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Justin Trudeau hints at boosting Canada’s military spending

Justin Trudeau hints at boosting Canada’s military spending

Canada says it will look at increasing its defence spending and tacked on 10 more Russian names to an ever growing sanctions list.

By Tonda MacCharles
Ottawa Bureau
Mon., March 7, 2022

Riga, LATVIA—On the 13th day of the brutal Russian bid to claim Ukraine as its own, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is showing up at the Latvian battle group led by Canadian soldiers, waving the Maple Leaf and a vague hint at more money for the military.

Canada has been waving the NATO flag for nearly seven years in Latvia as a bulwark against Russia’s further incursions in Eastern Europe.

Canada stepped up to lead one of NATO’s four battle groups in 2015 — part of the defensive alliance’s display of strength and solidarity with weaker member states after Russia invaded Ukraine and seized the Crimean peninsula in 2014. Trudeau arrived in the Latvian capital late Monday after meetings in the U.K. with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Earlier Monday, faced with a seemingly unstoppable war in Ukraine, Trudeau said he will look at increasing Canada’s defence spending. Given world events, he said there are “certainly reflections to have.”

And Canada tacked on 10 more Russian names to an ever-growing sanctions list.

The latest round of sanctions includes names Trudeau said were identified by jailed Russian opposition leader and Putin nemesis Alexei Navalny.

However, on a day when Trudeau cited the new sanctions, and Johnson touted new measures meant to expose Russian property owners in his country, Rutte admitted sanctions are not working.

Yet they all called for more concerted international efforts over the long haul, including more economic measures and more humanitarian aid, with Johnson and Rutte divided over how quickly countries need to get off Russian oil and gas.

The 10 latest names on Canada’s target list do not include Roman Abramovich — a Russian billionaire Navalny has been flagging to Canada since at least 2017. Canada appears to have sanctioned about 20 of the 35 names on Navalny’s list.

The Conservative opposition says the Liberal government is not yet exerting maximum pressure on Putin, and should do more to bolster Canadian Forces, including by finally approving the purchase of fighter jets.

Foreign affairs critic Michael Chong said in an interview that Ottawa must still sanction “additional oligarchs close to President Putin who have significant assets in Canada.”

Abramovich owns more than a quarter of the public shares in steelmaking giant Evraz, which has operations in Alberta and Saskatchewan and has supplied most of the steel for the government-owned Trans Mountain pipeline project.

Evraz’s board of directors also includes two more Russians the U.S. government identified as “oligarchs” in 2019 — Aleksandr Abramov and Aleksandr Frolov — and its Canadian operations have received significant support from the federal government.

That includes at least $27 million in emergency wage subsidies during the pandemic, as well as $7 million through a fund meant to help heavy-polluters reduce emissions that cause climate change, according to the company’s most recent annual report.

In addition to upping defence spending, the Conservatives want NORAD’s early warning system upgraded, naval shipbuilding ramped up and Arctic security bolstered.

In London, Johnson sat down with Trudeau and Rutte at the Northolt airbase. Their morning meetings had a rushed feel, with Johnson starting to usher press out before Trudeau spoke. His office said later that the British PM couldn’t squeeze the full meeting in at 10 Downing Street because Johnson’s “diary” was so busy that day. The three leaders held an afternoon news conference at 10 Downing.

But before that Trudeau met with the Queen, saying she was “insightful” and they had a “useful, for me anyway, conversation about global affairs.”

Trudeau meets with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg Tuesday in Latvia.

The prime minister will also meet with three Baltic leaders, the prime ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, in the Latvian capital of Riga.

The Liberals announced they would increase the 500 Canadian Forces in Latvia by another 460 troops. The Canadians are leading a multinational battle group, one of four that are part of NATO’s deployments in the region.

Another 3,400 Canadians could be deployed to the region in the months to come, on standby for NATO orders.

But Canada’s shipments of lethal aid to Ukraine were slow to come in the view of the Conservatives, and the Ukrainian Canadian community.

And suddenly Western allies are eyeing each other’s defence commitments.

At the Downing Street news conference, Rutte noted the Netherlands will increase its defence budget to close to two per cent of GDP. Germany has led the G7, and doubled its defence budget in the face of Putin’s invasion and threats. Johnson said the U.K. defence spending is about 2.4 per cent and declined to comment on Canada’s defence spending which is 1.4 per cent of GDP.

But Johnson didn’t hold back.

“What we can’t do, post the invasion of Ukraine is assume that we go back to a kind of status quo ante, a kind of new normalization in the way that we did after the … seizure of Crimea and the Donbas area,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to recognize that things have changed and that we need a new focus on security and I think that that is kind of increasingly understood by everybody.”

