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Canada's New Defence Minister

Haggis

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
Every minister is there to "manage" a department.

It's good that you used quotations in that sentence because removing them would also remove the truth that the Ministers do not really manage anything.  More, they represent their departments to the Cabinet and PMO.  Public servants - mandarins - manage the departments and if things don't go their way (i.e. the Ministers actually attempt to run things) the mandarins can quickly, quietly and anonymously throw their Minister under the bus.

Oldgateboatdriver said:
And where it comes to managing a government department, private sector experience is irrelevant and ill prepares you anyway.

If the CDS and DM brief him properly, keep him informed and ride herd over their respective parts of the Defence portfolio, he may survive contact with Ottawa politics.

Oldgateboatdriver said:
He has been exposed to public sector management (police force and DND) for most of his life and probably knows more about that than his "private' sector colleagues, who will have a steep learning curve.

His experience to date has also exposed him to both the uniformed machine and the unionized machine.  He is decorated and experienced and has achieved a measure of success in both careers.  This means that his former operational and political masters have seen him fit to lead.  This may well position him better than most to succeed as MND.

Oldgateboatdriver said:
I wish him well.

As do I.
 

observor 69

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Odds are he will be an improvement compared to the place holder Jason Kenny .
 

McG

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Haggis said:
If the CDS and DM brief him properly, keep him informed and ride herd over their respective parts of the Defence portfolio, he may survive contact with Ottawa politics.
I wonder if his in-brief will be similar to the last guy's.
National Defence gave minister more info on public opinion research than on ISIS operation, NATO
February 2015 transition books detail public polling results, media requests.
Marie-Danielle Smith
Embassy News
28 Oct 2015

A new Liberal defence minister will inherit a self-conscious department that seems more than a little concerned about how it's perceved by the public.

When Jason Kenney took over as national defence minister in February 2015, he was briefed with a thicker stack of papers about public opinion and media operations than about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, Operation Reassurance and Operation Impact combined.

Embassy obtained the transition books for Mr. Kenney through an access to information request. Similar documents may be provided to a new minister when prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau names his Cabinet Nov. 4.

In a book about “Key Strategic Issues,” about 70 pages long, there are 17 pages worth of public opinion and media analysis, complete with graphs tracking Canadians’ perceptions of the department over years of polling data.

Conversely, only two pages of the document appear to be entirely devoted to Operation Reassurance in Central and Eastern Europe, two pages to Operation Impact in Iraq and Syria, four to NATO and two to NORAD.

More Canadians think CAF doing 'poor job' caring for returned soldiers

“Public opinion research is an important engagement activity to assess how Canadians view the Canadian Armed Forces," the document told the incoming minister. "It is also an evaluation of our public affairs activities by allowing us to gauge what is resonating with Canadians."

Public perceptions of the CAF’s care of returning soldiers declined over the past five years. The department and its counterpart, Veterans Affairs, was criticized for cuts to services and closures of Veterans Affairs offices under the tenure of outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Though the percentage of people who felt the CAF was doing a “good job” taking care of veterans stayed static at 51 per cent, the percentage who said it was doing a “poor job” increased from 20 per cent in 2010 to 38 per cent in 2014.

Surveys also found that general awareness of the CAF was at a 10-year low in 2014. Only 34 per cent of those surveyed had recently seen, read or heard something about the CAF, versus a high of 74 per cent in 2006, the year that Mr. Harper was first elected.

Most Canadians apparently get information about the CAF from television or the internet, and to a lesser extent daily newspapers and radio.

In 2014, 89 per cent had strongly positive or somewhat positive impressions of CAF members, versus 88 per cent in 2005 and 78 per cent in 1999.

The document did not include information about how much the public opinion surveys cost the department.

Department tracking media outlets, journalists

A page offering an overview of the “public environment” warns of a “24/7 instantaneous news cycle expedited by social media” with DND and the Canadian Armed Forces “under constant public and media scrutiny.”

