Evidence of meeting #74 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

Patrick Finn  Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence
Jody Thomas  Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence
Charles Lamarre  Commander, Military Personnel Command, Department of National Defence
Alain Parent  Acting Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, Department of National Defence
Claude Rochette  Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Finance, Department of National Defence
Elizabeth Van Allen  Assistant Deputy Minister, Infrastructure and Environment, Department of National Defence
Greta Bossenmaier  Chief, Communications Security Establishment, Department of National Defence

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Darren Fisher Liberal Dartmouth—Cole Harbour, NS

I'll pass this on to my colleague.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Leona Alleslev Liberal Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, ON

Thank you very much.

I want to change the conversation a little. We are at a time when we're witnessing unprecedented global instability. While I don't have any military installations in my riding of Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill, we have a population that's quite concerned about our role in the world and about the instability we're seeing. They were very pleased, as was I, to see that being engaged in the world is really an important part of the defence policy review.

As a former air force officer, and someone who is privileged enough to be married to an former air force fighter pilot, it was pretty amazing for me to have the opportunity to go to Bucharest, Romania, with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and meet some of our operational fighter guys over there. I wonder if you could give us some idea of what exactly they're doing and why it's so important to our new defence policy.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

I'm glad you raised that point, because being engaged in the world is saying something, but how do you demonstrate it meaningfully in the world? As I've stated in the defence policy and to our government, multilateralism is extremely important. No one nation can do it alone, so we've re-engaged, whether it's been Operation Impact as part of a coalition and in NATO.

Within Romania, the air policing we've added is just one of the things. We have a consistent frigate as well. We're leading a battle group in Latvia. Outside of NATO, we're in Ukraine as well. In stepping up, more important is what message it is sending. We're taking a leadership role in NATO and demonstrating that deterrence works, demonstrating the importance of NATO to our other allies as well. The best example of saying how to know it is working is our battle group in Latvia is the most—if I can use the word—multicultural battle group compared to the rest of them. We have nations from all across...from the west, from the south, from the east, that are part of it. It makes it more challenging to manage, but it's a good challenge that the military likes because they get to learn from one another. To me, that was the best demonstration.

When the secretary general of NATO came down for the initial operational capability ceremony, he said that the ceremony that we had, when you have so many nations, is sending a phenomenal message to Russia. It's one battle group, but when you have so many nations coming together, working with one another, you're sending the best message of deterrence, so we are having that impact.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

You're right on time. We're going to go to five minute questions now.

Mr. Spengemann, you have the first five-minute round.

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Chair, thank you very much.

Minister, thank you for being here along with your senior team. It's great to have you back.

The Canadian Forces are about the people we have. It's about excellence at the level of individuals, teams, and leadership, but it's also about making sure that we give our Canadian Forces the best equipment to make sure they can be at the top of their game.

I wanted to take the opportunity to ask you a bit more about two appropriation items. Those are the fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft, and also the LAV III upgrade project. The voted appropriations are $161 million and $57 million, respectively. Can you tell the committee about the Airbus C295W, and also about the LAV, and how important those two assets are in the respective areas of search and rescue and overseas operations?

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Thank you for the question. I think this is the one project—I think it's been 12 years—that I was very happy to be able to make the announcement on.

Search and rescue capability is something that we all know is important to Canadians. More importantly, given the complexity with climate change in the north, we are the last resort. We need to have the best equipment, and these aircraft are going to provide a phenomenal capability.

I got to attend and participate in the SAR tech graduation ceremony in Comox which was nice. They talk about it helping their ability to locate much faster because of sophisticated equipment, so this is going to be an extremely fundamental change in how we do search and rescue. I'm looking forward to this, because it's going to help save lives and I'm happy about that.

On the LAV project, I'm also happy to say that originally the upgrade of the LAVs didn't include all of the LAVs in our inventory, and this allows us to increase basically all the complement of LAVs that the army needs. That's very important. Otherwise, we had to work out some other factors and maybe not actually have enough LAVs. This actually does that. That's how important this project is. It gives the army the proper mobility moving forward.

I just want to throw this to the vice-chief to comment on that.

