Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 1 - Evidence - Meeting of December 2, 2013
OTTAWA, Monday, December 2, 2013
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this
day at 4:10 p.m. to examine and report on Canada's national security and
defence policies, practices, circumstances and capabilities (topic: follow-up
to the committee's reports on the reserves and on sovereignty and security
in the Arctic).
Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, I would like to welcome viewers to
the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence for Monday,
December 2, 2013. Before we welcome our witnesses, I would like to begin by
introducing the senators around the table, and our staff as well. My name is
Dan Lang, a senator from Yukon. To my immediate left is the clerk of the
committee, Josée Thérien. On my right are the Library of Parliament analysts
assigned to the committee, Holly Porteous and Wolfgang Koerner.
I would like to go around the table and have the senators introduce
themselves and state the region they represent, starting with the deputy
Senator Dallaire: Roméo Dallaire, and I represent the Gulf of St.
Senator Mitchell: Grant Mitchell, Alberta.
Senator Day: Senator Joseph Day, New Brunswick.
Senator Segal: Hugh Segal, Kingston-Frontenac-Leeds, Ontario.
Senator Dagenais: Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais from Quebec.
Senator White: Senator White, Ontario.
Senator Wells: David Wells, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Chair: Thank you.
Before I introduce the witnesses, we have one order of business that we
should proceed with, and it goes as follows. Just so I'm sure you are all
aware, the order of reference on veterans affairs was adopted in the Senate
on Tuesday, November 19, and I will need a motion to delegate this order of
reference to the Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. Would somebody propose
the motion? Senator Day, seconded by Senator Wells. All in favour? Any
opposed? Carried. Thank you; motion adopted.
Senators, I would like to say welcome once again to our first hearings in
the Second Session of the Forty-first Parliament. As we all know, the
committee has decided to invest some time in reviewing the status of our
previous reports. Over the next few committee days, we will return to the
previous reports of the committee and seek an update from the government and
experts in the field on our recommendations.
As we return to our December 2011 report entitled Answering the Call:
The Future Role of Canada's Primary Reserve, we as a committee
acknowledge the commitment by the government in the Speech from the Throne.
I think it's important to highlight this:
Put front-line capability before back-office bureaucracy;
Respond to emerging threats to our sovereignty and economy posed by
terrorism and cyber- attacks, while ensuring Canadians' fundamental privacy
rights are protected;
Incorporate a strong role for our military reserves, who are an essential
link between the Armed Forces and Canadian communities; and
Assist employers of reservists who are required to deploy on missions
vital to the security of all Canadians.
In reviewing our report on the Primary Reserve, we are pleased to welcome
two distinguished members of the Canadian Armed Forces: Rear-Admiral
Jennifer Bennett, Chief Reserves and Cadets; and Brigadier-General K.L.
Woiden, Director General Land Reserve.
Colleagues, we will have one and half hours with these witnesses and then
we will hear from Reserves 2000. We will continue our review of the status
of the reserves perhaps at a future date, depending on the outcome of these
Rear-Admiral Bennett and Brigadier-General Woiden, welcome. We look
forward to your comments on where we are in terms of the recommendations
from our report, and I understand you have an opening statement. The floor
Rear-Admiral Jennifer Bennett, Chief Reserves and Cadets, National
Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: Mr. Chair and committee members,
I am very pleased to have been invited to speak to you regarding the Primary
Reserve. I am joined by Brigadier-General Kelly Woiden, Chief of Staff Army
I'd like to begin by thanking the committee for your interest in and
support of Canada's reserve force, and in particular the Primary Reserve,
which was the subject of your report Answering the Call: The Future Role
of Canada's Primary Reserve, published in 2011. In the report, you
highlighted the valuable contributions that the Primary Reserve has made and
continues to make to the Canadian Armed Forces.
When I appeared before this committee the last time, we had just
initiated a number of departmental and Canadian Armed Forces reviews that
included the Primary Reserve. One of the key recommendations of the
post-Afghanistan Primary Reserve Employment Capacity Study was to return to
the more traditional model of a predominantly part- time reserve force with
the focus on reserve force generation and sustainment and transferring the
newly acquired skills, experience and knowledge from operations or full-time
employment in the institution back into reserve units.
While the full-time employment of Primary Reserve personnel was critical
to our success and operations, the increase of full-time personnel came at a
cost to the part-time reserve, and we could no longer afford or sustain the
model required at the height of our operational tempo. We have decreased the
number of full-time Primary Reserve personnel significantly across the
institution. Beyond this, we are also addressing the reserve funding model,
accounting of reserve strength, performance metrics, regulations and
policies, and employment of reserves.
The CDS's vision for the Primary Reserve remains:
. . . a force that consists predominantly of part-time professional
CF members, located throughout Canada, ready with reasonable notice to
conduct or contribute to domestic and international operations to
safeguard the defence and security of Canada.
The vision also confirms that reserve contributions to operations and
connections with Canadians are critical to the nation and to the
environments and communities in which they serve, and we must ensure that we
attract, develop, support and retain a ready, capable, motivated and
relevant Primary Reserve force as both a strategic and operational resource
for Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces well into the future.
In the October Speech from the Throne, the government communicated their
support for Canada's reserve force and their plan to build upon the
successes of Canadian Armed Forces, renewing the Canada First Defence
Strategy and speaking to incorporating a strong role for the our military
reserves who are an essential link between the Canadian Armed Forces and
Canadian communities, and assisting employers of reservists who are required
to deploy on missions vital to the security of Canada.
As we begin our work to renew the Canada First Defence Strategy, which we
refer to as CFDS 2.0, much of our ongoing work with the Primary Reserve is
being rolled up and will be validated and confirmed through CFDS 2.0 as the
Department of National Defence ensures we have the optimal balance of
Regular Force, Reserve Force and civilian force to meet our institutional
and Canadian Armed Forces needs into the future. Primary Reserve
considerations are not being addressed in isolation and are part of our
overall HR and workforce strategy, as well as operational and future
capability plans and programs.
In addition to the CFDS, the Primary Reserve is well embedded in a number
of departmental and Canadian Armed Forces initiatives including our defence
renewal, departmental plans and priorities, program activity architecture,
performance measurement, force posture and readiness, multi-year
establishment plan and the transformation of military personnel management
system and streamlining of administrative processes.
We continue to improve not only access to benefits, programs and the
spectrum of care for reservists, but also their understanding and awareness
of what is available to them and their families. We learned a great deal
through the active participation and increasing numbers of reservists on
domestic and international operations over the past two decades, and I am
heartened by the dramatic changes we've been able to make in inclusion and
consideration for reservists in everything from financial counselling and
insurance programs through family support to care of the ill and injured.
We have great support from key stakeholders in our institution and across
our partners like Veterans Affairs Canada who now better understand the
unique challenges reservists face due to geography, our employment model and
The Chief of Military Personnel and his team are working very closely
with me to address the challenges of reserve recruiting, administration,
compensation and benefits, including the pension, access to programs and
care of our ill and injured.
Our employer support programs through the Canadian Forces Liaison Council
have been a key force multiplier for over 30 years. We continue to work with
employers and promote the hiring of current or potential reservists in their
communities to assist us in building a part-time cadre with members who have
civilian careers and support of employers, as well as their part-time
careers with the Reserve Force. We have established strong partnerships with
groups like Canada Company and Helmets to Hardhats to maximize our outreach
and access to programs and benefits for reservists and their employers or
academic institutions. The connection the reserve force has with local
communities and citizens is the foundation on which our reserve model was
built. This vital and valuable link is reinforced in a number of ways
including community engagement and support but also visibility.
The Canadian Army has established a four-year pilot project with the
University of Alberta for a Civil Military Leadership Pilot Initiative
announced last spring by the Minister of National Defence. While the
Canadian Army took into consideration the proposed Canadian national
leadership program, this pilot initiative is different in that military
training will be conducted through the Army Reserve in local units. Under
this initiative, interested students may be given the opportunity to earn a
civilian Civil Military Leadership Certificate by enrolling in the army
Primary Reserve while pursuing a four-year undergraduate degree. Through the
joint program, young Canadians will have the chance to fulfill their
academic ambitions while at the same time, through military training, pursue
broader personal and professional goals in the area of leadership,
citizenship and nation building.
Every unit needs facilities in which to operate and equipment with which
to train, and Primary Reserve requirements are factored into our
departmental programs. Our work in establishing and better communicating the
strategic and operational effects of the Primary Reserve Force, a more
detailed description of the Primary Reserve in CFDS 2.0 and other key
documents and programs will help us to better integrate our requirements,
given the competition for resources and the need to establish priorities for
All of this work provides a solid foundation on which to build a force
that is ready to answer the call, but that is only part of the equation. The
force structure and resources required for force generation are equally
important. Let me focus on this in the final section of my remarks.
An ongoing comprehensive review and rationalization of the Primary
Reserve will confirm the Primary Reserve missions, roles and tasks and
recommend the notional funding allocation necessary for a sustainable and
effective Primary Reserve into the future. The work of this review is
forming the basis to confirm the necessary force structure, level of
readiness, training and professional development and funding requirements to
meet the assigned operational tasks and force generation of the Primary
Reserve — an ambitious undertaking but one that will allow us to better
measure and track reserve funding and contributions across the institution.
The goal of this review and all of our work across other reserve issues
remains to ensure that the Primary Reserve is well-prepared and capable of
supporting operations as part of a strong military well into the future.
This aligns with the DND and Canadian Armed Forces strategy to protect
readiness to the best extent possible. In doing so, it is paramount that we
ensure value for Canada and Canadians in all that we do, from operations to
training and projects to administration, and that includes the Primary
In my time as a primary reservist, I have seen a great deal of positive
change as we shifted from an auxiliary force with the primary role of
augmentation and the basis for mobilization to an integrated, highly
professional and respected force bringing unique and complementary skills to
operations at home and abroad, standing proudly side by side with our
Regular Force and civilian colleagues as a key part of our defence team.
Even in the current fiscal climate of restraint, the value of the Primary
Reserve Force and our contributions are recognized and we continue to make
steady progress in tackling some longstanding issues and challenges. There
is outstanding support for the Primary Reserve within our institution and in
our communities, and a true appreciation for those of us who are, as
Churchill said, twice the citizen.
Thank you again for this opportunity and for your continued support of
the Primary Reserve. I welcome your questions.
The Chair: Thank you very much. Does Brigadier-General Woiden have
Brigadier-General K.L. Woiden, Director General Land Reserve, National
Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: I am very pleased to be here and
I look forward to answering any questions.
The Chair: We are very pleased to have you.
Senator Dallaire: I want to confirm the SOP we had where we would
be limiting ourselves to two questions each and then come back for a second
round. Is that still in motion?
The Chair: Yes, senator, and I will ask for two things: When you
do have a question, address the chair, and secondly, try to keep your
preambles down to try and get all the questions on the floor for the
purposes of the witnesses to answer.
Senator Dallaire: I am sure that wasn't directed toward me. Thank
you very much.
The Chair: Not at all.
Senator Dallaire: Welcome to the witnesses and thank you for your
presentation. You covered a lot of ground with a lot of words and I noticed
there is a lot of staff work going on. In fact, there is extensive staff
work going on, and in December 2011, two years ago, what we were getting was
that there was a lot of staff work going on and continuing to go on.
We have not seen — perhaps in the way you've reported it or in how it is
being reported — whether or not we've achieved any of the milestones that
have been enunciated and that we articulated in our report, integration or
transformation of administration. It is a three-year program and we are into
two years. Where are you at? Is it crashing? Will it work? There is also the
funding envelope for salaries and moving it into a more permanent body
versus under the O&M, but even more so the operational level that we want
for the reserves, the numbers and so on. I believe the term is
``comprehensive review rationalization'' of the Primary Reserve.
If you're doing that, CFDS 2.0 is not a white paper, so how can we
determine where you are at in moving the reserves if we don't have an idea
of what CFDS 2.0 is? And ultimately will you be able to achieve what it is
being called for or is it just going to be an objective that may be
Rear-Admiral Bennett: Thank you for your question, senator. As you
know, the department and the Canadian Armed Forces have undergone a
significant amount of change since we were last here. We've been closing out
the mission in Afghanistan, so the operational tempo has changed quite
dramatically for the Canadian Armed Forces. At the same time, we have
completed a number of reviews with the strategic review, the Deficit
Reduction Action Plan. Ongoing with those we have continued the work, and I
would say that it is more than staff work. We are, in fact, moving, making
real progress on addressing some of the long-standing issues.
In terms of numbers, we have achieved our target numbers to decrease the
number of Class B full-time Primary Reservists across the institution. Our
goal was to achieve the number of 4,500 by 2014 and we're down to that
number, just a little bit below. That was part of the review that we
reported on last time we were here.
The MPMCT, the Military Personnel Management Capability Transformation
Project, continues. In fact, the initial phase was three years. For the
information of the committee, that's a project to amalgamate the two pay
systems that we currently have for the Regular Force and the Reserve Force,
as well as to streamline administration with electronic records so that you
would have one career portfolio across the span of your career. That
progresses well, and reserve considerations again are included in that, not
an afterthought as the project moves forward. We are certainly embedded into
In terms of operational level and professionalism, again we are working
very hard on retention within the Primary Reserve to retain those members
who have operational experience as they return from full-time service either
with the institution or on operations to the unit level. We are working on
that skill transfer, and on keeping their skills current through exercises,
through deployment on operations as they arise. Our focus now remains on
reserve force regeneration as the priority across the institution as we
decrease the operational tempo, which has been very high.
A great deal of our work is ongoing. As you know, it's very complex in
some of the administration, but we're certainly in a much better position
now where the Reserve Force is at the table for the discussions from the
outset, as we look at some overarching strategies, doctrines and policies
across the forces, one of which will be the Canada First Defence Strategy.
Senator Dallaire: I have here the U.K. Ministry of Defence white
paper called Reserves in the Future Force 2020. It's got some
significant work being done, but it also has some very tangible proposals
like partnering reserve units with Regular Force units and exchanging the
expertise and capabilities, but also making resources available one to the
other and vice versa. This needs some pretty serious work and also
commitment to maintaining the operational capability. You've got the MCDVs
for the navy, but that is not necessarily the case with the army.
Will what you're doing cover this, including to offer reservists and
their family support, offers to employers? Are all those things going to be
covered in the staff work?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: Yes. Of course, you are referring to the
U.K. model. A number of the NATO nations and our allies have undergone
reviews on their reserve force. In fact, it's quite a hot topic across a
number of nations as they transition from what has been an operational
reserve back to a strategic reserve.
Yes, we have a number of initiatives that are similar, and I do compare
notes with my counterpart in the U.K. as I do across other nations. We are
expanding benefits and opportunities not just for ill and injured but
opportunities that are offered to Canadian Forces members and their
families, ensuring that we communicate across not just the Primary Reserve
but also the Reserve Force writ large, including access to Canadian Forces
appreciation programs, access to SISIP, the insurance programs, financial
counselling, so expanding beyond just the health services side of that.