Trudeau stood by his British and Dutch counterparts and pledged Canada would do more.

He defended his government’s record, saying Ottawa is gradually increasing spending over the next decade by 70 per cent. Then Trudeau admitted more might be necessary.

“We also recognize that context is changing rapidly around the world and we need to make sure that women and men have certainty and our forces have all the equipment necessary to be able to stand strongly as we always have. As members of NATO. We will continue to look at what more we can do.”

The three leaders — Johnson, a conservative and Trudeau and Rutte, progressive liberals — in a joint statement said they “will continue to impose severe costs on Russia.”

Arriving for the news conference from Windsor Castle, Trudeau had to detour to enter Downing Street as loud so-called Freedom Convoy protesters bellowed from outside the gate. They carried signs marked “Tuck Frudeau” and “Free Tamara” (Lich).

Protester Jeff Wyatt who said he has no Canadian ties told the Star he came to stand up for Lich and others who were leading a “peaceful protest” worldwide against government “lies” about COVID-19 and what he called Trudeau’s “tyranny.”

Elsewhere in London, outside the Russian embassy, other protesters and passersby reflected on what they said was real tyranny — the Russian attack on Ukraine. “I think we should be as tough as possible to get this stopped, as tough as possible,” said protester Clive Martinez.
 

McG

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We have a backlog of requisitions out that is probably in the tens of millions just for the Navy side, but don't have the people to process the buys and walk them through buy&sell.
The supply managers and LCMMs are supposed to ensure this happens. These people exist.
 

Navy_Pete

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The supply managers and LCMMs are supposed to ensure this happens. These people exist.
I'm working in the LCMM section; right now we are hurting for people on both sides, so routine things are only being looked at between daily crises and the supply managers only have capacity to buy HPRs. My subsection is at 1/3 manning trying to figure out the technical side, and SMs are even shorter for people.

A lot of people come in to the grinder, learn a bit, then jump to a different department where things aren't insanely short staffed so they don't get worked to burnout, so it's a vicious cycle.

We could easily keep another 20 supply managers busy for six months filling bins though just bringing empty shelves up to minimum stock levels, but because of the relative low dollar values of the items, doesn't get pushed up to PSPC to do the procurement for us.

And if someone wants to buy new equipment, still need project staff for it, so not really sure where they are coming from either. Has been a pretty significant retirement wave in the last decade without new people coming in, so huge amount of experience is just gone. Usually a posting cycle is just long enough to learn the processes and get good at them, and things take a lot longer when you don't have that experience, so even if we surged people things would be really slow for a while.

Having funding available is awesome, but we need a lot more people to use it effectively. HR is our number 1 risk risk now at the status quo, so already working beyond capacity to try and keep the wheels on. The BGHs can increase the demand all they want, but without bodies we're not really going to even catch up, let alone get ahead.
 

rmc_wannabe

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What I find weird in the announcements is that we still don't have people to buy normal spares with and everyone is focused on the capitol side of new equipment.

We have a backlog of requisitions out that is probably in the tens of millions just for the Navy side, but don't have the people to process the buys and walk them through buy&sell.

Shiny new equipment is cool, but how about basic widgets to keep our current stuff going? Some of it has a lead time meausured in years as well, so it's not like it will show up tomorrow, but without enough procurement staff really doesn't matter how many TSORs we pump out.

Not really sexy, but 1000s of different items at lower dollar values adds up, and still has a high LOE even with the most basic procurement rules.
I would love to see the dollars and cents value of our current kind of procurement system and the way we fund projects.

I see the heart ache in the C&E world because the capabilities we field have a shelf life of 5 years before the vendor ends support to that equipment. If the project is receiving funding for a 20 year solution, more often than not, we fuck ourselves over.

We are usually buying something close to EoL/EoS, expecting to not lifecycle the system for 20 years, but not being able to get repairs, spares, or replacements, let alone software or licensing upgrades.

Does it make sense to do these multi decade procurements, or should we switch to a 5 year "use the hell out of it and replace new" system? I would be interested to see how the money plays out.
 

McG

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We could easily keep another 20 supply managers busy for six months filling bins though just bringing empty shelves up to minimum stock levels,
Assuming SWE were approved for those 20 positions and you could start hiring on Monday, how long would be needed to absorb and train that many civilians?

Filling staffing deficiencies is potentially an easy win that shows Canada is committed to meeting its defence obligations.
 

Kirkhill

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I see the heart ache in the C&E world because the capabilities we field have a shelf life of 5 years before the vendor ends support to that equipment. If the project is receiving funding for a 20 year solution, more often than not, we fuck ourselves over.

