Human Security and Canadian Defence Policy

Tasneem Jamal

Working Paper 99-1

On May 27, 1999 Project Ploughshares appeared before the House of Common’s Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs as part of the Committee’s review of defence contracting and procurement. This paper consists of the brief submitted to the Committee and the proceedings that followed.


Human Security and Canadian Defence Policy
Canadian Security Spending Trends
Canada/US Defence Trade
Canadian Military Procurement and Export Dependence
Controlling Dual-Purpose Equipment
Excerpt from Standing Committee on National Defence & Veterans Affairs  (Evidence, May 27, 1999)

In the following brief and in testimony before the committee, Project Ploughshares argues that the review of Canadian military procurement policy and practice by the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs ought to take into account five key policy issues that have important implications for military procurement.

First, there is the fundamental need for a prior review of the defence policies and roles that the procured equipment is intended to support. In particular, we emphasize that current policy, as articulated in the 1994 Defence White Paper, does not reflect or even acknowledge the new doctrines of human security and peace-building that are advanced by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Second, Canada needs to revisit the question of the relative level of resources devoted to military and non-military responses to threats to human security. While current levels of military spending in Canada are consistent with post-World War II practice by Canada, we draw the Committee’s attention to the need to increase the levels of non-military security spending. Ironically, precisely when peace-building and human security concerns have been most forcefully articulated in Canada as key to advancing international peace and security, funding for development and for non-military approaches to human security has been in precipitous decline. In the 1990s, development spending has been cut by fully one-third. It is down now to roughly 0.3% of GNP despite a formal commitment to a target of 0.7% of GNP.

Third, because Canadian military procurement is directly linked to Canada-US military trade, we argue that changes in Canadian procurement practice, and especially changes in US policy towards continental military production, should be taken as an opportunity for Canada to bring its defence trade relationship to the United States up to international standards by introducing a requirement for export permits for military sales to the United States, in the same way that such permits are required for military sales to all other Canadian allies, and indeed to all countries.

Fourth, we caution the Committee with regard to pursuing procurement practices that will increase the export dependence of the Canadian military industry. Canada has frequently used domestic procurement to acquire a military production capacity whose long-term viability depends on the international marketing of those military commodities. Instead, Canada should be strengthening its military export control system, notably with greater emphasis on restrictions on sales to human rights violator countries and to countries engaged in internal armed conflict.

Finally, we caution the Committee on sales of dual-use equipment. There is a trend towards the acquiring by military forces of commercial equipment for their operations. In many cases sales of commercial equipment, including helicopters, to military end-users are not subject to any military export control regulations. Hence, we recommend that the military export control guidelines need to be amended so that export controls relate to the end-user rather than to the characteristics or designation of a product being either military or non-military.

We have attached a copy of the transcript of the Committee proceedings following the presentation of our brief. A full copy of the testimony before the Committee is available from our office or on the web at (May 27/99).

Ernie Regehr
Director, Project Ploughshare


We welcome this opportunity to draw to the attention of the Committee four broad policy areas that are closely linked to defence contracting and procurement policy, and which we believe would benefit from further review and amendment. These include:

  • the basic Canadian Defence policy and the roles which capital equipment acquisitions are intended to support and advance;
  • the level of resources devoted to Canadian military capability in the context of resources available for other measures to support Canada’s human security objectives;
  • Canada’s military industry and trade in relation to the United States; and
  • the overall export dependence of Canada’s military industry and the implications for Canadian military export regulations.

Our review of these four related policy areas leads us to offer the following recommendations:

  • that Canada undertake a thorough public review of its defence policies and roles outside North America in light of the human security doctrine and peacebuilding objectives advanced by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT);
  • that, as a matter of high priority, Canada reverse the decline in official development assistance and articulate a clear plan for meeting the stated objective of bringing Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding to .7% of GNP;
  • that Canada require licensing of all Canadian military exports to the US; and
  • that the Canadian military export control system be strengthened

– to ensure the strict application of controls on military commodity transfers to countries engaged in serious human rights violations and to countries in armed conflict;

– to incorporate other control provisions promoted by the international arms transfer Code of Conduct proposed by the group of Nobel Peace Laureates; and

– to ensure that military export controls apply to dual-use systems intended for military end-users.

Human Security and Canadian Defence Policy

The term “human security” (1) will be familiar to the Committee. And the point of the term is not to imply that before it was invented defence and security were not about protecting people. Rather, emphasis on the “human” elements of security is meant to redress an imbalance in security preoccupations – that is, where disproportionate attention is paid to military support for state structures, ideological orthodoxy, and regime survival at the expense of the security of persons. (2) A human security focus is on the well-being and safety of people, which is necessarily rooted in favourable social, political and economic conditions. (3) As such, the term has special relevance for states in which the basic or minimal conditions for the safety of persons and a sustainable social order are fragile and where violent conflict is threatened.

By the end of the 1980s, both the IMF and the World Bank had concluded that excessive military spending seriously undermines development and human security in that it consumes scarce resources, promotes a culture of control, aids repression and prevents democratization. That led to efforts to encourage reductions in military spending, and particularly to explorations of possibilities of using aid to induce reductions (Ball, 1992).  Canada has supported these efforts, including the hosting of an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development OECD/Development Assistance Committee symposium in Ottawa in March 1997 (OECD 1998)

Another fundamental insight of the idea of “human security” is the recognition that when basic political, economic and social conditions essential to the well-being of persons are absent, military force cannot in the long-term ensure stability, maintain order or “enforce” peace. Ultimately, peace and security are not the product of enforcement, but the product of consensus and consent based on human development.

Perhaps the most radical element of ‘human security,” and the element most relevant to defence policy planning, is not that humans should be the primary objects of state security policies, but rather that states have an obligation to serve the welfare of persons, wherever they are (not only their own citizens). For example, when people are vulnerable in southern Sudan, we have an obligation to seek their safety (e.g. Canada has put the issue of protection of people in the midst of conflict, especially children, on the agenda of the Security Council).

While most of the security problems that are reflected in intra-state warfare are the result of the absence of “human security” and are thus not particularly amenable to military remedies, military forces have important roles to play in support of human security. Such roles relate especially to the protection of vulnerable populations where human security is absent, and in enforcing compliance with international agreements and standards. When states fail utterly in the provision of human security, and when chaos then ensues, such states are, in effect, in need of external military aid to the civil authority, in addition to other non-military assistance.

However, the theoretical identification of such roles, as the current experience in Yugoslavia tragically illustrates, is not the same as carrying them out in an effective manner. There is an urgent requirement for careful and extensive exploration of roles and capabilities appropriate to an effective contribution by the Canadian Armed Forces to the pursuit of human security beyond Canada’s borders.

The level of combat capability required for such roles, and which Canada is likely to muster, is a matter of continuing debate — a debate which the 1994 White Paper tried to settle but did not. As other testimony before this Committee has suggested, DND’s current capital budget is sufficient to maintain a low level of capability across a wide range of military capabilities or a high level of capability across a limited range. It is not sufficient, nor is there any reasonable prospect that it will ever be sufficient, to procure or maintain a high-level, full-spectrum combat capability capable of independent power projection operations.

Such a capability is possessed only by the United States and, to a much lesser degree, great power contenders such as the United Kingdom. The costs of such a capability are far beyond those that Canada can afford. According to NATO statistics of equipment spending (a subset of capital spending), the U.S. equipment budget in 1997 was approximately $105 billion Canadian or $68,000 per soldier. The equipment budget of the U.K. was approximately $12.7 billion or $58,000 per soldier. These figures are illustrative of the level of spending required for a full-spectrum general-purpose combat capability. Canada’s equipment budget of $1.4 billion ($22,800 per soldier) compares well with Germany’s $5.0 billion ($14,800 per soldier) or Italy’s $3.5 billion ($8,400 per soldier), but it is obviously insufficient to maintain armed forces capable of projecting all forms of combat capability in operations independent of its allies.

