News Highlights – 18 May 12

  • Whither Goose Bay? (1)  Remember the “Goose Bay may not be getting what was promised” story Defence Minister MacKay had this to say shortly after the story was published:  “I wish to reaffirm that the defence team is working to fulfill our commitment for an operational mandate for Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay so that the Base, and the community, prospers for years to come. Minister Penashue and I look forward to announcing this operational mandate as soon as work is complete. Our government is committed to ensuring a clear operational mandate for 5 Wing Goose Bay that takes advantage of its unique location and enhances the protection of Canadian sovereignty, including in the Arctic ….”  I wonder if that means “we’ll soon have a specific job for Goose Bay to do soon”?  I personally enjoy the thought and imagination that went into the title of the statement.
  • Whither Goose Bay? (2)  More on Goose Bay from the House of Commons yesterday, this time from Minister for the area Peter Penashue:  “Mr. Speaker, I can reaffirm that our government is working to fulfill our commitment for an operational mandate for 5 Wing Goose Bay that takes advantage of a unique location and enhances the protection of Canadian sovereignty, including in the Arctic. Since 2006, our government has consistently worked to ensure the future viability of 5 Wing Goose Bay through investments, such as runway resurfacing and decontaminating sites around the base.”  Well, the feds DID spend ~$16M to leverage more than $300M to do environmental clean-up in the area….
  • Whither Goose Bay? (3)  In fact, lookit all the recent MERX listings that pop up for “Goose Bay” and “5 Wing” (including a search for someone to provide “site support services” at 5 Wing Goose Bay, with more on that contract – including how DND’ll engage industry and Aboriginal groups as part of the work – in bid documents here)
  • Afghanistan  Interested in how many projects Canada funded to help women in Afghanistan, and how much each one cost?  Check out this written response to an MP’s question (via Google Docs)
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1a)  Remember this Canadian Press story“The Harper government called in the RCMP to investigate a politically embarrassing story involving the decision to sole-source the purchase of the F-35 stealth fighter, claiming it was a breach of national security, The Canadian Press has learned. The Mounties conducted a five-month review into an alleged leak of cabinet documents under the Security of Information Act, recently used to charge a naval intelligence officer in an apparent spy case ….”  CP Reporter Murray Brewster is kindly sharing the documents this story was based on – check here (Google Docs)  Special thanks to Murray and CP.  More discussion of this story over at
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (1b)  The Government’s Message on this, from the Public Works Minister “Mr. Speaker, the RCMP was asked by the Clerk of the Privy Council to look into a possible unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, which is done from time to time.”
  • F-35 Tug o’ War (2)  Opposition MP’s getting antsy about costs again after some reported U.S. defence cuts  “A U.S. Congressional recommendation to cut $528-million from planned F-35 fighter jet acquisitions over the next year suggests the costly project the Conservative government has signed on to may be “crumbling before our eyes,” NDP MP Matthew Kellway says. Mr. Kellway (Beaches-East York, Ont.) and other critics said the reprimand from a powerful budget appropriations panel in the U.S. House of Representatives should make Prime Minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) take a serious look at “alternatives.” Despite increasing U.S. Department of Defense requests for spending by a total of $5-billion on a range of other weapons and system procurements, and other defence areas, the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee recommended $528.5-million in procurement cuts for the F-35, Gannet Company’s reported. The reduction would be a six per cent drop in the $8.9-billion U.S. Department of Defense request for funding in the 2013 fiscal year, including $5.2-billion for 25 F-35s. Opposition MPs said the U.S. procurement costs for 2013 are an indication of how much the estimated costs for the sophisticated new fighter jets have risen since the Harper government announced in 2010 it intended to acquire 65 air force versions of the F-35 at an initial purchase price of $5.58-billion with an additional $2.98-billion for add-ons and weapons in Canada ….”
  • What’s Canada Buying? (1)  Potential bidders get more time to send in a proposal to convert some armoured vehicles and artillery guns into display pieces (via
  • What’s Canada Buying? (2)  Wanted: someone to “to design and develop a knowledge-rich agent-based social simulation architecture and to carry out a parameter sweeping analysis of the system to fully understand social identity dynamics in the model and to see where various real world societies lie on this possibility-space of artificial worlds” (software to simulate people from different societies and with different thought processes to help train troops to interact?) – more in bid document extract here
  • Way Up North (1)  Remember this CP story?  Six years after the Harper government declared the Arctic to be a new operations area for the Canadian military, the army has struggled to find enough parkas, cold-weather tents, lanterns and heaters to equip forces that take part in its annual summer exercise. The “critical equipment shortfalls” were so bad last year, the head of the army approved a request by area commanders to buy missing gear themselves, say internal briefing documents ….” More sharing from Murray Brewster/CP – documents here and here (via
  • Way Up North (2)  Researcher wonders if it’s time to consider using more unmanned aerial vehicles to keep an eye on places  “In Canada, could drone technology help with Arctic surveillance? If so, should it lead us to re-think the acquisition of Arctic patrol vessels? What other Canadian military priorities could drones help us to meet at lower cost? These and other questions like them are wide-ranging. The answers could have transformative implications. Now is the time to think them through ….”
