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Defence Policy  –  Conservative Party  –  December 2005 / 13 May 2008

Stephen Harper announces the new defence policy
put forward by the Conservative Party of Canada


Dianne DeMille & Stephen Priestley  –  this article has been expanded from
'briefing  notes'  prepared  by  CASR  for  the  CBC  on  22  December  2005

On 13 Dec. 2005, the Conservative Party announced
its 'Canada First' defence plan as a part of the 2005/ 2006 election campaign. To coincide with a campaign stop, this plan focused on CFB Trenton in southern Ontario. [1]  Then, on 22 Dec. 2005, the Party Leader, Stephen Harper, announced Tory defence plans for Manitoba and the Arctic. The former focused on an emergency response brigade and, on "transport and [search-and-] rescue capabilities at CFB Winnipeg."

As outlined on the Conservative Party website, 'Canada First' plans for the North would "significantly enhance our military presence in the Artic [sic]."  Including:
    • three new armed naval heavy ice breakers  (with 500 Regular Force personnel
      to crew and provide support). The heavy icebreakers were to be based at a
      "new military/civilian deep-water docking facility" near Iqaluit;
    [Update: the planned armed icebreakers were scaled down. A/OPS (Arctic/ Offshore Patrol Ships) will double as southern OPVs during the winter. The deepwater port will be at Nanisivik, NU in western Baffin Island, not Iqaluit.]

    • an Arctic National Sensor System including underwater surveillance
      technologies;   [Technically complex, little has been heard about ANNS.]

    UAV squadrons at CFB Comox and Goose Bay to provide "eastern and
      western Arctic air surveillance";
    [Update: under  JAIC/JUSTAS, DND  tried to single-source Predator UAVs. The proposal was vetoed by a Harper Cabinet sensitized to OAG criticisms.]

    • an Arctic training centre near  Cambridge Bay, Nunavut  "on the North-
      west Passage" (with 100 Regular Force staff);
    [Update: this plan is underway but the location is to be Resolute Bay, NU.]

    • recruiting "up to 500 additional" Canadian Rangers and "increasing their
      level of training, activity, and equipment";

    • using the proposed "airborne battalion and airlift capacity stationed at
      CFB Trenton to provide a rapid emergency response capability through-
      out the entire Arctic region"; and
    [Update: no mention of this plan in the 12 May 08 Canada First speeches.]

    • new fixed-wing search-and-rescue aircraft for 440 Sqn at Yellowknife.
    [Update: no mention of arctic utility aircraft in the Canada First speeches. However, the planned FWSAR purchase has been increased by 2 aircraft.]
The replacement of 440 Squadron's aging CC-138 Twin Otters is already in hand. We will examine the other major points of this Conservative Party plan in turn.


[1] The 13 Dec. 2005 announcement outlined the Conservative plans for Trenton- based strategic airlift , tactical airlift , and a revived Canadian Airborne Regiment.

Dianne  DeMille  is  the  editor  of  the  Canadian  American  Strategic  Review.
Stephen Priestley is the creator of  DND 101 - A Visual Guide to CF Equipment .


>   Part 2  —  Proposed Armed Heavy Icebreakers & Iqaluit Docking Facilities