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About this book

This edited volume provides a comprehensive overview of contemporary debates and issues in Canadian defence policy studies. The contributors examine topics including the development of Canadian defence policy and strategic culture, North American defence cooperation, gender and diversity in the Canadian military, and defence procurement and the defence industrial base. Emphasizing the process of defence policy-making, rather than just the outcomes of that process, the book focuses on how political and organizational interests impact planning, as well as the standard operating procedures that shape Canadian defence policy and practices.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) play a crucial role in safeguarding Canada’s security and sovereignty, they represent an essential asset in Canada’s foreign policy toolkit, and defence expenditures are the largest source of discretionary spending in the federal budget. Debate about how much Canada should spend on the armed forces, what the military should be equipped to do and at what cost, and how Canadian military expenditures fare when compared with allies remains contested issues and questions. Yet despite the centrality of defence issues to Canada’s national security and foreign policy and to national debates on these issues, there has not been a comprehensive book on Canadian defence for more than two decades. This gap is especially striking when compared to the many books on Canadian foreign policy. That is what this book sets out to fill: to provide an up-to-date, comprehensive overview of the main issues defining and shaping Canada’s defence policy today and in the first decades of the twenty-first century.
Thomas Juneau, Philippe Lagassé, Srdjan Vucetic

The Fundamentals of Canadian Defence Policy


Chapter 2. The Imperatives of Canada’s Strategic Geography

If a country’s defence policy cannot avoid dealing with the geographical space, Canada faces a major problem given the vast size of the territory to be defended. But territory plays a paradoxical role in the Canadian case. While most Canadians understand that their geostrategic location has historically kept them secure, the government, when it talks about defence, rarely invokes geography. Instead, defence statements encourage Canadians to conceive of the broader strategic environment in which their country operates in an “a-geographic” way—in other words, without reference to geography as a determinant of policy. This chapter explores this paradox, arguing that ministers have much the same view of Canada’s strategic geography as those they represent and govern. The result is that defence policy statements are purposely framed a-geographically in order to mask the realities of Canada’s strategic geography.
Kim Richard Nossal

Chapter 3. Canadian Strategic Cultures: From Confederation to Trump

Using the concept of strategic culture, we consider the history of Canadian defence policy. Our argument is that the interplay of imperialism, continentalism and Atlanticism, as Canada’s three main strategic cultures, helps explain the evolution of Canadian defence policy from Confederation onwards. We focus especially on the changing nature of Canada’s fixation with the United States and on how Canadian policy-makers went from obsessing about the threat of American annexation to accepting the notion that Canada’s security is inextricably tied to America’s—a basic continentalist belief that holds true even in a Trump era.
Justin Massie, Srdjan Vucetic

Chapter 4. Holding Canadian Governments to Account for National Defence

This chapter examines how governments are held to account for defence policy decision in a Canadian context. Drawing on theories of accountability and the nature of Canada’s Westminster system of government, the chapter argues that accountability for defence affairs tends to operate subtly. Rather than involving admissions of failure or acceptance of blame, accountability is seen when governments quietly adjust their policies or engage in damage control to deflect opposition and media critiques. The chapter then provides examples, such as the F-35 and the war in Afghanistan, to demonstrate how defence accountability has unfolded in recent decades. In conclusion, the chapter discusses the limits of accountability for defence affairs in Canada and how other Westminster states compare.
Philippe Lagassé

Chapter 5. Canadian Defence Budgeting

This chapter is an overview of the key aspects of defence funding in Canada, including the nature of the budgeting process. The author shows that the inability to spend allocated funds on capital spending has overlapped with a substantial increase in the availability of said funding since 2005. On current trends, the problem is likely to persist. While DND has made significant recent strides in making better use of the available funds, it is still having difficulty spending the procurement money.
David Perry

Chapter 6. From Policy and Strategy to Outcomes

This chapter suggests six interrelated reasons that explain why statements of Canadian defence policy and strategy have so often failed to result in the expected outcomes: (1) Canadians don’t typically develop policy and strategy through a rational process; (2) defence policy outcomes are often expendable because they are rarely linked directly to Ottawa’s grander strategic goals; (3) Canadian governments have habitually refused to accept the cost and level of commitment necessary to achieve policy aims; (4) the Canadian Armed Forces’ traditional military culture, characterized by an unwillingness to admit failure, interferes with rational analyses of the relative success of defence policy initiatives; (5) because Canadian defence policy is regularly operationalized in an alliance context, and since Canada is typically a supporting player within such alliances, Ottawa has limited control over the outcomes; and finally, (6) measuring defence policy outcomes is difficult in the best of times; it is near impossible in the context of Canada’s forward approach to defence.
Adam Chapnick, J. Craig Stone

