The Hon. Douglas Young, Minister of National Defence and Veterans Affairs
CHALLENGES AND CHOICES
Chairman: Julie Hannaford, President, The Empire Club of Canada
Head Table Guests
LCol. Peter Hunter, C.D., The Governor General's Horse Guards and Chairman, Reserves 2000; Rosemary Spears, Journalist, Toronto Star (Ottawa Bureau); Col. D.E. Rive, C.D., Commander, Toronto Militia District; Professor R.A. Spencer, President, The Atlantic Council of Canada; Libby Burnham, Q.C., Counsel, Borden & Elliot; Garfield Mitchell, Director, Community Affairs, George Weston Limited; MGen. Bruce J. Legge, C.M.M., C.M., K.STJ., E.D., C.D., Q.C, Former Chief of Reserves, a Past President, The Empire Club of Canada and Honorary President, The Royal Commonwealth Society of Canada; The Hon. Donald S. Macdonald, P.C., C.C., Former Minister of National Defence; LCol. James A. Boyle, C.D. President, Army Cadet League of Canada (Ont); Major The Rev. Rick Ruggle, Reserves Training Officer, Canadian Forces Chaplain School and Centre, Base Borden; MGen. Bryan Stephenson, Commander Land Forces, Central Area; MGen. Reg W. Lewis, C.M.M., C.M., C.D., Former Chief of Reserves, Former International President, The Reserve Officers Confederation of NATO and a Past President, The Empire Club of Canada; Sergeant Rita Arendz, Bandmaster, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada; and The Hon. Barnett Danson, P.C., Q.C., Former Minister of National Defence, Honorary Director, The Empire Club of Canada and Chairman of the No Price Too High Foundation.
Introduction by Julie Hannaford
In the world of business, there is a clear-cut set of rewards for one's achievements. That set of rewards consists of profit, promotions and often publicity. In the world of the professions, there is an equally dazzling set of rewards associated with excellence. They are often promotion, peer recognition and sometimes profit. (As a lawyer, I am able to say with confidence that the word "sometimes" always has to modify the word "profit").
What then, one might ask, are the rewards for doing well available to a politician. Our guest this evening, The Honourable Douglas Young, Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs, provides the answer. If the measure of success of any minister can be measured by his or her ability to successfully manage a crisis, then our guest this evening provides the perfect example. And, his appointment as Minister of National Defence and Veterans Affairs on October 4, 1996, illustrates that the reward for a job well done in cabinet is more often the awarding of an even greater challenge than what was met in the past.
One has only to scan the headlines made by Minister Young in his portfolios for Human Resources Development and Transportation to obtain a flavour of both the challenges and the mettle with which they were met by our guest. In August, 1996, The Globe and Mail reported: "When Human Resources Minister Doug Young moves, duck. Things happen." Mr. Young's career, and the development of his ability to "make things happen" began in New Brunswick, where the Minister received his law degree at the University of New Brunswick. Mr. Young entered the New Brunswick legislature in 1978, and was re-elected in 1982 and in 1987. He was first elected to the House of Commons in the 1988 general election, as Member of Parliament for the New Brunswick riding of Acadie-Bathurst. As many of us know, Mr. Young was the Minister of Transport, and Minister of Human Resources Development before he was named Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs. Our guest's appointment to Minister of National Defence and Minister of Veterans Affairs occurred at a time when the role of the Department of National Defence occupies a focus at least equal to, if not greater than the interest and focus occurring in wartime. This focus is made all the more complicated when we reflect upon the diffuse nature of the concerns of the Department of National Defence. It has been said (by the former Minister of National Defence, and a faithful Past President of The Empire Club, Barney Danson,) that in the Cold War, we at least had the advantage of having one definable enemy. Now, we don't have enemies, but rather issues to address, problems to solve, and alliances to maintain. This requires versatility and great adaptability. When our guest assumed the portfolio of National Defence and Veterans Affairs he was confronted with a menu of issues, problems, and alliances, for immediate solution, resolution, and maintenance. None of them could wait. And so, at the same time that the inquiry into Somalia was to be dealt with, so was the review and implementation of the Special Commission on the Reserve Forces.
There are no shortages of adjectives or adverbs for the nature of the task set before the Minister. Having been confronted with the list of issues before him, Minister Young began to articulate policies and principles, virtually within the first few weeks of his appointment. Accordingly, it is with great pleasure that The Empire Club of Canada welcomes our guest to the podium this evening.
