Minister of National Defence Mandate Letter and the Navy

By Dr. Dan Middlemiss, 19 December 2021

Shortly before the current sitting of the House of Commons is about to adjourn, the Prime Minister issued his Mandate Letters to his new cabinet ministers. In her own Mandate Letter, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence (MND), received what the Prime Minister views as his priorities for the Department of National Defence (DND).1

The first priority is clearly the need to take swift and comprehensive action on the troubling issue of sexual misconduct in the Canadian Armed Forces. This is wholly appropriate. However, one could suspect that the Prime Minister wants no whiff of military-related scandal to taint his party’s electoral fortunes come the next call to the polls.

“Strong, Secure, and Engaged” is still viewed as the cornerstone of the Liberals’ vision for national defence, even though the document will soon be entering its 5th year. Time for an update? Who knows.

NATO and the need to modernize NORAD are mentioned, but little in the way of specifics are provided for domestic operations or international peace operations. Ensuring that Canada “remains a leading contributor to NATO operations” seems a bit of a stretch, however.

When it comes to the RCN, there is scant mention except “to renew the fleet,” “including the process to add a third Canadian shipyard as a strategic to the National Shipbuilding Strategy.” And where will that third shipyard just happen to be? The Mandate Letter doesn’t say, but this is clearly a sop to Davie, which just happens to be located in Quebec. Of course the creation of “middle class jobs” is also mentioned, as is need to “ensure Canada has the modern ships needed.”

But because there is no specific time-line mentioned for delivering these modern ships, there is no sense of urgency conveyed to the new MND about accelerating the build of the Canadian Surface Combatant (CSC), for example. It is hard to square this with the Prime Minister’s apparent concern for ‘deliverology’ – that is, “an unwavering focus on delivering results” according to the Mandate Letter.

To sum up, there is no hurry about procuring badly needed equipment – like new warships – to meet the new strategic environment of the 21st century. Just try to get this little detail done by midnight on the 31 December 2099 and that will be good enough. In the meantime, our duct-taped RCN ships will be the envy of our allies, and the scourge of any enemies.

Good luck, Minister!

1. https://pm.gc.ca/en/mandate-letters/2021/12/16/minister-national-defence-mandate-letter

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