Evidence of meeting #26 for National Defence in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was things.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Joel Sokolsky  Principal, Royal Military College of Canada
  • Michael Hennessy  Professor, Department of History, and Dean of Continuing Studies, Royal Military College of Canada
  • Douglas Bland  Chair, Defence Management Studies Program, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University
  • David Skillicorn  Professor, School of Computing, Queen's University
  • Glenn Nordick  As an Individual

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Amen, brother.

4:05 p.m.

Principal, Royal Military College of Canada

Dr. Joel Sokolsky

We have no interest in it. It's apart from immigration. When it comes to homeland security—I'll be as blunt as Doug has been on other things—the last thing we want is for the United States to equate Canada with Mexico when it comes to homeland security.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you.

We're going to move on. Mr. Norlock, you have the last question.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Thank you very much. I thought I wouldn't be as frustrated as I am. I have two gloom-and-doomers on the left, and two sort of positive guys on the right.

Mr. Bland, when you say 50% for wages and benefits, I come from one of Canada's largest police forces, and about 90% of the budget is salaries and benefits, so 50% is not too bad.

Mr. Sokolsky, I guess I'm not a very technologically apt person; as a matter of fact, I am very comfortable with pen and paper. I guess it's frustration. It's not anger, it's just frustration. Yesterday and today we had somebody come talk about cyberspace to us, and tell us everything that's wrong with what we are doing, but offered absolutely no solution, or very little in the way of solution. I'm just going to ask you to confirm this or not, sir. Is it because it's so new that we really don't know what we need to do? Or is there a best practice?

I'm a practical person, so I always look for somebody who has solved something better for me. The way I look at our military situation is the way we look at our financial situation. The world is shrinking every day. If somebody farts in the Middle East, our stock markets go wacky, and people say we better send a jet over. There's civil disobedience in some far-off country that hardly anybody knows about, and all of a sudden our sabres get rattling and the stock markets go this way.

It is a small world. I agree with Dr. Sokolsky: we're going to be engaged whether we like it or not. Or we can be shrinking violets and just sell a whole lot of stuff to the world and become very affluent. I don't see us being that. Canada has a history of always punching above its weight. When something needs to be done, we do it.

Mr. Skillicorn, is there a best practice? Do you have any solutions to our cyberspace issues that threaten our security?

4:05 p.m.

Professor, School of Computing, Queen's University

Dr. David Skillicorn

Here's how we got into this position. The Internet was designed to work within government laboratories in the U.S. of the size of about ten; it now connects 12 billion computers, and it's rapidly climbing, with essentially the same technology. Nothing has changed. It was never designed for security and security isn't really workable.

The bottom line is an economic one. You can buy a PC; you can put Windows on it for a couple of hundred dollars. If you wanted that to be a secure piece of software with a secure network, you'd be looking at $50,000, and that's why we live with the software quality that we do. It's a long history of economic choices, all of which at the time seemed reasonable, but which have got us to a place that's very hard to get out of.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Mr. Bland, have a good shot at me now.

4:10 p.m.

Chair, Defence Management Studies Program, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University

Dr. Douglas Bland

Perhaps you want to hire some officials from the defence department to talk to your people in the police department. It's a complex problem, but it's not unusual to police or to business people. People cost a lot of money.

We've done studies and we referred to the contest between the present force and the future force--the armed force, obviously. The present force is what you see now, the men and women in the armed forces, the equipment they have, and so on. The future force is the people who are coming into the forces, the equipment we're going to have five, ten, fifteen years from now--the ships and so on. That's all the future force, and there's always a competition between the present force and the future force over money.

Sometimes in our history--not too long ago--the present force was consuming all the budget. The capital account was 8% of the budget, and in those years, the Chrétien years and before Jean Chrétien, the capabilities of the armed forces were going down, down, down.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

What do you say to a person from private enterprise who looks at government as a whole...? I got this in my budget consultations over the past couple of years. In the real world, they're into the lean part. It's a manufacturing process called lean. When I was a police officer, it was called doing more with less, and job enhancement was meaning you will have more work because there are fewer people to do it.

Can the armed forces operate under a lean-type of operation? In other words, instead of at five o'clock everybody is clogging the roads—8 Wing is in my riding--maybe people have to spend a little longer at work in order to secure their job or be more efficient. Or maybe we need to put some more job enhancement there.