Please join with me in welcoming our guest of honour this evening, The Honourable Douglas Young, Minister of National Defence and Veterans Affairs.
In every walk of life, in every profession, in every business, challenges are faced and choices are made continuously.
There is no simple way to assess what the 21st century holds for Canada, nor what the challenges will be for the Canadian Forces, nor what the international dynamics will be over the next decade, particularly on issues of peace and war. The totally unforeseen changes that have occurred in the past 10 years are a guarantee of that.
It is possible to identify the developments that are likely to shape the challenges for global security in the initial years of the next century. There is plenty of evidence of geopolitical manoeuvering with the United States, Russia, China and the European Community, among others, re-evaluating their roles in an uncertain world.
The United States will no doubt remain the pre-eminent global power for some time to come. Yet efforts to balance its budget and pressures from domestic isolationist forces may combine to limit America's ability to remain fully engaged in critical regions. Russia's future course is unclear, as it copes with enormous political and socio-economic evolution precipitated by communism's collapse. China is at a crossroads. With its massive population, high-growth economy, and Hong Kong absorbed, China will certainly play a growing role in the world's affairs. The European Community is an example of dramatic change and unprecedented co-operation and accommodation.
There is relative understanding in relations among the great powers, but a number of violent conflicts continue to pose serious challenges to peace. The risk of conflict between states will continue. Deep-seated territorial and ideological grievances persist in volatile regions like the Middle East, South Asia and the Korean Peninsula. The world must remain ready to meet these dangerous challenges.
Peacekeeping and peacemaking operations will often be needed in the developing parts of the world where there is a collapse of authority and political, social and military chaos. The United Nations, many hope, will remain the source of international legitimacy; the place where the world seeks to work out problems of instability and aggression. But it must evolve if it is to provide a framework for meeting the challenges for action in response to the threats to security in various regions of the world.
The alliance structures to which we are committed partners are also changing to meet the challenges of the new global realities. For example, it is widely accepted that some of our former adversaries from the Warsaw Pact will formally become our allies as part of NATO. Who would have believed that 10 years ago?
So the question is: How will the Canadian Forces meet the challenges of the 21st century? In our view, the choice is clear--we must retain multi-purpose, combat-capable forces to carry out the essential mission of defending Canada and contributing to international peace and security. The choices we must make for the Canadian Forces will build on the historic foundation of loyal, dedicated and professional service that the members of the Canadian military have provided since before Confederation.
In the aftermath of the Cold War, we no longer foresee any worldwide conflict, but we must deal with instability in the world. In the face of our country's fiscal situation, our challenge is to implement a major downsizing initiative of the Canadian Forces while continuing to invest in the long-term viability of the Forces during a period of extremely intense operational activity.
We are in the second year of a comprehensive five-year programme to restructure the Forces, downsize headquarters, reduce infrastructure and improve management practices to provide Canadians the best value for their defence dollars. In 1994, we had some 50 bases and stations, far too many for the size of our military. By 1998, the number will be reduced by more than half to 24. We are facing the challenge of reducing our costs--to cut the defence budget from over $12 billion in 1994 to $9.2 billion by 1999--and to concentrate our resources on the "sharp end," that is on our operational forces. Our objective is to strike the best possible balance between the operational and support elements of our defence activities.
There are those who suggest we should make different choices. They would have our military relegated to a force made up of "boy scouts with an attitude." I believe that would be a grievous error. If the Canadian Forces are to meet the challenges of the 21st century and carry out the roles mandated by the government, roles that Canadians support, they must be properly trained and equipped.
Throughout the 20th century, our allies have depended upon Canada as a reliable, contributing partner to the preservation of international peace and security. The courage and commitment of our men and women, our equipment, training and skill have enabled Canada to participate with the most modern and professional armed forces in the world. The huge reservoir of international prestige we have built up over many years must not be diminished. Canada has a solemn obligation to our men and women in uniform. We must make a choice. There is no question in the minds of most Canadians that the choice must be to maintain our role and prestige as a G7, NORAD and NATO nation.
That choice means providing the Canadian Forces with the right equipment and appropriate training. Technology is changing rapidly. Communications, computers and information management are altering command and control functions, allowing military forces to provide a more rapid, effective and flexible response. We must make the choices needed to maintain our multi-purpose, combat-capable forces.
