaken by CFLC and produce the documents that are needed in order to have our events approved by the chain of command. The vast majority of our events require some form of hospitality funding, and thus many go to the Vice Chief of Defence Staff or the deputy minister for approval, either due to the amount or the need to contract for transportation to get our guests to an event venue such as a field exercise or a Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, MCDV, visit.

The secretariat is also in a position to help the provinces share good ideas and best practices. The secretariat is involved in all the various events in some small way, thus we are able to identify attributes of success and provide that information to the provincial chairs and the senior regional liaison officers. That fosters the "learning organization" approach.

In order to pave the way for speedy hospitality request approvals, we publish a quarterly intent and then follow up with specific submissions by event. We are at the mercy of our guest calendars, as well as the ability of the Canadian Forces to execute their exercise and training plan. Minor changes can have disruptive effects. This past year has seen many reserve training events cancelled or postponed. Events in the normal environments came across in the beginning, from January, February and March, and that changed our plans. There was also the robust operational calendar with Op HESTIA, and the operation for the Vancouver Olympics had an effect on us.

CFLC's events are designed to gain support for reservists from our business, labour, government and academic communities. Therefore, some events are simply mechanisms to build awareness and identify contacts or organizations to follow up with. We use trade shows and speaking engagements to do exactly that and generate that level of awareness and identify opportunities for future engagement. The ExecuTrek is a better way to bring that executive into the field to see reservists conduct their military training.

Other activities, such as open houses, bosses' nights and our ExecuTreks take our guests to that next level of education. With increased awareness comes the opportunity to sign a statement of support, indicating an organization is committed to helping their reservists train or deploy. Although all of our provinces and Yukon have developed military lead policies, we are prepared to work with many organizations who might want to go the next step and establish a military lead policy tailored to their business, their employees and their unique needs. This is the pinnacle of success in our mission.

Another function that we at CFLC perform is provide assistance to reservists who are seeking military leave from their employer or school. We draw upon the experience of our volunteers and liaison officers who meet with the reservist and employer to broker a way ahead. In many cases, the employer is supportive but cannot allow that person to leave right away. This is particularly the case for small business. They understand the value of military experience to the bottom line, but we need to find a way to find that place in the schedule to get that reservist away to do their military training.

CFLC thus performs a vital service to the part-time reservist. We have only just begun to produce an annual report suitable for release into the public domain. We have to do a better job of summarizing the level of effort involved in generating awareness and getting to the military lead policy, but we will do that in the coming months.

The Chair: Thank you Captain Cotter. Are you now in the reserves?

Capt. Cotter: I am a naval reservist and have been for 31 years, the vast majority of that time as a part-time reservist.

The Chair: You did not serve in the regular force.

Capt. Cotter: No, ma'am, I have not.

The Chair: I know Mr. Eaton is an honorary colonel.

Mr. Eaton: I was, and I do know that you are an honorary colonel. As well, an honorary captain is with us, Senator Segal.

The Chair: We appreciate your comments. As you know, we have been looking at this issue writ large, and we heard differing testimony specifically on help for employers and how to wrestle with the issue. I will start with a more general question about the CFLC. To whom do you report and give your messages to?

Mr. Eaton: My boss is the Minister of National Defence, so I guess you could say I report to him. Who do we seek? You could say we seek the population of the country, but more specifically we try and reach business, large and small. We also try to reach governments, large and small, and we also go after educational institutions which are the universities and colleges with a small number of secondary education institutions in there too.

The Chair: However, the formal reporting line is to the Minister of Defence?

Mr. Eaton: To the minister, yes.

Senator Lang: I would like to begin with a question about the reserves. As the chair has stated, we have heard some testimony over the last number of weeks about their situation and what they face now and could face down the road. I know you are involved with them on a daily basis.

What is the biggest issue the reservists face, from your point of view? I say this in a general sense because I would like to hear what the main issue is with reservists. There is no question that around this table there is support for the reservists. We fully realize their importance and what they do.

However, looking ahead and considering the plan to withdraw from Afghanistan, there will obviously be redeployment. What is the biggest issue facing the reservists?

Mr. Eaton: We have to be very careful in watching in the next short while to ensure that the reservists continue to get their fair share of the monetary pie for future training and we really have to look after future business. Reserves fulfil now up to approximately 20 per cent of most deployments, and they fulfil a number of them to a larger degree than 20 per cent. It used to be down at 10 per cent or 15 per cent but it is now much larger. Canada cannot operate without its reserve force, and we cannot make rash decisions in today's world. It would be a mistake to relax now because of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and take away a lot of money, give it back to the regulars and starve the reserves.

Senator Lang: You mentioned a military leave policy being tailored to business, employees and their needs.

Mr. Eaton: Not only business. There is education in there and there is also the public sector. It is not business alone.

Senator Lang: Right. I want to bring the question directly to the employer and the employee when the employee has asked to leave.

Mr. Eaton: When the employee says he or she would like to go?

Senator Lang: Yes. Evidence has been given from two points of view: There should be a policy in place in respect of compensation to the employer because they have lost the employee for a period of time, and then we have evidence on the other side that says it is working fairly well. The concern is that probably the first year you would have dollars available for that type of program and then perhaps the edict would come down from on high saying, "Find the money from within your budget."

I would like to hear if generally it is well received the way we do it knowing it is voluntary on behalf of the reservist if he or she goes.

Mr. Eaton: That position is being well received, yes.

Capt. Cotter: My personal experience is that it is well received. At the awards ceremony in 2007 there was a small firm recognized, and of their 12 employees, 2 were reservists who had been deployed in the period. For a small organization to give up 2 employees is a significant cost. For an organization of 50,000, giving up 12 employees likely will not be noticed.

Senator Segal: I know that Chairman John Eaton has been a volunteer in this cause for a very long time. We do not always note that kind of sacrifice some people make, and I want to put on the record how appreciative Canadians are of the time you have given freely over the years in support of this important exercise.

