Policy, Strategy, and Budgets
CHRIS MACLEAN
© 2012 FrontLine Defence (Vol 9, No 5)

Clear policies (which encompass Canadian values, express a leadership vision and guide decisions), and strong strategies (realistic action plans to achieve specific goals), are the critical links that are repeatedly called for by so many in the defence communities. While Securing an Open Society: Canada’s National Security Policy is truly an all-encompassing policy, the pages of this edition contain thoughtful calls for the development of what might be considered micro-policies and procedures, to more effectively guide the defence sector on the paths ­preferred by this government. Such guidance is deemed necessary to provide a foundation upon which realistic defence strategies and sound long term budget plans can be developped.

Speaking of budgets, DND and the CF have a trifecta of new people in key positions that will undoubtedly affect defence budgets and procurement in the coming years. At the top, we have a new Chief of the Defence Staff. General Tom Lawson’s term as CDS kicked off with a bang as he took to the podium declaring there was “very little fat” to be trimmed from the defence budget. Was he facing off with Harper or was it a deft communications ploy to create media buzz that could provide the government with some leeway to back off on at least some of the cuts? If so, bravo. Is this a hint of how the new CDS will distinguish himself, or will he settle back down and toe the line?

The department has been breaking in a new Associate Minister of Defence (Procurement). A maritimer and former Minister of State for ACOA, I’ve heard that Associate Minister Bernard Valcourt is taking this new position very seriously and making every effort to learn what makes defence procurement tick – no small challenge. FrontLine will give him a bit of time to assess the complex procurement “kitchen” before asking for an interview, but we are optimistic that ­Minister ­Valcourt has both the incentive to examine the procurement system from an ­unbiased perspective (rather than being spoon-fed his information), and the authority and stones to shake things up with some major streamlining. For instance, should a program ever realistically include more than 600 mandatories? And can’t we have some degree of flexibility when it comes to declaring a bid non-compliant for minor errors? More on that to come.

And then there is ADM (Mat). Dan Ross will be retiring very soon, ­possibly the beginning of January, and Deputy Minister Robert Fonberg has not yet selected a successor. Can’t imagine why it would be hard to find a qualified person to sit in that hot seat, can you?

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© FrontLine Defence 2012

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