4:15 p.m.

Lieutenant-General Alain Parent Acting Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, Department of National Defence

Thank you for the question.

First of all, the Airbus aircraft, the 295, is going to be replacing sixties vintage aircraft, our Buffalo and Hercules H models. It's replacing legacy aircraft with legacy technology with new sensors, modern navigation, flight planning capability. It's going to be greener, just by the nature of the technology, and there are also state-of-the-art simulators for the training of our air crew. It's also going to be night-vision goggle compatible, which will make our mission much more effective at night.

As for the LAV, it upgrades the chassis and improves the mobility and protection of the fleet. It provides improved protection against large improvised explosive devices, or direct attack weapons such as propelled grenades.

Both of these capabilities are great enhancements for our men and women in the Canadian Armed Forces.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Thank you very much for that.

Minister, to go to a second theme, this government is about investment, investing in Canadians, in people and the economy, investing socially, and investing in our armed forces. You mentioned briefly in your introductory comments that we've had a number of lapsed budget items since 2008—I think to the effect of $2 billion, if I recall your testimony—and that we now no longer have lapsed funds.

I wonder if you could clarify for the committee and elaborate briefly on how important it is that we don't have budget items that simply lapse.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

I'm very happy about this and the great work that the team has done so that we don't have lapsed money. This took a lot of work by the team.

I just want to throw it to Claude, who has done tremendous work on this.

4:15 p.m.

Claude Rochette Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Finance, Department of National Defence

Thank you, Minister.

Basically, we have been working over the past two years with central agencies, especially the Treasury Board Secretariat, to look at how we can manage our budget at National Defence so we can reuse the unspent funds we receive in the year.

If I look at two years ago, for example, we would have had a project that would need additional funding, like $600 million, and another project that would have some delays and we would not spend $100 million. In the old days, we would have requested $600 million, and we would have kept the $100 million and just returned it at the end of the fiscal year.

In lieu of now looking at each capital project one by one and so forth, we look at them as a portfolio. We manage all the funding that we have, and we have the funding only when we need it. Based on that, we have been able to reduce our lapses from three years ago, $2 billion, to less than $850 million this year.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Thank you for that. That's helpful.

Mr. Chair, thank you.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Thank you.

Mr. Yurdiga.

November 29th, 2017 / 4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to thank the minister for taking time out of his busy schedule. I know you're all over the place and a lot of work has to be done.

My first question, Minister, is on whether you are willing to provide new briefs to the committee on whether the RCN has any evaluations on running our auxiliary oil replenishment.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

I'm sorry, I don't understand the question. Could you repeat it, please?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Are you willing to provide any briefs to the committee on whether the RCN has any evaluation on running our auxiliary oil replenishment?

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Are you talking about the joint supply ships?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Yes.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Do you mean our plans on how we run that?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Yes.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Not the interim one, right? I just want to make sure I have the proper clarification here. It's the two joint supply ships, right?

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Yes.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Absolutely. During the defence policy review that we conducted, a lot of work was done in making sure that the navy that we're going to be fitting for the future is going to have the right support. This was the advice that was given in the work that was conducted by the military. That's the reason we have all the necessary equipment needed, and the joint supply ships are so essential.

This is why I talk about capability gaps. If you don't manage your equipment well, you're going to lose that capability. Right now we're in that situation for the navy and hence why we're very keen to make sure that the joint supply ships come online as quickly as possible. It's so that they support the future of the navy.

Vice-Chief, do you want to add anything further to that?

4:20 p.m.

LGen Alain Parent

There is a clear requirement that we need two joint support ships and in the meantime we have the AOR interim. The requirement is there. They should be able to sustain and operate forward. If you cannot do that, then you have to rely on others, or you have to, just like when we went to the hurricanes. We had to stop en route before we did the humanitarian aid in the Caribbean because we didn't have integral resupply and refuelling.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

David Yurdiga Conservative Fort McMurray—Cold Lake, AB

Can we get briefs on both and also the interim supply vessels, if that's possible?

4:20 p.m.

Liberal

Harjit S. Sajjan Liberal Vancouver South, BC

Are you looking at additional information on—