The other witness did serve at HMCS Cataraqui in Kingston, Canada's first capital, and that sets him apart from other naval officers, reserve or regular force, on an ongoing basis.

My question is about the elephant in the room. The elephant in the room is Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, Chief of Transformation, and the comments attributed to him by the The Globe and Mail in a speech he made last week. He left the impression that in support of the Canada First defence policy, procurement, regular force sharp end capacity, there may have to be some changes, and those changes may well involve overheads in which he includes the reserves.

All of us know, as a matter of fact, that the cost of standing up a combat service sailor, airman or soldier in the reserves is far less than the cost in the regular force. We also know that the reserves have done an outstanding job on the ground in Afghanistan and all the various other security operations that Captain Cotter referenced.

Your organization is about working with private sector, educational organizations, government bodies to encourage the support of our reserves. What happens to the credibility of your organization should any government of any affiliation accept advice that the reserves should be reduced in size and standing, whether by cutting back on training days, which they tried to do and were stopped in their tracks briefly for however long, or other means? It strikes me that people often will conclude that reserves quite wrongfully are more easily managed down than dealing with regular force and base issues. I want to understand what happens to your mission if any government accepts the advice that the reserves should be reduced in size.

Mr. Eaton: I do not think General Leslie was talking about making the reserves more expendable or cutting them back by huge numbers. I think he was probably alluding to the fact that, since we have been in Afghanistan, a large number of reservists, for one reason or another, have had to take on much more time and they have become what we call Class B or full time. I believe there are now 10,000 full-time reservists out of a population of 30,000. That is one third of it. When you withdraw from Afghanistan, we will not need that large number of full-time reservists. We will probably need a severe cutback of that number.

I would suggest that is probably more on his mind than decimating the numbers and decimating the budgets of the reserves. That is okay by us, as long as the cut is not so fine that we are caught a little bit short should something untoward in the world happen and we have to send a group of reservists over.

Capt. Cotter: The National Defence Act sets out what is regular force service and reserve service. Reserve service is other than continuing full-time service. That is not to say reservists cannot be on full-time service, but for the large part of our career, we will be part-time reservists with stints of full-time service.

The reserves have answered the call over the past six or seven years and provided that extra manpower into headquarters, schools, et cetera, to allow the missions in Afghanistan, Op HESTIA, Op PODIUM, the G8 and G20, amongst others, to be successful. It is foreseen post Afghanistan that the numbers of full-time reservists will be less. That means that we will return to part-time service. That does not change the total number of reservists. We still have 27,000 to 30,000 reservists who are available to answer the call for missions.

One would hope that through the transformation process, we will still receive the training and experience required to be at that capacity and capability for the next significant mission post 2012 and 2013.

Senator Segal: I have a brief supplementary question. When the numbers of Class B reserve officers are reduced, those having been the very reserve officers who served with the regular force in all these operations and have theatre experience that would make them superb trainers, that will mean, by definition, that the training day budgets will be reduced for the reserve units across the country and that the benefit of the investment that we have made and that these young men and women have made in the service of Canada will be lost in the training process to other reserve units. We all know that our reserve units have been stretched. In many cases, their complement has been reduced because they have had people on deployment and they have had challenges in that respect.

Do you not worry that it is a confluence of events here that ends up being a loss? I am not trying to be negative, but I want to make sure we are frank about the dangers so those of us who believe in the reserves can engage in a constructive fashion. Are you not worried about that? As I hear the chairman's comments, we are in good shape.

Mr. Eaton: You are right; there is an elephant in the room, and we have to deal with it. How exactly we will do so, I do not know. Right now, they are in the midst of the transformation process. I guess you could say that we are prepared to fight every inch of the way.

Capt. Cotter: At our council meeting last week, we discussed the other option of CFLC, that being the advocate to promote the reserve service and help the reservists who are losing their Class B opportunity and their livelihoods, for that matter, to reintegrate into the civilian world and into the job market.

With that said, all of these returning operational specialists — be they army, navy, health services or air reservists — will bolster our units. I do not foresee a reduction in training budgets and the sort of thing that would put in jeopardy that operational experience and the ability to share it with the other members of their unit. I would hope that would not happen.

Senator Segal: Winston Churchill called the reservists "twice the citizen," and it is important we do not turn our backs on them.

Mr. Eaton: I definitely agree.

Senator Day: I think it is important to declare one's interest at the front end of questioning. I have been involved with the Canadian Forces Liaison Council as a supporter and a participant for a number of years. In fact, Mr. Eaton was chair 21 years ago when I was involved with Bob Murray, our good friend who was your vice-chair at that time.

Mr. Eaton: Yes, and an excellent man.

Senator Day: I agree wholeheartedly.

Both of you know that I appreciate the work that you are doing.

What is your budget? Do you get funds from other than the Department of National Defence, from industry, for example?

Mr. Eaton: We do not get any budget dollars from anywhere else but the Department of National Defence. It is an interesting question that you put to the committee because we put it to ourselves on the weekend when we had our semi-annual meeting down in Fredericton, New Brunswick. We were thinking that perhaps if we could not get more money from the Department of National Defence, there might be other departments in the government that might be interested in giving us some well-deserved and well-needed funds.

Capt. Cotter: Our total budget is $2 million. That pays for the secretariat, for our hospitality funds and for my field services organization that supports the council across Canada.

Senator Day: Is that a separate line item in the Estimates for the year or would it be part of the reserve budget?

Capt. Cotter: It would be part of the Vice Chief of Defence Staff's budget. There is no specific reserve budget. Each of the army, navy, air force reserves and health services budgets flow through the environmental commanders. My budget comes from the Vice Chief of Defence Staff.

Senator Day: Captain Cotter, you said that in the past year there have been many reserve training events cancelled, and you gave examples of Operation Tempo, the G8 summit and a number of other things that were going on. Is it a reduced budget that has resulted in some of these events being cancelled?

Capt. Cotter: The short answer is yes. With the way the department was managing money last year to fund decisions that were taken, certainly in the Ontario region, the army had no choice but to cancel reserve training activities. For us, that is a theatre to which we take guests to see reserve training in progress. Our guests will not see the value of reservists taking training if it is not being conducted.