I will let General Woiden speak to what is happening in the Army Reserve
and protecting the skills from operations.
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: Thank you very much again for being here.
The Army Reserve has, over the last 10 years, and most predominantly over
the last 6 to 7 years, gone through an integrated approach to force
generation. The reserves have been a force generation base to force generate
a variety of different capabilities for both domestic and expeditionary
operations. Of course, the most prominent that we have seen recently are the
operations in Afghanistan.
The force generation model has taken certain capabilities and certainly
individual and sub-sub-unit augmentation for deployment, for example, in
Afghanistan. That model will not change. That line of operation 3, which is
the sustained operations, for example, Afghanistan, takes into consideration
a requirement by the army to force generate about 20 per cent of that force
by the reserves. So the force generation capabilities are done through the
road to high readiness.
I think you are aware that the army now has gone to a 36-month management
readiness cycle. So 12 months a division will be in the high-readiness
cycle; therefore, where we were in a 6-month cycle before, we're now in a
12- month cycle.
That means the reserves, when required, when a named mission has come up,
will go into the force generation high- readiness cycle for a named mission
and would be part of that six or seven months of work-up training prior to
going out in operations, normally at rota one, which is after the initial
rotation, and that is really the force generation concept for the Army
Reserve. Certainly from the domestic perspective we have the capability with
the territorial battalion groups to go ahead and force generate in a very
short period of time, like we have just done recently for the flooding in
Calgary, and of the 1,800 some-odd Canadian Forces army folks that were on
the ground, 410 were reservists out of the territorial battalion group that
force generated within 24 hours, as an example.
Senator Segal: I thank the flag officers for being with us here
today and making yourselves available to take our questions.
My first question relates to the imbalance that sometimes takes place
between the finances that are allocated to the reserves and the actual pace
of recruiting. I'm delighted that the brigadier-general was good enough to
mention the territorial battle groups because every once in a while they
will make in-year adjustments, which may slow the training day cash
available to the reserve units in their part of the country. That has,
perhaps unwittingly, a deleterious effect on the ability of the reserve unit
commanders — navy, army, air, et cetera — to maintain the level of
preparedness and the complement strength that they have in their operating
The other thing I would like your comment on is what happens if you have
a budget that presumes a certain level of recruits and then for a whole
bunch of understandable reasons you don't meet that recruiting level; does
that money then get reallocated elsewhere in the system before the end of
the fiscal year and does that have a deleterious effect around the capacity
to maintain reserve level at a level that we need?
I think, as you both said, what we've learned from both domestic
application of reserve capacity and the international engagement of our
reserves is that having a strong and able reserve was fundamental to the
reserve providing that support to the Regular Force, which was essential to
our strategic and defence goals. I would be interested in our distinguished
guests' perspectives on that issue.
Rear-Admiral Bennett: You referred to two issues that are a little
bit separate. One is recruiting and the other is finances and budgeting for
that. A strategic intake plan is developed for the Reserve Force; of course,
there are some unknown variables, as you mentioned, not knowing where we
will have success. That is managed by each of the environments, each of the
force generators throughout the year, to be able either to reallocate
numbers to certain areas where they're having successes or to take that into
One of the things I mentioned in my remarks was the comprehensive review
that we are doing to establish a force structure for the Primary Reserve.
Instead of just the number of 27,000 that was communicated in the budget, to
define that across the environments, across operational roles, that aligns
with task roles and missions. That will drive the funding model, not based
on sheer numbers or recruiting successes, but based on those capabilities
that the Primary Reserve will provide.
Specific to each of the environments, each has a slightly different
funding model, based on the number of training days, to achieve the level of
readiness and training that is expected based on the assigned tasks, roles
I'll let Brigadier-General Woiden speak specifically to the army model,
because I think that's been of concern in the past.
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: The army has gone on record recently, and
certainly with General Devlin and General Hainse, that we recognize and have
protected and privileged, if you will, the baseline funding for our Army
Senator Segal: When you say ``protected,'' general, does that mean
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: It's fenced at a baseline. An army commander
will say 37.5 days base-lined. Right now there's seven days of collective
training. That has been open for interpretation in the past, but I can say,
since my time in this position, that that has definitely been the direction
the army commander has had, again to ensure that we had that force
generation capability certainly from a domestic operations perspective,
because that's the readiness piece. The readiness piece for our army
reservists for the territorial battalion groups comes on that baseline
training, and that's what the 37.5 is based on: days for a soldier if
they're available to train.
Senator Segal: I wanted to ask about the Class B reservists.
Obviously, with the wind-down of combat activities in Afghanistan, it is not
appropriate to renew many of those contracts because we didn't have that
same requirement in the theatre.
Many of those Class B men and women, of course, have remarkable combat
experience, and one would have hoped that many of them could be reintegrated
to the extent their own lives made it appropriate as part-time members of
existing reserve units, land and sea and air, because the skill sets they
could share with reservists who are just starting would be remarkable.
How has the organization done in achieving some of that? Can you give us
your sense of how that's going?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: I can't give you specific numbers of
transfers. We did have a number who chose to component-transfer to the
Regular Force, and they were offered that opportunity. We don't see that as
a loss. We see that as part of the defence team gaining that operational
We did welcome a number back — if not to their original units, there is
an opportunity for what we call ``right of return'' in reserve employment
policy, following full-time employment. We encouraged people to go back,
especially those who could then become instructors.
We also found that attrition was lower than anticipated. We thought that
a number of people who had Class B would make the choice to leave, and in
fact they haven't.
We've done our best to encourage people to return to units, to continue
to contribute. The other thing we're doing is working with some of our
partners — like Helmets to Hardhats, and as I mentioned, Canada Company — to
try to find civilian employment for those reservists to encourage them to
stay working part-time with the reserve with a full- time civilian career
that will keep them in the community. It was more than just making a
transition and realizing that that impacted their paycheque, but encouraging
them to stay in communities and to facilitate that transition.
Certainly across the reserve, we did have a number of people who continue
to deploy today or who do want to be working full-time, so they made the
transition to other jobs. We did encourage and facilitate, wherever
possible, for people to have options, not just to the unit they came from,
but other options in areas across Canada. I'm not sure if General Woiden
wants to add anything from the Army Reserve perspective.
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: I think it's very fair to say that that's
exactly what happened. In many cases, we force generated those Class B and
Class C soldiers, the ones who went off for deployment, from the units
They came from a Class A unit, from a predominately part-time unit, they
became Class B for short-term engagement, in many cases backfilling Regular
Force positions where, in fact, folks were often being deployed in
operations. But we brought them back in many ways, back to their home units,
and I think we've been fairly successful in doing that.
I would also mention that in many cases, I don't have exact numbers, but
certainly in the Army Reserve, a lot of our Class B individuals also held
part-time Class A positions within their home units. There was this constant
We got them back quite a bit. Those who left probably may have been
annuitants for the end of their service and some have left as a result as
Senator Mitchell: My question follows on Senator Segal's. It
concerns the 37/7 training formula, if I can put it that way, and its
integrity, as it were.
That is to say two things: Do you have enough money for the fuel,
ammunition, food, supplies and the materiel to exploit those days of
training adequately? And if militia reserves are deployed, say, to Calgary —
which was greatly appreciated, being from Alberta, and being Canadian, more
broadly — do those days come out of the 37/7, or do you receive funding in
addition so you can ensure the base 37/7 training?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: I'll speak in generic terms first, and then
I will let General Woiden speak to the specific Army Reserve training model.
Funding for operations normally comes out of a different pot of money,
although initially we may pay for that. Some of it comes from internal
sources and some is external to the department; so operations generally are
funded differently than reserve training is.
As well, reservists on operations are on Class C, which allows them a
higher rate of pay and a more comprehensive package of benefits.
What we consider to be reserve training and Reserve Force generation,
that would normally happen at the unit level or individual or collective
training is a different pot of money.
One of the things you brought up is whether we're resourced, not just in
terms of that pay for the training, but in terms of the equipment and the
other issues that go with that. That's also part of our work that we're
doing now, to better define and refine what the reserve task's roles and
missions are so we can ensure that we're equipped to those.
As General Woiden spoke about the managed levels of readiness, there's
realizing that not everyone needs every piece of equipment all of the time
but has to have fair access and familiarity with that equipment when they
Again, we're working through to establish and to better communicate and
embed that information so that there aren't ever-changing requirements for
the Reserve Force.
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: The operations and maintenance, the O&M portion
you are talking about— the fuel, the ability to move folks from place to
place — there are always challenges with that, as you can imagine, with the
ongoing fiscal constraint, but in the army funding model, we have the
baseline sustainment training of 37.5 days.
We also have a collective training component, which is seven days
allocated collective training, which is for a percentage, roughly 50 per
cent of the entire force, the reserve army that goes out and trains on a
Our focus is to get them out and do the collective training and that we
have the appropriate operations and maintenance, O&M funding, in place to do
that. That is allocated within the existing budgets that are devolved down
to each of the divisions.
Senator Mitchell: But it's only 50 per cent who get the seven?
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: For the collective training, yes.
Realistically, we never get everybody out in that mass. That traditionally
has been the number that we've tried to do, and it's on par.
Senator Mitchell: Rear-Admiral Bennett, you said that you're
working on this, but what about the interim? What about while you're working
on this? What's happening?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: In the interim, we're using the existing
model, and there is enough flexibility in that, the way we're funded.
Because, as you know, with part-time members at a unit, attendance isn't
always 100 per cent, so there is some flexibility at the level of unit
commanders. There are also periods of review throughout the year in which
you can apply for additional funding as you require it.
We're trying to plan the calendar year up front so it is predictable for
reservists so that commanding officers can commit and hold those funds for
The existing models are in place until we come up with a new model. It's
not going to be a huge change. We're using the environmental or the force
generator's current models and then embedding those across Canadian Forces
The Chair: I want to follow up on that question because that's one
of the reasons for the hearing, to ensure the reservists are provided with
the necessary tools and financial resources to be able to meet their
responsibilities. I just wanted to follow up on Senator Mitchell's
I've heard, and I think other senators have been told, that in some cases
on the front line, the reservists are in a situation where, yes, certain
things are being paid for, but at the end of the day, there isn't money
necessarily, for example, to fuel the vehicle to do the exercises. I am
using that as a broad example.
We're looking for assurances that the programs in place are adequately
funded on the operation and maintenance side so that these reservists, when
they go there on a Thursday or a Saturday night, are assured that the
programs they're about to undertake are able to be completed. Can you give
us that assurance?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: We're trying now to rebalance ambition as
well because people were training to a very high standard or a very high
level of readiness. The training standard for the Reserve Force is the same
as the Regular Force now, so there isn't as much of the top-up training
What we have done across all of the force generators is to try to
determine what is in the art of the possible on a Tuesday or a Thursday or a
weekend, to better define those and fund those requirements.
In terms of equipment, maintenance, travel and those other opportunities,
we are building a model that does factor those in more efficiently and
effectively than we're doing now. Part of our challenge in the past was that
we tended to front-end load at the beginning of the training year and spend
a great deal of resources in those first couple of quarters, which meant
there may have been challenges in the later part of the year.
Certainly all of the force generators or the commanders of the
environments that have primary reservists are setting funding that will
allow them to achieve what they should be training to. If a commanding
officer chooses to do additional training, then that is where they run into
Certainly in terms of the Army Reserve model now, that has been
communicated to commanding officers by the Commander of the Canadian Army,
so they know they have that number of funding days and they know they can
have that guarantee from him.
It's a little different across Health Services Reserve and the Naval
Reserve, and of course the RCAF doesn't have reserve units per se; they have
integrated wings and squadrons, so it's a slightly different model there.
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: I think that has answered the point.
The Chair: Perhaps I can pursue that further. Senator Dagenais.
Senator Dagenais: Thank you to our two witnesses. I had the
pleasure of serving in the Army Reserve, the Royal Canadian Hussars, a
number of years ago.
In your presentation, Rear-Admiral Bennett, you spoke about the challenge
of recruitment. You also mentioned that you are recruiting online.
Could you please tell me whether online recruitment is working well? Have
you reached your goals?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: We're very pleased with the option of being
able to do recruiting online. There are some initial challenges with
capacity with that system, and we continue to work with the Canadian Forces
Recruiting Group to look at ways that we can better address the challenges
of locations for reservists where there aren't recruiting centres in their
cities and towns.
I see great potential in the online program. It is just rolling out.
Again, we have been consulted right from the outset about what we would like
to see in that program and what our challenges are.
There are still some questions about the role that local reserve units
will play in the recruiting process, whether we'll do the initial attraction
and processing. We continue to work on streamlining not only that
application but also the completion of things like medical, physical fitness
tests and security screening.
The online application process is one tool in the larger recruiting
process, but I'm quite optimistic about it, and we have good support from
the recruiting group on making that work to our advantage.
Senator Day: Admiral, in reviewing the written notes of your
presentation today, you mentioned connection with community at least six
times, which I think is good because that's hugely important, the connection
with communities and reservists. The cadets that you're also responsible for
is another way that the Armed Forces and its role can be communicated to the
community through these connections.
But I also know there are huge challenges in some of the inner city
armouries. Is that part of the role that you see in helping to maintain this
connection, to maintain the units internally in the cities as opposed to
being far away, where the connection isn't there? Could you explain to us a
little bit about what you're doing in that regard?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: I'm not directly responsible for
infrastructure, for reserve units per se. We are engaged because there is
more than simply the building or the structure. In a lot of cases, it's a
building that is used by community groups or by the community. It's
recognized as the heart of many towns.
The ADM(IE), or Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure & Environment),
is responsible for infrastructure. We're undergoing a transition in the way
that projects will be managed so that we will have a more holistic approach,
but I can certainly tell you that there are some very positive strides in
replacing reserve facilities, in some cases as stand- alone DND or Canadian
Armed Forces facilities, but also partnerships. A new Naval Reserve division
is being built here in Ottawa, as you know, on Dow's Lake to replace HMCS
Carleton. The building in Windsor, HMCS Hunter, is being
replaced, and just down the street from that unit is a building that houses
not only local Army Reserve units but the police in that city, and they're
also using it for training.
We do have partnerships. General Woiden can speak about some of the other
projects. Although a number of buildings need to be addressed, we are making
good progress in the replacement, the upgrade and also in the awareness of
the importance of those buildings as infrastructure for Canada, writ large,
for the Government of Canada and for the department.
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: Absolutely. Again, a variety of different
initiatives are being looked at across the country with regard to Army
Reserve infrastructure. We've got the Nova Scotia Highlanders project, which
was announced in July 2012. That project is ongoing. We are looking at a
seismic retrofit of the Seaforth Armoury out west, and that facility is now
in implementation. There is the construction of a new Edmundston armoury,
and that project is in implementation as well. The project at 35 Combat
Engineer Regiment is in implementation in Sainte-Foy, Quebec.