DND itself recognizes this fact and does not attempt to maintain a full-spectrum general-purpose combat capability. As  1994 Defence White Paper notes, “the decision to retain combat-capable forces should not be taken to mean that Canada must possess every component of military capability.” The white paper does, however, call for the maintenance of “multi-purpose, combat capable” air, land, and maritime forces possessing a wide range of military capabilities. Even this more limited goal therefore confronts Canada with the trade-off between maintaining a broad range of military capabilities at a largely token level and choosing a few things to do well.

Recommendation: The 1994 Defence White Paper is not a sufficient guide to those roles and capabilities, thus a new and thorough review of Canadian defence policy is required. Such a review should in particular be focussed on exploring how best to align the international roles (4) of the Canadian armed forces with the imperatives of human security articulated and advanced by DFAIT, (5) exploring in particular a defence capability designed less to participate in high intensity combat environments and oriented more toward peacekeeping and humanitarian interventions in low-intensity combat environments.

Canadian Security Spending Trends

How much military capability does Canada need? How much military spending is enough? Of course, there is no objective answer to that question. The possible roles and capabilities are almost limitless, and security planners would have little difficulty in defining needs and assigning commitments to Canadian force funded at triple current levels. The U.S. military, which alone accounts for 35 percent of the world’s military expenditures, finds itself insufficiently funded to accomplish all the tasks it has defined as desirable.

Setting appropriate levels of security spending is obviously a political task that must find a balance among a broad range of competing needs and requirements, and that must build and determine the level of political will to fund public programs. Furthermore, even within the security spending envelope it is necessary to make choices between military spending and support for non-military programs that build the social and political conditions conducive to stable and secure communities.

It is now widely accepted that Canadian military spending, including capital spending, is not likely to grow noticeably in the near future. It has declined significantly from its peak at the end of the 1980s, but in fact the current DND budget is, in absolute terms, not low by Canadian historical standards. After allowing for inflation, DND’s Fiscal Year 2001-02 budget of $10.2 billion will remain approximately 8 percent higher than its FY 1980-81 budget, i.e., at or above the high end of Canadian spending during the “detente” period of the Cold War (see Figure 1).

Furthermore, the decline in Canadian military spending that took place during the 1990s occurred in the context of a much deeper decline in worldwide military spending. As a result, the percentage of world military spending represented by Canadian military spending continued to grow throughout the first half of the 1990s (see Figure 2). Even today, after several additional years of DND cutbacks, this percentage probably remains higher than 0.95.

The picture is broadly similar in capital spending. Canadian capital spending has declined significantly from the level it reached during the period 1986-87 to 1995-96 – the peak period for post-Second World War Canadian military spending – when it averaged $2.63 billion per year, representing 20.1 percent of the total military budget and $32,200 per soldier per year (all figures in 1999 dollars). Capital spending during the period from 1999-00 to 2001-02 is projected to average only $1.99 billion per year. This level will still represent 19.1 percent of the total military budget, however, and funding per soldier will actually increase to $33,200 per year.

It will remain considerably higher than the 1980-81 level of $1.4 billion, which represented only 14.7 percent of the total military budget and $16,900 per soldier (see Figures 3 and 4).  (6)

In fact, the relative military capacity of Canada and its OECD partners has grown noticeably since the end of the Cold War, moving from 51 % of global military spending to 63% by the mid-1990s.

Non-military security spending has fallen considerably more than military spending. From Fiscal Year 1989-90 to FY1999-00, Canada’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) declined by 37% in real terms, compared with cuts of about 18% to Department of National Defence spending. Globally, by 1997 the developed countries in the OECD had reduced their post-Cold War aid and military spending both by 17%. During the first half of the 1990s Canadian aid to the 48 least-developed countries declined by a third – put another way, Canadian human security assistance to the least secure countries dropped by one-third. (7)

Recommendation: In the context of a review of security policy and funding, in the context of a foreign policy emphasis on human security, and given the fact that current wars are primarily intrastate armed conflicts in states incapable of meeting the human security needs of their people, it is urgent that Canada explore ways of increasing its contribution to human security measures. This requires a reassessment of the relative levels of military and other forms of security spending, and the exploration of increased human security funding by restoring ODA spending and by increasing the funds earmarked for peacebuilding.

Canada/US Defence Trade

From the early years of World War II, Canada’s military industry has relied heavily on the US market, with Canadian access to that market institutionalized through the Defence Production Sharing Arrangements (DPSA) entered into in 1959.

In 1987 the North American Defence Industrial Base Organization was established with a secretariat based in Washington. Recently renamed the North American Technology and Industrial Base Organization, the NATIBO is charged with promoting integrated defence industrial preparedness within the US and Canada by increasing the access of one nation to the military industry of the other.

Canadian sales to the US rose dramatically in the early 1980s to a 1985 peak of over $2 billion (in 1997 dollars, see Figure 5). At their peak, sales to the US accounted for 86 percent of Canadian military exports to all countries and amounted to significantly more than Canadian industry sales to our own Department of National Defence.

This Committee is well aware, and has already heard testimony from the government to the same effect, that US-Canada military trade and industrial base arrangements have resulted in Canadian specialization in components and subsystems, largely for US-built systems. The focus on the manufacture of weapon parts and components allowed the industry to develop “niche” expertise and concomitant markets, often as a result of technology transfer and licenced production arising from “offsets” required by Canada in military procurement contracts with US suppliers.

Ten years after the end of the Cold War the Canadian military industry is facing a very different US market. Sharp declines after 1985 have settled down in the 1990s to a volume of exports to the US at roughly one-quarter of the peak year — indeed, at about the same level as 1978.

Moreover, current changes in US arms trade regulations reflect significantly changed American attitudes towards Canada-US military trade and the concept of a North American defence industrial base. In April 1999, as part of a review of its International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), the US removed some of the exemptions from export license requirements for US military goods shipped to Canada. In other words, Canada is now to be increasingly treated like all other destinations of US military goods. (8) While US administrative, and especially Congressional, challenges to DPSA and NADIBO are not new, the traditional Pentagon political and strategic interest in maintaining a “special” relationship with Canada through its military industry appears to be ending. As one industry commentator has expressed it, now “there are no US champions of the DD/DPSA,” and “the concept of a North American Defence Industrial Base has a much-reduced significance in the post Cold War era.”  (Canadian Defence Industries Association 1998)

Recommendation: The changed Canada/US defence production relationship represents an opportunity for Canada to bring controls on Canadian military exports to the United States into the same control system as applies to all other states. Canada should therefore require that all military exports to the US require the same permit approval system as applies to all other military exports, thus helping to bring Canadian regulations into conformity with Organization of American States  standards, facilitating full reporting to the United Nations Arms Register, and generally enhancing Canadian military export transparency.   (9)

Canadian Military Procurement and Export Dependence

Military industries heavily dependent on export sales and operating in a highly competitive international environment will tend not to favour strict national export control measures. Export controls that appear to them to be stricter than the international norm, they argue, put them at a politically-imposed competitive disadvantage.

Canada’s military industry remains highly dependent on export sales. The US traditionally purchased virtually half of all Canadian military production, but no longer does. Thus Canada has sought to increase sales in European markets and beyond, but with European governments also cutting military spending, Canadian arms sales to Europe have also fallen from a 1987 peak of nearly $450 million to annual sales of $120-140 million since 1990 (in constant 1997 dollars — see Figure 6).