  • Way Up North (3)  Elsewhere in the Arctic neighbourhood….  “The largest military exercise in the High North, inside and immediately outside the Arctic Circle, since the end of the Cold War (and perhaps even before) was completed on March 21 in northern Norway. Except for the crash of a Norwegian military transport plane in Sweden during its course the world would have been unaware of it. Cold Response 2012 was conducted from March 12-21 primarily in Norway but also in Sweden with the participation of 16,300 troops from fifteen nations as part of full spectrum – air, sea, infantry and special forces – maneuvers against the backdrop of the past three years’ new scramble for the Arctic. The term High North is a translation of the Norwegian designation nordområdene which was adopted by NATO in January of 2009 for its two-day Seminar on Security Prospects in the High North in Reykjavík, Iceland attended by the bloc’s secretary general, chairman of its Military Committee and two top military commanders, the Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation. Four of the five Arctic claimants – the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark – are members of NATO. The other, Russia, is not. In 2010 Norway became the first Arctic nation to move its military command center within the Arctic Circle, transferring the Norwegian Operational Command Headquarters from Stavanger to Bodø, a five-story complex built during the Cold War to withstand a nuclear attack. The preceding year Norway purchased 48 Lockheed Martin F-35 fifth generation multirole fighters ….”
  • Here’s why it’s called QUESTION Period, not “Answer Period”Mr. Peter Stoffer (Sackville—Eastern Shore, NDP): Mr. Speaker, when Canadian military personnel serve their country, they do not get to make up their minds. They follow orders. Unfortunately, many of them become disabled. Over 6,500 disabled veterans and their leader Dennis Manuge are asking the government to stop the appeal of Justice Barnes’ decision to end the SISIP clawback. These are the heroes of our country. Unfortunately, they served their country and became disabled. Two different judges have ruled to stop the SISIP clawback. Will the government now serve these disabled people by stopping the legal proceedings, meet with Dennis Manuge’s legal team and pay out the money they so rightfully deserve? Hon. Julian Fantino (Associate Minister of National Defence, CPC): Mr. Speaker, we are committed to supporting our veterans and those who have served our country so ably. I would like to also point out for the member that the government has stood up for our veterans and brought a number of programs, which I can list. In that regard, we are also saying, once and for all, that we will not be second to anyone when it comes to looking after our men and women in uniform, those who serve today and those who have served very ably in the past.”
  • Former head Canadian civilian in Kandahar Elissa Golberg:  helping doesn’t always mean just sending the troops  “…. Canada does not adopt a one-size-fits-all approach to disaster response, recognizing that needs vary from crisis to crisis, and that our mechanisms must do the same. Financial support, for instance, may include funding through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), civilian-led efforts, the United Nations, and/or, other humanitarian organizations such as the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. This is often the most effective means of providing life-saving assistance, as these operations are on the ground, able to recognize the most urgent needs of the affected areas. However, Canada also maintains emergency relief stocks that can be shipped quickly, and can deploy pre-identified Canadian civilian technical and humanitarian experts – including a Canadian Red Cross field hospital – when additional support is needed. In certain situations, when local and international capacities to respond are overwhelmed, Canada can, and does, deploy Canadian Forces personnel and assets. In specific contexts, the Canadian Forces bring unique capabilities and can provide valued logistics support (including airlift), or medical, engineering, and communications expertise to assist in responding to natural disasters ….”
  • Analyst on how General Leslie’s recommendations on reorganizing DND’s “head shed” should be done“…. Leslie’s analysis was as meticulous as it was shocking. Between 2004 and 2010 the number of people in DND/CF grew by 18 per cent. The regular force grew by 11 per cent, but the number of full-time reservists at NDHQ grew by 22 per cent and the number of civilians by 33 per cent. In sum, the non-operational “tail” grew by 40 per cent; the front-line trigger-pullers — the “tooth” — by 10 per cent. His recommendations were obvious: reduce NDHQ staff, especially civilians, consultants, and full-time reservists, but maintain expenditures on spare parts, capital and infrastructure, to maintain future effectiveness. Unfortunately, the most valuable part of the DND/CF “diarchy,” namely the front-line forces, are also the most vulnerable when it comes to cuts. We all know that Canadians do not admire the Canadian Forces because of the valiant work of tweedy, bow-tied civilian consultants at NDHQ. We also know how good bureaucrats are at protecting themselves and that their measure of success has nothing to do with military effectiveness or taking care of veterans. This is the context within which to understand the F-35 controversy. Of course the RCAF requires an “affordable replacement” for the CF-18. The serious strategic question is this: 20 years hence, will Canadian pilots be flying an up-to-date or obsolete aircraft? Gen. Leslie’s report has provided the government with principles for decision and excellent detailed advice. They have an opportunity to act in the interest of all Canadians. Even with fiscal restraint, all it takes is leadership.”
  • Oopsie – glad nobody was injured  A Snowbird jet was damaged when it hit a bird during the aerobatic team’s first show of the season. The military precision flying team’s performance over 15 Wing Moose Jaw on Wednesday was going well until one of the Tutor jets struck the bird. Team lead Major Wayne Mott says they stopped the show so the pilot could land, then re-started the performance. Mott says the minor damage to the plane should be fixed by Friday when the team leaves for a Winnipeg show this weekend ….”
  • Prime Minister Stephen Harper …. announced that he will travel to the United States to participate in the G-8 Leaders’ Summit at Camp David, Maryland, on May 18 and 19, 2012. He will then participate in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Chicago, Illinois, on May 20 and 21, 2012. At the G-8 Summit, Prime Minister Harper will reinforce Canada’s commitment to working with international partners to bring forward concrete solutions to the world’s most pressing economic, political, social and security challenges …. At the NATO summit, Prime Minister Harper will reinforce Canada’s commitment to helping advance ongoing issues that are central to the success of the Alliance. The Prime Minister will be joined by Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird and Minister of National Defence, Peter MacKay ….” – more from media here
  • Defence Minister speaks to Lithuania’s Defence Minister
  • Defence Ministers says “way to go” to latest Royal Military College graduating class

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