With that said, since the change in the fiscal year, any exercises or evolutions cancelled have not been the result of funding.

Senator Day: You talked about the passage of legislation to protect the job security of the reservists, but you continue to have an important role to play in developing and helping industry and educational institutions define a military leave policy.

Can you explain how the legislation needs to be supplemented to encompass the work you are doing?

Capt. Cotter: I would say that the difference is that each province has established its own legislation in the context of their labour market. At an individual corporation, company, or what have you, a military leave policy provides notice periods, continuation of benefits, or not, that relate to what that particular organization wishes to offer its reservists. The organizational military leave policy will likely go further and offer more to the individual reservist. The province's legislation framework identifies the minimum requirements for organizations within their province.

Senator Day: As a follow up, is there any discussion of a payment to the corporation to supplement the reservists?

Capt. Cotter: None at all.

Senator Marshall: How many part-time and full-time reservists are there compared to the regular forces?

Mr. Eaton: There are 30,000 reservists, 10,000 of whom are full time right now and 20,000 who are part time.

Senator Marshall: How many in the regular forces?

Capt. Cotter: Sixty-eight thousand.

Senator Marshall: Is the percentage of reservists increasing? Are we moving to an era where we will have mostly reservists as opposed to regular members?

Capt. Cotter: No. Our numbers are defined in terms of the Canada First Defence Strategy, with the regular forces to grow to 70,000 and the reserve forces to grow to 30,000.

Senator Marshall: When you spoke about the resources, will the $2 million also cover training? Who pays for the training?

Capt. Cotter: That is my $2 million for my mandate in support of Canadian Forces Liaison Council. The money in my budget covers the salary of my full-time staff, my part-time staff, travel funds to take executives from, say, Hamilton, Ontario to Iqaluit to observe an ExecuTRACK, or from Moncton to Gagetown, New Brunswick to witness an army event. That is what is covered in my budget. Reserve training is not identified in my budget. That reserve training budget is funded by the environmental commanders themselves.

Senator Marshall: What about resources for when reservists go on assignment? Who pays for their equipment? Do they just fall into whatever the regular forces get? Is that how it works?

Mr. Eaton: The DND, sure.

Capt. Cotter: As a naval reservist, I have this uniform and a number of other uniforms, which are paid for by the system. Any military training I did as a naval reservist, the Maritime Command funded in some respect.

Senator Marshall: You spoke about the provincial legislation. My recollection is that a couple of years ago the Province of Newfoundland enacted legislation for job protection. At what stage is that with the other provinces?

Mr. Eaton: All provinces and territories have their own legislation for job protection for the reserve.

Senator Marshall: What is inconsistent in the legislation?

Mr. Eaton: They are all different.

Senator Marshall: What would be the ideal requirements? What are you looking for?

Mr. Eaton: We are trying to bring all the provinces together so they are all the same. Then you have to work with the departments of labour of each province to try to get similarity, so that a reservist, no matter where he or she is in Canada, gets the same deal.

For instance, in a brigade in the Maritimes, you will have soldiers who come from P.E.I., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and probably Newfoundland. Now, that means four different people could have four different job protection laws, and that means four different labour laws. This makes it a little difficult for the one commander to say, "Let's do this." We want to homogenize.

I have a simple solution.

The Chair: Let us hear it.

Mr. Eaton: You cancel all the legislation and start from square one with one law right across the country. However, I do not think that will work. It has never worked since 1867, so I do not see it happening in 2010 or 2011.

Senator Marshall: Does any province have what you would consider model legislation? Do you have your own template?

Mr. Eaton: It would not be bad if we gave out our model, but I do not know where it is right now.

Capt. Cotter: We are prepared to work with the provincial governments to talk about the nuances within their legislation. Many of them cherrypick from the legislation; they grab terms without understanding the words and what that would mean to us.

One province talks about reservists on Class C service. That is typically a service one goes under when one is in an operation. However, in order to take a junior leadership course of six weeks, that would be Class B service, which would mean the legislation would not apply to that reservist.

We need to work with the provinces to help them characterize their legislation in terminology that is understandable within the province to their businesses and to us, the reservists. The commanding officer who has reservists who live and work in separate provinces, as in the case here in the Ottawa area, has a devil of a time sorting out who is who in the zoo and what is what in the legislation. We can make it simpler.

Senator Marshall: Do you have a template? Do you have a piece of model legislation?

Capt. Cotter: No, we do not. We have the ability to talk with the province and talk about the terminology that will help our reservists. We recognize that each province has a different labour context and there are elements that we might advocate for that their business community might not like. We know there is a middle ground, and we need to find that road together and work it out with the province.

In the documentation and flyers that you have are guides we have published under CFLC. They are guides for the reservist and the employer. We track the legislations out there. We know there are nuances and differences. We use that to help the commanders understand. It is a difficult environment to navigate and it is all new. Do not get me wrong; this was done with great intention. It was for us, the reservists. We appreciate it and we want to help get it to the next phase.

The Chair: That is a diplomatic answer. Thank you.

Senator Munson: Are you satisfied with the existing pay scale for reservists?

Mr. Eaton: That is your question, Captain Cotter.

Senator Munson: Yes or no?

Mr. Eaton: I cannot let a naval captain say yes or no to that question. No, we think they are worth a heck of a lot more than they are getting. How is that?

Senator Munson: That is what I wanted to hear.

The title is Maritime Command. I think there is a debate going on, also in the Senate, about changing that. Do you feel the terminology used should be "Royal Canadian Navy" or "Canadian Navy"?

Capt. Cotter: In the particular job I am now in, as the executive director of the secretariat supporting the CFLC, I am in what we call a purple role. I am part of the CF community at large. I am not tracking the discussion as to whether we should change the name of the navy to RCN or some other moniker. At the end of the day, it is "naval service." It has been a good career and it has been very enjoyable. For most of us in the navy, it is about taking ships to sea. That is what is fun.