Chapter 7. Canada and Defence Against Help: The Wrong Theory for the Wrong Country at the Wrong Time

The chapter revisits Nils Ørvik’s 1973 trope “defence against help”: the idea that the provision of defence in Canada is fundamentally motivated by the fear of a United States take-over of sorts. The authors argue that defence against help is not now, nor was it ever, the right theory for Canada-US defence relations. Future developments, starting with North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) modernization, might yet prove Ørvik’s theory right, however. The authors conclude that “borrowed help” offers superior insights into the nature of Canada-US defence relations.
Andrea Charron, James Fergusson

The Domestic Politics of Canadian Defence


Chapter 8. Canadian Civil-Military Relations in Comparative Perspective: It Could Be Worse?

In most advanced democracies, civilian control of the military is taken for granted even though it is fundamental to democracy itself. In many democracies, relatively few elected officials have significant power and responsibility over this very important domain. Canadian institutions, like those in many democracies, provide few incentives for politicians to become seriously engaged in defence issues. This chapter puts Canada into comparative perspective, indicating both that oversight over the Canadian Armed Forces is rather weak and that Canada is not alone. Using principal-agent theory, this chapter considers who are the relevant actors for the supervision of the armed forces, what their powers and interests are, and what this means for the Canadian Armed Forces. The focus here is on the prime minister, the defence minister, the chief of defence staff, the deputy minister and parliament, with a quick look at the limited private sector. The end of the chapter then considers what the Canadian Armed Forces does with its substantial autonomy.
Stephen M. Saideman

Chapter 9. The Political Economy of Defence

As a small open economy, Canada depends heavily on trade with other nations for its economic prosperity and depending on the year, between 70 and 80% of trading activity is with the United States. This chapter deals with the political economy of defence by examining the issue of national defence, one of the few areas of sole federal jurisdiction in Canada. The chapter addresses the interplay between domestic politics when contextually appropriate, the economic connections to the United States and how that relationship influences military procurement and the defence industrial base. The chapter discusses the fiscal and economic environment highlighting the international factors, national drivers and consequent federal government priorities that constrain the discretionary spending available to federal departments including the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The chapter discusses the existing defence policy, the roles and tasks that are given to the Canadian Forces and the then discusses the procurement process utilized by the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces including the defence industrial base that supports Canada’s defence department.
J. Craig Stone, Binyam Solomon

Chapter 10. Public Opinion and Canadian Defence Policy

In democracies, defence policy formulation and implementation are constrained by democratic deliberation and scrutiny. In this respect, the public plays an important role in delimitating the goals, means and priorities policy implementation. Accordingly, democratic leaders and senior public servants need to legitimize defence policy decisions in such a way as to gain widespread public assent. What do Canadians want in terms of defence policy? And more importantly, why do they share these preferences? Our chapter tries to review the existing academic research on Canadian public opinion on defence policy. First, we examine the attitude of Canadians towards defence policy issues. The number and quality of public opinion surveys examining defence policy issues has improved dramatically in the last decade and has provided scholars with a much stronger empirical foundation to reconsider strongly held assumptions on the nature and role of public opinion towards defence issues in Canada. Second, we explore the causes of defence policy preferences of Canadians. Although this research programme is still progressing, recent scholarly works have enriched our grasp of the underlying rationales associated with Canadians opinion towards defence policy issues.
Jean-Christophe Boucher

Chapter 11. The Demographics of Force Generation: Recruitment, Attrition and Retention of Citizen Soldiers

People are the armed forces’ most precious asset: the people soldiers serve at home and abroad, and the people who work for the military. Professional armed forces are quite systematic about selecting, training and developing their people. Doing so takes a long time and is very expense; so, the armed forces have a keen interest in recruits who are the most likely to succeed and the least likely to defect. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) had thus far done better than most sizeable allies at not trading off quality for quantity. As the Canadian population ages, the labour market tightens and the public service becomes less competitive on compensation, however, the CAF is finding itself challenged on recruiting and personnel. In an increasingly diverse society, one way to compensate is to ensure that the Government of Canada, and the Department of National Defence as its single-largest employer, is positioned as the employer of choice that models equality of opportunity for all Canadians. As this chapter explains, there are good demographic, functional, legal, political, social reasons for doing so. The CAF faces a predicament in this regard: on the one hand, it already fares better than most allies in this regard; on the other hand, incremental progress notwithstanding, the composition of the CAF lags the pace at which Canadian demographics are changing.
Christian Leuprecht