This post-Cold War decline in US and European sales has drawn industry (and government) attention to Southern markets, especially in the lucrative Middle East and Asian regions. However, growing competition from additional suppliers chasing shrinking markets has only reinforced a history of fluctuating Canadian military exports to the Third World and new sales have fallen far short of replacing the declining trade with the North (see Figure 7).

In the 1980s in particular, procurement policies were used to support the production, and export, of complete weapons systems built in Canada. General Motors of Canada has won large export orders for light armoured vehicles initially produced under licence from Switzerland for the Canadian Army, most notably the $1.5 billion export, beginning in 1992, of 1500 LAVs to Saudi Arabia. Other domestically built systems, notably patrol frigates and air defence, anti-tank systems (ADATS), have however not won significant export orders.

While Canadian military exports have generally been restrained, partly due to regulation but also substantially due to a competitive market place, there have still been significant instances of military sales to states with records of serious human rights abuses and to states involved in armed conflicts.

Recommendation: Canada should therefore take measures to reduce the export dependence of its military industry and to ensure strict export controls:

  • Canadian procurement policy should avoid building exclusively military production capacity in Canada that will require extensive military exports to sustain it;
  • The Canadian military export control system should be strengthened to block military transfers to countries engaged in serious human rights violations and to states in armed conflict, and to explore incorporating international code of conduct provisions into Canadian regulations.

Controlling Dual-Purpose Equipment

Current military transfer control systems are based on internationally coordinated military equipment and munitions lists (in Canada the military and strategic goods section of the Export Control List). However, it is increasingly the case that military end-users are acquiring commercial equipment not included on official munitions lists, but still used in military operations.

In Canada, with the assistance of the former Defence Industry Productivity Program and the Technology Partnerships Canada program, industry has increased dual-use capabilities by developing civilian applications and markets for certain military technologies, thus expanding sales and reducing dependency on military sales. At the same time, commercial companies, especially those in the transport, electronics, and computer technology sectors, have entered the military market as defence agencies seek cost reductions through cheaper, but equally or sufficiently capable, “commercial off-the-shelf” (COTS) equipment acquired for military use.

A shift towards dual-purpose production helps reduce Canadian military industry dependence on export sales and should make it more feasible to produce military equipment on an “as needed” basis and then to switch back to commercial markets (most dual-purpose equipment is obviously non-combat equipment suitable for roles such as patrol and surveillance, communications, transport, and so on — much of it relevant to peacekeeping).

However, dual-purpose products present special military export control challenges. With dual-purpose goods now routinely exported to military end-users (for example, Canadian-built commercial helicopters to the armed forces of Colombia), military transfers are occurring without the benefit of any government scrutiny.

Recommendation: Hence, we recommend that Canada’s military export regulations apply to all operational equipment transferred to military end-users.

1) Within DFAIT, the concept of Human Security is linked to peacebuilding. The security and safety of people depends on conditions of “democratic governance, human rights, the rule of law, sustainable development, and equitable access to resources.” (DFAIT Web Page, Peacebuilding) Minister Axworthy has pointed out that in order “to restore and sustain peace in countries affected by conflict, human security must be guaranteed just as military security must. This is where peacebuilding comes in: as a package of measures to strengthen and solidify peace by building a sustainable infrastructure of human security. Peacebuilding aims to put in place the minimal conditions under which a country can take charge of its destiny, and social, political and economic development become possible.” (York University, October 30, 1996)

2) The quintessential, and perhaps apocryphal, example being the famous line on American action in Vietnam, that it had become necessary to destroy the village in order to save it (presumably from communism). The “national security state” ideology prominent earlier in the South American context obviously put the people at great peril (including disappearances and torture) in the interests of preserving the security of the regime. And it must surely be said that nuclear MAD policies which contemplate the destruction of millions of persons in the interests of state survival are the antithesis of human security.

3) This in turn means that security strategies and planning need also to attend to those conditions. Hence, the devotion of excessive resources to military forces can undermine human security by using scarce resources that might be better used to advance those economic and social conditions that are foundational to sustainable peace.

4) Canadian military contributions should be designed to respond to unmet needs in areas where Canada has the potential to make a significant contribution – for example, UN rapid response capabilities, logistical and security support for humanitarian aid operations in regions of conflict, and intelligence support for international crisis assessment and peacekeeping operations. The review should explore the “comparative advantages” of Canada. Examples might include contributions drawing on capabilities that Canada would maintain for domestic requirements in any case (e.g., coastal patrol, search and rescue, aid to civil power), the provision of Disaster Assistance Response Team services, the provision (following sufficient additional procurement) of medium air lift capabilities in support of peacekeeping and humanitarian operations, exploitation of imaging capabilities that might be achieved in future generations of Radarsat, etc.

5) Such a review should address two primary obstacles to making military assistance routinely available to communities in peril. First, while the international community is not lacking in military might, much of that capacity is of no help in protecting vulnerable civilians in situations of generalized chaos. Second, the international community lacks credible, timely mandates for such intervention. A primary challenge related to developing military capacities to protect the vulnerable and to compel states to meet their human security obligations, is to develop a universal (not double) standard for deciding when such military protection and compulsion are warranted.

6) It should be noted that these figures do not include any adjustment for the effects of “capital spending” accomplished through other means, such as barter arrangements (e.g., Upholder submarines) and contracting arrangements (e.g., pilot training aircraft supplied by Bombardier), both of which supply equipment at little cost to the capital budget. The increasing use of arrangements such as these means that effective capital spending is currently (and will in future years be) higher than indicated by raw capital spending figures.

7) Least developed does mean least secure. In the period 1988-1997, only 15% of states ranked in the top half of the Human Development Index experienced armed conflicts, while 43% of those in the bottom half of the list were at war at some time during the same period.

8) According to testimony before this committee, and to a report by a Canadian defence industry consultant, the military goods now requiring export permits include firearms, ammunition, missiles and rockets, security and cryptographic systems, toxicological agents and equipment, spacecraft and commercial satellites, and technical data related to the Missile Technology Control Regime. Source: “Bernie Grover, 26 February 1999,  “An Assessment of Proposed Changes to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR),”  available at

9) Canada has made commendable strides in military export transparency, however, a major reporting gap exists with regard to sales to the US. Canadian military export statistics and reporting are related to industry reporting requirements based on military export permits. Since there are currently no export permits required for (most) military goods transferred to the US, there is no adequate reporting system. As a result, Canada’s annual military export report currently includes no information on sales to the US.


Ball, Nicole 1992, Pressing for Peace: Can Aid Induce Reform?  Overseas Development Council, Washington.

Canadian Defence Industries Association 1998, “A Canadian Industry Perspective on Canada/United States Defense Trade: Policies and Issues,” October.

OECD 1998, Military Expenditures in Developing Countries: Security and Development.




Excerpt from Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs – Evidence, May 27, 1999

The Chairman (Mr. Pat O’Brien [London-Fanshawe, Lib]): Thank you, Mr. Regehr, very much for your presentation.

We’ll start a round of questions now, a seven-minute round starting with Mr. Goldring of the Reform Party.

Mr. Peter Goldring (Edmonton East, Ref.): Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Mr. Regehr, for your presentation.

You’re indicating in your talk that you’re seeking to have military export levels lowered, yet I’m looking at these charts that are in front of me, and these charts would indicate that Canada’s military exports have been dropping and they have been dropping for some years now. I think it’s understood, due to the problems we’ve had in recent international conflicts, that it’s been difficult for Canada to field military troops. For example, the frigates attending the Gulf War had to stop for armament on their way to it. When we’re sending troops to the present conflict, too, there’s some discussion of how rapidly we can deploy. Sending 800 troops to that situation seems to be an effort on its own, and there’s some concern that if this were to be increased to 2,000 troops or 3,000 troops there would be more problems.