Senator Munson: You sailed around that one nicely.

We have been handed this brochure. You cannot show things like this in the Senate chamber, but I can show it now because we are on television. This is a beautiful brochure about the reservists. It has all kinds of interesting things in it that Canadians should read about.

I am not trying to put words in your mouth about the military, but do you think that the regular force has done enough in promoting reservists? We talk about 20 per cent, about 30,000 men and women, and we see the ads and we get it. We support everyone in the military.

It seems sometimes that the reservists are not an afterthought, but not long ago a reservist was a person who went out on weekends and ran through the woods, did all these things, and came back and went to work on Monday. Now we understand they are heroes, and here is what they do. It is my feeling that there is not enough said by the media and by the military to promote individuals who have come back from Afghanistan, their stories, and the stories of their families.

Mr. Eaton: There are two parts to that question, as I see it. To make it simple, in Afghanistan, no matter what colour uniform they have, the light blue, the navy, or the army, you cannot tell what they are because they are all wearing camouflage.

The other thing is you cannot tell a reservist from a regular. That is impossible. Unless they wear the badge of their regiment or their squadron, you cannot tell them apart. I think that is what makes the whole thing work. After all, the reserves and the regulars are one force in Canada, and that is how the CDS and everyone looks at it. We happen to be protecting the rights of the reservists with the employer, and it is a thing we do within our borders. Once our people go outside the borders, we are one.

Senator Munson: If they are one, they should be paid the same.

Mr. Eaton: They are. They are paid the same, and if they are injured they get the same treatment. There is no difference, period.

Senator Munson: They receive the same treatment when they come home, if there is stress, et cetera, for them and their families?

Mr. Eaton: Exactly.

Capt. Cotter: The challenge the reservist has is in returning to their communities. This is a role for Honorary Colonels, Honorary Captains and us in CFLC to play, and that is to help the local units know when they have a reservist who needs help. The system will bend over backwards to help them, but sometimes the system needs assistance in determining when a person needs help.

Mr. Eaton: The other thing is these people somehow disappear. If they have not been physically hurt but come home with some problem it may not be evident when they first arrive. It can manifest itself after a long period of time, and by that time that person may have drifted off to some other place, and some are hard to track. Some of them slip through the cracks, but for the most part we are very protective of our wounded.

The Chair: Senator Munson raised the issue of pay. We heard from the head of the reservists last week, Major- General Tabbernor, who said pay is not the issue, but the key thing they highlighted was administration. If you could put both reserves and regular under one administration, it would solve that problem. Do you both agree on that?

Mr. Eaton: I do not understand where the general was coming from.

Capt. Cotter: That speaks to the human resources management information system.

The Chair: Exactly. When they come back to get treatment or to deal with the issue of pay they go through a different system?

Capt. Cotter: The challenge comes when one is a reservist for a significant period of time. The classes and terms of service are things we inherently understand in who we are and what we do. The regular force has a far simpler world: Everyone is full time. There is not a pay rate for an evening and another one for the day. Their world is simple and ours is more complex. When one is in class B service, one has a different scale of benefits. If one is class C service and doing operations, then one has a different set of benefits.

It is the transfer of that information, the awareness. If you live it and work with it on a daily basis, it is relatively straightforward. It is the people who are moving back and forth across those different terms of service for whom that creates complexities, and that is when things go wrong. If we had a simple set of benefits, or one set of benefits, it would be that much simpler. If it was in one human resource system it would be easier to transfer.

Today we have two pay roll systems. When we get to one system — there is a project under way to do that — life will be a little simpler again.

Senator Mitchell: Going back to the issue of harmonization of legislation amongst provinces and territories, would one of the issues be the length of time, the period for which an employer would be required to guarantee a job?

Mr. Eaton: I do not think that enters into it. If a guy goes away for six months or a year, we hope he can go back to his old job.

Senator Mitchell: That is not a particular guarantee in legislation?

Capt. Cotter: The length of one's leave of absence differs across the legislation.

Senator Mitchell: That would be a feature of harmonization. I am looking for examples of where things might need to be harmonized, and that would be significant.

Mr. Eaton: All over the map.

Capt. Cotter: Regions differ as to the minimum employment period before leave of absence, so how long have you been an employee of this organization before you put your hand up to leave; how long is your notice period to say I would like a leave of absence; and what is the length of the leave absence. Those features are different across the legislation.

They could flow from the existing leave options that have been legislated within a province.

Senator Mitchell: Did you say that compensation for employers is not necessary, that it is all right, that employers are happy with it now and it is working, or that we should do work there and look at how to compensate employers?

Mr. Eaton: It is a complex area. What Captain Cotter was saying is that in a small firm of 12 people and 2 are reservists and they say they want to go, that firm will feel it, particularly if one of the guys is the IT guy and the other guy is the foreman. He will miss them a lot.

If it is a firm of 50,000 employees and 5 or 10 hold up their hands and say that they want to go, the firm will probably give its blessing and wish them good luck. It is felt, but not as heavily.

Senator Mitchell: You do not have a position on it, particularly?

Mr. Eaton: We have no position on it yet. It is a complex thing.

Students comprise 40 per cent of the reservists. Another percentage is class B. You are talking about probably 12,000 people. We do not know how many of those are in government and in the private sector. We do not know how many of them are self-employed.

Senator Mitchell: Some do not even have employers.

Mr. Eaton: We are talking about 12,000 people.

Senator Mitchell: You mentioned that you have a budget of $2 million, and you implied or stated explicitly that that may not be as much as you need.

Mr. Eaton: It depends. Sometimes, like last year and this year, when things were cancelled, we understood. It is difficult. It hurts us. It holds back what we really want to get at, and that is ensuring the businesses, educational institutions and governments know what the reservist is doing.

Senator Mitchell: Have you asked for additional funds, and what would that amount be?

Mr. Eaton: We do not need them now but we are asking that we at least get back what we had. I think that is being given. We are okay this time.

If the mandate of the CFLC increases for different areas, we will have to ensure we have budgetary allocations. If they give us the money, we can do the job.