We also have a variety of other facilities going in throughout the
definition phase, but I would put to you that we also have army
infrastructure where in many cases the average age is over 75 years. We have
a lot of old infrastructure. Some of that is certainly heritage buildings
and has those connotations that go with it, other than just being there to
support the reserve footprint.
There are a variety of different challenges, but most important, there
are a variety of other projects in initial planning. Those are the projects
the army has direct input into. We do have the other ECSs, other
environments such as the navy and air force that are the landowner, if you
will, for facilities across the country, which Army Reserve units are large
Lastly, one of the key things we are doing is focusing on the health,
safety and security aspects of all the buildings as well.
Senator Day: You talked about the Canada First Defence Strategy
2.0, and then you've gone on and talked about long-standing issues and
challenges. It seems to me that you were suggesting that the role of the
Primary Reserve of augmentation is likely to be changed.
You talk here about base for mobilization to an integrated, highly
professional and respected force bringing unique and complementary skills.
Are you suggesting that the reserve is going to have skills that are not in
the Regular Force now and that we should see that when the Canada First
Defence Strategy 2.0 comes in? That is, we're going to see a unique role for
the reserve that's not augmentation, filling in and helping with some of the
skills that are in the Regular Force but need some help?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: To explain, first, the phrase ``augment the
Regular Force'' was really more of a top-up role back when we used to be a
base for mobilization. I would suggest now that the Primary Reserve has
moved well beyond that to a more integrated force. We used to have different
training standards, and in some cases we had unique or very different trades
and classifications in the Primary Reserve. We're now a much more blended
force across the total force concept, with Regular Force and Reserve Force
serving side by side, complementary skills.
To go forward, I think that we're moving beyond just simply augmenting
the Regular Force. That will be one role that will continue. But again, an
integrated approach has worked heretofore on both domestic and international
operations. Certainly, across each of the environments it's a little bit
different. In health services they bring complementary skills in the
delivery of health service but have also been able to attract and hold
professionals that we've been able to use on deployments and also to use
here domestically in Canada, a slightly different model.
Certainly, the Royal Canadian Air Force has a totally integrated model
with exactly the same training standards. The majority of those reservists
are ex-Regular Force. So I would see again they don't have an augmentation
role; they have an integration role.
Certainly with the Army Reserve, with the Arctic companies that they have
and with some of the discussions about civil-military cooperation, CIMIC,
the Canadian Forces is considering the use and integration of some of our
civilian skills that have been haphazard up to this point. We've had a great
deal of our forces deployed to Afghanistan. We suddenly realized, ``Oh, you
have unique skills.'' So civilian police officers or engineers or
contractors — again not just in CIMIC; we've discovered this quite by
In terms of unique and reserve-specific roles and missions, we are
discussing those, but there is a challenge. As the U.K. and some of the
other countries are doing reviews, and as we've discovered in the Naval
Reserve, when you have standing capabilities that are assigned to the
Reserve Force, are they really truly reserve tasks, roles and missions?
Because if they're to be provided on a daily, ongoing basis, as standing
capabilities, one argues whether that is a reserve role or is that is a
Canadian Forces role writ large.
Again, lots of potential to look at areas of expertise that reservists
bring from their civilian training, their education, their background, and
to explore some of the models of our allies. It won't just be concerning
with CFDS as we move forward, but in larger examination of Canadian Forces
capabilities. So again, I would say a little bit of both.
Senator Day: That's helpful, but I'm not sure that I fully share
your view that the word ``augmentation'' has a bad connotation.
Rear-Admiral Bennett: It depends where you sit. Certainly, for
those of us who grew up in the augment days, it almost marginalized the
reserve to ``don't call us we'll call you when we need to be augmented.''
It's not in and of itself — the word is not bad; it's the impression of
that. I would say augmentation remains one of our roles, but it won't be the
sole role for the Reserve Force moving forward. We'll still continue to
top-up and, as the word ``reserve'' says, to be held in reserve, to provide
an auxiliary force, to provide a surge capability, but it won't simply be to
augment. There are some reserve opportunities that are yet to be explored,
but I would say a more integrated approach will be what you'll see as we
Senator Day: I look forward to that.
Senator Wells: I do have two topics and I'll limit it to two
questions, one question each.
Rear-Admiral Bennett, thanks for your answers thus far, as well as
Brigadier-General Woiden. With respect to the cost of maintaining the force
and the things that have to be considered, I know that I read in the report
that a regular service person costs five times more than a reserve.
With the three classes of reserve and the Regular Force, the operational
needs and your budget, how much play is there back and forth between those —
and I'm thinking specifically between the three classes of reserve and the
Regular Force? How much play do you have with respect to maintaining your
budget and being respectful of the operational role?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: Just to clarify, when we fulfill an
operational role, either domestic or international, we are paid Class C,
which is the same pay as the Regular Force. I think the number you quoted
about five times may have been from the paper that was produced by C.D.
Howe, if it was in your report. That's not actually Canadian Forces data.
There is some question about the cost of doing business, whether you're a
reservist or a Regular Force. Once you do operations, pay and benefits are
the same for reservists and Regular Force. Leading up to that, on periods of
Class A or B, which is the part-time service — Class A is normally the
evenings and weekend-type training and then Class B on full-time — that's at
85 per cent. That's the current salary. So one could argue that there is a
slightly different cost, but the number of training days varies.
What we also have to factor in with reserve pay is the operation and
maintenance, so travel. Members of the Naval Reserve have to travel to
either coast to go to sea, whereas the Regular Force serving in those roles
would traditionally be on those coasts. So it's a slightly different model.
In fact, some research was done about whether it is more cost- effective or
cheaper with reservists, and it really does depend on the level of
readiness, how often they do that task, where they can train and the
equipment for that. But once you switch to an operational role, it is the
same cost in terms of pay and allowances there.
Concerning flexibility in the budgets, environmental commanders are
developing what they want to be the capabilities for their force, writ
large, and then breaking that down between Regular Force on a standing
capability, a day-to-day function; and reserve, either surge or providing
unique skills. What we're trying to do is to better define that reserve
piece. Right now there's a great deal of flexibility for the environmental
commanders. We'd like it to be more predictable, and I guess we still want
to build flexibility into that portion but have it predictable from the
outset — that is, this is what it will cost, this is how many people — and
then fence that.
Senator Wells: Just as a supplementary to that — I don't want to
give up my other question; I believe it's within the rules, senator — you
mentioned periods of review where you can apply for additional funding. Is
Rear-Admiral Bennett: It's normally quarterly, and then as we get
towards the end of the fiscal year, there are more regular reviews for that.
Senator Wells: The second topic I wanted to ask you about, which
may lead in from the first topic, is the question of the one service record,
which I believe you recommended or suggested. That goes with the
predictability of pay.
What would the main elements of that be? I understand how it would give
greater predictability. Is there much uptake on that with regard to your
earlier comment of a much more blended force? I guess it would make sense to
have one service record. Is there any uptake? How far up does that have to
go before it's operationalized?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: It's been approved and is part of our
project that is the Military Personnel Capability Transformation Project.
At the present time we have a reserve pay system and a Regular Force pay
system. We have one system of administration that we have migrated from
handrolic records to electronic records. We also have a separate system for
medical records than administrative records. Some of our systems and our
processes mean that for a component transfer, one file is closed and another
file is opened. What we'd like to see and what we're migrating to with our
administration system is that when I join, I will join the Canadian Armed
Forces. I will join an environment and an element, Regular Force or reserve,
and that will be maintained.
We are working toward that now. The migration of the pay system will also
help us with things like pension calculations and compensation and benefits.
It's quite cumbersome right now with the two systems because, to be able to
be paid Class C pay on operations, you have to use the Regular Force pay
system, and you have to be released from that system to go back to the
reserve. We are working on that now, and there has always been huge support
for that in terms of record keeping. For someone who transfers to the
Primary Reserve, all of their personnel records will follow them, so we
won't have to send a file to archives or have two separate systems.
Senator Wells: Thanks. It seems to make good sense and makes me
wonder why we didn't do it long ago. When will that be fully
Rear-Admiral Bennett: Within the next five years. It's a case of
building a system that is robust enough because we have PeopleSoft records
for our administration. We have a different system with medical records and
then a pay system. So it is building a robust system that will encapsulate a
number of independent systems that we have now that track everything from
qualifications to records and that sort of thing. Over the next five years.
Senator White: I'm not sure; I think one of you suggested that
reserve funding was now fenced. Is that correct?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: General Woiden mentioned that for the Army
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: Army Reserve funding.
Senator White: Just Army Reserve?
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: That's all I'm familiar with.
Rear-Admiral Bennett: There hasn't been the same issue across the
other environments. They're much smaller to administer, and, certainly, the
Naval Reserve is funded nationally, through Naval Reserve headquarters in
Quebec City, across 24 divisions. The Army Reserve is much broader and spans
across all of the four divisions. Air Reserve funding is slightly different.
Health Services Reserve also has a much smaller model, so it has not been as
great a challenge. The money has been fenced and identified and is tracked
by those reserve environments.
Senator White: The answer is no, they're not all fenced. Is that
Rear-Admiral Bennett: Yes, until recently the Army Reserve money
has not been. The other has.
Senator White: The second question, if I may: You talked about
recruiting reserve specialists. Canada has changed a lot in the last decade
from the demographic perspective. Do you see specialists also when it comes
to languages? In Ottawa, the number two language after English happens to be
Arabic at this point in time. We are seeing a real shift in our
demographics. Is that seen as a specialty when it comes to recruiting in the
reserve as well? I know it is in the Regular Force.
Rear-Admiral Bennett: One of our reasons for changing the
administrative system is to allow for more boxes in language, rather than
just the two official languages that we have. It goes beyond language. It is
also cultural diversity. The Reserve Force in general is much more
representative of the Canadian population across visible minorities, women
and Aboriginals. So we're finding that, culturally, it is advantageous when
reservists have deployed. They understand the culture. They can speak the
languages, and, in a lot of cases, as you mentioned, they are native
speakers. So it does not require additional training. Those will be captured
in the same way that civilian trades, qualifications and specialties will
be. Across our Special Operations Forces, SOF, as well, language is a huge
advantage, just as civilian skills have been utilized by SOF. Across the
Reserve Force, we will track that.
Senator White: How is that going?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: As we build the administrative system and
capability and capacity, our system of records is more robust. The other is
that, based on our experience in operations, we have captured and tracked
those. We still send out opportunity messages when we do want someone who
speaks a certain language, or they will come to the Reserve Force to ask for
things in particular, but it tends to be more of a request basis now until
we build the system to be able to capture the records.
The Chair: I would like to follow up, if I could, with respect to
the financial resources that are available to the reservists versus to the
regular forces. It has to do with a question of Senator Mitchell's; I think
he touched on it. My understanding is that, up to 2010, the reserve unit
budgets were divided between two funds — the operation and maintenance and
the pay administrative — and that, at one time, you could move the surplus
from one fund to another in order to carry on your operations. I understand
that now that's not the case. Is that true?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: There is still flexibility to transfer
between votes, but not all of them. You can transfer O&M to pay and vice
versa. You do have to request. You can't just change that at the unit level.
It does have to be approved to be able to transfer that. That is also one of
the unique factors of reserve service. It isn't just the pay. It's the pay
plus the operation and maintenance. So, again, we have to factor in both of
those capabilities and capacities, but, yes, there is flexibility to
The Chair: I just want to follow up a little further, if I could.
At the outset, I said that the real concern here is that there are enough
financial resources for the reserves to function on an ongoing basis, not
just for this year but also in the years to come, for what we're asking them
to do. I really have a problem with the word ``flexibility'' because it all
depends on who is expressing flexibility. Is the money set aside for the
reserves fenced as a straight commitment to reserves, or is there the
ability to take that money on an annual basis if the regular forces decide
it should be moved from reserves to some other area for programming?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: In terms of financial accounting, your last
point is true. However, we are working on those mechanisms where reserve
allocations are more predictable and tracked. So there is reserve pay. The
wage envelope for reserve pay is a certain amount allocated to commanders.
There is discretion by commanders as to how they allocate that money, but I
would say that it's a much better system now, both in terms of the
allocation and the predictability of that money. Certainly, in the case of
the army commander, which was not the case before, he has said, ``I will
fund this number of days for reserve pay, and I will provide this O&M for
reserve pay.'' Again, it is being identified and protected, or at least
being better identified than it was. Our accounting does allow you, within
the military pay envelope, to transfer. I would say, once it's allocated,
what we're doing is building the fences there.
The Chair: Maybe I will pursue that a bit further. Senator
Senator Dallaire: On the one hand, you were saying earlier that if
you had a permanent type of task in the reserves, then you sort of wonder
whether it should be called reserves or simply be part of the mainstay of
the forces. We created all the MCDVs to give permanent opportunities to
reservists so that the skill sets that they learn at lower levels can
actually be used. You do that by giving them permanent employment in Class
B. You've just talked about the envelope, which is flexible every year
because you're part of the O&M budget. You will be hit — both salary and O&M
— by whatever amount of money the department decides put in O&M. There is no
guarantee like in the Regular Force, where, if we say we have 68,000 people,
that envelope is covered in vote whatever. Nobody touches that because that
is sacrosanct. That is not the case in the reserves. Two years ago, we were
told that that was going to be sorted out.
However, I come to the training levels, particularly when you are getting
higher in rank. The navy wants people to be trained to Regular Force
standards. The army has been pushing to Regular Force standards. The air
force just uses Regular Force guys who are now out in the reserve, so they
are not even part of the equation. When do these people get all of the
training they need to actually fill those positions, and is the money
available for them to take that four-month or five-month course on top of
the 37 days and the seven days of collective training? Does that exist? Is
that working, or are you adjusting the standards?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: Thank you for the question, senator. Let me
first say that some of the missions for the Naval Reserve are changing
because it is not about generating the capability; it's sustaining the
capability. Certainly, in the case of the MCDVs, one of our greatest
challenges was sustaining that over a period of time. The Naval Reserve was
tasked to man 10 ships, and those ships were used quite extensively, well
beyond what the initial mandate and role of those ships were. So it's
sustainability. I go back to the point where if it is a reserve-specific
capability long-standing, it isn't the generation of that; it's the
sustainment that then becomes a challenge for us in that question.
In terms of training levels, they are the same — Regular Force and
reserve — across all environments up to a certain level. When you get up to
Developmental Periods 3 and 4, there is some flexibility about how the
course is delivered. For instance, officers going to the staff college
instead of going for an entire year can have a distributed and distance
learning package that is the equivalent. It's delivered differently. It is
also available to Regular Force members, not all of whom will be assigned
for that year-long staff college course. Beyond that, at 4 Wing as a colonel
or a captain navy, we've established reserve billets and reserve
opportunities, which are funded. Again, it is not all at that point for the
We are going to work with the Canadian Defence Academy on equivalencies
and looking at civilian experiences in master's level degrees that may not
be the Master of Defence Studies, but reservists may have experience that is
comparable to that.