Chapter 12. Culture Clash: Why the Media and the Military Can’t Get Along

Journalists and members of the profession of arms have this much in common: both groups flatter themselves that they play a unique and vitally important role in supporting and defending freedom and democracy. Despite this commonality of missions, there is a long-standing and profound antagonism between the media and the military that has its roots in the very different cultures of the two professions. This clash of cultures is more than just the media’s desire for openness and transparency on the one hand, and the military’s need for secrecy and security on the other. Rather, it has its roots in the concept of honour at the heart of the military ethos, a concept which is alien to both the media and the civilian institutions that the media covers.
Andrew Potter

Chapter 13. Indigenous Peoples and Canadian Defence

This chapter is an historical analysis of the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian military. It identifies three overlapping and sometimes conflicting streams of military policy: (1) Indigenous dispossession (2) discrimination to inclusion and (3) reconciliation and consultation. The main argument is that the third stream offers the best way forward for Canada, since it brings the CAF into a new age of respect and reciprocity and therefore to much-improved set of relations with Indigenous peoples.
Sheryl Lightfoot

Chapter 14. Defence Policy Perspectives: Special Interests and Lobbying

This chapter identifies special interest participants and lobbyists attempting to influence Canadian defence policy, the methodology of their approach and the influence they achieve. Defence policy is impacted by crises, world events and other factors which influence how the policy is actually implemented—the priorities assigned to certain capabilities, the nature and extent of expeditionary deployments, the emphasis on speedy procurement, etc. This chapter also explains the very legitimate role of special interest groups and lobbying in the formulation and implementation of defence policy. It discusses their views and interests and the nature of their interaction, formally and informally, recognizing that input to a government-imitated review of defence policy is limited when compared to the ongoing process of making decisions regarding expenditures for major defence equipment, changes to defence funding and changes in the strength of the Canadian Armed Forces, all of which signal the government’s actual commitment to the level of military capability felt to be important and affordable.
George MacDonald

Chapter 15. Achieving Consensus and Effectiveness in Canadian Defence Policy

Establishing a political consensus on Canadian defence policy objectives is in the national interest. Since defence policies look ahead based on ten-, fifteen- or even twenty-year planning horizons, political consensus is highly desirable to avoid damaging stops and starts in defence initiatives and to build programme consistency. Historically, the establishment of a consensus on a core defence objectives has been challenging in the face of changing domestic priorities. But this may be changing given a consensus on key elements of the defence programme initiated under the Harper Government and which has been continued under the Trudeau Government. The paper outlines both some pitfalls that could disrupt the continuation of the defence policy consensus, as well as measures that can assist in sustaining that consensus. Should the consensus be sustained it can help to ensure that Canada’s defence policy is effective in serving the national interest.
Roy Rempel

Emerging Policy Challenges


Chapter 16. You’ve Got It All Backwards: Canada’s National Defence Strategy

Does Canada have a defence strategy? Taking an outsider’s perspective, this chapter argues that successive Canadian governments have kept defence strategy ambiguous on the basis of two commonplace assumptions: that domestic politics impose major constraints on the federal government in this area and that Canadians lack global agency by default. Objectively speaking, however, Canada’s ability to make strategic choices is not nearly as limited as typically depicted in policy discourse.
Lindsay Rodman

Chapter 17. Law and Political-Military Strategy: The Importance of Legal Advice in the Decision to Deploy the Canadian Armed Forces

Consideration of relevant political and military operational factors is central to a decision to deploy the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) on a military mission abroad, but deployments also present strategic legal risk. This chapter presents and briefly discusses two classes of legal issues that must be identified and resolved in Canadian deployment decisions. First, and accepting that the default rule in international law is that military interference in foreign states is illegal, under what international law authority would Canada deploy troops to the territory of another state? The three most commonly relied upon exceptions to the general rule are raised. Second, if and when the military is deployed, what international law will apply to its personnel and operations? The applicability of international human rights law and the law of armed conflict—or humanitarian law—is discussed. This second issue is in turn connected to the key question of whether Canada, through the conduct of its anticipated operations, might become a party to an armed conflict. Ultimately, are deployed Canadians at risk of being considered lawful targets? And what are the legal factors that might influence the choice of military tactics?
Alexander Bolt

Chapter 18. CAF Operations: A Comprehensive Approach to Enable Future Operations

Despite increasing calls to harness and integrate the entirety of state power in response to defence and security challenges under a Comprehensive Approach, the benefits posed by such integration often go unrealized in Western nations. Simultaneously, hybrid actors, possessing strategic outlooks incompatible with Western security objectives, seem increasingly able to harness multi-spectral elements of national or group power to achieve their desired ends. This chapter examines insights provided by recent Canadian operations, and those of hybrid actors, to understand how Canada can improve its ability to apply Comprehensive Approach principles. Moreover, it draws linkages to Canadian institutional, bureaucratic and cultural features to stimulate thinking about what will be required in future security environments. In doing so, it argues that strong, decisive leadership, robust institutional structures and inter-organizational processes are necessary to facilitate development of holistic approaches in response to contemporary security challenges.
Neil Chuka, Heather Hrychuk

Chapter 19. Capability Acquisition and Canadian Defence Policy: Programme Achievability and Resilience?