Mr. Cotter: We use the departmental business planning process to identify the needs for funds and circulate that through the Chief of Reserves and Cadets up to the Vice Chief of Defence Staff.

Senator Lang: My question has to do with the 10,000 full-time reservists in view of post-Afghanistan and the changes that will have to take place. How many actual full-time reservists would have to be in place to be able to successfully run the reserve system, if they are not deployed elsewhere outside the country?

Mr. Cotter: We do not know that at present. There is a project underway under the Chief of Transformation and the Chief of Force Development to determine the optimal number for today's full-time reservists given the context.

Pre-Afghanistan, there was a number of reservists on full-time service supporting the reserve institutions as well as the CF institution. There is still that need for some number of people going forward. Although recruiting has gone well, it takes 8 to 10 years to create a sergeant, warrant officer, captain or major who can fill in the staff jobs that many reservists are doing today.

That transition will be factored in, as well. As to the right number, it is being studied.

Mr. Eaton: Wait for General Leslie's report.

Senator Day: You said if we get involved in other things, you may need more funds. Can you tell us what other initiatives you might get into?

Mr. Eaton: That is something we were discussing on the weekend. We do not know if it is a wise thing to do yet. We have a committee looking at it.

Senator Day: So it is not something you can share with us publicly?

Mr. Eaton: I wish I could.

The Chair: Thank you, very much. We appreciate the comments from John C. Eaton, Chair, Canadian Forces Liaison Council, a volunteer since 1989. Thank you, Captain Jamie Cotter, Executive Director of the Canadian Forces Liaison Council.

We have three new witnesses. Representing the organization Réserves 2000 Québec, we have Major-General (Ret'd) Frédéric Mariage, CMM, CD; and Colonel (Ret'd) Marcel Belleau. Maj.-Gen. Mariage joined the reserve in 1967 after coming to Canada from Algeria. He rose through the ranks in Quebec, eventually becoming Chief of Reserves and Cadets for Canada.

Col. Belleau served a long time in the reserves, rising through the ranks until he commanded Militia District No. 3 in Quebec before moving to the Sector East headquarters. As a civilian, Col. Belleau had many administrative positions at the University of Quebec.

Our third witness is Brigadier-General (Ret'd) Richard Frenette, who joined the reserves in 1971. He went on to command a regiment, the 35th Brigade Group. In civilan life, Brig.-Gen. Frenette was a teacher and principal.

I understand that Maj.-Gen. Mariage has an opening statement.

[Translation]

Major-General (Ret'd) Frédéric Mariage, CMM, CD, Réserves 2000 Québec: Thank you, Madam Chair, for allowing us to appear before your committee.

[English]

Brigadier-General Frenette is the Vice-President of our association, and Colonel Belleau is a member of our association. Those are minor corrections.

I will discuss who we are and what we stand for. When alerted and concerned by the state of health for the units in 2007, a group of former senior officers in Quebec were grouped under the name of Québec Réserves 2000 with a mission to defend and promote the interests of the Canadian Armed Forces in general, and particularly the interests and values of citizen soldiers and units from the reserves, the so-called militia.

As these concerns were shared by our English colleagues, Réserves 2000, founded in 1994, we chose the same name to defend the same interests.

What justifies our request to appear? We believe in the necessity to have and to protect this institution, the reserves, which has served our country so well in the past, for historical reasons, for national policy reasons and social reasons.

We believe this institution is at risk for the following reasons: fiscal instability, recruitment is in tatters, shortage of leaders and flawed policies regarding training requirements, lack of knowledge within the chain of command about the reserve, and a poor vision on the current use of reservists.

As former members of the militia, this situation is worrying to us. The reservist by nature is a citizen soldier tied closely to the community. There is now a trend to transform the institution of citizen soldiers radically and reduce it to become a single pool of individuals whose centralized management in a single or multiple location is tasked to plug holes vacant in the ranks of the regular force.

The disappearance of the current system will not fulfil the other roles assigned to the reserve because under the total force concept, part of Canada First, the land reserve was given the following roles: to constitute the framework for fourth generation at the national level, to reinforce and support the regular force, to serve as a link between the military and civilian communities and to conduct domestic operations and give aid to the civil power.

The only role taken seriously is to reinforce and support the regular force. The problem faced by members of the militia today are numerous and complex. The structure is reoriented towards a model of the regular force while the roles of the militia are unclear. There is an ineffective recruitment system, a lack of members at the unit level, unrealistic levels of training requirements beyond certain ranks. Units are the main target of eventual budget cuts, and there is inadequate protection, and we refer here to the recommendation of the ombudsman.

Because restructuring of the army is now under study, it is a good time to conclude that all elements of the total force, regular and reserve, should have the means to fulfil their respective roles without being used simply as plugs to fill holes one for each other.

We will be glad to answer your questions.

The Chair: You made references to lack of awareness, appreciation and other issues. Are there particular issues for the reserve that are different in Quebec from other provinces?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Not necessarily. We face the same problems basically. I know our colleagues from 2000 appeared before your committee. They should have mentioned some of the concerns we have expressed.

The Chair: We get it from across the country. I just wondered if there was something unique.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: No, nothing unique.

[Translation]

Senator Segal: I want to start by thanking you for what you have done to serve Canada and our armed forces, and for your current involvement as a volunteer at the service of such an important and crucial cause.

This idea of having a centralized reserve appears to me to indicate a desire on the part of some to reduce the role of local regiments. If I understand the history of our armed forces correctly, the history of Canada, the local regiments have always formed the basis of our forces, in terms of loyalty and the capacity to provide community support during important historical events, and for their esprit de corps, which is essential.

According to you, what danger does reducing the institution which local regiments constitute, present? If we examine territorial armies, for instance in Great Britain, all of the great regiments of Scotland were reduced; the only remaining Black Watch regiment is the one in Montreal.