The defence minister is provided, in these first few briefing books, with detailed tracking of media requests, down to full-page bar graphs showing the most frequent publications and the most frequent individual reporters that contact the department.

About 3,500 media requests were received in 2014. That’s close to 14 per workday, or close to one every 30 minutes, the document adds in bolded text. It's also up from the 2,796 media queries the department said it received in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

A pie chart illustrates that journalists’ deadlines were met 94 per cent of the time. “Spikes in interest typically occur when a significant event occurs,” the document explains.

Issues that caused spikes in media coverage last year included: the Oct. 22 attack on the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill that killed Corporal Nathan Cirillo; an attack two days earlier that killed Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu; Operation Impact, including Canada’s bombing mission against ISIS; military procurement; and defence spending.

The deaths of Cpl. Cirillo and W.O. Vincent garnered 4,580 mentions in print and broadcast media combined, while Operation Impact was mentioned 1,434 times. Procurement was mentioned 540 times, defence spending 453 times, the mission in Ukraine 375 times, mental health issues for military members 313 times, military justice issues 303 times.

On social media, the deaths were mentioned nearly 140,000 times, according to the DND transition book, while Remembrance Day was mentioned 74,870 times and Operation Impact 23,767 times.

Parliament not mentioned in brief on decision-making

Another transition book, titled “Who We Are and How We Work,” provided a broader departmental overview to the new minister of national defence.

Just shy of 70 pages, it includes information about ongoing Canadian Armed Forces operations, including all international engagements. It also gave the incoming minister a handy guide to key department officials, complete with photos and biographies.

A brief on strategic decision-making acknowledges that a prime minister or defence minister can make unilateral decisions on defence policy.

Cabinet does not need to sit together as a whole for major decisions to be made, the document explains.

“In some cases, a deployment decision will be made by a cabinet committee and, in others by the prime minister, or by the minister of national defence alone, or in conjunction with the minister of foreign affairs,” the transition book states.

This section on military decision-making does not mention Canada’s elected Parliament.

While the government is not legally or constitutionally required to seek Parliamentary approval for military deployments, it was the political choice of the Harper government to do so on several occasions.
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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I seriously doubt that Embassy got the complete briefing books of minister Kenny on an access to information request.

I suspect that most of the minister's briefing on the more military side of things is classified and therefore in a different briefing book and neither released nor even acknowledged as existing in an answer to a request for access to information.
 

Pieman

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I worked alongside LCol.  Sajjan overseas for a bit. He is sharp and thinks outside the box. He pushed hard to start looking at the Taliban as a Mafia rather than an insurgency creating networks of linking one person to another through money exchange. It was an interesting perspective and likely came from his work police work in gangs. He may be a reservist but has lots of time overseas working directly with General Vance. They know each other well and that can only strengthen the government - military relationship. I suspect he will be an interesting MND.

 

FSTO

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I do not know the man at all, but being a reservist he may cast a healthy critical eye at the way the department does its business and may have a more intuitive look at cutting (or redirecting) the right waste and not the most convenient waste.
 

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Pieman said:
I worked alongside LCol.  Sajjan overseas for a bit. He is sharp and thinks outside the box. He pushed hard to start looking at the Taliban as a Mafia rather than an insurgency creating networks of linking one person to another through money exchange. It was an interesting perspective and likely came from his work police work in gangs. He may be a reservist but has lots of time overseas working directly with General Vance. They know each other well and that can only strengthen the government - military relationship. I suspect he will be an interesting MND.


More work for those who must not be photographed?
 

Cloud Cover

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Pieman said:
I worked alongside LCol.  Sajjan overseas for a bit. He is sharp and thinks outside the box. He pushed hard to start looking at the Taliban as a Mafia rather than an insurgency creating networks of linking one person to another through money exchange. It was an interesting perspective and likely came from his work police work in gangs. He may be a reservist but has lots of time overseas working directly with General Vance. They know each other well and that can only strengthen the government - military relationship. I suspect he will be an interesting MND.