That is why the Canadian Patrol Frigate is the warship of the future for the navy and, why we refurbished the four "Tribal" class destroyers. In buying 12 modern Maritime Coastal Defence Vessels, to be crewed primarily by Reservists, we are responding to the challenges of coastal defence and the Total Force concept. We have to purchase a new shipborne helicopter to replace the Sea King. We must choose an aircraft that is not only robust and capable but also affordable. We need to determine how best to support our ships at sea and to provide a sealift capability for troops, equipment and supplies in multilateral operations. And as a G7 nation, as a member of NORAD and NATO, as a country with vast maritime areas of responsibility, we must decide how we can properly safeguard Canada's sovereignty with a navy composed solely of surface ships complemented by the air force's Aurora and Arcturus maritime patrol aircraft. We must choose carefully because our decision will have implications for the country for years to come, because if we allow our submarine capability to lapse, we would have great difficulty re-establishing it.
Our soldiers need the proper equipment to do the job. To meet this challenge, we have chosen to embark on a number of projects. We are acquiring 203 new Coyote armoured reconnaissance vehicles. We are also purchasing new armoured personnel carriers and rebuilding over 1200 currently in service. As I announced recently, we will also spend more than $500 million over the next five years to purchase equipment that will make a real difference to the troops, including:
• new helmets;
• new combat clothing, improved fragmentation jackets and other items of personal equipment;
• new land-mine detection systems;
• refurbished turrets for the army's Leopard tanks incorporating a thermal-imaging system and modernised fire-control system;
• an off-the-shelf Land Force Command System, which will allow commanders to better control their forces during operations; and
• new grenade launchers.
We are also taking important steps towards ensuring that Canada's air force has the equipment they need. We have received 60 of the 100 new Griffon utility helicopters that are replacing three fleets--the Kiowa, Twin Huey and Iroquois.
We stated our intention to replace the Labrador helicopter in the 1994 Defence White Paper and we announced the decision to proceed with this project in November 1995. We have now taken the next step--releasing to industry a Request for Proposals for Search-and-Rescue helicopters. Search-and-Rescue represents one of the greatest challenges for the Canadian Forces and their equipment. Canada is a vast country with a varied geography, an unpredictable and harsh climate with one of the longest coastlines in the world. Canadian Forces Search-and-Rescue personnel go about their work with quiet professionalism, responding to some 450 incidents a year. They are directly responsible for rescuing more than 200 people annually. For Canadians, a national Search-and-Rescue service is an absolute necessity.
We will continue to maintain the air force's CF-18's combat capability. And we will continue to provide for our strategic airlift support requirements.
There's no denying that all of this equipment is expensive. But the government knows that and has allowed for it in the budget. We have an obligation to spend the taxpayer's money wisely. That's why, wherever possible, we are choosing to buy "off-the-shelf" commercial technology, to upgrade equipment now in our inventory or, in some cases, to consider purchasing used equipment.
These are just some of the choices we are making to ensure that the Canadian Forces can effectively meet the challenges of a rapidly changing global society. Many other initiatives are either planned or under way. They include moving ahead on restructuring the Reserves, reforming the military justice system and generating a renewed, dynamic defence organisation. We have one goal: to enable the Canadian Forces to carry out their essential mission of defending Canada and contributing to international peace and security.
Of course, no matter what equipment you have or what policies you implement, it all comes down to the quality of the men and women of the Canadian Forces. They are our most important resource. In the two months since I've been Minister of National Defence I've been impressed, and moved, by the dedication, courage and professionalism of the Canadians who wear the uniforms of the army, air force and navy so proudly. No matter what challenges we face, no matter what choices we make, we must ensure that we do what's best for the men and women of the Canadian Forces and for Canada.
Our vision of the future is that of a revitalised Canadian military made up of multi-purpose, combat-capable forces, both Regular and Reserve, ready to carry out any of the operations entrusted to them.
The Canadian Forces of tomorrow will be led by a leaner, more streamlined command and control structure that will be focussed on the task of producing the best possible combat forces in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible.
Our defence policy is founded upon our hopes for, and understanding of, a changing world and the values Canadians wish to protect, promote and perpetuate. At its heart is the example set by thousands of men and women who, for over 130 years, have provided loyal and courageous service to Canada and the world.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by The Hon. Barnett Danson, P.C., Q.C., Former Minister of National Defence, Honorary Director, The Empire Club of Canada and Chairman of the No Price Too High Foundation.