QP – Defense Policy Review

The Honourable Senator Peter Harder, Government Representative in the Senate

June 14, 2017

Defence Policy Review

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: My question is to the Government Representative in the Senate. Senator Harder, as a northerner, I welcome the focus of the defence policy recently released on issues such as enhancing the ranger and junior ranger program, Arctic search and rescue, and Arctic sovereignty. While I am heartened that this approach looks promising and seems to build on the previous government’s Arctic strategy, the document tabled last week only contained very broad policy statements, such as “New Initiatives: Enhance and expand the training and effectiveness of the Canadian Rangers to improve their functional capabilities within the Canadian Armed Forces.”

I did make a submission to the Defence Policy Review. I outlined several specific recommendations on specific topics drawing on discussions from a round table discussion I held in Nunavut and recommendations from several parliamentary committees in both houses.

Senator, what is the government’s timeline for fleshing out this new policy, and what mechanisms will be used to ensure that northerners have proper input at every stage of the policy’s next development?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): Again I thank the honourable senator for his question and his ongoing interest in particular for issues of the North. In respect of the defence document that was recently tabled, he is absolutely correct in identifying the priority that the document gives to sovereignty issues, the northern dimension of our defence needs.

The Government of Canada has outlined an array of initiatives in the document. I believe there were over 120 recommendations all of which will have to be staged over various years, both with respect to funding and with respect to the other related rollout. The document alludes to a funding framework, and the minister will be making further announcements on the details, including the ones that he references.

With respect to ongoing consultations that are appropriate, I reiterate the government’s commitment to ongoing consultations with the appropriate parties involved in any number of those initiatives, and those will take place in the coming months.

Defence Policy Review

(Response to question raised by the Honourable Dennis Glen Patterson on June 21, 2017)

Enhancing the Canadian Armed Forces’ capabilities, reach, and footprint in the North is a key element of Canada’s defence policy. Through Strong, Secure, Engaged the Government committed to acquiring a number of new Arctic-focused capabilities, including five to six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels.

Despite some production challenges, the delivery of the first ship is expected as planned in 2018 with the balance of the ships scheduled to be completed by 2022.

Canada’s new defence policy also commits to the modernization of the Victoria Class Submarines. This modernization project is expected to begin in the early 2020s. Work will be planned and sequenced to coincide with the extended docking work periods of each submarine, with the last submarine expected to complete its extended docking work period in the mid-2030s.

The Victoria Class submarines, like most diesel electric submarines, are not designed to operate under consolidated sea ice; they are, however, capable of operating in the Arctic in the area of water between the open ocean and consolidated sea ice which is commonly referred to as the marginal ice zone. This capability will continue to exist post modernization.