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September 12, 2023 | Local, Security

ANALYSIS | Canada needs to ditch the complacency and get serious about national security, experts say | CBC News

For decades, national security has been an afterthought for federal governments of all stripes. The problem, say the experts, is that Canadians themselves tend not to take their security seriously — and as a result, neither do the people they elect.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/national-security-canada-military-defence-ward-elcock-1.6963391

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  • Canada donates four Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine

    January 27, 2023 | Local, Land

    Canada donates four Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine

    Defence Minister Anita Anand says size of donation considers need to maintain Canada’s readiness: leaving enough tanks for training and to meet NATO commitments for deployments

  • Chantier Davie won’t take ‘no’ for an answer

    December 1, 2017 | Local, Naval

    Chantier Davie won’t take ‘no’ for an answer

    By Kevin Dougherty. Published on Dec 1, 2017 10:46am QUEBEC – Chantier Davie in Lévis, across the St. Lawrence from Quebec City, will be forced to lay off 800 shipyard workers before Christmas without a new contract to build a second supply vessel for the Canadian navy. “We're not taking no for an answer on that,” Davie CEO Alex Vicefield said in a telephone interview on Thursday, after Defence Minister Harjit Singh Sajjan told Le Journal de Québec last week through his press attaché that the government does not plan to buy a second supply ship. In an email response Thursday, Sajjan's press attaché Bryne Furlong reiterated that, “Navy and Coast Guard supply requirements have been extensively studied and are subject to long-term planning, which does not include a second supply vessel‎.” The layoffs have begun, now that the Davie workforce has completed — on time and on budget — conversion of the German-built container ship Asterix into a supply ship to deliver fuel, water, food and supplies to the ships of the Royal Canadian Navy. Davie's plan now is the $600 million conversion of the Obelix, a sister ship to the Asterix, into the navy's second supply ship. Vicefield said Ottawa's plan calls for paying $2 billion each for two new supply vessels, the first of which will only be available 10 years from now. “Why do we need to build these ships for $2 billion each?” Vicefield asked, noting the Asterix and Obelix cost $600 million each and are superior vessels. “I'm not a political activist but we believe in the project and we delivered,” Vicefield said. In 2011, the Harper government unveiled its National Shipbuilding Procurement Program, awarding $38-billion in contracts to build ships for the Navy and Coast Guard to Irving Shipbuilding Inc. of Halifax and Seaspan Shipbuilding of Vancouver. Davie, emerging from bankruptcy at the time, is Canada's largest shipyard and was excluded. Cost estimates have risen since then, Vicefield noted, with the cost ballooning to over $100 billion. And in the six years since the plan was announced, the two winning shipyards have delivered no ships. Officially, Seaspan is to launch its first replacement supply ship in 2021. But Vicefield noted that Andy Smith, the official responsible for shipbuilding in the federal department of fisheries and oceans, told a Commons committee Nov. 7 that Seaspan has a backlog of three ships to build before work on the first supply ship can begin in 2023, for delivery in 2027. Vicefield said that in spite of granting the lion's share of shipbuilding contracts to Halifax, the Conservatives where shut out in Atlantic Canada in the 2015 election, and Steven Blaney, the Conservative MP representing Lévis, was re-elected even though Davie was excluded from the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy. “The key point here is that shipbuilding contracts do not win votes,” Vicefield said. “But major procurement scandals bring down governments. “If I was in government, I would be worried about a major procurement scandal, where you are spending five, six times the cost to buy a ship than any other country in the world pays and nothing is being delivered.” The Asterix is also a hospital ship and can deliver humanitarian aid in the event of major natural disasters, such as a tsunami or a devastating hurricane. Davie stepped into the breach in 2014, when the navy's two existing supply ships were scrapped and plans by Seaspan to build two replacement supply ships were a distant prospect. The Harper government granted Davie a contract to convert the Asterix into a supply ship for about $600 million as a private-public partnership, with Davie managing the project from stem to stern, its financing, as well as providing its civilian crew and leasing the ship to the federal government for five years. When Justin Trudeau led his Liberals to power in 2015, Irving Shipbuilding leaned on Liberal ministers from the Maritimes to have the contract cancelled. But the work was underway and Ottawa did not block the Asterix project. The Halifax-based and crewed Asterix will supply Canadian navy ships off the east coast, while off the west coast Canadian naval vessels will be supplied by Chilean and Spanish navy supply ships. “Why would you do that when you can put the money back into Canada and ensure the jobs of 800 people here for another two years?” Vicefield said. “It makes no sense.” Vicefield regards the Harper government's plans, renamed by the Liberal government as the National Shipbuilding Strategy, as “mind-boggling” and “a bit of a joke.” And he believes Canada can have three shipyards, including Davie, to build and maintain naval and Coast Guard vessels. “There are about 50 large ships that need replacing,” he said, noting the average age of the Coast Guard fleet is 40 years. “So there is enough work for sure for three shipyards for the next 30 years.” “We haven't been pushing against the National Shipbuilding Strategy,” Vicefield said. “I think it is going to fall on its own.” Irving, which is now building ships in Romania, and Seaspan, which has ordered two ferries to be built in Turkey, are defending the plan, and so far have political support. “They see the writing on the wall,” Vicefield said. “They want to destroy the competition. They see that now they have the upper hand. “But we're not going to let that happen,” he insists. “We're convinced the new government, the Liberals, will actually see sense. “But it is taking time for them to get their feet under the desk.” https://ipolitics.ca/article/chantier-davie-wont-take-no-answer/