My point is that Canada has been demilitarizing since the Second World War. In the Second World War its contribution was an incredible percentage, and in fact Canada’s contribution probably kept England alive until the tide of the war turned in 1943 with the Battle of the Atlantic. Do you not feel that we should be contributing in the world as a full partner in conflicts, and that in order to do so we have to have proper equipment?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Certainly we feel strongly that Canada has an international obligation beyond its borders to contribute to international peace and security. In most of the conflicts that occur now, the fundamental roots and sources of the conflicts are social and economic conditions that are not sustainable, and those need to be addressed on an urgent priority. We also acknowledged in the brief that there are military roles that can help in the pursuit of this human security, but that there is not clarity within Canadian policy or within international policy about how those roles are most effectively carried out.

Mr. Peter Goldring: But how can we predetermine roles for Canadian military? If we go back to the Second World War, how would they pre-declare a role for the Canadian involvement in that to being a navy of 100,000 people and a merchant navy of 20,000 people? How do you predetermine that role? And then we take the role in the Gulf War. History has shown that it’s very difficult to predetermine a selective role for Canada. And we can go back to the First World War, to the fantastic battle that the Canadian troops won at Vimy Ridge. Each one of these roles is decidedly different, and yet each one was come upon with little chance to decide. How do you predetermine a role for Canada’s military?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: In fact, we have been predetermining those roles all along. By the equipment you acquire, you decide that you’re going to have the capacity to participate in some conflicts in particular ways. For example, by the absence, as your committee has heard, of updated tanks and the capacity to airlift those to zones of conflict, there is a predetermination that this is not the way in which Canada is going to participate.

I’d point out one other thing, which is that I wouldn’t see strong parallels between the World War Two roles and the roles that Canada is likely to play in current conflicts that exist overseas, whether they’re in Rwanda or Somalia. The parallels are not strong.

Mr. Peter Goldring: Additionally, you had mentioned guaranteeing human security. We have a responsibility to guarantee domestic human security as well. It will involve an unknown combination of materials and equipment to be able to guarantee security in this nation too. So wouldn’t it follow that you can’t say Canadians should be prototypical peacekeepers, that the Canadian military must have a capability to have strike force and international capabilities? It has been proven historically in some countries that this same heavy-duty strike equipment may be used internally to defend the security. Should we not also have that?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I think the reality is that Canada is going to have a limited military capability.

Mr. Peter Goldring: Historically it has not had a limited military. If we go through to the War of 1812, or the Plains of Abraham, or go through to the First World War and the Korean War, Canada has historically been front-line military; so it’s had not limited capabilities but front-line military capabilities. I think historically too, internationally, sometimes that front-line equipment is used at home.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I think the fundamental decision that is facing Canada is do we develop a full combat capability in all of the armed forces that has a minimal capacity, or do we specialize and have a more robust capacity in a particular kind of activity? I think that’s the fundamental debate.

I think that if you look at the current context of international conflict, which is all but really one war, really two wars now—Eritrea and Ethiopia and clashes between Pakistan and India—they are all internal wars in which Canada and the international community is not going to get involved in major combat equipment. Where the need is, and where Canadian activity overseas has responded to that need, has been fundamentally in the area of peacekeeping and monitoring. The decision we face is do we focus on this activity, which is more likely to be called upon, and do that well and effectively, or do we focus on creating a more minimal capability of high-intensity combat in all of the three services, which is less likely to be contacted on.

The Chairman: Mr. Goldring, we’ll try to come back to you.

Without editorializing from the chair, it’s well known that Canada’s contribution in the two wars was disproportionally high considering our population. So I think your point is well taken, that history is history and our contribution in the two wars was enormous for the size of the countries, but I think after the war we were into a different era. I think Mr. Regehr is speaking to after the war, and that’s a different reality.


Mr. Lebel, you have seven minutes.

Mr. Ghislain Lebel (Chambly, PQ): I have no questions for the time being.

The Chairman: Fine.


Then over to Mr. Richardson for seven minutes on this side, and then Mr. Bertrand.

Mr. John Richardson (Perth—Middlesex, Lib.): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I welcome you, Mr. Regehr, for your presentation.

To try to put us into the time constant at present and look a bit to the future, we’re driven by two things. We’re driven by our alliance partners in NATO and we’re driven by our membership in the United Nations. One is a full-fledged political organization, and the other is a universal organization of the major countries and smaller countries of the world to come in common cause to maintain peace.

What you’ve seen in Canada over the past time has been driven by two things. We’re in the Kosovo conflict in the Balkans because of our membership in the military alliance of NATO. We cannot negate our membership. We cannot negate our commitment. When we participate, we participate the best we can. We’re involved in the air, on the land, and on the sea. That commitment has been fulfilled. It stretched us to our limits to do it, because it recognizes that we have downsized considerably since the pause for peace in Europe, and the former enemies are now our partners.

The situation extends further. When you do belong to two major organizations, the dues are not just annual dues. They are there to try to maintain to the best of our ability a defence budget and a defence capability to meet the commitments. We cannot say we’re going to send out lightly armed infantry soldiers without tanks, armoured personnel carriers, attack helicopters, etc., if that is the mix for that kind of warfare. So when you come and ask us to pick at the smorgasbord where the fare is the lightest, you’re asking us not to fully participate. I don’t think that’s a very fair position to put Canada in, because it would show us as not being full partners and not living up to the commitment to both NATO and the UN.

I don’t know how you reconcile that with some of the statements you’ve made here about less heavy equipment and less involvement when you’re in the high-intensity warfare situation. You’re an absolute sitting duck if you don’t go with that. So we have to measure the lives of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen and give them the equipment that will help them survive on the battlefield.

The Chairman: Did you want a response?

Mr. John Richardson: Yes. I’m asking why he would come up with this light equipment arrangement recommendation when in fact we wouldn’t be living up to our commitments.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: The question is, how do we live up to our commitments? Every state has to make judgments about what is the best way to do that. I don’t think our topic here is Kosovo, but if our objective is humanitarian and human security, you at least have to be open to the question of what degree of success the way in which we have responded to that has had, through what we consider to be carrying out our commitments, in providing for the security and well-being of the people to whose aid we have come. I know that conflict isn’t over yet, but I think the international community will be doing some fairly extensive re-examination and self-examination about what in fact is the best way to come to the aid of communities in desperate peril, as they are in that situation. They will ask themselves whether the way in which the response was handled this time is in fact the best way to come to the aid of those communities. I don’t think you or I or the international community has the answer about what the best way is, but I think the minimal thing we have to do is learn from experience, and this experience ought to be a teacher.

I think Canada simply needs to make some decisions about where and how it’s going to fulfil its international commitments. I think there’s more than one way of doing that. Canada has gone a long way in articulating the position that fundamental to the high levels of armed conflict in the international community today are the social, political, and economic conditions, and the proliferation of arms. Those are all serious contributing factors, and that’s part of the priority response to bringing international peace and security. In addition to that, we have understood that in certain circumstances peacekeeping operations, even in not fully permissive environments, are also part of our contribution, so we have an obligation to provide the kind of equipment and training that helps us to do that effectively.

The Chairman: There’s one minute left. Are you through, Mr. Richardson? I’ll give the minute to Mr. Bertrand if you’re done.

Mr. John Richardson: I would just like to come back to the point that some of the things Mr. Regehr brings to our attention here on the defence committee are really fundamental items that should be put before the foreign affairs committee.

The Chairman: Thank you.

We have time for a quick question. Mr. Bertrand is next.

Mrs. Judi Longfield (Whitby—Ajax, Lib.): Just a point of interest—

The Chairman: Mr. Bertrand is next, though, Ms. Longfield. I’m sorry. I’m just trying to respect the order of speakers.

Mrs. Judi Longfield: Okay. I just wanted to—

Mr. Robert Bertrand (Pontiac—Gatineau—Labelle, Lib.): How much time do I have, one minute?