The relationship of Canadian defence policy and capability acquisition is explored in terms of endogenous and exogenous factors. The chapter reviews historical and international contexts before an overview of capability portfolio strategy. The sources of the tarnished reputation of defence procurement are deemed to be a “conspiracy of optimism”, heavy process overheads and shortfalls in project management capacity. Approaches to building achievability and resilience are proposed, building on complex project leadership competencies to navigate towards project success.
Douglas Dempster

Chapter 20. Women in the Canadian Armed Forces

Women have a long history of service with the Canadian military. For too long, however, that service has been hidden, minimized or outright fought against by the male and masculine institution of the CAF. The integration of women into the military in Canada was effected in 1989, but the process is yet incomplete. Women are not full members of the CAF, as is shown by the fact that only 15% of the CAF is female, and women are grossly underrepresented in the combat trades. Issues of both sex and gender continue to bedevil the CAF. One significant barrier to women’s participation in the military is sexual harassment and abuse. The CAF is only now beginning to address this issue, and it remains to be seen whether they can change the dominant masculine culture in the military such that the inappropriate sexual behaviour diminishes to match civilian levels. Female military leaders face particular challenges, even as women are overrepresented in the officer corps. With ambitious recruiting targets set by the government in Strong, Secure, Engaged, the next few years are crucial in the relationship between women and the Canadian Armed Forces.
Andrea Lane

Chapter 21. Defence Policy in the Canadian Arctic: From Jean Chrétien to Justin Trudeau

This chapter traces the evolution of Canadian defence policy related to the Arctic from the release of the Arctic Capabilities Study in 2000 to the release of Strong, Secure, Engaged in 2017. The authors observe that security aspects of Canada’s northern policy have remained remarkably consistent, predicated on a set of basic principles and priorities conceptualized by the military in 2000 as concerns surrounding climate change, northern development, Arctic shipping and geopolitical uncertainty began to refocus attention on the region. Although the Harper government justified its early investments in Arctic defence with “sovereignty on thinning ice” and “use it or lose it” messaging, it largely moved beyond these ideas after 2009 and returned to broader definitions of security that directed a whole-of-government response. Accordingly, successive governments have minimized the Canadian Armed Forces’ need to prepare for a conventional conflict in the North and recast the Forces in a supporting role to other government civilian departments and agencies in managing unconventional safety and security scenarios.
Adam Lajeunesse, P. Whitney Lackenbauer

Chapter 22. Canadian Defence and New Technologies

For the most part, discussions surrounding technology and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) centre around procurement challenges that often appear to be insurmountable. Yet there are other hard questions that need to be addressed when it comes to thinking about the military and technology. How do the geopolitical context and the kinds of missions Canada will be engaging in affect requirements? How can Canada manage technological vulnerabilities while keeping pace with technological change among its allies and adversaries? And how will technology impact the people within the CAF? Technology is fundamental to any defence establishment, but it is important to recognize that it is inherently social: adapting to technological change is not just about procurement, but successful cultural adjustment and evolution. This chapter addresses these issues by providing an overview of the context (geographical, demographic, middle power status) for the CAF, proposed solutions (replacement and adaptation) and future challenges when it comes to technology.
Stephanie Carvin

Chapter 23. Deterrence in Space and Cyberspace

Deterrence is an enduring concept. And yet the way it is put into practice changes with the times and circumstances. This chapter examines the challenges and opportunities Canada faces in applying deterrence by punishment, denial and delegitimization to space and cyberspace. Building off American approaches to deterrence in both of these emerging strategic domains and with a focus on doctrine and policy, we outline a Canadian approach to space and cyber deterrence that recognizes Canadian limitations, builds on Canadian strengths and serves Canadian interests. We argue that Canada must develop international norms of responsible behaviour in space and cyberspace to help curb certain behaviour (delegitimization), work with allies and the private sector to develop space and cyber systems that are resilient to attack (denial) and explore the utility of retaliatory measures—kinetic or otherwise—in both domains (punishment). By way of conclusion, we suggest Canada place greater attention to the strategic interplay between space, cyberspace and other traditional military domains and re-examine the perennial debate between defence autonomy and integration as it relates to the relationship between American and Canadian deterrence in space and cyberspace.
Ryder McKeown, Alex Wilner


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