The non-commissioned members are doing all the leadership programs but up
to the rank of about chief warrant officer and master warrant officer. There
are some options at that point about how the training is delivered and
consideration of appointments. If you're not going on to a senior
appointment or regimental sergeant major or one of those types of jobs, then
there are some differences. Generally, reservists are offered a range of
opportunities, both full- time and part-time, and both residential and
distance learning, across the Canadian Forces standard.
We've identified some deltas for some of the trades. For certain trades,
they'll train to a standard that is well-known and understood just when it's
required for either deployment or a change in mission or tasking that is
offered to them. They are not restricted to reserve standards as it's still
a Regular Force equivalent, but they aren't trained to the same breadth and
depth as the regular forces across all of the likely missions.
Senator Dallaire: Will they be promoted though?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: Yes.
Senator Dallaire: We were told two years ago that it would be
three years to bring in the transitional administration. Earlier, you told
us that was phase 1, which was not told to us at the time. Now you are
saying that five years will be needed to move this. In 1998 when I was an
ADM, we were trying to do exactly the same thing — that was 15 years ago.
When will you be able to pull this off? Is it with a whole new technology?
What is the revolution that is coming that we're trying to get a grasp on,
which is promised but with no hard milestones? This is not a criticism.
Rear-Admiral Bennett: No, and I'm not taking it that way. As you
know, the Chief of Military Personnel is in charge of the project. I am a
beneficiary of that and a stakeholder in it. I have a reserve member who is
part of the team to ensure that reserve interests are looked after.
Certainly, in the initial stages as we are building the program,
technology is changing faster than we keep up. The system we have now is
better than when you were an ADM, sir, and we implemented people soft and
went to the system of record that we have now. Our challenge is the capacity
of that and building a system that will take us into the future to allow for
In terms of milestones, a great deal of information is available on the
project if you would like specifics. Unfortunately, that is not my area of
expertise but that of the Chief of Military Personnel. I'm quite pleased
with the capacity of the program and what it will allow us to do in
addressing some of the long-standing issues we've had in the past.
Senator Segal: Could I ask our two guests whether they'd be at all
surprised if at the local level reserve units people involved as reserve
participants in our various units weren't quite as optimistic about how the
comprehensive review is going to work itself out and are worried, in fact,
and this is out of their loyalty to the service and local unit, that the
comprehensive review, while well-intentioned, will end up being a rationale
for a radical cutback to the size of the reserves and the allotment of cash
to the reserves? While I do not in any way question both the good faith and
commitment to doing it right that you have shared with us today, you can
understand because of the history of reserves being paid later and on a
sloppier basis than was the case in the past — it has gotten better but was
problematic for a long time — and because of the uncertainty with respect to
mid-year cuts in training allocation dates, which become problematic. What
would you say not to us but to those who are trying to run the local reserve
units and to those who have been recruited and are keen to get training days
in? They pick up the back and forth that happens in the mess, et cetera.
What would you say to them about the gap between what you're trying to do,
which strikes us as quite compelling, and what they hear about reality on
Rear-Admiral Bennett: One of our greatest challenges in the
Reserve Force is communication. There is as much miscommunication as there
is communication. It's a huge organization and it's very different across
all of the environments and the force generators. It varies from region to
region. We have to be very careful about Ottawa- centric messages. I would
say that a lot of what we're doing at the unit level doesn't resonate at the
unit level. A lot of them are not thinking about what we are doing here
What I'm trying to do and the work we are doing in the senior leadership
is to better position the Reserve Force across programs and documents. As
you know, in the past we were often an after-thought. Someone would take a
pen and add ``and the Reserve Force'' to a document or a policy. That is no
longer the case.
The fact that I am a member of Armed Forces Council and at the table at
the highest level of governance means that reservists have two voices: the
voice of their force generator and environmental commander and my voice as
an advocate. I would say that there isn't as much information on the armoury
floors or at the Naval Reserve divisions about this.
I think people here are concerned about change in general. It's
unfortunate that we've had a series of reviews — strategic review, which
people saw as cuts and adjustments, and the Deficit Reduction Action Plan,
which people saw as cuts; and what people see or hear in the media is more
about those budget issues. In this next phase as we make a transition, we
need to better communicate to people what this means. In some cases, it will
mean little at the armoury floor for the average master bombardier or
corporal or ordinary seaman. Most are concerned about pay, how much
training, whether it's interesting, what they'll do in the summer, having a
course and being promoted. Those aren't things we're messing with
systemically. I need to communicate through people like Brigadier-General
K.L. Woiden, a senior army reservist, and through colleagues and all areas
of command to ensure that we get the right messages out there.
Things here in Ottawa sometimes move slowly and have to go through
several iterations. Explaining to people what is happening and engaging
them, not in high-level strategic speak but in simple terms, to know what
this means is critical. I'm not about to have only great messages — great
time to be a reservist, et cetera. People don't hear that. We have to tell
people as much about what won't change as what will change and give them
that encouragement. Am I there yet? No, it will take us some time to do
this. Am I advocating not to mess with the things that are really good? Yes,
and people need that guarantee. We need to give people the right information
— tell them the truth, be honest about what is broken and what we're doing
to fix it — and to acknowledge those concerns. The good news is that both of
us, as reservists, and all of my counterparts, as senior reservists,
understand and communicate that. That's the importance of legitimacy of
Class A members delivering that to Class A members as opposed to full-timers
or people who are far from the unit floor.
Again, I think it is important to communicate honestly and openly to
people what isn't going to change and what is.
Senator Mitchell: The gist of your presentation and your comments
has been future status and development of the reserves. There is a legacy,
and that is the injured. There are two programs or facilities that deal with
them: One is the joint services centres and the other is the family support
centres. There is a distinction there.
Can you give us some idea of whether you feel those are adequately funded
and whether there is adequate access for injured vets or injured reservists
who live in remoter areas, distant from a major centre like Calgary, for
example — if it's funded on reserve numbers versus Regular Force numbers,
which I think is a problem for Calgary? Could you give us a sense of these
Rear-Admiral Bennett: A point of correction: The Joint Personnel
Support Units, JPSU, are the ones dealing more extensively with the ill and
injured. Military Family Resource Centres do have an assistance capability
for military families, but they are more of a conduit into the larger
systems of care. And they are providing support systems.
We have had some great luck in the Reserve Force by actually having MFRCs
in reserve units. We have a satellite in Thunder Bay in one of the units and
another satellite in Regina. So we are looking at different ways of
delivering those capabilities, and defining ``families,'' because in the
case of a reservist, you may live in one city, where your family or parents
live in another; neither of you have access to those, so we are looking at
In terms of the ill and injured, we have two challenges: One is funding;
the other is personnel and the actual manning of those capabilities — having
the right kind of specialists. Again, this is not my area of responsibility,
but I am an advocate for the Reserve Force and I have a great working
relationship with both the Chief of Military Personnel and the Surgeon
General, who is very concerned about access to care for reservists and very
aware of the challenges that reservists may not deploy with the same group
in an area where they live. They may be an individual augmentee or a single
and going back to a unit that is far from a military base or hospital.
Again, we are working with the Surgeon General to identify the challenges
and try to mitigate those.
The JPSU, in terms of number of people working there: We have initially
started with reservists in manning a great number of those positions until
regular forces were available, because of the high operational tempo. We've
protected those positions, and we've made exceptions when other reserve
positions were being decreased, cut or declined in numbers; we've protected
those positions to allow for a period of transition.
But the need is greater than we currently have, and we're looking at
ways, not just through the Joint Personnel Support Unit, but how else can we
make sure that we deliver care. Communications, as well — so working with
Veterans Affairs Canada and working with the Legions, because there are
Legions in more communities where there are reserve units than some of those
other offices and access.
So one is getting access and communicating an awareness. The other is the
actual spectrum of care. We are working very hard on both of those. Through
my shop, we are working on a number of tools for people while they are
serving and also for a package before they leave, so that they understand
and take with them what they are entitled to. In some cases, the injury will
not be diagnosed until after they have released or have left.
We are also working closely with the military employment folks to find
out how we post reservists into those Joint Personnel Support Units, because
reserve administration is different, and to ensure we have the capacities.
You asked a question about Reserve Force numbers versus Regular Force
numbers in that?
Senator Mitchell: Do they have adequate money for treatment?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: As I say, money is one we are working on.
The other is personnel and specialists to be able to deliver that health
care. Those remain challenges. But, again, reservists are at the table and
being considered. Their needs are not being put secondary to Regular Force.
It is a total force model we are using.
Senator Dagenais: Rear-Admiral Bennett, I would like to talk a bit
about the quality of training for cadets. Is it the same everywhere? In
other words, are the facilities the same for all cadets?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: Yes, we use the same schools for full-time
training. Part-time training is usually done in the units. There are some
differences between the units in each city, but summer courses, such as the
leadership school, are normally given in the same school for reservists and
the regular forces; the same facilities, the same programs, and the same
resources. The instructors teach reservists and members of the regular
Senator Dagenais: Thank you very much, madam.
Senator Day: In the past when we've had evidence given by others,
we were told that there are two or three different numbers for units in
reserve units in terms of the established strength, the authorized strength
and on all these different terms. So what I'd like to know is this: Have you
reduced the authorized number to where — The number of individuals in the
units was set some time ago, which was below the — Effective strength and
authorized strength were two different things, so in order to save money,
there was less authorization, or there was authorization for fewer numbers
of recruits coming in. Where are you in regard to those different categories
at this time?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: There are about three things that you
touched on there, all a little different. Number of recruits is based on the
strategic intake plan, and that varies each year based on the number of
vacancies, not just at the unit level but across the environment.
Senator Day: I'm thinking more about the unit levels.
Rear-Admiral Bennett: So unit establishment. Unit establishments
have not decreased. What has changed is how we report reservists. There is
trained effective strength and there is average paid strength. When you want
to know how many reservists there are, there are a couple of different
performance metrics for that. Rather than simply saying, ``There are this
many reservists with ID cards,'' which doesn't give you a valid number of
how many are ready to deploy and how many are trained, the Canadian Forces
tends to operate across trained effective strength. That factors in the
level of training for people, and people on maternal or paternal leave,
people on education leave, so you know the pool of people you are dealing
In the Reserve Force we use average paid strength as the reportable
number, because not everybody parades on a regular basis. Again, those
numbers are what we use on a reporting basis.
The number of actual billets in a unit, or ``the establishment,'' as we
call it, has not changed dramatically. And what we're doing now is working
on establishing within the 27,000 how many of those are Army Reserve, how
many are Health Services Reserve, how many are Naval Reserve, Air Reserve,
SOF, et cetera.
Again, it is dividing that up so that we have, within that 27,000, the
force structure allocated across the environments and aligned to task roles
Senator Day: Before we run out of time, can you run a comparison
between the University of Alberta's Civil Military Leadership Pilot
Initiative that you talked about and then you went on and talked about the
Canadian National Leadership Program, with which I was not familiar. And how
does that compare to — Most of us are familiar with university students
being part of UNTD, the navy URTP, COTC, and all of those acronyms.
Rear-Admiral Bennett: The CNLP was envisioned by a group, the
Breakout Educational Network, and they wanted to recreate what we had in
COTC, UNTD — those programs.
I'll let General Woiden speak. This one is slightly different in that
they are being enrolled in local Army Reserve units, so they're actually
being enrolled as reservists and doing training with that unit. It is a
slightly different model.
Brig.-Gen. Woiden: The fundamental difference is that instead of
being a separate unit on a campus, these individuals are enrolled and
trained with their unit one evening a week, on weekends. They get the
reserve Class A pay. They go off and do individual training during the
summers as part of their initial basic training, if you will. They will get
their Developmental Period 1, or in this case a qualified lieutenant,
crewman, gunner, bombardier or whatever.
That is the fundamental piece, and it is done at the unit level versus on
campus and paying the individuals separate for their participation while in
university. This way we're taking advantage of the reserve units' already
existing program. So we have a Class A force generation capability that's at
the unit level now, utilizing the existing vacancies in the unit.
For example, in Edmonton we have vacancies in units that will allow NCMs,
enlisted members versus officer candidates, and we can take both into the
program. That's the unique part of this particular program versus the COTC
program. It's adapting to the type of student we have now. We have young
reservists who are going in both at the NCM, non-commissioned level, and at
the officer level.
Senator Day: Have you described the Canadian National Leadership
Program? Is that what you were describing?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: No. General Woiden was just describing the
one we're running, the pilot, the CMLPI.
Senator Day: What about the Canadian National Leadership Program?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: They wanted it more akin to the COTC or
UNTD, more like a club on campus that did military training and then their
only contact with the reserve was during the summer training.
This is an integrated program and throughout the year they will parade
with local units. At the same time, they will be able to get credits towards
a leadership program as part of university.
Senator Day: Just one university so far?
Rear-Admiral Bennett: So far.
The Chair: Thank you, senator. It's now 5:30. I'd like to thank
Rear-Admiral Bennett and Brigadier-General Woiden for being with us today.
We look forward to continuing our interaction with the department on this
I'd like to welcome Lieutenant-Colonel (Retired) John Selkirk, Executive
Director, Reserves 2000, to the Standing Senate Committee on National
Security and Defence.
Colonel Selkirk, we appreciate your taking the time to join us today and
your contribution to our report that was released two years ago. I
understand you have some opening comments. At this time, I'd like to invite
you to comment on the report of the committee and then share your thoughts
on the status of the primary reserves. We have one hour.
Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret'd) John Selkirk, Executive Director, Reserves
2000: That you very much, Mr. Chair. Honourable senators, it's certainly
a pleasure for me to be here today. I was thinking of wearing my Christmas
tie like Senator Day, but I'm glad I opted for something regimental.
I think most of you are aware of the organization that I represent,
Reserves 2000. In simple terms, Reserves 2000 is a coalition of Canadians
dedicated to preserving and strengthening the militia, or Army Reserve as it
is also termed. We're not interested or we are not concerned with the other
elements of the Primary Reserve in Canada — navy, air force, medical. We are
exclusively interested in the militia.
It is quite appropriate, actually, that the opportunity to speak to you
today has come so close on the heels of a seminar that we held on November
16 in Toronto. We conducted a strategic planning session that day with 30 of
our most senior members of Reserves 2000, who came from all across Canada.
I'm going to share with you, and in this timely manner, the concerns of
those individuals. When I'm speaking, I'm speaking of a distillation of what
I heard on November 16. I'll do that by speaking to each of the 11
recommendations from your last report.
Recommendation 1 is growing the Primary Reserve. Speaking to this point,
I can surface the biggest concern of Reserves 2000, and that is that this
year there are serious shortfalls in recruiting. We would expect that the
militia is going to shrink this year and not grow.
There are a couple of reasons for this shortfall as it's developing.