The Chairman: You have time for one question. We’ll come back. You’ll have lots of chances.

Mr. Robert Bertrand: In your brief you presented before the committee this morning you say: “The white paper does, however, call for the maintenance of multi-purpose, combat capable…forces…”. You seem to think this is not the way to go.

This committee has been to Bosnia on a number of occasions, and I’ve been to Haiti. I’m just wondering if our troops wouldn’t have been so well trained. My personal feeling is that we would have had more people killed over there. I’m just wondering if we wouldn’t be trading off their safety in favour of just setting them in the one direction. I don’t know if you understand what I mean.

The Chairman: Please make it a short response, Mr. Regehr. We’ll come back to the other members.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I’m not sure that I disagree with the point, and that is that Canadian troops obviously need to be effectively trained and equipped to go into the environments to which they are sent. But by definition it’s going to be possible to send Canadian troops into some environments and not into other environments. Every country in the world has to make those kinds of predetermined judgments as to where we are most likely to need to make a contribution. Let’s focus on equipping ourselves for making that contribution.

The Chairman: Thank you.

We will have time for another round, so we’ll try to get all members’ questions in. But it’s now Mr. Earle’s turn for seven minutes.

Mr. Gordon Earle (Halifax West, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Richardson mentioned that some of the issues you presented in your paper should be presented to the foreign affairs committee. I do agree that there is a crossover. These things aren’t easily separated, because what we want our military to do quite often will depend upon what our foreign affairs policy is, and also our foreign affairs policy quite often will be dictated by how strong our military is or is not. So I think there is a crossover, and I think the issues you’ve raised here are quite valid to be raised here.

In that regard, looking at your comments on the defence white paper, you mention that it’s not a sufficient guide to the roles and capabilities and that we need a thorough review of the Canadian defence policy. Do you mean that when we review that policy, we have to look at the principles of where we want to go in terms of Canada’s approach to what our military should be involved in and that is tied very closely to our whole view of foreign affairs and how much we do or do not intercede in the affairs of another nation and the human rights issues you describe? Is that what you’re talking about, that has to be built more into the policy because it’s not really covered in the policy?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Exactly. I understand that foreign policy is to govern our defence roles internationally. As you know, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the minister have articulated a very clear set of obligations and principles around the themes of human security and peace-building. I think it’s important that the Department of National Defence grab hold of that human security agenda and sort out what the likely military contributions are. What are the ways in which armed forces can make military contributions to the pursuit of human security?

I think the 1994 white paper has not addressed that issue. We are obviously indicating here a direction in which we think such a review ought to go and might properly conclude with, but I think that takes a whole lot more work and attention than has been given to it so far.

For example, I know that levels of ODA spending is a matter for foreign policy; it’s not a matter for defence. But a defence committee needs to recognize that it’s in competition for scarce resources and, if the central objective is human security, as it’s articulated, to recognize also that part of the contribution to those security objectives is through development spending. Part of those contributions is through military capability. Then the question is what are the appropriate military capabilities?

Mr. Gordon Earle: So would you see that whole issue as being tied in, for example, with the question of military exports? It was pointed out that military exports have been going down. I notice them going down with respect to the U.S. and with respect to Europe, but they’ve been going up with respect to third world countries. So would that issue tie in with what you’re talking about when you talk about human security and having a sense of direction as to where we want to go on that?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Yes, absolutely. The proliferation of arms has been identified as one of the most fundamental threats to human security internationally, so it needs to be controlled, and it’s not logical to pursue a policy of increased control while you are pursuing a procurement policy of increased dependence upon export sales. So that’s why the military export control issue is very much related to the procurement question.

You folks are much more informed on this than I am, but I think it’s probably safe to say that when the ADATS equipment was acquired, there was a military need identified for air defence and anti-tank systems. But there was also a very strong sense that there was huge international market for this equipment, and if we establish the capability of building that in Canada, we’re going to be able to export these things all over the place. That’s an example in which I think export industrial interests affected procurement policy extensively, which in turn had an impact on defence policy.

So these issues are related. We need to pursue restraint in export, and that has implications for the way in which we procure equipment here.

Mr. Gordon Earle: Finally, on your recommendation concerning dual-purpose equipment and controlling that, you recommend that Canada’s military export regulations apply to all operational equipment transferred to military end-users. It would seem to me that might be a difficult one to police or to control. Do you always know when the equipment is being sent out that it’s going to end up with a military end-user? Is there a problem in that regard?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I think the end-use control is very important, and that applies to all, even military equipment for which there are export permits, for which you need to be able to control the end use.

We have in Canada, and other countries have as well, made explicit sales of civilian helicopters, explicitly to armed forces, without an export permit being required. I don’t think that’s an acceptable system, particularly when we’re into an era where that is probably going to be increasingly the case, that armed forces acquire commercial equipment for military operational equipment. So that equipment ought to be controlled as well.

Mr. Gordon Earle: It’s clearly defined that it’s the end-user.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Yes.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Earle. I agree with both you and Mr. Richardson. While those are valid points, we’re really here and the particular issue for us is to study the procurement of equipment for our Canadian Forces. Although you raise a valid point, it’s perhaps in another context.

Now it’s Mrs. Wayne’s turn, if she has some questions.

Mrs. Wayne, you have seven minutes.

Mrs. Elsie Wayne (Saint John, PC): I have only one question. It’s to Project Ploughshares. I believe they feel we should be only involved towards peacekeeping and humanitarian interventions.

Is that how Project Ploughshares sees things, sir?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: If we’re in a situation in which there are limited resources for the development of the Canadian Armed Forces for activity beyond Canada’s borders, then what we need to look at is what the contexts are in which Canada is most likely going to be called upon to make a contribution. In the last 20 or 30 years, those contributions have been most prominently in the area of peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention, and we ought to focus on building up that capacity.

Mrs. Elsie Wayne: I have one other statement. At the present time, even here in Canada, we are in need of helicopters and we don’t really have them. Once again, just two weeks ago, a Sea King had to make an emergency landing. So we don’t have that.

We have a lot of capability when it comes to building ships in our country, and we are not in a position to even compete for contracts for building them, and so on.

So for our own forces here, there is a great need for us to expand the defence budget in order to meet the needs of what is required, not only here in Canada but to meet the other needs as well.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I agree with you in the sense that I think there is very productive overlap between Canada’s domestic defence needs and Canada’s roles in peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention in that similar kinds of equipment are needed. Search and rescue helicopters have relevance for intervention in domestic crises in other countries just as they do in our own country. I think those are the kinds of complementary obligations that we ought to exploit when we’re pursuing defence procurement.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mrs. Wayne.

We’ll now start a second round of questions, with Mr. Goldring again, for five minutes.

Mr. Peter Goldring: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

If I understand your thesis, you’re concerned mainly for the economics of the military and if there is economical capability for military. Maybe I could ask some questions more directly on the type of military hardware that we are using and have used internationally. Would it be your premise, then, that you would not support the purchasing of equipment such as the CF-18s, armoured carriers, and frigates?

Your report suggests that we shouldn’t be involved or we should work in other areas of peacekeeping. Would you think that type of equipment and hardware would be conducive to world peacekeeping efforts? Would you be supportive of maintaining, or if we were looking at new purchasing of equipment such as that, would you be supportive of it, or would you not?

The Chairman: Before you answer, I want to say that these five-minute sessions go very quickly, so I’m going to ask you to try to give us a crisp answer.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Okay, thank you.

I think you have to make distinctions there. I think the frigates have been used in monitoring embargos, and so that capacity and long-range shipping capacity can be supportive of peacekeeping operations. Armoured vehicles that bring protection to Canadian Forces operating in dangerous environments are important and Canada should be acquiring them.