4:10 p.m.

Chair, Defence Management Studies Program, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University

Dr. Douglas Bland

Not to be overly dramatic, but when somebody's shooting at you, you don't want to be in an organization that does more with less. In military operations--flying airplanes through the dark, and sailing ships in the Arctic, at sea and so on--the tendency is to try to have as much capability as you possibly can. One of the old rules of ground warfare tactics is you fight the other guy. You find out if he has a thousand guys, so you take five thousand. You might not need them all, but you don't want to get into a fight with somebody a thousand against a thousand, because you're in real trouble.

So regarding the sense of what is efficient in a military organization, the concept is different from what's just enough, which is a measure of efficiency perhaps in business and so on. So that kind of thought process influences organization, direction, numbers of people, and so on and so forth. We always have to keep that in the back of our mind.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you. Time has expired.

Gentlemen, I definitely want to thank you for taking time out of your schedules to be with us today, for your very frank comments about readiness and the future of the Canadian Forces. Professor Skillicorn, Professor Bland, Professor Hennessy, Dr. Sokolsky, thank you for coming.

Before I adjourn, when we are travelling I like to offer an opportunity to people in the crowd, if there's anyone who wishes to make a brief comment.

I'm going to invite retired General Glenn Nordick. There is an empty mike over here. A couple of brief comments would be welcome.

February 14th, 2012 / 4:10 p.m.

BGen Glenn Nordick As an Individual

I did not intend to come today to make a comment, but I've been listening to the discussion today and it has been enlightening and interesting.

I would suggest, as a former member of CSE and director general military SIGINT, that before any concrete decisions are taken in terms of the cyber-security piece, there is an understanding that the Government of Canada needs cyber-security, and it needs a single cyber-security, because what we've had to this point is that everyone has been trying to protect their own infrastructure. One of the things that's critical here is that it's not just protecting the infrastructure, but the information that's in it. And the desire, in some instances and at critical times, is to take down the infrastructure. That's what needs to be protected.

CSE is a bolt-on to National Defence, but it's a bolt-on that has its own legislation, its own reporting authorities, and its own methodology. You can't look only at CSE and say okay, it's the Canadian Forces that are responsible for cyber-security. It is an entity that—to look at Dr. Skillicorn's point—is both social scientists and engineers. It has a broad spectrum of capability in there, which I would strongly suggest you might want to have a look at before we make any decisions about where we are in this space.

As heavily involved as I was in the Afghanistan mission, I would say that the Canadian Forces, during the period of Afghanistan, have demonstrated that, one, we did a major transformation, mainly in our command and control structures and the way we do business inside the National Defence Headquarters, and also that the Canada defence policy works and an all-of-government approach for that mission was successful.

Things like the defence intelligence review were validated during that mission. We built up some very, very critical niche capabilities that our allies want when we go offshore. We built up general-purpose capability and experience in war-fighting that is critical.

Some of those capabilities are very easy to dismember. They need to be looked at to make sure of what it is that the Government of Canada wants in that space, because we don't want to be sent on missions where there's no hope of success. That's the key.

As one of the richest nations in the world, I think it's unconscionable that we would at any point look at this and say, as a member of the United Nations, a member of NATO, and a member of the various alliances, that we're not going to be involved in incidents around the world, since we're signatories to the UN, we're signatories to responsibility to protect, and we champion human rights around the world. We are going to be involved in international operations, so the capability of the Canadian Forces to meet those operations is essential, whatever size the government decides it is to be.

Thank you, sir.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you so much for those comments.

A final comment, Dr. Bland.

4:15 p.m.

Chair, Defence Management Studies Program, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University

Dr. Douglas Bland

I'll do an advertisement. Late last year, colleagues at my centre produced this little booklet called Let Sleeping Dogs Lie. It's a study of 15 reports of committees of the House, committees of the Senate, academia, and non-governmental organizations on national defence issues. We went to sources for access to information and received 3,500 pages of responses to these studies, responses from inside National Defence Headquarters.

I think you will find this an interesting read. It has some hints about how you can avoid what happens to everybody else's study when they send it in to National Defence Headquarters.

4:15 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

4:15 p.m.

Chair, Defence Management Studies Program, School of Policy Studies, Queen's University

Dr. Douglas Bland

I will leave this with—