Interesting that. The F35 and the CSCs both got stuck with multi-decade life-cycle costings in a world where, as you suggest, 5 years is a technological life-cycle.

Perhaps a more realistic costing system on projects would reflect that reality and anticipate a 5 year life-cycle even on big ticket items. For example, should the F-35 buy based on buying 88 Block 4s for 40 years or buying 40 Block 4s for 5 to 10 years, then 24 Block 5s, then another 24 Block 6s and then replace the entire fleet. Likewise for the CSCs - not one 40 year project but 3 or 4 10 to 15 year projects.

It would keep the skills current at all levels, keep the fleets current AND reduce the sticker shock - not to mention turning procurement into a routine headline in the trade papers rather than headlines on the National.
 

GR66

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I'm working in the LCMM section; right now we are hurting for people on both sides, so routine things are only being looked at between daily crises and the supply managers only have capacity to buy HPRs. My subsection is at 1/3 manning trying to figure out the technical side, and SMs are even shorter for people.

A lot of people come in to the grinder, learn a bit, then jump to a different department where things aren't insanely short staffed so they don't get worked to burnout, so it's a vicious cycle.

We could easily keep another 20 supply managers busy for six months filling bins though just bringing empty shelves up to minimum stock levels, but because of the relative low dollar values of the items, doesn't get pushed up to PSPC to do the procurement for us.

And if someone wants to buy new equipment, still need project staff for it, so not really sure where they are coming from either. Has been a pretty significant retirement wave in the last decade without new people coming in, so huge amount of experience is just gone. Usually a posting cycle is just long enough to learn the processes and get good at them, and things take a lot longer when you don't have that experience, so even if we surged people things would be really slow for a while.

Having funding available is awesome, but we need a lot more people to use it effectively. HR is our number 1 risk risk now at the status quo, so already working beyond capacity to try and keep the wheels on. The BGHs can increase the demand all they want, but without bodies we're not really going to even catch up, let alone get ahead.
Makes me wonder why these are CF positions then rather than civilian DND positions where you won't get the same kind of turnover of staff and constant loss of experience?
 

McG

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Makes me wonder why these are CF positions then rather than civilian DND positions where you won't get the same kind of turnover of staff and constant loss of experience?
Most PYs in ADM(Mat) should be converted to civilian positions. Some of those freed PYs should go to the requirements staffs in other L1 so we can do a better job of describing what we really need.
 

Navy_Pete

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Assuming SWE were approved for those 20 positions and you could start hiring on Monday, how long would be needed to absorb and train that many civilians?

Filling staffing deficiencies is potentially an easy win that shows Canada is committed to meeting its defence obligations.
The LCMM apprenticeship program is 3 years, not sure what the SM equivalent is. Can take a few years to learn the basics though, and more complicated things contracts etc can take a decade to figure out what all the TB and other requirements are.

Taking a demand for an NSN and posting it on B&S is a lot more straightforward though and doesn't require any specialized knowledge, but still needs someone with time to do it.

The frustrating things is we can't pad a buy for an HPR of a part for 2 items with another 50 or whatever, unless there is a minimum quantity from the manufacturer. Recently processed several HPRs for small quantities of a common item for $250 total where the staff time costs more then the procurement, with a routine stock fill sitting in the pile for the last year or so to buy 100 of them (at roughly the same LOE as an HPR). Because procurements are being triaged by HPRs there isn't capacity to get to that routine buy, even though it's been manually pulled up to the top of the pile. Even then, we are behind on HPR procurements, so it's pretty grim.

On top of all that, the whole supply chain is still a mess; lots of companies are months behind so nothing is quick and some things they just can't get supplies to make things with.
 

dapaterson

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Makes me wonder why these are CF positions then rather than civilian DND positions where you won't get the same kind of turnover of staff and constant loss of experience?
They are a mix of military and civilian, with a steady stream of retiring CAF members into the PS.

The current environment, where unimaginative DND/CAF "leadership" care more about bums in seats in the office than productivity, is seeing an increased exodus to other departments, especially PSPC, where more enlightened and supportive management care about productivity and support WFH / hybrid employment models.

Most PYs in ADM(Mat) should be converted to civilian positions. Some of those freed PYs should go to the requirements staffs in other L1 so we can do a better job of describing what we really need.
A decent review of CAF occupations should include a "percentage by rank in the NCR" metric to identify what could / should be civilianized. I suspect the second order effect of that, dramatically reducing the number of positions in CAF "engineering" occupations (engineering in quotes since very few are actually P Eng) would drive reduced intake into RMC, and hence will never happen.
 