That's great because there is no bigger mafia in Canada than NDHQ.

As for the rest of the Cabinet, all I can say is that when you have a Prime Minister that is good for nothing, you had better have a Cabinet that is good at many things.  Time will tell.
I applaud the new MND, wish him well and hope that he can get things moving in the right direction. By all accounts, he is a no BS, "get things done" copper that successfully worked his job from a solid plan that he took a crucial role in developing.  I think anyone trying to pass a load of crap past him is going to be shown the door (in a polite but firm way). 
 

Colin Parkinson

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Just ran into a BCR Major at my daughters karate class, he is beaming with pride and quite pleased that I mentioned the appointment.
 

Pieman

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More work for those who must not be photographed?

I suspect that depends what Trudeau wants to accomplish...which I don't really know what his goals are.
 

PuckChaser

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Chris Pook said:
More work for those who must not be photographed?
He's already said he wants to beef up the training mission, and that's who's doing it. Time will tell with everything, I suppose.
 

YZT580

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question for those who know:  will he dig his heels in over something he believes in and as an mp does he still retain his reserve officer status or does he have to give that up?
 

TCBF

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Inspir said:
It will be interesting to see what the relationship between the new MND and the CDS will be like. I know that there was some tension between Brigadier-General (Ret'd) O'Connor and General (Ret'd) Hillier.

- When Gen Vance commanded the Canadian task force in Afg  in 2009, LCol Sajjan was on his staff.
 

McG

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Chris Pook said:
More work for those who must not be photographed?
It would be less sexy than that.  It would be more work for those who nobody wants to photograph ... forensic accountants in suits.
 

Edward Campbell

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YZT580 said:
question for those who know:  will he dig his heels in over something he believes in and as an mp does he still retain his reserve officer status or does he have to give that up?


There is nothing in our (Westminster) parliamentary tradition that says that members, even ministers, must resign their commissions. Our (British and Canadian) parliamentary histories show several members who served as MPs while, also, serving as soldiers, sometimes serving as MPs even while 'away' on operations. In fact, the House of Commons' own rules say that (my emphasis added) "...those days on which a Member was absent due to illness, a military commitment, the adjournment of the House or because the Member was on “public or official business”, are considered days of attendance."
 

The Bread Guy

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E.R. Campbell said:
There is nothing in our (Westminster) parliamentary tradition that says that members, even ministers, must resign their commissions. Our (British and Canadian) parliamentary histories show several members who served as MPs while, also, serving as soldiers, sometimes serving as MPs even while 'away' on operations. In fact, the House of Commons' own rules say that (my emphasis added) "...those days on which a Member was absent due to illness, a military commitment, the adjournment of the House or because the Member was on “public or official business”, are considered days of attendance."
As someone with a strong hand in making/driving military policy, though, there must be some rules governing some of his military appointments/jobs, no?
 

Oldgateboatdriver

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There is a long tradition of reservists serving as Members of Parliament or of a provincial Assembly. As a general rule, they request and are granted transfer to the supplementary list for the duration. I am unaware of any MP/MPA that continued active reserve service while siting, however.

In his case, however, there is the added fact that he is now the Minister of Defence. So there are potential implications with regards to Conflict of Interests rules. How would he act if, for instance, a plan to reorganize the militia was presented to him and affected, or not, the B.C.R.? In his case, he will be around 50 by the time the next election comes around, so perhaps retiring (if he hasn't done so already, as I see in one bio that his military service is listed as ending in 2014) would be a smart move.

PS: I don't think anyone suggested resigning commission. You can choose to retire, or be honourably released from the CF without having to "resign" your commission.
 

The Bread Guy

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Oldgateboatdriver said:
PS: I don't think anyone suggested resigning commission.
Neither was I, but you're right about potential conflict of interest.
 
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