I think F-18s do not make a major contribution to peacekeeping capabilities. You can’t protect vulnerable people from 20,000 feet in the air. Heavy-combat tanks are not the kind of thing that Canada is going to quickly transport into a monitoring situation in Rwanda, and so forth.

So I think it’s those kinds of distinctions, and we would be toward the light-armoured vehicles…. A longer-range airlift capacity, for example, may be something that should be considered.

Mr. Peter Goldring: But in international peacekeeping efforts, who’s going to do the dirty work? Is Canada going to be participating in, putting forward its share of its world responsibility, or shall we leave the dirty work to somebody else to do? If we decide as a group, as NATO or United Nations, would it not be reasonable and fair to expect that Canada, if it’s sitting at the table, should participate in the field? In other words, who’s going to do the dirty work? Who would you think should be doing it?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Well, there are two responses to that question. One is that Canada will always be…I mean, we will select the things we do. It’s not possible that a country the size of Canada is going to be able to participate in everything. There will always be a prior selection—

Mr. Peter Goldring: What would our world partners think of Canada as a participator at the table selectively keeping its hands clean? Is it fair and reasonable in an international situation?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I don’t know what the “hands clean” comment means, but Canada has always been at the table selectively, the U.K. has been at the table selectively, every country in the world is at the table selectively. You participate in some activities, you don’t participate in others. It’s our responsibility to decide the kind of participation we are going to make.

The other thing is that what you called the dirty work sometimes is dirty work and not so effective. We need to be much more open to re-examining whether the kind of full-combat capability or full-combat activity that we’re pursuing in fact meets the human security and international security objectives that we are pursuing.

Mr. Peter Goldring: Then how do we square that with the other participants? How do we say we want to engage and we want to be considered a partner and standing shoulder to shoulder with the other nations, and say we will participate except here and except there? Who should be having that heavy responsibility when we do need the heavy-duty equipment to be utilized? Who should be, and why should we not be participating in that?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Well, how many of NATO’s 19 countries are participating in Kosovo? Are the ones not participating lesser allies by virtue of that?

All countries will decide when you participate; it’s your sovereign responsibility to make that decision. And it’s your responsibility to configure your forces in such a way that you believe you’re going to make the best contribution most effectively in those cases that are most likely to come up. That means, for any country with limited resources, selecting, making a decision.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Goldring.

Now with our rules we go to the government side, and I’ve got Mr. Bertrand, then Mr. Pratt, then Mr. Richardson, in that order.

Mrs. Judi Longfield: Mr. Chair, could I have a point of clarification?

The Chairman: Okay, Mrs. Longfield.

Mrs. Judi Longfield: The tables you’ve presented—what’s the source? You’ve been very clear in your footnotes, but not in this.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Right, okay. On Canadian military spending?

Mrs. Judi Longfield: On all the charts. There are a couple where you have sources as the Department of Foreign Affairs, Canadian Commercial Corporation, but on the first one you just simply said it’s a DND budget. Whose document is this?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I can give you the table. It’s the report on plans and priorities of DND, March 1998, and then earlier editions of the annual estimates.

The Chairman: Thank you for that point of clarification.

And now, Mr. Bertrand, five minutes.

Mr. Robert Bertrand: In one of your fact sheets, you say that Canadian military exports to third world countries has increased over the last few years. Just to clarify it in my mind, what is it that we export to third world countries? And to which countries?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: A major part of this large growth in the 1990s in exports to the third world is the sale of light-armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia, but we sell military commodities, components and subsystems to a wide range of countries.

The Department of Foreign Affairs’ annual report lists them all in detail. I don’t have that report here. By the way, these figures are all taken from the annual report of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Chairman: Okay. Mr. Pratt.

Mr. David Pratt (Nepean—Carleton, Lib.): Thanks, Mr. Chair. I’ll be fairly quick, hopefully.

Mr. Regehr, do you believe in the concept of collective security? I didn’t have the opportunity to get your opening comments because I was at another committee. Do you believe that’s an important concept in terms of maintaining world peace?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Yes. Cooperative security is what Mr. Clark called it; common security is what some are calling it.

Mr. David Pratt: As a result of that, do you believe Canada should be a full participant in NATO? You can’t talk the talk unless you’ve walked the walk.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: No, I’m sorry there. I think NATO is not the primary instrument in the post-Cold War world through which Canada should be exercising its collective security obligations.

Mr. David Pratt: Okay, so you feel Canada should be out of NATO then?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I think that when Canada—

The Chairman: That’s a fairly straightforward question—yes or no? I don’t have a problem with that either.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: It’s not quite as straightforward, because I think NATO should decrease in international importance. As for whether Canada should unilaterally withdraw from NATO at this particular time, I think that would just lead to a very non-productive debate, but I think the importance of NATO needs to decline and I think we’re witnessing the decline of the importance of NATO. Regional security organizations in Europe, western Africa, east Africa, southern Africa—those are the kinds of organizations that are going to become increasingly important in maintaining regional stability.

Mr. David Pratt: What is NATO, if not a regional security organization?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I think there is an important distinction between a defence alliance and a regional security organization. A defence alliance is a cooperation by a certain number of states oriented toward defending themselves against an external enemy. Regional security organization is the cooperation among states designed to maintain security and stability within that region.

Mr. David Pratt: I don’t disagree with that, but I think, and I would appreciate your comments on this, that as a G-7 country Canada has responsibilities. You mentioned that not all of NATO was involved in Kosovo, but as a G-7 country with a population of 30 million people, one of the founders of NATO, one of the key participants in the foundation of the United Nations, Canada has a responsibility over and above what countries like Luxembourg and Denmark and Spain and Portugal might have under the circumstances. Would you not agree with that?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Absolutely, which is why, by the way, I think it’s close to scandalous that we have allowed ODA to fall to 0.3% of GNP.

Mr. David Pratt: That is one point I would probably agree with you on, one of probably very few points I would agree with you on in this particular discussion.

I have one final question. I came from Sierra Leone a couple of months ago and did a report on the situation there in terms of this human security issue. One of the things that struck me was that we’re leaving a regional security organization, in this particular case ECOMOG, to try to do a job, a human security job, where hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians are affected, and they don’t have the necessary military equipment to do the job there. We don’t have, unfortunately, the military assistance that we could provide to them to do the job, to protect innocent civilians. How do you respond to that sort of situation?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I agree with that. I travel a lot to east Africa and to Sudan and I’ve witnessed those very same kinds of activities in Sudan. However, you have to recognize that the fundamental lack there is not a lack of military capability but a lack of social, political and economic capability. But I think there are roles there for military forces to bring protection to people and to bring stability into the society. But there again, you’re not going to do it with CF-18s.

Mr. David Pratt: But you can’t do it without heavier equipment, though, obviously.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Pratt. We can continue with more questions, but it’s now Mr. Lebel’s turn.


Mr. Lebel.

Mr. Ghislain Lebel: You said that our exports on the North American market were in constant decline. When Canada buys military materiel, must it do business exclusively with the USA? You talked about sales to Third World countries and countries other than the USA. Do some international agreements mean that we’re captive clients of the Americans?


Mr. Ernie Regehr: No, we’re not at all captive clients of the Americans. Canada is free to buy its military equipment from anywhere it wants, from South Africa and Brazil if it wants, and they have appropriate capabilities. However, during the Cold War years and through defence production sharing arrangements, there was the strong implication, though not legislated requirement, and the trade-off was that Canada would have access to the U.S. military market for subsystems and components, but that it in turn would purchase major systems from the United States, and that trade would remain in rough balance over the years. It didn’t remain in rough balance, but that was the view of a cooperative defence industrial base.


