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It would be nice but where is the money and people coming from? Wistful thinking unfortunately.
Senator: Navy must be made bigger, better, cheaper
Kenny: Canada needs to double size of force
By CHRIS LAMBIE Staff Reporter
Sat. Jun 14 - 5:22 AM
Canada should double the size of its navy as well as beef up the coast guard with 3,000 more people manning armed ships, the chairman of the Senate committee on national security and defence said Thursday in Halifax.
Over the next two decades, the navy needs to roughly double its number of sailors to about 20,000 people and increase the number of warships in its fleet from 30 to 60, Liberal Senator Colin Kenny told about 125 people attending a maritime security conference at Dalhousie University.
"The government needs an effective method of deterring people from messing with us and messing with our interests," Mr. Kenny said.
Canada is "asleep just as England and the U.S. were in the 1930s," and our citizens think war at home is impossible "because people like us," he said.
"Even if I am wrong, those who would mock this perspective still want Canada to be engaged in the world and exert a positive influence," Mr. Kenny said. "But they don’t realize that we no longer have the capacity to do that."
His $28-billion wish list of new warships includes 26 single-class surface combatants (vessels meant to replace frigates and destroyers), six supply ships and six submarines. The outspoken senator argued that the navy should also convert its 12 coastal defence vessels back to their original role as minesweepers and buy 10 Orca-class training vessels.
"The navy tends to aim low, shoot low and they always get less than what they ask for," Mr. Kenny said. "So we should be aiming a little higher and we’ll get better results."
That expanded navy should concentrate more on operations in the Pacific Ocean rather than the Atlantic, he said.
"If you want to play in the Atlantic, you’re playing where your father played," he said.
"If you want to play in the Pacific, you’re playing where your son will play."
The Pacific already has 3 ½ times more trade than the Atlantic, military historian Jack Granatstein told the conference.
"This means that the naval base at Esquimalt must be expanded," Mr. Granatstein said. "China and Russia and perhaps India will jostle the United States navy for control of that ocean. We know where our loyalties must lie."
The coast guard should get eight new Arctic patrol vessels the Conservative government has already announced will be built for the navy, Mr. Kenny said, noting it also needs more icebreakers.
"The coast guard needs faster, better, cheaper, meaner vessels to guard Canada’s coasts," said Mr. Kenny, who argued the vessels should be equipped with heavy machine-guns and cannons capable of stopping a ship.
"One of the coast guard’s principle missions . . . should be interdicting vessels off our coasts that mean to do us harm or violate our laws."
They should police the Arctic, rather than the navy, because the coast guard has far more experience operating in ice, he said.
"We don’t envision any role for the navy in the Arctic," Mr. Kenny said.
He argued Canada should enter into 50-year contracts to build its own ships at three yards on the West Coast, East Coast and Quebec.
"If you’re calling a spade a spade, it’s a monopoly," Mr. Kenny said.
While Mr. Granatstein said Canada needs "a long-term, rational, continuous build policy," he said some ships should be purchased abroad to keep costs down.
"Planning and preparation has never been the Canadian forte," Mr. Granatstein said. "We usually wing it, play catch-up (and) rely on our friends to cover for us until we finally get our act together.
"I don’t think the future strategic environment will let us get away with this much longer.
"The military and terrorist threats that are building up, the climactic and environmental disasters that loom, the mass movements of displaced populations that are sure to wash up on our shores, all these demand that we prepare now."