First is that the number of recruits that were allocated in the strategic
intake plan, mentioned by previous witnesses, the numbers allocated over the
last three years have steadily diminished. So they are looking for the
strategic intake plan for the militia this year to be about a thousand below
what it was the previous year, and those years are lower than the years
Couple that with some turmoil, I guess is a kind word, in the Canadian
Forces Recruiting Group, and it's making for a perfect storm this year. The
last information I was privy to, which was the recruiting figures for the
end of September — in other words, halfway through fiscal year 2013-14 — is
that where they should be somewhere perhaps around 50 per cent of the
recruits for the year have already been signed up, they have only signed up
21 per cent. In previous years, they were at higher figures than that. We
are predicting that for recruiting year 2013-14, the actual numbers of the
militia, no matter how they are counted, will be smaller than they were at
the beginning of the year. So they will lose and not grow, as your
recommendation was in Recommendation 1.
Your Recommendation 2 is to reduce the number of Class Bs not employed in
support of the reserves. I'm paraphrasing when I say these are your
recommendations, but that's what I've taken out of it.
As you heard again from the previous witnesses, there is a plan to reduce
the number of Class B across the Canadian Forces to 4,500. From what I
heard, they are near that figure at this particular time. Our concern is
that of those 4,500 — and again, I don't have any real way of calculating
this number, but the number of full-time reservists that are required to
support the reserves would probably only be between 1,000 and 1,500, so
those others are all supporting the Regular Force. Our concern and
contention all along has been that by including the salaries of those who
are supporting the Regular Force in the reserve pay allocations, you're
distorting the truth.
If one was to look at the RPP, the Report on Plans and Priorities, for
this fiscal year, you'll see that reserve pay for all services is somewhere
north of half a billion dollars. It's about $587 million. If I calculate
that every Class A reservist was going to get 60 days' pay — which, when you
consider career courses and that sort of thing, that's not a bad number, I
don't think — and a thousand reservists are going to be employed in direct
support of the militia — in other words, serving the Reserve Force — if I
add those salaries together, it only comes to about $260 million. So by my
simple back-of-the-cigarette-package calculations, at least half of the
money that is appropriated and allocated for reserve pay is actually going
to fill holes in the Regular Force establishment.
We feel that when Canadians look at the total cost that the RPP shows for
the reserves, and the total cost that the RPP for this fiscal year shows is
$1.4 billion, it's our contention that Canadians are not seeing the true
picture, because it doesn't cost that much to keep the paltry number of
Class As that we have on the armoury floor. We feel that the full cost
estimate in the RPP for the Reserve Force should be the subject of an
Your Recommendation 3, and I love these words, because they reflect what
reservists have been crying for, is ``stable, predictable, non-discretionary
and protected'' reserve pay. I understand from the questions to the previous
witnesses that you do understand the absolute necessity and the value of
There was a particularly bad episode of money, and as Senator Dallaire
identified just a few minutes ago, back in late 2009 money was taken out of
the reserve pay budget, the militia pay budget in particular, for other
purposes, which caused many units to be told, in late December 2009, that
they would have to stop parading, more or less — I think they were going to
be allowed one day a month or something — until the end of the fiscal year.
For three months they were going to take money away from the reservists and
just let the chips fall where they may. The chips, if they had fallen that
way, would have resulted in a large number of reservists just leaving
because they need that money.
At any rate, Minister MacKay ordered or directed or discussed with the
senior leadership of the Canadian Armed Forces the necessity of putting a
policy in place to put reserve pay on the same footing as Regular Force pay
and the civilian wage envelope of the Department of National Defence.
To date, as we heard, that has not occurred. The army has done some good
things and we are pleased that, first of all, General Devlin, and apparently
his successor is carrying this policy on, has — I won't even say fenced off,
roped off those 37.5 days plus 7. But again, that's not the whole picture.
Once again, as Senator Dallaire so correctly identified, a change of
heart, a change of anything at the last minute still means that that money
could be taken out of the budget because it's classed as O&M. It's not
locked in as the other wage envelopes are. So we are still crying for a
policy that would make it impossible to take that money out. That has not
Recommendation 4 is mobilization. Reserves 2000 disagrees that
mobilization should be eliminated as a role for the militia.
I wrote to Senator Wallin after this report came out and made my points
there, and I have a copy of that letter if your clerk does not have it that
I can make available to you. I'll give you a copy before I leave.
We feel that the militia must continue to have a mobilization role,
because the absolutely tiny size for just the army field force, which, if
you took all the people in the army who it is capable of deploying to the
field, that is with the right uniforms and the right vehicles and the radios
and all the equipment, you could probably put about 12,000 people in the
I hope not in the immediate future, but one day Canada will face a crisis
where we're going to need more than 12,000 soldiers, and having a
mobilization plan is the only way to have that insurance policy in your
So we disagree with that. That was the only recommendation of that report
we disagreed with, and we still disagree with it.
Number 5 is the link with Canadians. We were delighted to see the
announcement for the Civil Military Leadership Pilot Initiative at the
University of Alberta. We feel this will obviously strengthen the links
between the Armed Forces and communities, especially if that goes out to be
a full-blown program at some point, but it will also have a positive effect,
we hope, on reserve officer and NCM leadership.
The second biggest problem after recruiting that our supporters
identified on November 16 was that the militia units are lacking in officers
and lacking in junior leaders. You cannot grow and you cannot provide a
capability without that leadership.
For years this has been a problem, and it has not been fixed. This may
help, but it's going to take a lot more than that.
Your Recommendation 6 is to streamline administration. I think you're
onto this particular subject. There's a lot that still needs to be done.
We know, for example — this was reported again to me a couple of weeks
ago — that people are waiting for up to two years after they retire from the
militia for their pension to commence. This would seem to be unacceptable.
I know that there's a committee of the house chaired by Mr. David
Christopherson, Member of Parliament for Hamilton Centre. He did look into
this, and the vice chief was really told in no uncertain terms that this was
unacceptable, and that was about two years ago. That hasn't been fixed.
Another example of these kinds of problems is the organization that
replaced the defence research council — I can't remember the new title — has
recently done a study of the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group. They're
reporting that the average time, from the start of a reserve recruit first
being looked at by the Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre until the time that
he or she is enrolled, is 166 days.
Once again that would seem to be an absolutely inordinate amount of time,
and it's no wonder that young Canadians choose other things to do with their
time. If they can go down to McDonald's and be hired in a week, which I
suspect is probably just about how much time it takes to be hired for those
kinds of jobs, it's amazing, actually, that a number of them do stick around
through that process in order to get enrolled.
Streamlining administration, to my mind, has not yet occurred.
Recommendation 7 is high-level readiness. The supporters that we met with
did not comment on this, but we're not aware of any movement in that
direction since your report came out two years ago.
Number 8 is specialized employment of reservists. Much the same as number
7: We're not aware of any progress or major changes in that area, but
certainly no problems have been brought to our attention.
Number 9 is the retention of experienced reservists. We wholeheartedly
agree, as I think anybody would, that we want to keep as many of these
experienced people as possible; but we also say that predictable funding,
reserve-friendly administration and enhanced leadership production would
assist in achieving that goal.
Recommendation 10 is to inform veterans and families of benefits that are
available. Once again we're not aware of any issues in this area.
Finally, number 11 is to upgrade facilities. Yes, there's a lot of old
infrastructure out there. Reserves 2000 was asked by General Devlin to
assist in garnering community support to try to help with partnering with
private and other levels of government. I had one meeting with General
Devlin, but we've heard nothing further on the subject. We stand by ready to
help if we can.
So that's what I can tell you about what our supporters are saying. As I
say, this is fresh news, hot off the press from the Reserves 2000 point of
view. That's where I would put their comments, ordering them by the
recommendations that were made two years ago.
The top three concerns, however, that came out of our session on November
16 that I've already mentioned were the following: recruiting, number one —
that is a crisis; leadership reduction; and issues surrounding courses —
that's that whole administrative issue about courses being scheduled at
inappropriate times for reservists, courses being cancelled at the last
minute after the reservist has taken time off from his civilian employment
and on and on. There are a lot of things that are not reservist-friendly.
Thank you very much for allowing me to say all that, and I look forward
to your questions.
The Chair: Thank you very much. That was very informative.
Colleagues, I'm looking at the clock. We have until 6:30. I would ask
members to keep their preamble down to a minimum, if we could, and get to
your questions. I know our witness has a lot to offer here.
Senator Dallaire: The 4,500 Class Bs, I was going to ask the
predecessors why the bulk of that money, which is going to the general
staffing of the forces at different headquarters and so on, why does that
come out of the reserve envelope?
Why is that not part of the overall personnel envelope or a separate
element of the O&M bill but not one that is inside the reserve one, which
ultimately skews the numbers? Did anybody ever give you an answer to that?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: The only answer I ever got on that subject was,
well, they're reservists, and therefore it is reserve pay.
Senator Dallaire: We won't even comment on that.
Your argument on the mobilization has been an eternal one between
Reserves 2000 and the army, and we're not talking about mobilizing a corps
of World War II or classic army structure that we used to be fighting each
other about. You're talking about ensuring that the base of people can be
identified previous to coming in.
Recommendation 5 also says that they want the reserves to be closer to
the communities, but absolutely no money, no resources are given to the
reserve units to do that. He's got 37 training days. He can't take 15 of
them to do parades and cocktails and all kinds of other stuff and events to
make him closer to the community.
On one extreme, you want them to be linked in to mobilize, but on the
other hand, they're in the communities but they have no capabilities even to
keep that link. What's the solution in there that you will propose or would
like to propose?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: If mobilization is to be a rule for the militia,
then it would have to be recognized that everything costs something. As you
say, there would have to be some funding in order to make it possible. That
would be my solution, which is, if you're going to be given a role, then be
given the resources to do it. Mission command, if you wish.
Senator Dallaire: Mobilization and community would be one entity,
and they would have a resource base and a mandate to the units to accomplish
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Yes, exactly.
Senator Dallaire: Thank you for the supplemental you gave me
Senator Dagenais: Compared to other countries, is our Army Reserve
increasing or decreasing? And based on what criteria?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: The Army Reserve in Canada, as I said, is
legislated at the moment to grow very gently in accordance with the Canada
First Defence Strategy. That's what is supposed to happen, but we are
predicting that this fiscal year, because of the recruiting problems, the
militia, at least, will actually shrink.
In other countries, such as Great Britain, for example, the reserve
forces are going to grow, and they will assume or at least take on
capability that their full-time forces used to provide.
Senator Dagenais: To ensure a recruiting capacity, have you
considered taking reservists and sending them to campuses or schools where
they can give talks?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: That would certainly be a strategy or a tactic
perhaps to use.
The problem is not attracting people who want to serve in the reserves.
The problem is with the capacity to get them through recruiting and signed
up, and then the capacity of the training system to train them. Actually
attracting people is not difficult.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you, colonel. You've made some pretty
striking observations in that recruiting is not measuring up, that
leadership reduction is an issue and that course access is a problem;
erratic would perhaps be one way to put it.
Is there a common theme, and is that common theme that there have just
been cutbacks to the military and they can't absorb them?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Well, I think that will always impact.
Obviously, if you had tonnes and tonnes of money, everything gets a little
But this has been going on for a long time. Those three particular
problems have been identified for, I would say, at least 20 to 25 years and
probably well before that. In those years, we saw fluctuations in funding,
and certainly when we were engaged in Afghanistan, there was a great
increase in funding, and those problems still existed. I'm not sure; does
that answer your question?
Senator Mitchell: Yes. My supplementary to that would be this: You
have made another striking comment, and that is that we could deploy maybe
12,000 people now in an intense military event, and that while you hope it's
not immediate that something like that might occur, it's going to occur.
What might that look like? What would that event be? What would a
military strategist be thinking about in that regard at this time as the
possible serious event where we had to deploy a lot of people?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I don't think we're going to war tomorrow with
China or something like that.
I think the greatest threat to our way of life is probably a domestic
threat, terrorism in particular. Perpetrated by whom? There are all sorts of
organizations that you can think of out there.
I think that Canada is vulnerable. We have infrastructure that stretches
from east to west, across the country that, if cut — look at the Champlain
Bridge, for example. If someone dropped that down, that is a serious
problem. We have hydroelectric transmission lines that run from James Bay to
New York City. If the lights go out in New York City, I'm sure our friends
in the United States would be rather unhappy about that.
That entire infrastructure is very vulnerable to disruptive activity, and
in order to provide a minimum level of protection, it takes a tremendous
number of people. To my mind, that is the biggest threat to our way of life
Senator Mitchell: Thank you.
Senator Segal: I have two short questions for Colonel Selkirk. Why
do you think that the gap between attracting someone who wants to join the
reserves and this sort of endless recruiting process is such a long gap? Is
it because security and other verifications take time and there is
insufficient staff to do it? Or is it because the Regular Force, to the
extent they're involved, is eager to slow down the process to make sure the
financing is available for them as opposed to for those in the reserve
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I think the answer to that question lies more in
the fact that the recruiting process is probably unnecessarily complicated.
Couple that with situations where, for example, the recruiting centre in
Sault Ste. Marie was closed this year. The unit there now has to send people
to Sudbury for processing, which is about a three-and-half- hour drive. The
individual is probably a high school student. The recruiting centre does not
operate on the weekends. What will this do to the individual's schooling?
What will mom and dad think about that? Probably not very much.
I do know that, for example, that unit was given a recruit quota this
year of 16. So far, they have managed to enroll two people. Now, 16 would
not be enough to sustain them anyway, but they are really going to be in sad
shape by the end of the year. It's issues like that.
Senator Segal: Can you give us a sense, talking now about militia
units across the country, with respect to proposed strength, required basic
strength and actual strength, in a general sense, how are we doing against
those three continuums? Would the majority of our militia units, in your
judgment, be at their proposed strength? Would they be somewhere in between?
Or would they be, in fact, in worse shape?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Undoubtedly, they're somewhere in between.
Here are some of the problems: The overall strength of the militia
includes all those individuals on Class B. The overall strength today is
supposed to be about 19,500. Immediately, you have to knock off the slice of
the militia on Class B that are employed not in the unit, so I would
probably knock off a couple thousand right there. But those are still coming
out of those establishment vacancies in units, so the units are already a
Following on that, there are other impediments to remaining up to
strength, not the least of which is the continual attrition that will happen
over the course of a year. If that intake does not equal the people leaving
— and it never does — then they will always be trending down until some sort
of a course is run and then there is a bigger pickup. So I think it's just
inevitable, given those two factors alone, that units will be under
Senator Segal: Thank you.
Senator Day: Colonel, you were here earlier when Admiral Bennett
spoke about the same issue that Senator Segal had spoken about and I asked
her about effective strength versus authorized, et cetera. First, could you
confirm that the 19,500 is the militia share of 27,000, because we were told
the overall authorized number is 27,000? You indicated the number of actual
reservists was down, and has been going down over the past few years. The
admiral, on the other hand, was very clear that the numbers haven't been
reduced, and that there is no problem with recruiting; they are getting all
they need. I would like you to comment on that and help us out here a little
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I said that the recruit quotas had been
diminished over the years. The number has hovered around 19,000 for several
Senator Day: This is the authorized number.