  • French firm Dassault pulls out of fighter-jet competition: Sources

    November 7, 2018 | Local, Aerospace

    French firm Dassault pulls out of fighter-jet competition: Sources

    By Lee Berthiaume The long effort to replace Canada's aging fighter jets took another surprise twist on Tuesday, as multiple sources revealed that French fighter-jet maker Dassault is pulling out of the multibillion-dollar competition. The decision comes just over a week after the federal government published the military's requirements for a replacement for Canada's CF-18s as well as a draft process by which a winning supplier will be chosen. Dassault had repeatedly pitched its Rafale aircraft to Canada over the years as successive governments in Ottawa have wrestled with selecting a new fighter jet. Dassault's pitch included significant promises, including that it would assemble the planes in Canada. But sources tell The Canadian Press that Dassault's decision to withdraw was related to the fact France is not a member of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network, which counts the U.S., Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada as members. The five members have very specific requirements for how their equipment works together. The French government, which had been closely working with Dassault as the most recent iteration of Canada's fighter-replacement program has inched along over the past year, was preparing to notify Ottawa of the company's withdrawal. The move leaves four companies — U.S. aerospace giants Lockheed Martin and Boeing, European competitor Airbus and Swedish firm Saab — competing for the $19-billion contract to replace Canada's 76 CF-18s with 88 new fighters. A contract isn't expected to be awarded until 2021 or 2022, with delivery of the first new aircraft slated for 2025. In the meantime, the government is planning to upgrade its CF-18s and buy 25 used fighters from Australia as a stopgap. Dassault faced several significant challenges in meeting Canada's requirements for a new fighter, said defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, and while they weren't insurmountable, they would have cost time and money. Those challenges included meeting those Five-Eyes intelligence-sharing requirements, which Perry said put Dassault at a distinct disadvantage in the competition when compared to Lockheed Martin, Boeing and, to a certain degree, Airbus. "For any of the non-American companies, solving the Five-Eyes interoperability issues is going to be challenging," he said, noting that the U.S. in particular is very sensitive about data-sharing. "And it costs companies a lot of money to mount and pursue bids. So if they think at this point in time that it's not a realistic prospect, then pulling out is pretty understandable." That could explain why Dassault never established a strong presence in Canada during the many years when it was trying to sell the Rafale as a replacement for the CF-18, he added. The CF-18s are about 35 years old. Canada's attempts to buy a new fighter jet have dragged on for nearly a decade after the previous Conservative government announced in 2010 that Canada would buy 65 F-35s without a competition, with the first to be delivered in 2015. But the Tories pushed the reset button in 2012 after the auditor general raised questions about the program and National Defence revealed the jets would cost $46 billion over their lifetimes. After campaigning on a promise not to buy the F-35s, the Trudeau Liberals announced in November 2016 they would take their time with a competition to replace the CF-18s, and buy 18 "interim" Boeing Super Hornets without a competition because Canada needed more fighter jets badly. But then Boeing's trade dispute with Canadian rival Bombardier saw the Liberals scrap their plan to buy Super Hornets and instead begin talks to buy 18 used fighter jets from Australia. A contract for those used planes is expected in the coming weeks. The formal competition to replace the CF-18s is scheduled to begin next spring. https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/11/07/news/french-firm-dassault-pulls-out-fighter-jet-competition-sources

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