In light of your expertise and experience, I would like you to help me understand what danger it would represent for Canada if local regiments were to be reduced or diminished in their status, and what this would mean for our military affairs.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Thank you for your question, as this is what justifies our presence here today. Our fear is that we will see this institution as it is currently, disappear. The institution of the reserve is ailing. Our diagnosis is that it has been stricken with a serious illness; as long as measures are not taken to treat this illness, it will continue to disappear — but perhaps not entirely. If we ask the reserve to only provide reinforcements for the regular army, all you need is a hangar, instructors, people in this structure, and then to train them; you no longer need regiments, nor the relationship with the community, you no longer need them to represent Canada all over with the Canadian flag in the various communities. That is the danger that is currently stalking that institution.

What we are saying here is that in order to solve this problem, the first thing the government must decide is to know whether it wants a reserve, yes or no. It is not up to National Defence nor to the army to answer that question, it a political decision that needs to be made. If the answer is no, then we can pull up stakes and fold up our tents, we have nothing more to do here. If the answer is yes, what reserve does the government want and what mission does it want to entrust to it? If you say that the reserve must provide reinforcements as the need arises to the regular armed forces, you do not need the current system.

However if you say, as is stipulated in Canada's current defence policy — which needs to be confirmed or revised — that we need a reserve and that its role is to augment and sustain the regular forces, to provide eventual support to the regular army, to serve as a link to the civil community, to train young Canadians so as to improve their future in their civil life, and also to deploy if need be to provide assistance to civil authorities, then you need this system as it exists today.

What we say, and I will reiterate what I said, is that there is a danger. This system as it is currently managed is sick and is going to disappear. The solution to that, I repeat, is to ask the government to make a decision. Do you want a reserve? Yes. If you do, what is its mission to be? Give the reserve a mission, and then we can sit down with National Defence and say, in light of the mission the government will have entrusted to us, here are the recommendations we can submit to you, and so on and so forth. Our association, just like the anglophone wing, Réserves 2000, is ready and willing to work with military decision-makers in order to see how we can proceed, in light of deficits, necessary rationalizations, et cetera; and we are offering our assistance.

You have just set out the reason that justifies our presence here.

Senator Segal: Are veterans like yourself who are in leadership positions consulted by the government?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Never.

Senator Segal: Has the general who is now in charge of transformation asked for your advice in this matter?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Never.

Senator Segal: Incredible.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: No one talks to us. The advisers of these authorities are Class B reservists. Most are former regular members who spent of all of their career in the regular armed forces, left the regular force and became Class B reservists; they are the advisers.

Colonel (Ret'd) Marcel Belleau, Réserves 2000 Québec: If I may add something to that, in our submission we do say that there is indeed a lack of knowledge of the reserve, of this particularly Canadian institution, the reserve. It comes back to what the general was saying, which was that even despite their goodwill, often the upper-level decision-makers' advisers do not really know this system. It seems to me that they know it even less well than you do, Senator Segal, because I think that in your question you delineated the very nature of the reserve.

Senator Segal: I would like a clarification on the matter of assistance to civil authorities — if you do not mind, I will ask it in English.

[English]

I remember the ice storm in Eastern Ontario, and I will speak of one little town in Leeds: Mallorytown. Everyone was gathered in the local school auditorium. There was no electricity, no pumping water. The dairy herds were in difficulty. Even that little facility was beginning to run out of basic supplies. Down old Highway 2 came a series of reserve units out of the Trenton, Kingston and Belleville area with blankets, generators, food, supply, all the things necessary to help them get through. Those regiments involved had local knowledge because they had close ties to the communities.

When you say the aid to the civil power is no longer as realistic as it used to be and is no longer part of the mission, we are talking about what has been — I think of the Newfoundland situation recently, the ice storm, forest fires, all those situations. If it was not for the aid of the local reserve unit aiding the police, firemen and all the other first responders, we would have been in some difficulty.

I hear you saying that capacity will be and is in the process of being degraded. That is a very serious thing to say but, more importantly, the implications for Canadians are very serious.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: There is still some capacity, but it is diminishing, and they will have great difficulty to answer to the same level they did during the ice storm. Quebec was hard hit by the ice storm, and the first unit to be deployed were the reserves. When the commanding officers saw what was coming, they called their troops and there was a tremendous response from the reserves to help. After that, the regular forces came in from Valcartier and so forth.

[Translation]

Brigadier-General (Ret'd) Richard Frenette, as an individual: I would like to add something to what you mentioned. During the ice storm in 1998, I was commander of the 35th Brigade in Quebec. Within 24 hours, we deployed 800 military people in Sherbrooke, and the advance guard was made up of the on-site unit, the Fusiliers de Sherbrooke, who went on ahead and started providing assistance before they even received materiel and equipment.

If the current situation persists, the reserve will no longer be able to do what it has been doing, because firstly it will not have a sufficient number of people available, and secondly it will not have the senior personnel needed to train and deploy the militia. This is the danger the reserve units are in.

[English]

The Chair: I would like a little clarification here. I understand your concern about the emphasis on the reserves whether it is the lack of funding, the lack of appreciation or the lack of understanding. What do you mean when you say you do not know what the mission is?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: There is only one mission, to reinforce the regular forces. National Defence uses the reserves, only because of Afghanistan and so forth, to provide reinforcement for the regular forces. The whole system and all the training is based on that requirement.

The Chair: As opposed to these other events that you have just been discussing.

Senator Lang: For the record, I think I can say I speak for everyone here in we fully support the reservists. Our mandate is to see what we can do to assist in the real question that is facing Canada today with post-Afghanistan imminent. Obviously, there will be changes to the forces and hopefully we will go in a direction that we all want to go.

You talked about the danger facing the reserves, the possibility of centralization because of perhaps economics or philosophy or both. Just so it is clarified for the record, that is only a possibility; it is not happening right now. Is that correct?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: It has been considered. It has been in the plan of the army to look at. I am not saying they will do so, but studies have been completed.

Senator Lang: It is not happening as of yet, though?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: No, it is not happening right now.