Mr. Ghislain Lebel: When you said that hadn’t happened, I presumed that Canada was still in a deficit position within the context of that agreement.


Mr. Ernie Regehr: No. In fact, Canada…I’ve forgotten now precisely, but there were certainly periods in which Canada exported more, was in a surplus position. What it is right now I’m not certain, and part of the problem is that Canada no longer maintains official records of the defence production sharing arrangement trade between Canada and the United States.


Mr. Ghislain Lebel: You talked about increased control of Canadian exports to the American market. I didn’t quite understand the objective. I suppose such information could also be very useful to our economic partners and that they aren’t always favourable to us, necessarily. In any case, I have problems understanding why we should have regulations and do a strict accounting for exports. Finally, isn’t that actually a requirement the Americans might have?


Mr. Ernie Regehr: Well, no. The Americans, as I understand it, are increasingly inquiring that the sales from the United States to Canada are going to require export permits. And we are are saying that Canadian exports to the United States should be treated the same way that Canadian exports to Germany and the United Kingdom are treated, in that exporters are required to have permits. I think the implication is that anybody who applies for a permit is pretty much going to get it. It’s not that it’s going to be a more highly restrictive trade.

The main reason we were advocating export permits to the United States, to treat it the same way as other allies are treated, is for transparency reasons, that Canada has a system of disclosure of exports based upon permits granted. Companies are required by law to report on the basis of export permits. There are no export permits required to the United States, so exports are not disclosed. As a result, Canada can report on export sales to India and the U.K., but it cannot report publicly on export sales to the United States, which is the main customer. We ought to have the capacity to do that.

In fact, there was one incident where a small number of armoured vehicles went to the United States and were not reported. They didn’t become part of Canada’s annual report to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms. Also, it would help Canada comply with its obligations under the OAS firearms convention to report to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms if there were an export permit system to the United States.

The Chairman: Merci, Mr. Lebel.

Mr. Richardson.

Mr. John Richardson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I’d like to roll back to the theme that what has driven Canadian defence policy is collective security over the years, from World War I on. It’s a collective security that has generally resulted from countries with like minds and values coming together in some form of contract to come to each other’s aid if invaded—or in the case of World War II, the invasion of France and the lowlands by Germany.

This triggered the causes to come to the aid of those countries that were being overrun by the Italian and German axis. Now we’ve gone past that. During the Korean War, we were initially an expeditionary force under the guise and support of the UN. Then we went into the Gulf War and all kinds of small wars around the world, generally for just causes, to show other countries they couldn’t take war in their hands to take other people’s properties and overrun their countries.

The collective security situation has given us reasonable stability over the years. These are all countries that are democratically elected and profess that quality through their governments. Now we are into a situation where you suggest that these people may be a big problem for us. You want us to go into other countries, break away from traditional allies, put all our money into a pot, and go offshore looking for causes to support, when we really have a major commitment in NATO. When we are focused there, it is our first priority.

I don’t know how you came upon your thinking to have our country make that major shift, download our hardware, and go off as we did in Rwanda, Burundi and Somalia, where we were lightly equipped and overrun by the numbers of people we were supposed to be helping.

I don’t get your logic. I think you’re moved by good motives and your heart is in the right place. But certainly, as a major state in the world, you’re asking us to make a major move away from our allies, and I don’t think that’s going to fly.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: The Canadian Armed Forces were not overrun in Somalia by virtue of light armament. I’m not sure what you mean by that. That’s not what happened in Somalia. I don’t know of any place where Canadian Forces went in and, because they were inadequately equipped, were overrun.

Mr. David Pratt: Croatia. That’s a good example of a fairly recent—

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Thank you. That’s one place. That hasn’t happened in Africa. I don’t know where you’re going with the notion that this is a breakaway from traditional allies.

What I don’t understand, from your point of view, is what you understand is the distinction between collective defence and mutual defence. I assume you support the expansion of NATO. There is a mutual security organization in Europe. Why is it not possible to be a participant in a mutual security endeavour in Europe that pays attention to the mutual security of the members of the organization? What’s the problem with that? What we’re advocating here is not a Canadian withdrawal from the world; it’s Canadian participation in the world—and effective participation.

Lord knows you don’t have to look very far for causes. There are many areas of the world where there is huge instability. The international community needs to sort out a means and capacity to participate constructively in bringing some stability to those parts of the world, whether it’s west Africa, east Africa or Kosovo.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Richardson.

The time is up here. I don’t want to editorialize from the chair. I don’t think I am by saying there was a fairly direct question put to you, Mr. Regehr, with all due respect, about our continued participation in NATO. I found your answer a bit tortuous at best. It seemed to suggest a withdrawal from NATO.

If you want to briefly clarify that for the record, I think it would be important. But your answer was rather roundabout and tortuous and seemed to suggest a withdrawal from NATO.

Do you have a clear statement on that?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I think collective security operations need to move away from defence alliances and toward mutual security organizations. To that extent, the security responsibility for Europe needs to move from NATO to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Canada is a participant in that, and that’s where the long-term durability of security in Europe will reside.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Before I go to the next question, I’ll just share a fact with you from SCONDVA’s trip to Germany in January, in which a number of colleagues here participated. The military and political leaders of Germany and other European nations have made it very clear to a number of us personally that they strongly feel Canada must maintain its participation in NATO. I’m not looking for a response; I’m just sharing that fact with you.

Now I will go to the next speaker, Mr. Earle.

Mr. Gordon Earle: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

First, Mr. Regehr doesn’t necessarily need my defence or anybody else’s defence—he’s doing quite well in responding—but I feel I have to raise this point, Mr. Chair. I think it’s quite inappropriate—

The Chairman: Point of order?

Mr. Gordon Earle: Yes. It’s a point of order. It leads into my comment. I think it’s inappropriate for you, as chair, to put the witness in the position where he has to give a yes-or-no answer to any question. Witnesses should be allowed the latitude to answer as they see fit and clarify as they see fit. I don’t think the chair should come in with a biased approach, or an approach that puts forth a position. I’m starting to get the feeling the chair has a position on the issue of NATO.

The Chairman: No problem. I take your point, but I would respond this way. I know you want a response. You made a valid point. It is my job as chair to make sure the witness answers the question he or she is asked.

Mr. Gordon Earle: Yes, and he did.

The Chairman: This witness requested to appear and knows the parameters of what this committee is talking at. I’ve allowed the witness quite a bit of latitude on issues that frankly did not deal directly with the Canadian procurement of equipment. I think you’d have to concede, and I think Mr. Regehr would concede, I’ve allowed him quite a bit of latitude. But where we’re talking about a very specific question and a very direct question is put to him, I think I have a job as chair to try to assist the questioner to get a direct answer to a direct question.

I take your point, and I don’t want you to use up all your five minutes.

Mr. Gordon Earle: I won’t use up all my five minutes.

The Chairman: You’re working on it.

Mr. Gordon Earle: I must beg to differ a bit.

The Chairman: All right.

Mr. Gordon Earle: The witness did answer the question. If the questioner is not satisfied with the answer, then he can pursue a supplementary. But I do not feel it’s the chair’s role to say to the witness that it’s a very clear question and yes or no will answer it. I don’t think that’s appropriate.

The Chairman: I hear your point and we’ll agree to disagree.

Mr. Gordon Earle: Right. We’ll move on and I’ll make my comments.

There’s been a lot of discussion with respect to NATO and the point has been raised that as Canadians we should be full partners in NATO. I think some people are missing the point that being a partner doesn’t necessarily mean that everybody does the same thing. A partnership is a partnership because some people have specific strengths in one area, so they support people who are weak in other areas; those people who are weak in other areas support the people who are strong.