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: This is the average paid strength.
No, I didn't say it was down, but I'm predicting that it will be down
this year because the number of recruits coming in will not offset the
number who will be leaving.
Senator Day: I think we understand it. The admiral said there has
been no problem, so where you differ from her is only what is happening this
year, not in what has happened in the past?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I've seen the figures for the recruiting success
in past years and it's never been 100 per cent. Maybe that's unrealistic; I
don't know. They've been running in the order of 70 per cent, or something,
of the strategic intake plan.
It's remarkable that the militia is maintaining certain strength. One
explanation for this is transfers from the Regular Force to the militia,
which are not included in that strategic intake plan. Everyone expects to
get a few every year, and that's a good thing. That's wonderful. I don't
think that either the admiral or I are misspeaking, but I think that
accounts for the difference.
Senator Day: Thank you. That was helpful.
The Chair: As the chair, I would like to ask a question myself. I
would like to direct our focus to the number of 27,000. My understanding is
that prior to Afghanistan we had 18,000 to 20,000 in the reserves. Is that
correct? I'm trying to get a sense of where we were 10 or 15 years ago to
where we are now with respect to the numbers that are active in the program.
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: That 27,000 is all components of the Reserve
Force: army, navy, air force, medical, legal. The army portion, or the
militia portion, is 19,500. Within the last 10 years, the strength of
militia has been as low as 12,000 and has gradually crept up since then.
Those were very dark days when there was a lot of talk of actually cutting
out units and amalgamating units. People left in droves because that's very
difficult for a militia reservist. The unit is their family in many ways and
when you start to talk about changing the unit people say, ``Well, I didn't
join for this,'' and they leave.
The Chair: I have one more question to follow up and it goes back
to the recruitment again and Senator Day's question.
You talk about turmoil in your opening remarks as far as the recruiting
in the offices. Perhaps you could expand a bit further on that and tell us
this: If you were in charge, what would you change?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: The turmoil I spoke of is that the Canadian
Forces Recruiting Group has cut back. They've closed a number of recruiting
offices, and I think the total number of people dedicated to recruiting has
been diminished. If I were in charge, I would take almost all the function
of enrolment and put it at the reserve level, as it used to be years ago.
That will take a leap of faith on the part of senior leadership because
there is a comfort zone in having it all done at the recruiting office,
where you have expertise and you have people who are doing this all the time
so they get better at it. It is kind of like this: Would you go to a heart
surgeon if you knew he only did two operations a year, or would you go to a
big city where the average surgeon does 100 a year, or whatever?
I think those are some of the reasons why centralization has become the
order of day, but it's no longer possible. You cannot have people from Sault
Ste. Marie having to go over to Sudbury three or four times in order to
complete an enrolment. In the city of Toronto — that is, if you wanted to
concentrate within each armoury a recruiting cell that did all those things
— there would be an economy of scale and the better practice of doing a lot
of people would be there. To go back to Sault Ste. Marie, if they only
recruit 20 or 30 people a year, they don't get much practice doing that and
some risk would have to be accepted that they might get it wrong once in a
We cannot live in a risk-free world. This is why the centralization of
recruiting has grown the way it has. If I ran the zoo, I would be trying to
devolve as much responsibility to the lowest level as possible.
Senator Dallaire: When the recruiting side was centralized, we
provided a bunch of Class C positions to reinforce the recruiting to be able
to do the job, and those have disappeared. We also see recruiting officers
coming back into the units, but the unit has to absorb those training days
I think you're absolutely correct. The solution is the community. Recruit
in the community, handle the paper work in the community, close to the
school and, yes, there will be risks to be taken. I wholeheartedly support
that dimension. After 15 years, the other one has proven that it cannot meet
For the reservists who are injured, who are allowed to get veterans'
compensation, and so on like that, I have not seen a program that has been
deliberately created to ensure that every reservist that has been deployed
has been followed up on even when they get out of the forces in order to
assist them in getting the services and support they are getting, which has
led to some cases of suicide. To me, that is going toward a dereliction of
duty, but the question is, at what level? Does the unit have that
responsibility? If it does, it's not structured to do that, nor does it have
the resources. Does the Regular Force base, with the joint support unit,
have that responsibility? It's not sending people out there, either.
Are we not essentially abandoning those people who are far from bases in
those isolated units but who are bleeding and serving when we call them
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I wouldn't say that we are abandoning those
people, but I agree entirely that it's much easier for a soldier from, say,
Kingston, because there is one of those support service units right there in
Kingston, than it would be for someone who comes from Yorkton, Saskatchewan.
They will have a long way to go to get that service.
When we had people deployed, if there was a casualty the unit was to go
into an immediate drill, dealing with the family and the individual when he
came back, and that sort of thing.
Senator Dallaire: But no resources.
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: No resources. Nothing extra to do.
Senator Dallaire: Just more work to do.
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Fortunately the regimental families often
stepped up to do that. The regimental council and the honorary colonel were
involved in those issues.
Senator Dallaire: Thank you very much. Those are very ineffective
means. They bled just like Regular Force people bled, but, when it comes to
ultimately looking at them, they are a different body. It just does not make
any sense that, if we can use them in the field equally, when they come back
from the field, they are perceived differently because the problem is more
difficult. I would argue that Veterans Affairs Canada is looking at them the
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: If I may say so, this might be a profitable line
of questioning for other witnesses. I would ask the question along these
lines: What statistics are available to compare reservists to regulars in
terms of, say, PTSD? If there is a higher incidence of PTSD amongst
reservists, what does that tell you? I have no idea what the answer is, but
it might be a profitable line of questioning.
Senator Dallaire: I will tell you that the statistics don't exist.
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: I've heard that, too.
The Chair: Perhaps if I could just ask a further question from
Senator Dallaire's, my understanding is that the reservists who were active
in Afghanistan and other areas are eligible for the same programs that the
Regular Force is. I'd like that clarified for the record. I think that's the
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: It's my understanding, Mr. Chair, that they are
indeed. However, the Armed Forces Ombudsman, in a report about five or six
years ago, pointed out that there were inequities in terms of, for example,
disability insurance and that the leg of a regular was worth more than the
leg of a reservist in terms of payout. I don't know where that stands today,
but that was certainly reported upon.
The Chair: Colleagues, we are coming to an end here. Senator
Dallaire, do you have another question?
Senator Dallaire: If I may, Mr. Chair, I'd like to go back to the
infrastructure. The armouries, except for some of the new ones — and it was
interesting that the answers we got earlier said we're building one in
Regina and one here. We've got nearly 200 armouries, so, if we are building
two or three or fiddling with a couple, it does not meet the requirement of
many of these buildings that are very old, need significant maintenance and
have not been upgraded to new pedagogical levels in order to even conduct
training in their own units — old classrooms, no resources and very few
simulators and things of this nature. Have you ever argued that, in the
infrastructure plan of the forces, that ADM (IE) should have a deliberate
armoury or reserve infrastructure plan that is funded and actioned versus
putting the armouries in competition with a garage needed for the brand new
leopard tanks? Do you not think there should be a deliberate plan for
armouries throughout the country?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Reserves 2000 would support that. We are always
concerned about the lack of plain equipment in a reserve unit. As you are
probably well aware, there is not a reserve unit in this country that would,
if everybody was on parade, have even the vehicles integral to the unit to
lift them. There are not enough radios. There are not enough of a whole
bunch of things. Lack of training aids and facilities, I would say, is
certainly one of those shortcomings, yes.
The Chair: Thank you very much, colleagues. Just before we leave,
could I ask just one more question? You referred to the statistics that we
were 1,000 below last year from the point of view of recruitment. Do you
have a report that has been done on this for your organization so that we
would have something in writing to substantiate these figures?
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Yes. I have is a set of slides that was
presented by General Woiden at the executive of the council of honorary
colonels I believe a month ago, on November 2. Those slides show these
strategic intake plan trends and the success. Perhaps you should ask him for
that. I do have those slides, however. Whatever way you want to handle it. I
can email that to you.
The Chair: If you could, I think that would help our
Lt.-Col. Selkirk: Yes, I certainly will.
The Chair: Colleagues, I would like to thank our witness for
appearing. You were very informative and have brought forward a number of
questions that we would like to pursue further with other witnesses.
We are continuing our review of previous committee reports to obtain an
update on the recommendations presented and a status update. For the next
hour, we will be examining our report Sovereignty & Security in Canada's
Arctic, released in March 2011. As members of the committee are well
aware, the Arctic represents a new frontier for exploration and development.
As the senator from Yukon, I have a keen interest, obviously, in this
region. It is a place with immense challenges and sparse population.
Our committee issued six recommendations in March 2011. We are now
looking for an update on that report and our recommendations. With us today
to discuss the report and provide us some updates is a most distinguished
Arctic advocate, Retired Colonel Pierre LeBlanc.
Colonel LeBlanc, welcome. I understand you have some opening comments. We
have an hour. The floor is yours.
Colonel (Ret'd) Pierre LeBlanc, as an individual: Mr. Chair,
senators, thank you for the invitation to appear here today.
I regret to inform you that Canada has not made substantial progress
since your 2011 report, while global warming has continued to open the
Arctic extensively and human activity has also increased significantly. The
year 2012 was a record year in terms of minimum Arctic ice coverage, and
everything points to an acceleration of the loss of ice in the Arctic. Even
the multi-year ice is fast disappearing.
In 2010, the Northern Sea Route saw four full transits by commercial
ships — that's the Russian passage. As of November 22, the NSR Information
Office reported that 71 transits had taken place in 2013, a 15-fold increase
in three years. In 2013, over 620 permits for ships operating under at least
25 country flags were issued to operate on the NSR.
In 2008, 11 ships traversed the Northwest Passage. In 2012, 30 ships did
so, an increase of 300 per cent. The largest increase came from small
pleasure craft or adventurers who were not required to report to the NORDREG
system. The first transit by a commercial ship, the Nordic Orion,
took place this year. Two cruise ships have already run aground in the
Arctic this year, fortunately without any fatalities. An accident similar to
the Costa Concordia, where hundreds of passengers jumped into the
water, would become a recovery operation. The loss of two experienced
members of the Coast Guard this summer was testimony of that.
Only 1 per cent of Arctic nautical charts meet modern international
standards. The Canadian Hydrographic Service does not have the necessary
resources to correct the situation. Canada should consider developing only
one or two safe corridors to force ships to use those corridors and limit
the cost of developing them.
We have in excess of 125,000 overflights of the Canadian Arctic every
year. In 2003, there were 884 polar flights. These are flights directly over
the North Pole. In 2011, there were in excess of 12,000 such flights, a
14-fold increase. In the last 12 years, an average of 5.4 per cent of the
aircraft accidents, 6.3 per cent of the accidents including a fatality and
7.6 per cent of the fatalities were in the territories. In 2011, Canada
signed an international Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and
Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic. Yet, there are basically zero
dedicated search and rescue assets in the Arctic except for the Coast Guard
vessels during the shipping season and a few Civil Air Search and Rescue
Association, CASRA, assets seldom used to cover an area larger than
continental Europe. The replacement of the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue
Aircraft, FWSA, initiated in 2002 is still further delayed.
I agree with the statement of the Prime Minister that we do not have the
SAR resources to adequately cover the Arctic, but I am convinced that we can
do a lot better. It is my understanding that you have not yet invited the
National Search and Rescue Secretariat to comment on SAR in the Arctic. They
would have better information than what my status allows me access to.
In terms of security, I am of the opinion that at this time Canada does
not face a traditional state-to-state threat. The nature of the threat today
and for the short term is of a constabulary nature and comes mainly from
pollutants that will affect the human security of the inhabitants of the
We must have the capability to monitor activity in the Arctic Archipelago
to enforce our sovereignty and laws over this area, which is still contested
to some degree by the international community. We must also have the
capability to intervene in a graduated manner if illegal activity takes
place, such as illegal fishing, dumping of bilges or drug smuggling. It is
therefore vital that the funding of the RADARSAT Constellation to replace
RADARSAT-2 be maintained and that we also deploy other systems, such as the
high-frequency surface wave radar being developed by RDC. We should also
increase the tempo of our Aurora long-range maritime patrols and task the
Canadian Ranger Patrol Groups along the Northwest Passage with a maritime
I note that the Arctic and offshore patrol ships program has been
delayed, that the replacement of the Louis St- Laurent has been
delayed and that there are no real plans for the fleet of icebreakers.
I have recommended that three ports be built in the Arctic: one in
Iqaluit, one in Resolute Bay and one on the west coast of the archipelago,
either near Tuktoyaktuk or Herschel Island. They will support sovereignty
activities, such as monitoring, search and rescue, and pollution mitigation,
while creating commercial opportunities, such as fishing and tourism.
In conclusion, I would urge you to encourage the government to double its
efforts to correct a situation that is becoming more and more serious for
our national interests. Specifically, I would recommend accelerating the
replacement of search and rescue aircraft, and that one or two of those
aircraft be deployed in the Arctic; giving a maritime surveillance role to
Canadian Ranger patrols located along our coasts, particularly in the
Northwest Passage; adequately funding the Arctic patrol ships program;
accelerating the replacement of the Coast Guard's icebreakers; and lastly,
reducing the tonnage of ships required to report to NORDREG and insisting
that all ships over 10 tons be equipped with the automatic identification
system. Thank you.
Senator Dallaire: Thank you, colonel, particularly for the
overview that you have given us, which confirms, if we look at our six
recommendations, that no progress has been made, aside from some
advertisements on the importance of Canadian Arctic sovereignty.
Do you think that creating a real department of the Arctic, a department
of the north, would be much more desirable than any other recommendation to
the government? The Australians have adopted something similar. They
developed their north. Should we not have a minister, with a budget and
higher authority to take charge of those needs and pursue an agenda, with an
authority over other services?
Col. LeBlanc: I think it is certainly an idea that should be
studied in more detail. It would be important that there be a champion of
the Arctic who could take all the initiatives, all the possible
responsibilities and make some progress, and quickly, because Mother Nature
is working on a different schedule than we are.
The ice loss is progressing at an almost exponential rate. There are a
lot more civilian activities in the Arctic. The risks of search and rescue
incidents are on the rise. A number of cruise ships are traveling in the
High Arctic, while the necessary nautical charts are not available to do so
safely. In my opinion, we are just waiting for a serious accident with a
high number of fatalities before we react.
I think it would be a good thing if, as you suggest, we had a department
with the Arctic as its main focus that coordinated the activities of other
departments — because, obviously, Fisheries and Oceans would be involved, as
would other departments.
Senator Dallaire: I just see that, no matter what the requirement
is — be it security by putting in patrol ships, be it the Coast Guard with
the icebreakers and the like, be it the Rangers, be it the increased fishing
going further north now because the fish are going further north — I just
don't see why those projects do not fall under a minister who has that
responsibility and has to work a deal out with, of course, whoever owns the
Coast Guard or National Defence, but has the bucks and the control to do it,
versus having National Defence run the ship program. And where we're
promised eight, we're now down to apparently four, and it's been delayed
over three years. And now the Coast Guard keeps moving their whole fleet to
the right, and it will rust out before it gets replaced.
