The Senate Committee on National Security and Defence focuses on what it takes to keep Canadians safe at home and abroad.
During this parliamentary session, the committee heard from a variety of witnesses on Canada's national security and defence policies and practices. It studied harassment in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada’s possible involvement in peace support operations and examined issues related to the security challenges faced by Canada.
Most notably, the committee released its three-part series related to Canada’s National Defence Policy.
The first report, completed at the request of the Minister of National Defence and entitled UN Deployment: Prioritizing Commitments at Home and Abroad, examined Canada’s possible deployment on a United Nations Peace Support Operation. This report contained 8 recommendations.
The second report, Military Underfunded: The Walk Must Match the Talk focused on broad themes that must be addressed in order to have an effective military. The themes included increasing defence spending from 0.88% of GDP to 2% by 2028, fixing procurement and building cross-party consensus on military issues. It also looked at prioritizing military commitments.
The final report, Reinvesting in the Canadian Armed Forces: A Plan for the Future looked at modernizing Canada’s commitments within the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), as well as specific capability gaps within the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Air Force that must be addressed. The report contained 30 recommendations to the government.
“During this session of Parliament, the committee was able to bring forward significant reports to support the women and men of the Canadian military, as well as the members of the RCMP. It is clear that the government must deliver the much needed equipment and resources to the military so that they can safely and effectively carryout the job we ask them to do for Canadians and as part of binational and international organizations such as NORAD and NATO. At the same time the government should not waste money on the Super Hornets purchase, which is a costly mistake that will limit our ability to work with our allies and hamper efforts to provide the military with the equipment it really needs.”
“For decades the world has turned to Canada for help and support. We are once more being called upon to deploy our resources, our expertise and our compassion to bring a measure of hope to those who live in the grip of violence. Our reports describes the many ways we in Canada can contribute to a safer world abroad. Canadians have the will and capacity to make a positive impact at home and abroad and the time to act is now.”
In addition to researching and drafting these reports, the committee reviewed several pieces of legislation during this sitting of Parliament, including:
Earlier in the Parliamentary session, the committee voted to unanimously amend Bill C-7, An Act to amend the Public Service Labour Relations Act, the Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board Act and other Acts and to provide for certain other measures, to give the women and women who serve in the RCMP meaningful collective bargaining rights in line with other police forces in Canada, and the ability to negotiate with management on working conditions related to harassment and transfers, as well as safety concerns that are affecting the membership. The majority of the Committee’s amendments were accepted by the government 10 months after it had passed the Senate.
This article is part of a series showcasing Senate committees — a report back to Canadians about the work committee members have accomplished during the past sitting of Parliament.
Committees are at the core of the Senate's work. They are recognized for their major contributions to legislation and public policy. Senator Muriel McQueen Fergusson, the first female Speaker of the Senate, called committees "the heart and soul of the Senate.”
In the last four years alone, over 7,500 witnesses have appeared before Senate committees, leading to the crafting of 531 reports and improved legislation.
Through this work, senators speak up for their regions and give a powerful voice to underrepresented groups like women, people with disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and linguistic and visible minorities.