Evidence of meeting #56 for National Defence in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was going.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jonathan Vance  Chief of the Defence Staff, Department of National Defence
John Forster  Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence
Charles Lamarre  Commander Military Personnel Command , Department of National Defence
Rear-Admiral  Retired) Patrick Finn (Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Is it fair to say in that context that the shift from interstate to intra-state conflict is a significant one that we have to be mindful of, but also have the equipment and expertise to tackle?

4:30 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Absolutely. We think, with the evolving threat that's out there, that we have to be flexible and able to adapt to the changing environment. That's one of the reasons we have our innovation fund, $1.6 billion to invest over the next years, to make sure that the Canadian Armed Forces are able to continually adapt to any future threats.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Thank you very much.

Minister, I want to ask you about the core capabilities. You have touched on this in previous answers, but if you were to summarize the need to really focus on the core capabilities of our armed forces, what would your views be?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Chief.

4:35 p.m.

Gen Jonathan Vance

The core capabilities are to be able to protect North America, its approaches, the air space, and to come to the aid of Canadians. It's the first set. That is air, maritime, surveillance and control, and land response.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

With a significant focus or changing focus on the Arctic presumably as well.

4:35 p.m.

Gen Jonathan Vance

Absolutely. The Arctic is a pathway over the pole. It's a pathway of access to North America, and you're absolutely right to point that out in terms of the maritime domain and the increasing likelihood that it will change due to climate change.

Then there is the core capability to be able to move internally in Canada, and externally to international operations with our global capacity to project military power.

Finally, it's about the range, the suite of capabilities required in the modern day to be able to sustain oneself, sustain military forces, and conduct the missions they need to do. What it all boils down to is people at the core. The core capability of the Canadian Armed Forces is professionally trained people who can use the equipment they are given in all of those different domains, to use it effectively at home, in North America, and around the world.

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

I'll have to cut if off there.

Mr. Paul-Hus, you have the floor.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Hello, Minister Sajjan and gentlemen from National Defence.

My first impression of the defence policy was quite positive. I can't say the policy is bad. The content is good and includes many of the Conservatives' recommendations, which we appreciate. That said, for our military members and for the Canadian Armed Forces, the issue is that the document will be shelved. A huge budget is needed to implement the policy. We want the policy, and we believe in it. However, I want Minister Sajjan to explain how we'll fund the establishment of this defence policy.

When the budget was tabled, the Minister of Finance said there was enough funding for the Canadian Armed Forces. Then came the introduction of a defence policy that requires a financial commitment. You say, in the defence policy, that the policy is fully funded. Can you confirm that the necessary funding is actually set aside for the next 10 years? If not, which budget will the funding come from?

4:35 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

That's a very good question. When we started the consultations and the defence policy review last year, we wanted to make sure that when we completed the defence policy that Canadians and the Canadian Armed Forces would have the confidence that this is a defence policy they can count on. The only way to do that is to make sure it's fully funded.

To get fully funded, we had to go through a very rigorous costing process that I'll have the deputy minister talk about. Also, when the finance minister announced the budget, he said that our government's commitment to the Canadian Armed Forces would be outlined in the defence policy. The policy, which is fully funded, is not for 10 years, but actually up to 20 years.

Do you want to talk about the costing process?

4:35 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence

John Forster

Sure. Thank you, Minister.

In doing the costing, we engaged external experts from Deloitte who worked with our costing model. We had 29 personnel inside, and we hired Deloitte—which had done costing for the U.K. and Australia's defence policy as well. The projects were re-costed by the finance team with Deloitte.

We then had five external firms look at the methodology and the process used, and they verified that it was a good process.

Now, there are still initial cost estimates, and those estimates will change over time, but we're—

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Forster, sorry for cutting you off. I understand that the assessment and the mathematical calculations to establish a costed plan are complex, and that they were done in a professional manner.

However, from a political standpoint, I want to know how the funding will be set aside in a reliable way, given that the investments were delayed until after the 2019 election. I'm speaking from a political standpoint, and not from a military operations standpoint. I know that, from a military standpoint, you're all willing to do this, and our military members want this to work. Nevertheless, from a political standpoint, can the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister confirm that the funding will be available to implement this plan?

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

It's not only that. Just to simplify it, we did the costing to find out what our plan was going to cost. We worked with the Minister of Finance and asked whether we had the money in the fiscal framework. He said yes. We then discussed it in cabinet, which fully approved and fully funded it for the next 20 years, so that the military now has a plan for predictable and sustainable funding.

Also, I just want to note that this is one of the reasons that we outlined and spent a lot of time in the defence policy talking about how it was costed and what defence spending was going to look like, so that it's black and white and our government and any future governments can be held to account.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Pierre Paul-Hus Conservative Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

I want to believe you, Minister Sajjan. Let me remind you that we've been having many issues for the past year and a half. We'll see what will happen in the future.

My second question concerns the navy. The bidding process for the Canadian surface combatant project has been changed 50 times to date. Why have there been so many changes?

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Before I pass on the question, I think for the Canadian surface combatant, we did go through extremely rigorous costing to make it very clear how much it was going to cost—$56 billion to $60 billion—to make sure that we take into account now the full costing of this. Now, it's up to us to make sure that we go through that process. But this is what it does: it gives confidence now to the industry at the same time that this is going to be fully funded.

Pat, do you want to add to that?

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

If you can do it in 10 seconds or less, I would appreciate it.

4:40 p.m.

Rear-Admiral Retired) Patrick Finn (Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

Thank you for the question, Mr. Paul-Hus.

It was to respond to the questions and comments from those who were going to submit bids. The changes reflected the answers to the questions we received.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

The next question is going to be from Mr. Robillard.

I know that French interpretation on this end is not awesome. I can barely hear it. I'm not sure how it is down there.

4:40 p.m.

A voice

It's the same on this end.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Do we have someone looking into that? I can barely understand what's happening.

Give it a try, Mr. Robillard, with your question. We'll see how it works.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Yves Robillard Liberal Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, QC

Okay. Thank you.

Hello, Minister Sajjan.

Thank you for being here with your team.

Let's talk about our reservists. Like other places in Quebec and across Canada, Laval was struck by terrible flooding this spring.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Mr. Robillard, I'm going to interrupt you here because I can't understand. I'm going to switch your speaking order and I'll give the floor to Ms. Gallant. She'll ask a question in English, if that's okay, and we'll get the technicians to work on the interpretation in the meantime.

Ms. Gallant, you have the floor.

June 20th, 2017 / 4:40 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Conservative Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I was somewhat encouraged to see that there is going to be a promise to add special forces to the personnel, but these people are needed today. People in CSOR are burning out already. They're overextended. I'm asking you today to commit to when you're going to recruit and stand up these additional troops.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Our commitment is right there in the defence policy and shows the importance of not just all the three services but our special forces as well, the assessment that was needed, and the advice that was given of what we needed to provide for our special forces, and hence the reason that we have made that commitment. The work starts now. The implementation will come to the chief of the defence staff to be able to do so.

Before you interrupt there, we as a government are committing to making sure we have all the right resources. Now the chief of the defence staff and his team will be actually implementing that plan.

Chief, do you want to add to that?

4:40 p.m.

Gen Jonathan Vance

Ma'am, we're growing now. CANSOF will grow by 600.