Senator Lang: The other area I want to touch on is recruitment. Correct me if I am wrong, Madam Chair, but I believe we have had testimony over the last number of weeks to the effect that recruitment has been satisfactory. There was a call out for volunteers and the requirement was met. However, perhaps that was for other parts of the country. Could you give us an idea about Quebec?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: When you mention recruitment, are you talking about the numbers or the process?

Senator Lang: I am talking about when there is a call for someone to volunteer.

Col. Belleau: From reservists who are already in the reserves?

Senator Lang: I am talking about civilians joining the reserves.

Col. Belleau: The appeal?

Senator Lang: Yes, the applications.

Col. Belleau: It is well-functioning, but we are talking about the system itself. Once you have a potential recruit, it may take a year from the time of his first visit to the time he reports to a unit to receive training.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: The unit has a responsibility to go to schools and recruit. At the end, the unit also has the responsibility to provide some basic training to that recruit. In between, there is no control because it is centralized. Recruiting centres do the recruiting, from processing the paperwork and making sure everything is okay to the medical exam and so on.

Let us say you go to a reserve unit and they have a pile of applications, and all of a sudden the pressure is on to recruit for the navy because the navy needs sailors. Then priority is given to the regular force, and it varies from location. It could take eight weeks, six months or eight months, depending on who you talk to.

Let us say I am a young student and I go to your unit because I was convinced by the recruiting people who came to my school that it would be good for me to join. You may not get to me for three, four, six, sometimes one month. We are told in some areas that the average is about six months.

Senator Lang: That has to be of concern, obviously.

I want to follow up on Senator Segal's comments regarding the organization and looking at the transition that will take place. I think it is General Leslie who is in charge of that transformation, and he has been on the job for about six weeks. He is just brand new. Have you asked to meet with him to give your point of view?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: No.

Senator Lang: Will you be asking him?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Yes.

Senator Marshall: I was listening to your comments about the reserves being used to plug the holes in the regular forces, and you were talking about training. Did I understand that there is an issue with regard to training?

My understanding is that when you have someone from the regular forces and someone from the reserves on a mission, they are wearing identical uniforms and you cannot tell who is from where. Do they both receive the same kind of training? Are they all properly resourced in that regard?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Yes, they do. Today, the system, from the point of view of a recruit who joins the reserves, he receives basically the same training as someone who joined the regular forces. It is very demanding training for reservists. The basic clientele for the reserve units are students so that they can afford the time to get the training. Obviously, after that, when you are promoted and you are higher in the ranks, if you have a family and you are in the workforce, it becomes more difficult to get the time off for training.

When they go on mission, there is pre-deployment, so they receive training with the regular forces to ensure they are well prepared. While they are on operation, on mission, they perform as well as the regular forces.

Are they used in combat? Let us take Afghanistan as an example. The reservists that we send to Kandahar, do they go on the ground or off the base with platoons? Some do, depending on the trade, but the bulk of reservists I would guess would be used as GDs on the base in Kandahar. Some do go off base, but that is a very few number.

Senator Marshall: The training is the same. What about the resources? Would it be identical resources also, or is there a distinction?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: This is where you have problems. When you talk about qualification, once you have applied to go on a mission and you have what is called Class C, then you have a contract to be deployed for 18 months. You have pre-deployment, deployment, post-deployment, and all the resources. We are talking about the reservist who has to go on courses to get training and qualification. The system is not friendly for the reservists. Most of the time, the courses do not take into account when the reservist is available. Very often the course is cancelled, so you have a reservist who negotiated with his wife and his employer to take four weeks' leave to go on a course. His wife says he can go and his employer says he will give him the four weeks, but all of a sudden the course is cancelled, for all kinds of reasons: There are not enough people or not enough openings in the course. It is a similar course to the regular force course. For example, this year, for the sergeant course in Gagetown, I was told there are two positions.

If the reservist cannot qualify when he is in the reserves, then you postpone his qualification and he loses many years. That is one of the problems.

Senator Marshall: That is the problem with the training that you alluded to earlier.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Yes.

The Chair: Once they have been sent on a mission, then everyone uses the same equipment. You are saying they cannot get there, so they are at the back of the line in a sense.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Yes.

Senator Mitchell: The first concern you mentioned was instability. Did you say fiscal instability?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Yes, fiscal instability, budget.

Senator Mitchell: We were told earlier that there is no actual reserve budget. There is a budget that comes from central command. Could you explain that?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: No one can touch the pay budget for the regular force. You have to pay your people. A paycheque has to come in every week or every two weeks, whatever the system is. The budget for the reservist is discretionary.

Senator Mitchell: Even their pay? You mean they may not get paid?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: They are paid, but the budget could be cut.

Col. Belleau: You can reduce the number of days.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: I will give an example. An instruction has been given today that the new recruit, who usually has 37 days, is down to 17 days.

Senator Mitchell: Training hours is an issue. Someone said earlier today that it was not an issue, but it really is.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Yes, especially with what they face. The country has a huge deficit, so everyone will have to contribute, and maybe National Defence will have to contribute more than others. It is normal; you have to protect your regular force first, and after that you think about the reservists.

The Chair: You say that training is cut back from 36 days to 17 days. I have recently talked to several soldiers who were on the list to go to Afghanistan, but they are being told they are not going anymore. Are they not engaging in the training because they know they are not training people for that, or are you saying they have cut the days as a straight- up budgetary measure?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: The 17 days refers to new recruits. In principle, the commanding officer is allowed 37 days to pay the individual to get his basic training. I have not seen the paper, but I am told this has been cut to 17 days because of budget restrictions.

The Chair: Are you saying that is restraint, and not because they do not need to train people because no more units are going?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Yes.