Canada has always had a very important role in terms of peace-making and in terms of diplomacy, witness Lester Pearson’s role in the Suez Canal and the Uniting for Peace resolution and so forth. We’ve always had a very specific role that was quite different from the strong, aggressive military role that the U.S. has played. It doesn’t mean we are not equal partners because one is more aggressive than the other in a given area of concern. So I think we have to get that on the table and be very clear about it.

I want to ask Mr. Regehr if, when he talks about the review of the defence white paper and looking at the roles and capabilities, he in fact means that we have to examine our role, say, even within NATO and perhaps our role within the UN as being relevant to determining the kind of military we’re going to have and the procurement process and what we will procure in light of that. Is that what you’re getting at in this review of the white paper?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Yes, precisely that. Canada will always have limited military capabilities. We need to be selective about where we exercise them, what the contribution is we are going to make, where it is going to be most effective, and where the requirements are the most likely to be.

It’s not only me; there have been other witnesses before this committee on procurement talking about basic defence policy issues and arguing, as I read the testimony of Professor Bland and the chap from Jane’s. Both made strong points in this committee that Canada lacks an adequate defence policy to guide this procurement. We need to get that attended to and under control before we proceed with extensive procurement activities. I think it’s very important to look at the mechanics of the procurement, the trees, but you also need to have a little bit of a look at the forest. And I think that’s where there is division within Canada.

Mr. Richardson said that my comments don’t reflect the Canadian mainstream. The Canadian mainstream is divided on this very question. The Canada 21 group of prominent Canadians came up with a very different vision for Canadian defence policy than is reflected in the current defence white paper. It’s not that the white paper represents the mainstream and all others are marginal; there’s a lack of consensus in Canada. Canada will never find the political will and political support for major military procurement as long as there is that lack of consensus and a feeling that the Canadian defence policy doesn’t reflect Canadian consensus.

So I think there is an urgent requirement, and what I’m putting before the committee is that we need to balance the concern that I hear expressed around this committee about collective security in Europe with concern for human security beyond Europe and NATO, where the real wars are taking place, where additional real wars to the one in Europe are taking place.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Regehr, and thank you, Mr. Earle.

I think that’s exactly why your request to appear was granted. I think it’s very important that we have this debate, but there are some parameters I have to try to enforce as well.

We now go to Mr. Pratt.

Mr. David Pratt: You’re talking about the real wars. Let’s get back to Sierra Leone for a few minutes, where there is very definitely a real war going on. That’s not to say there isn’t a real war going on in Kosovo; I think there is there as well.

But in Sierra Leone you have a situation where a group of rebels—it’s essentially an economic war—are trying to control and have control of a diamond area. They’re buying arms from eastern European countries on the international market, they have displaced over a million people, hundreds of thousands are in refugee camps, and the situation is such that the ECOMOG group, the western African peacemaking group that’s in there, is in desperate need of support. The United States has provided support in terms of logistical support to ECOMOG. The British are providing both lethal and non-lethal assistance. Canada has not provided a lot, in the big scheme of things.

There is a view that from a military and humanitarian standpoint, you have to have control of the ground before you can get aid to the people who are in greatest need, because we don’t know what’s going on inside Sierra Leone. The government only really has control of the Freetown peninsula. So under that set of circumstances, would you agree that Canada should be providing some measure of lethal and non-lethal aid to the ECOMOG forces so that they can get aid to the people who are in greatest need? There are people starving there.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: Basically, yes. I defer to you on the details of the situation in Sierra Leone, and the kind of contribution that’s going to be effective versus the kind of contribution that will just draw people into a prolonged counter-insurgency war. I think the military objectives that you’re supporting there need to be clear. So if there are clear military objectives of assisting ECOMOG in creating safe havens, or controlling access to key resource areas like the diamond mines and so forth, building a parameter around those and preserving them for the public good, then yes, I think the situations there are so extraordinary, that’s where the urgent need for international assistance comes in.

While I’m agreeing with you in basic principle, as we said in the brief, I think the international community has a great deal of work to do in sorting out what the most effective means of intervening are in those situations. I think the Pearson centre in Canada is making an important contribution in exploring those things, and others are as well. I think you’re dead on. That’s where the priority attention needs to be, and Canada needs to be prepared to make a contribution to the pursuit of security.

Mr. David Pratt: Now, in terms of pursuing just a little bit further the type of equipment those folks need in Sierra Leone, obviously they could use transport vehicles to get their troops from point A to point B, because we’re talking about a very basic level of military capability when we’re talking about the Nigerians, the Ghanaians, and the Guineans in Sierra Leone in ECOMOG. It’s also very clear to me and to any of the military observers who have looked at the situation that if you want a speedy conclusion to the conflict, you don’t match the rebels on a one-to-one basis in terms of the equipment they have, you have to have some level of technological and fire-power superiority. In this case, you need things like light-armoured vehicles, tanks, and attack helicopters in order to bring that conflict to a conclusion as quickly as possible so that people can go back to their homes, resume their lives, and rebuild the education system and the economy.

So am I hearing the director of Project Ploughshares saying we should be exporting equipment, providing military assistance—lethal and non-lethal aid—to ECOMOG forces in Sierra Leone? Is that what I’m hearing you say? That’s what I’m picking up here. I think if you said that, if you answered my question in the affirmative, I think you’d be dead on. I think it would be the morally right position to take under the circumstances.

The Chairman: Please be succinct, Mr. Regehr, because we’ve got other questioners.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: The context is very important. One is that you have to understand that the fundamental problem in Sierra Leone, I think you’ll agree, is not a military problem.

Mr. David Pratt: It is right now.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: You need to attend military responses with the whole range of other diplomatic and economic responses. Second, the faith in the efficiency of higher levels of technology has been shattered many times. It is being shattered today in Kosovo, and it’s been shattered in many other contexts. So the notion that there is…I mean, I would draw back when you say we need to get in there for a quick military solution. Too often it’s turned out that the quick military solution isn’t so quick and isn’t a solution. But having made those cautions, I say the international community needs to have the capacity to come to the assistance of regional organizations that are trying to bring stability into a conflict like that, and that includes military capability.

The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Pratt.

Next would be Mrs. Wayne. You don’t have any further questions?

Then our last questioner will be Mrs. Longfield, and I’ll remind colleagues we have some important business to do at ten-thirty for a few minutes.

Mrs. Judi Longfield: Just briefly, in reference to your submission, in section 2.8 you talk about per capita spending per soldier and you reference Canada’s budget of $22,800 per soldier as compared to Germany and Italy, and we fare fairly well.

I want to go back to our peacekeeping role in Bosnia. Is it your belief, or are you undertaking any studies…? Do we have the equipment we need to protect our military personnel there and to allow them to do what they’re in there doing in what has been seen as Canada’s traditional role of peacekeeper?

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I’m not really qualified to address that directly. I’m not aware that the Canadian military leaders have made a major issue of the lack of appropriate equipment there. I may be wrong about that, but I think we need to listen to that testimony carefully and respond. I agree with you that when we’re sending Canadian Forces into peacekeeping assignments that are dangerous, they need to be appropriately equipped.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Mr. Regehr, I want to thank you very much for appearing today and sharing some very important feelings and opinions that I think, as we’ve all heard, are held by many Canadians, and to some extent by some of us as well. I think you’ve contributed to our overall look at an important topic. We’ve allowed you some latitude, because I felt it was warranted, and just so that you’re clear on this, any time I sought to focus an answer, or a question for that matter, it was to assist the discussion. So I appreciate very much your being here today. Thank you.

Mr. Ernie Regehr: I appreciate your help and appreciate being here as well. Thank you.

The Chairman: Thank you very much.


Project Ploughshares Working Papers are published to contribute to public awareness and debate of issues of disarmament and development. The views expressed and proposals made in these papers should not be taken as necessarily reflecting the official policy of Project Ploughshares.

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