My essential question is, with an impetus like the following, we can
argue that the Northwest Passage, or even over the polar caps, would be a
good business proposition for Canada in its trade and that would be the
impetus for creating a capability of running that outfit from a federal
perspective, in conjunction, of course, with the territories.
Col. LeBlanc: I would say one of the things that strike me about
the Arctic is that, as a sovereign nation, we have a duty to look after it
well, to manage it properly, to make sure our various laws are being
followed and that we provide the support to other nations that may be
transiting through the Arctic. That, in my view, is probably even more
important than creating commercial activity.
By increasing the surveillance of the Arctic, by creating the ports, as
I've suggested, by employing Rangers in maritime patrols to look for illegal
fishing, bilge dumping and so on, we will create additional work for the
people of the territories and, at the same time, meet our obligations as a
Senator Segal: Colonel, you will know from your own distinguished
military experience that contextual awareness is pretty fundamental to any
command proposition. You have to know what's happening, and you have to
understand that. You've made some references to RADARSAT and various other
detection capacities we would have in terms of contextual awareness in the
But I want to raise with you, if I may, another problem. Senator Mitchell
will understand this expression; it's a common expression in Western Canada:
``Big hat, no cattle.'' I don't know if they use that up in the Yukon, but
it's used in the West a lot.
Here's my concern. My concern is that, generally speaking, no other
country in the world accepts our view of what our borderlines in the Arctic
are; we're on our own in that respect. We will look at a piece of water and
say, ``That's part of Canada's footprint.'' The Americans will say, ``It's
The Russians are busy building infrastructure. They have deployed in
various ways already in that part of the world. And I suspect their view of
us, to be brutally frank around this table, is ``Big hat, no cattle'' — lots
of speeches on sovereignty, lots of engagements, lots of commitments to
build this and structure that, but in the end, very, very little is
So the question I put to you is as follows, and it really follows upon
Senator Dallaire's question: Until you get a critical mass of business
activity, which provides — whether it's for shipping purposes or whether
it's for mineral and energy purposes — an economic base of activity, which
involves federal regulation, taxation and some movement in of cash in the
sense of revenue flow, it's most unlikely, I would say, that any Canadian
government will be able to divert the kinds of resources that your very
responsible recommendations would imply from the existing day-to-day
operation of where the population is, which is, for better or for worse, in
the South. How do we get there? How do we get around that? I know your
experience is not only military but also private sector.
Col. LeBlanc: I would suggest that it will be very expensive to
develop anything in the Arctic. There's that old saying, ``Build a road and
people will come.'' By building port facilities, all of a sudden we would be
able to support more traffic in the Arctic. The Russians have transiting
fees on the Northern Sea Route, which would be a form of income to
compensate for some of the expenses and investment that we would have to put
in the North.
Oil and gas is about to spring into operation in the western Arctic. As
far as I remember, at least $2 billion worth of permits have been issued on
the Beaufort Sea, just north of the Yukon area, coming out of the Mackenzie
Delta. That is going to generate a fair amount of activity.
There is already right now a study looking into the possibility of
establishing a port in Tuktoyaktuk to support the oil and gas industry. And
if we had a facility like that, the navy would also be interested in using
the facility for refuelling the Arctic patrol vessels, for example. So it's
that ``Build a road and people will come.''
The only thing that's viable, in my mind, in terms of creating wealth in
the Arctic is mining. That has been limited so far. The only real,
interesting project coming up is the Mary River Project on Baffin Island.
But until such time as more mines open in the Arctic, I don't think we'll
see all that much activity.
There is an area in the Northwest Territories called the Slave Province,
which is very rich geologically. There have been various studies to develop
portal facilities in Bathurst Inlet and building a road coming from the
north to supply the diamond mines, as well as base metals that are in there.
In the Izok area, there is a lot of copper, for example. Diamond and gold
are easily extracted from the middle of nowhere, because the ore body itself
fits in a small suitcase; you just fly it out and it's no big issue.
When you're into base metals, you're into tonnage, so you either need
road, rail — something significant to support it. That would be an area that
could be developed further by investment from the mining companies and from
The triple-P approach, I think, would make a lot of sense in the Arctic,
and that would generate that kind of activity that you're suggesting would
help the government invest further in the Arctic.
Senator Segal: A small supplementary. You mentioned RADARSAT,
Rangers, the Arctic operating patrol ships and various other assets. You
didn't mention drones, and I was interested that you didn't mention that
because I have heard from various analysts the proposition that contextual
awareness can be managed through a regular program of oversight — unmanned —
but which would produce the kind of generic data sets that would be of great
value in terms of knowing what's going on in our North and being able,
theoretically, to dispatch assets if there was a reason to do so.
Was there a reason you left out drones, per se, or is it one of those
things that you think are not so practical?
Col. LeBlanc: I believe there was a five- to seven-minute maximum
Senator Segal: I understand. Fair enough.
Col. LeBlanc: The Arctic is a rather large file.
Yes, drones would be useful in the Arctic. Their endurance and range
would be great assets. Domain awareness, as we call it in the military, is
very important. What's also important is to have several layers of
surveillance that you cross-reference. High Frequency Surface Wave Radar to
watch the entry points, RADARSAT to cover from space, Rangers to cover from
the ground. So if there is a solar flare that knocks out our satellites, all
of a sudden we're not blind because we only have one thing to cover the
I suggested developing Resolute Bay as a multi-departmental facility from
which a lot of operations would take place. If the runway were paved in
Resolute Bay, all of a sudden drones could now start operating from there.
Our long-range maritime patrol aircraft would be able to cover the whole of
the Arctic Archipelago. Right now they fly from Comox all the way to Inuvik.
They have to refuel, do their patrol and eventually have to go back. If they
could go right into Resolute Bay, all of a sudden the — Resolute Bay is
pretty well the centre of the Arctic Archipelago, so search and rescue,
pollution mitigation, use of drones, fighter aircraft operation, all of this
would take place in the central part of the Arctic.
Resolute Bay is also sitting on the major Northwest Passage route. So
anybody who goes across the North would know for sure that they're going to
be coming across the RCMP, the Coast Guard, the Canadian Forces and so on.
Senator Mitchell: I'm interested in a very specific question, and
that is that we have been talking about getting modern rifles for the
Rangers for as long as I can remember. How hard can it be to buy rifles for
Col. LeBlanc: The problem with the Rangers' Lee Enfield .303 rifle
is that parts are becoming rare to obtain, so it makes the maintenance of
those weapons difficult.
Most of the modern weapons are very small in calibre, which means your
tolerances are very small as well. The operation in the Arctic requires a
weapon to be used in sort of rough conditions. It's banged around at minus
40. You bang a plastic rifle at minus 40, and you're not going to have a
usable rifle for very long.
The Lee Enfield has proven itself in that climate and in the way that the
Rangers have been using it. The .303 Lee Enfield is also still one of the
most accurate long-range rifles in operation today. The technology is very
good in terms of the weapon. It's very well suited to the Arctic. If it was
my budget, I would buy the blueprints and build new ones, as we are doing
right now in building new Twin Otters.
Senator Mitchell: There is some suggestion — maybe you made it,
but it's made elsewhere — that the Rangers could play a much broader
maritime role. Could you elaborate on that a bit? What would that require
and what would that look like?
Col. LeBlanc: My vision of this program would be to equip the
Rangers with a suitable vessel to go safely to sea, one that would have
outboard engines that could be sent back by plane if they needed repair, as
opposed to an inboard where you would need somebody to actually come up
there and fix the engine. With that vessel, provide them with GPS, satellite
communication, and the boat itself would be operated seasonally by two to
three Rangers going out on various patrols of their areas.
The Rangers know their environment very well, much better than we do, and
much better than what our various technologies can do. To give you an
example, when I was a commander, one of the indications that there was a
submarine in our waters was birds feeding in an area where birds never
normally feed. We wouldn't be able to pick that up from satellite. It
requires local knowledge from people who live there and know the land, know
the animals and can pick up these very small indicators of something that's
Senator Dagenais: Thank you, Colonel LeBlanc. I have been
listening to you talk about Arctic safety and perhaps about the importance
of building a route because you mentioned that some ships have run aground.
Denmark, Russia, the United States and Canada have proceeded with a study
that compiled over 18,000 square metres of seabed. Do you think that is
sufficient to improve mapping based on modern standards, which could make it
possible to traverse the area safely using the seabed?
Col. LeBlanc: To my knowledge, we do not have the necessary
charts. I mentioned that only 1 per cent of nautical charts met modern
hydrological standards. Most of the routes currently being used are used
because nobody has ever hit anything. That is not the way to work in
Canada's High Arctic. I was on the Louis Saint-Laurent, an
icebreaker, in August this year, and the officer on duty told me that they
were using routes that had been used in the past simply because they had not
hit anything, without really knowing what was on the seabed.
Coast Guard ships could be set up with equipment to map the seabed. I was
told that, altogether, the equipment would cost about $1.5 million, and that
it could be installed on Coast Guard ships. While they are traveling in the
north, carrying out their daily activities, they would gather a lot of
information over time that would help us improve the quality of our charts.
The same thing should be done with navy ships for Arctic patrols. It would
greatly improve our database on the seabed.
Senator Dagenais: There is still a lot of work to do.
Col. LeBlanc: An enormous amount.
Senator Dagenais: Thank you very much.
Senator White: You were talking about the charting of the seabed.
Could that not be done with the drones you referred to earlier, and some of
the sonar capability as well?
Col. LeBlanc: There are some underwater, unmanned vehicles. Part
of the mapping of the extension of our continental shelf was actually done
using those devices.
Senator White: Unmanned underwater drones. So that could also be
an option, at least for parts of the Arctic?
Col. LeBlanc: Indeed, yes.
The Chair: I'd just like to ask a few questions, having been a
senator from the Yukon and having a vested interest to some degree. I'd like
to make a couple of points to my good colleague Senator Dallaire, who wants
to create a department of the North.
I can say unequivocally for the Yukon that we don't need a department of
the North, and I don't think Quebec does either. I think everybody forgets
that there are territorial governments in each of three regions, and they
represent their people very well, and that is the vehicle we should use. We
don't need to create another department that the taxpayer has to pay for.
That's just a point of view. I wanted to get it on the record.
Another observation I would make, and just so that the viewers are aware,
there are significant developments, as the witness has outlined, happening
in the North. I can say we can be very proud as a country of what is
happening. For example, the Dempster Highway — which a lot of Canadians
aren't even aware exists — is our only highway to the Arctic, and it's being
extended from Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk as we speak. It will be a $200-million
project and will help aid and abet what the witness just talked about in
respect to the oil and gas. We should be aware those expenditures are going
to be made.
I want to maybe go a little further. RADARSAT was mentioned by Senator
Segal, I believe. That is obviously being replaced as we speak. The
RADARSAT-2 is being replaced now, I believe. RADARSAT Constellation is in
the process of being manufactured and put into place, I believe, in about
three or four years. But you did not speak to PolarSat.
The reason I raise that is that the Arctic is one of the areas where even
with RADARSAT-2 we still have problems with our communications and our
inability to do weather forecasting and that type of thing.
PolarSat, in my understanding, is being very seriously considered at the
present time and will go a long way for communications in the Arctic and to
solve some of these problems we speak of. Do you know anything about
PolarSat, and if you do, could you enlighten us about that?
Col. LeBlanc: Yes, I'm quite aware. When I was invited to
come before your committee, I was to comment on the recommendations in your
report, and PCW was not part of that report.
PCW is the Polar Communication and Weather satellites and consists of two
satellites that will be in elliptical orbit, with the apogee above the
Arctic. When the satellite comes up, it will be visible to the Arctic for an
extended period of time, a little bit more than 12 hours. By having two of
them, they would hand over very much like cell towers down south when you
travel from one place to another. That will allow high frequency or high
band traffic for a lot of the communities and for the Armed Forces.
My understanding is that this is a DND project that is being moved
forward. DND is looking for additional partners to pay for the development
of that project, and I think it would be an excellent addition to our
toolkit to be operating in the Arctic.
Communications is a problem. There was an exercise in early 2000 where
the exercise that was being conducted was of a large search and rescue
operation, and when all departments went up to the Arctic, eventually, they
just plugged the communication hose because the pipes were way too small to
carry the kind of information that needed to be carried rapidly. Sending a
large picture, for example, which is very useful for a number of
applications, takes a lot of time. When you have dozens of people up there
using the present infrastructure, obviously, you overwhelm it. This project
of Polar Communication and Weather satellite is an excellent project, and I
would certainly recommend that even if the Canadian government cannot find
another partner outside of ministries, that it would proceed in any case.
Senator Wells: Thank you for appearing and answering the question
up to this point. I want to go to the recommendations, which you noted that
you were asked to comment on. I notice that in them there is mapping
security, icebreaking, search and rescue and pilotage infrastructure. I know
you are appearing as an individual, but with your background and the fact
that you are a lobbyist in the mining industry, it seems to me a lot of the
things that are in the recommendations from the initial report would also
help economic opportunity in the Arctic. Would you say that economic
development and the things that are recommended within the report go hand in
Col. LeBlanc: I'm not quite sure that you would really increase
the economic dimension of what takes place in the Arctic. I'm still of the
view that mining is the way to create wealth in the Arctic as well as
high-paying jobs. The mining sector is one of the highest, if not the
highest, paying sector on average. This would create economic activity.
The various functions done by security forces would obviously increase
some activity in the North, but it would be limited in scope, I believe.
Senator Wells: It would seem obvious to me that if all of these
were in place to the full extent, economic opportunity would more easily
flow from opportunities in the North.
Col. LeBlanc: I believe you are right there. PCW, for example, the
Polar Communication and Weather system, would help the exploration companies
do more exploration, because, obviously, their cost of operation would go
down. Anything that would reduce the cost of operation of the exploration
companies would encourage them to do more with the same amount of money,
and, typically, as more and more exploration takes place, you eventually
have projects that eventually take place.
Senator Wells: Thanks very much.
Senator Dallaire: Chair, thank you for this, but I need a bit help
for my case. When you asked a question about the polar satellite, and
Colonel LeBlanc responded by saying DND has the lead and is looking for
partners, to me, that's not the way the government should look at a
requirement. It should look at a requirement and then parade people
accordingly with the funding. It's not an easy fix, but I look at the
federal dimension of that and not an interference, of course, at the
provincial level, where I think the federal government has a lot of outfits
involved but not an entity. They have an associate minister, I think, who
has a second or third duty to look at the Arctic, but that's a long way down
The Russians have extensive capabilities, knowledge and experience. I
recently met a gentleman who set up oil drilling capabilities in the
Siberian region using Canadian technology and who has been there for years.