Senator Mitchell: I want to get clarification on the chain of command issue. Many of your commanders are regular force, and the structure does not necessarily understand the real role of the reserve. You are saying the role of the reserve is really to back up the regular force in any event. When you say the chain of command does not understand the real role of the reserve, what exactly do you mean?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: We operate under what is called the Total Force concept. Before the reserve, there were sectors in Canada. You have the eastern region, the central region and the Atlantic region. These sectors were commanded by reservists. Today, under the Total Force concept, the area is commanded by a regular force member, with his staff and his two brigades. His two brigades are commanded by reservists. There is a deputy commander at the area level who is a reservist, but he has no power whatsoever. Usually, the commanding officer of the area is there for two years; they change every two years. Most of the time, the people appointed there have no knowledge about the reserves, and the advice they get from their staff is not necessarily sound.

When I say they do not understand the reserve, I mean they do not understand the nature of the reserve. The reservist, in principle, is a citizen soldier. He is not a soldier citizen; he is a citizen soldier. They are transforming that to reinforce the regular force. We have nothing against that. It is part of our role. However, if it is the only role you are looking for, then you do not need the reserve the way it is.

The Chair: Just go and increase recruitment for the regular force?

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Yes.

[Translation]

Brig.-Gen Frenette: It is this lack of understanding of the reserve culture. In order to be a good stable citizen, the reservist must achieve a dynamic balance between three components: his personal life, his professional or student life, and his military life. He has to manage these three components continually. This is not something a commander in the regular forces has had to do. Indeed, many commanders who are former members of the regular forces who come to command these units say to us: "I do not know how you manage to balance these three aspects of your lives." You have to have experienced that in order to be able to make enlightened decisions. That is one of our issues.

Another impact of this phenomenon is that young officers who want to become commanders say: "members of the regular forces come before us."

Sometimes in certain units where there is no replacement, it is okay to have a former member of the regular forces. I do not want us to eliminate them. But I have seen situations where a choice needed to be made between a former member of the regular forces and a reserve officer, and the regular forces member was chosen. This has happened at the unit commander level. I could tell you that it has happened at other levels as well. That is one of the criticisms we have of the system, and we want to caution people about that. The fact that this happens is acceptable, but you have to look at the number of times it happens. The reserve is not what it used to be. And this can also over the long term affect the upcoming younger members.

[English]

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: The reserve is incapable of regenerating itself right now. That is a big problem, because then you have secession problems, cadre problems and strength problems. If we continue that way, where will we go?

Five units in the 35 brigades are commanded by ex-regulars. The brigade commander is an ex-regular. Traditionally, the reservist was someone who chose to join the reserve as a citizen soldier, and the experience and training he would get from the army would complement his civilian training, being out of university or whatever. I can give you names of well-known people who have been through that system. They are proud. They say: If I had not gone through that system, I would not be what I am in my civilian life; I have helped the system, but the system helped me.

The Chair: Let me go back to my opening question, because I am sensing something different here. When you say the only role of the reservist is to back-stop the regular force when they need it, most people assume that is what it is about.

You are saying there is another role in Quebec that has more to do with supporting the civilian authority. You seem to be thinking there is more there, and maybe that is based on your own experience.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: When I said historical reasons, it is what the militia has been in the past from the founding of this country. In the First World War, the Second World War and the Korean War, there was a role that the reservists played.

I am sure our colleagues from Ontario and the rest of Canada would share that view. If the only role were to become to reinforce the regular force, they would have the same concerns. In my discussion with them, they have the same concerns as we do. It is not particular to Quebec. It is about being close to the community, being able to act as a general force if needed, and assisting domestic operations. I do not want you to think it is only a Quebec issue.

The Chair: We have not heard it expressed that way. Whether you support the Olympics or respond in the ice storm or go to Afghanistan, that would be, on some level, considered back-stopping the regular force.

I do not know what distinction you are making there.

Colonel Belleau: There is a distinction to make between being an individual back-up to the regular force and a unit or subunit. This is what we are saying. If you want only the individual part, let us say Office Overload or something like that, you have a pool of people, you call and take someone from the pool.

I still think that Canada needs more than that. It needs a reserve that can act as a buddy.

The Chair: I appreciate that. That is what I was trying to get at.

Col. Belleau: There are other roles.

Senator Segal: I have a very brief question.

[Translation]

What policy could the government put in place to solve your problems? What is the most important instrument? Would it be to have a joint administration of the reserves and the regular forces? Or would it be better to have more separation between the administration of the reserves and that of the regular forces?

[English]

I am trying to get a sense of what is the best possible instrument we could recommend in support of the reserves, based on the advice you are giving us.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: That must be studied. I was chief of the reserves at the time when we were discussing the Total Force concept. The Total Force concept is based on two elements, regular and reserve forces. While maintaining respect for each other, we build toward the Total Force concept. Each component brings their expertise and plays its role.

Right now, with that amalgamation, we are becoming what we call cheap labour for the regular forces.

Senator Segal: "Office Overload" was the expression.

Maj.-Gen. Mariage: Office Overload, yes. Some of you are too young to know about Office Overload.

The Chair: Don't we wish.

[Translation]

BGen Frenette: I find your question very interesting and very relevant. Before 1992, we all knew what was called the eastern sector, where we had a separate chain of command for the reserve and the regular forces. In my opinion, this total force concept was not needed by the reserve. As reservists, we always considered ourselves to be a part of the armed forces, part of the forces as a whole. And so the term "total force" only referred to the constitution of a chain of command. Who did this chain of command benefit? I do not know if any studies have been done to compare the situation before 1992 with the current situation, i.e. what sustained the reserve force then, and how much did it cost? This would give us some basis to determine what is best.

However, I can tell you that in the current chain of command, which is a single, unified entity, the reserve has no say in command. Brigadiers-general have been appointed as deputy sector commanders, brigadiers-general who are members of the reserve force, but they are not in the chain of command and they have no power. You have only to look at the files of deputy sector commanders to see that. It is the only organization in the Canadian Armed Forces where the commander and the deputy commander are brigadiers-general. There are no easy answers. As Major- General Mariage was saying, we need to study this a little in order to see what the best structure would be.

[English]

The Chair: Those are some of the issues that we are trying to wrestle with in our study, and we hope to come up with recommendations on them.

We appreciate all three of you being here today. You have given us some important insight into those issues.

(The committee adjourned.)


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