08 March 2007

Confusion at Disneyland 2

On Goose Bay and the Conservative's promises:

CBC Here and Now, March 7, 2007

DEBBIE COOPER: Steven Harper also committed to a beefed up military presence in Goose Bay. Is the government still committed to that?



JIM FLAHERTY: The when is being worked on. I mean there is work . . .I know there is because as Finance Minister I see it. There is work afoot to accomplish this. We have only been the government for 13 months. The last group were there for 13years and didn't get a whole bunch of things done.

We've accomplished quite a bit in the 13 months but there's more to be done and the Goose Bay commitment remains.

DEBBIE COOPER: So people are going to have to have more patience there?

JIM FLAHERTY: Yes but not for too long.
But, then there's this testimony by Major General Mike Ward.

Ward is a lot more than the model of the modern major general. As he described himself to the standing committee on national defence:
My role, on behalf of the Deputy Minister and the Chief of the Defence Staff, is to harmonize, synchronize and integrate the Force Development activities of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force, as well as the duties carried out by DND's Assistant Deputy Ministers.

Force development is that function that continuously conceives and redesigns the military so that it is better geared to fight the next war than the last one. It includes analysis of government policy on defence and the security environment, as well as we can predict it, out into the future. It uses that analysis to identify possible future scenarios within which we would apply military force or use military skills in things like humanitarian interventions. In those scenarios, we test our forces and our equipment to determine what changes might need to be made as we replace or modernize them at key stages in their lives.
That role, incidentally is Chief Force Development. Basically, if Goose Bay is on anyone's table, it would definitely be on Ward's.

That's what makes his remarks - excerpted below - very telling.

Those familiar with Ottawa will not find it at all bizarre that a defence and security initiative is being lead by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada. The rest of us can just call that the place is known as Disneyland for a reason.

But I digress.

Standing Committee on National Defence
Thursday, February 8, 2007
Hon. Joe McGuire:

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

We have been concentrating on the equipment required in our overseas operations, and rightly so. Our soldiers are in the field and so on, but the government has announced a major domestic initiative in the north to exercise our sovereignty in that area.

I am just wondering what procurements are required for that initiative. The minister has made some commitments to Goose Bay and other areas that he has in mind for exercising that sovereignty. What kind of equipment--ships, planes, ports, whatever--is going to be required, and how far along is that process? Has it got to the Public Works level? Exactly where is the planning for our northern initiative?

MGen M.J. Ward:

In response to government direction, we've been in the process of developing a “Canada first” defence strategy, which really characterizes the defence policy initiatives that are key to the government's desires. In keeping with that, in the capability development realm, we've been following up with analysis of specific scenarios, including the Arctic, that allow us to understand what types of roles the Canadian Forces can provide in that region, and also against the types of gaps or deficiencies we may have in, for instance, the ability to survey our Arctic, to know what's going on up there, to potentially to respond or to maintain more presence.
So we're going through a number of analyses to look at what our options might be, and that's tied up in the defence strategy that's going through the cabinet process at this time. The government will have us look at a number of initiatives to see how we can do a better job in that particular part of our domestic land space, air space, and approaches.

Hon. Joe McGuire:

Are there any first steps being implemented on the Goose Bay commitment, in Bagotville, and so on, on the initial announcement the minister was making on Goose, and the role Goose was going to play in the north? Is there anything imminent there as far as the equipment purchases or instructions to public works to proceed with some equipment purchases?

MGen M.J. Ward:

We really can't say because of what's in the plan, but there really hasn't been specific action taken on the Goose Bay initiative. [Emphasis added]

Hon. Joe McGuire:

So the whole northern initiative, the arctic initiative, is at a very elementary stage?

MGen M.J. Ward:

Part of it is at the highest levels of government in terms of specifying a lead department to review an arctic strategy. The Privy Council Office certainly has a keen interest in making sure there's a balance of effort and an understanding of who the lead department would be. INAC has been determined to be the lead department.

Hon. Joe McGuire:

They're still trying to identify the department that will lead the initiative? Is that it?

MGen M.J. Ward:

No, my understanding is that INAC has been determined to be the lead department for the development of the strategy, but several government departments also have roles to play in that. Foreign Affairs certainly has a significant role to play, as it affects our offshore or issues beyond our territorial boundary. So it will take some time I think for each of the government departments to get together and discuss those issues. We'll be having discussions in coming weeks with INAC officials just to make sure we each know what each other is doing with regard to the Arctic. So it's at a fairly preliminary stage.