Do you not believe that we should be have extensive exchanges — scientific,
military, security, Aboriginal — on a bilateral basis between the Russians
and us in order to build a cabal to reinforce our capabilities and also
potentially work something out with them in relation to that significant
water passage area?
Col. LeBlanc: Yes, I believe we should be doing that, and
we have, to an extent, been doing that for a number of years. Back in the
1990s, a number of Canadian companies were brought over to Russia to share
our experience and technology in building in a very cold climate, something
the Russians, despite their own experience, were not terribly good at. Back
in 1996, already we were having joint exercises including the Russians,
Americans and Canadians, and one of them took place in the Yukon. This goes
all the way back. The new SAR agreement in the Arctic now sees
communications between the various countries in the Arctic and that much
faster than existed in the past, where we would have to go through the chain
of command to the government, government to government. Now search and
rescue experts can communicate directly with their Russian counterparts. We
are seeing a lot more cooperation at the cold face in the Arctic than would
happen elsewhere. For the senators who have lived in the Arctic, it's a
different environment where people are much closer, and, I would say,
cooperation is better than down south. Climate presents us with sort of a
common enemy, if you wish, so people tend to work much closer together, and
I think at the cold face it would be important to do that.
Senator Dallaire: Although I would like to discuss the need of
Canada having an amphibious capability to deploy along its coastlines to
provide support in cases of catastrophe, like Attawapiskat and other areas,
my real question is this: Regarding Canada and the circumpolar commission —
I forget the term — that we are leading, there has been movement by the
Chinese in wanting to get involved in the Arctic and maybe even building
capacity to do that. Can you explain why that would be something either
positive or negative in regard to our sovereignty or our continued control
of the Arctic area?
Col. LeBlanc: Our relationship with China still concerns me to
some extent. China continues to increase its arms capability. Recently, it
has started to make claims over the airspace of one of the Japanese islands,
which has generated some overflight by American bombers.
Those kinds of situations are very dangerous because people can make a
miscalculation on what the other guy will do and all of a sudden you have a
domino effect that gets us into a very difficult situation.
China has been very interested in the Canadian Arctic for a number of
reasons. One of them is certainly the Northwest Passage. China exports a lot
of goods, and maritime routes are important to them. They had the Xue
Long, the Chinese icebreaker do research in the Canadian Arctic on a
number of occasions, so routes would be one of the elements of interests to
the Chinese. Energy would be another one, as well as mining.
At one point the Chinese were involved in a large mining project in the
Slave Province in the Izok ore body. If my memory serves well, this was to
be a $3-billion project. China has already bought into some of our oil
companies, so yes, they are becoming increasingly involved at the Arctic
Council as an observer. They were approved this past May at the council
meeting. They can bring a lot to the table. They do a lot of research not
only in the Canadian Arctic but in the Svalbard Islands and their station in
Antarctica. They do a lot of polar science and if science is made public, it
contributes to the betterment of everybody.
Senator Segal: I wanted to ask our guest about two proposals that
have been circulated quite broadly. One relates to the notion that although
the Americans and the Canadians will never agree on precise lines on the
map, we do a lot of things together and have for a long time. NORAD had a
new arrangement some years ago on joint shipping patrol and other
If Canada and the United States were to agree, setting aside the border
lines, that they would together patrol the Northwest Passage for
environmental protection — we have a common interest — that would give
Canada and the United States de facto control of those entering and leaving
the Arctic by virtue of that patrol proposition. But it would also provide
some measure of assurance to the business community that in the classic,
traditional fashion, Canada and United States have found a way to work
The other proposition being circulated in some quarters is that if we
were less precious and joined the anti-ballistic missile undertaking of our
American allies, specifically with threats that could be addressed to this
part of the world by North Korea and others, with a major surveillance array
operated cooperatively between our American and Canadian friends as we did
for many years at the Argentia base in support of national and collective
interests, it would have a stabilizing effect and would send a positive
message about our commitment to work together notwithstanding what
disagreements we may have about various lines on a map.
Can you give me your own response to those two propositions?
Col. LeBlanc: Yes, I believe I made a recommendation similar to
the first one that Canada and U.S. jointly patrol the Arctic. The Canadian
Arctic is one of the approaches to the waters of Alaska. In military terms,
you always watch the approaches to your territory as opposed to waiting
until the person is there to deal with them. You want to do the surveillance
Both of our nations have a vested interest in what happens on the western
part of the Arctic in terms of our economic zones, and we jointly make sure
nothing happens that is against our national interests. The alert warning
for the Northwest Passage and Canadian Arctic, on a maritime dimension, is
already part of NORAD. It would be to further that agreement. The agreement
would say that despite our different positions, we agree to disagree on
those but jointly we will patrol and protect of the U.S. and Canadian
Arctic. That would send a very strong message to anybody else who would want
to come there and challenge our own claims.
Senator Segal: The Chinese and the Russians perhaps.
Senator Mitchell: A lot of Arctic sovereignty is established when
it comes down to use. I'm not a lawyer, but apparently a particularly strong
point about use is indigenous people's use. The Canadian Rangers are
indigenous peoples, but they get 17 days a year of active duty supported. Is
there a strong argument for that being increased, even to the level of a
regular reserve unit, which gets 37 days plus 7 days of collective training?
Col. LeBlanc: I would certainly agree with increasing the role of
the Rangers in the Arctic. I published an article two years ago relating to
the use of Rangers in a maritime patrol role. One of the strengths in using
Rangers is that it would be difficult for the international community to
challenge Aboriginal people protecting their area. That is a strong argument
for having Rangers more involved.
If we were to give them a maritime patrol role during the summer months
it would just be a question of how many days the government or the Armed
Forces would allocate to those patrols. I see the patrols going out on a
regular basis from when the ice recedes until the ice starts forming again.
We could send them out every week or two or three weeks with people onboard
a sturdy vessel and provide them with the appropriate training so they have
a sea ticket so that when they do go to sea, they would have the appropriate
qualifications to do that. For example, we can provide a course to do small
engine repairs so they can fix their own engines. That brings capacity to
the community in the sense that you now have a Ranger who can fix the engine
of someone else in the community that needs a repair.
There is value in using the Rangers in the North. It would provide
meaningful employment for the Rangers to protect our sovereignty in the
Arctic and patrol our waters.
Senator Mitchell: I was quite struck by your point that the real
economic potential from the North comes from mining. Are you including in
that offshore drilling or oil and gas exploration generally or are you
saying mining eclipses that?
Col. LeBlanc: Oil and gas is a big problem in the Arctic because
you are now talking crude when we extract, and the ability to deal with an
accident similar to the Gulf of Mexico. When you have crude coming out and
being mixed with ice or it's under ice and is now spreading, how do we deal
with that? I would be very reluctant at this point in time, because of our
lack of technology to deal with such issues, to let oil exploration or oil
exploitation take place.
Mining is a different ball game. The risks are well known and can be
mitigated quite easily, and in my mind that's a safer option at this point.
Fishing is very limited; tourism is very limited. To create wealth in an
expansive area you need mines, such as the diamond mines, gold mines, iron
ore and so on.
Senator Dallaire: The 1987 white paper called for the creation of
a major tri-service military base at Arctic Bay at the big mining site,
where we would permanently deploy troops who would be indoctrinated into
Arctic life. That means longer than three weeks and meaning they run out of
chocolate bars and are able to operate beyond survival in a more effective
The idea of a Nordic military not being able to function normally in an
Arctic environment, because it's by exception that we do, doesn't augur well
for sovereignty, no matter how many boats you put out there. Do you not
believe that the land side should be able to deploy at various places
throughout the Arctic for periods of time, rotating people through or simply
moving from one sort of area to another, setting up temporary camps, without
destroying the environment and all that kind of stuff, but building a
capacity? The Dutch royal marines have more Arctic training than we do, in
northern Norway. Do you not believe that the DND land side should be far
Col. LeBlanc: Yes, senator, I believe so. Back in 2000, when I was
commander of then Canadian Forces Northern Area, I wrote to the Chief of the
Defence Staff to indicate that I was seeing an increase in cold weather
casualties to the army units that were coming up north on a lesser frequency
than in the past. The Arctic is a very challenging environment still today,
despite all of our modern equipment and so on. If you are a casualty at
minus 47 and you have a wind chill factor that brings it down to minus 75,
and I have operated at those temperatures, if you don't know what you're
doing you're going to be part of the problem.
The government has put in place the Arctic survival school or Arctic
warfare school in Resolute Bay. To follow your point, that would be the
place where I would put troops, as opposed to Arctic Bay, which is off the
Northwest Passage. The weather coming into Arctic Bay at the airport is
always a bit tricky, having been there a few times. Resolute Bay is still
the same, but if we were to develop the facility, the base itself to have a
paved runway and modern instrument approach equipment, I think that would be
the place where you would put military units and rotate them on a regular
I will also add that since I left, there has been an increase in major
exercises, joint exercises with at times many federal departments and
foreign nations, Americans and Danes in the Arctic, and that obviously
contributes to our ability to operate there.
Senator Dallaire: These exercises are in the summertime and in
reasonable weather. We are talking about a presence year-long, about
acquiring skills. Should this army of ours not be an army that has an Arctic
capability that is beyond just really familiarization? I took the winter
warfare course and even the length of that course it was still
familiarization. Should it not be an operational task that we should be able
to function effectively with a minimum requirement of survival to be able to
handle whatever catastrophe or reinforcing need that might appear out there?
Col. LeBlanc: Yes, I agree with you, senator, that we can
do more. There has been an increase in the number of exercises, and there is
a brigade that actually exercised in the Yellowknife area this past winter.
It was the first time that a unit of that size had actually gone north. We
need to operate there more often. To give you an anecdote, for one of the
army exercises that was going to take place in Resolute Bay, we needed three
C-130 aircraft to bring the troops and the equipment up north. Typically, in
those days we would do what we call a cross-tactical loading of the
aircraft, so we would have elements of all the various forces in each of the
aircraft; you would have ammunition in each of the aircraft and you would
have fuel in each of the aircraft. But the air force said no, all the
dangerous cargo has to be in one aircraft to deal with dangerous cargo and,
sure enough, that's the aircraft that didn't make it to the North so our
military people became refugees, if you like, in our own country, having to
live in the gymnasium of Cambridge Bay until such a time as the aircraft was
repaired and the fuel got on board.
This was a tactical, operational lesson that we were relearning in the
1990s. Yes, we do need to do more exercises in the Arctic so that people are
completely comfortable when they go up there, that we have the right
equipment, that the communication works and so on and so forth.
The Chair: I'd like to ask a question now and refer to the
Northwest Passage again. I believe you mentioned it in your opening remarks.
We had evidence during the course of our hearings a couple of years ago in
our report by the chairman or president of Maersk, the international
shipping line. He gave some very interesting observations regarding the
viability of the Northwest Passage. I want to point out a couple of the
things he said. He said ships would have to maintain speeds of seven to ten
knots for the shorter distance to translate into faster times. What he was
referring to was the topography of all the islands, the fact that if you go
across the Atlantic you go from point A to point B in a straight line. Of
course, in the Northwest Passage you don't.
Second, which really caught my interest, he made the point that the
Northwest Passage was very shallow in places, and he stated that large
container ships will never be able to work there, destroying the economic
This I thought was very interesting evidence in respect to the long-term
viability of the Northwest Passage. Do you have any comments on that?
Col. LeBlanc: Yes, senator. I was actually in the room when he
made those comments and I've been communicating with this gentleman over the
years. His point, and one that I retained most importantly in terms of
container ships, is the on-time delivery. It is very critical for those
containers to get to where they need to go on time. A delay of two or three
days because some ice is building and you have to wait for an icebreaker to
clear the way would be critical for those container ships.
The question of depth, obviously, could be a problem, but that would
apply only to some of the larger container ships, and they probably would
not want to go there in the first place. One of the comments he made to me
after the Senate hearings was that it was cheaper for a container ship to go
from Asia to Vancouver, offload, put it on a train and send it to the
eastern seaboard than to go around either way by ship, because the Panama
Canal is too shallow and too narrow. Some of these ships are so wide they
won't fit in the present Panama Canal, although I understand it is being
enlarged as well.
There are a number of arguments in favour of container ships, but for the
rest of it there are some advantages. Regarding the ship that transited this
past summer, my understanding is that the savings were in the order of
$200,000, and that for next year they are planning on six ships to go
through. Also, we might see the same kind of increase that we have seen in
the northern shipping route: four in 2010, seventy-one in 2013. That's a
As the ice recedes further, the Northern Sea Route will be open even
faster. Mr. Putin has made a pledge that it's going to be operating all year
round. They are building more icebreakers, and if you keep cutting that ice
on a continuous basis and using the convoy system where you have six or
seven ships behind one icebreaker, that ice won't really have time to
reform. It's going to be relatively easy to maintain the route.
Furthermore, in support of the vice-president of Maersk, eventually the
North Pole is going to be free of ice. In 2012, already it was free of ice
north of the Northern Sea Route, so the ships could go north of the Northern
Sea Route and eventually they will be able to go right over the North Pole.
In those circumstances, there is a lot of depth and it's straight lines,
which is what those ships like to do: steady speed, straight ahead.
Senator Mitchell: The question I really want to ask is how many
years ago Senator Dallaire took that Arctic war training course.
The Chair: You could probably ask him at the end of the committee.
Senator Mitchell: I'm going to disappoint my colleagues if I don't
ask this question: Clearly you are convinced of the impact of climate change
based on science, and would you argue, and I think you are arguing, and
maybe you can clarify or reinforce that this is accelerating and the
problems that are coming with it, the issues and problems you are talking
about are accelerating and we're not keeping up.
Col. LeBlanc: It is, in fact, accelerating. I didn't have the
opportunity to present a number of graphs that would show this very
When you look at slopes of charts, it's very, very clear that very, very
soon we'll be in open water for extended periods of time in the Arctic.
Dave Barber, one of our ice experts here in Canada, predicted the North
Pole itself being free of ice as early as 2017, so just a few years ahead.
He said on one of his trips that the ice all the way up to the North Pole
was rotten ice; it was sort of breaking up and melting.
There's a new phenomenon that started to surface only about two years
ago, and it's about black carbon. Black carbon is depositing itself on the
surface of ice, and these very, very small particles, obviously when the sun
is shining on them, get warm and they start going into the snow.
Snow disappearance is also a new phenomenon. The snow is disappearing
faster in the Arctic than even the ice. They're thinking that probably the
black ice phenomenon is the culprit of that.
You also have methane that is evaporating now in the atmosphere, and
methane is 30 times more powerful as a greenhouse gas than CO2.
CO2 is making methane evaporate, and methane is 30 times more
powerful; so obviously you get that build-on effect.
The Chair: Colleagues, the time is eight o'clock. I would like to
take the opportunity to thank the colonel for taking time out of his busy
schedule to be here. I would hereby adjourn the meeting.
(The committee adjourned.)