Navy_Pete

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Makes me wonder why these are CF positions then rather than civilian DND positions where you won't get the same kind of turnover of staff and constant loss of experience?
Those are civilian positions; but if someone is working 60 hour weeks with no light at the end of the tunnel for improvement, and can transfer the same job to another department at the same (or better) classification, don't blame them. Lot of jobs in the NCR within different departments so there is a lot of pull from DND to CCG, TC and elsewhere.

Not having to use DRMIS doesn't hurt either.

@Kirkhill You can do that with an ISSC on top of the initial procurement, but depends on the equipment if you can go with the OEM, a 3rd party, or want some kind of mix with the CAF and ISSC. It does add a whack of extra work though, and TBS now requires we look at that for any replacement over a certain dollar value via the 'Sustainment Case Business Analysis', which can add a ballpark of 1-3 years to the options analysis phase. That's still a work in progress with us trying to figure out how to do it and where we can skip it, but is yet another approval gate to jump through.

Evaluation of the Sustainment Initiative - Canada.ca
 

Navy_Pete

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I suspect the second order effect of that, dramatically reducing the number of positions in CAF "engineering" occupations (engineering in quotes since very few are actually P Eng) would drive reduced intake into RMC, and hence will never happen.
P. Eng is a provincial designation, so doesn't actually apply to work we do, and we self regulate anyway so are exempt from provincial oversight (for the most part).

CAF doesn't pay for it for military members as well, so a lot of people don't bother with it, as it costs about $1k to do the testing and $300-$400 per year to maintain. DND will pay for civilians ENGs to get and maintain the designation, so that might be a cheap and easy way to help with retention. SWE impact of a military member doing the job is cheaper then the equivalent ENG billet by a fair bit, and there is no OT, AWSE etc.

P.Eng itself doesn't really mean much on it's own but the work we do in the CAF does qualify, and most provinces have a PLAR type process specifically to transfer CAF experience towards the credentials and the 5 year period required. No one is stamping anything though so it's really just a flag that you are part of the club, and handy to have if you jump over to private industry. Some trades give PER points for it though to encourage people, but for the most part it's just a few extra letters in a signature block.
 

Kirkhill

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Those are civilian positions; but if someone is working 60 hour weeks with no light at the end of the tunnel for improvement, and can transfer the same job to another department at the same (or better) classification, don't blame them. Lot of jobs in the NCR within different departments so there is a lot of pull from DND to CCG, TC and elsewhere.

Not having to use DRMIS doesn't hurt either.

@Kirkhill You can do that with an ISSC on top of the initial procurement, but depends on the equipment if you can go with the OEM, a 3rd party, or want some kind of mix with the CAF and ISSC. It does add a whack of extra work though, and TBS now requires we look at that for any replacement over a certain dollar value via the 'Sustainment Case Business Analysis', which can add a ballpark of 1-3 years to the options analysis phase. That's still a work in progress with us trying to figure out how to do it and where we can skip it, but is yet another approval gate to jump through.

Evaluation of the Sustainment Initiative - Canada.ca

God I do love bureaucrats, accountants and lawyers....
 

Navy_Pete

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God I do love bureaucrats, accountants and lawyers....

The funny part is we've been doing the same kind of thing ad hoc for at least 10 years, but now have to get forced into the SBCA process, whether it makes sense or not. Also, there was no new people provided to support that, so they pulled a team together out of the existing LCMM/SM pool, but doesn't have bandwidth for everyone, so is now a chokepoint right at the start...

PSPC won't even talk to us until we get phase 1 or 2 done in the SBCA, so it's now an internal roadblock.

When you talk about buying something and sustaining a piece of kit for 10-20 years, really doesn't take much to hit the threshold either if it's widely used.

Personally stuff like that makes working as a contractor or going to a different department much more attactive, and at this point just a toss up if I try and stick around long enough to hit my immediate annuity or not.
 

Kirkhill

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Most PYs in ADM(Mat) should be converted to civilian positions. Some of those freed PYs should go to the requirements staffs in other L1 so we can do a better job of describing what we really need.

You might even give extra points for applicants with prior service?
 

Underway

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The government said that, but I think it was/is patently untrue.
Its extremely easy to transfer from a military Eng position to an Eng 4 position. The experience translates quite well. I don't know for other types of positions.
 

dapaterson

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My experience on both sides of the equation is that many military personnel fail to adequately communicate their skills when applying for PS positions. Jargon, unclear abbreviations... writing in clear, simple declarative English is apparently a lost skill
 
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