Mark Collins – Canadian Government Commits to Porkify Defence Procurement, Part 3

Further to this post (and comment), Prof. Steve Saideman of Carleton University has his say–excerpts:

More Than We Want, Less Than We need

…Canada has a small military, so it will always be a limited market for Canadian producers.  Sure, some Canadian companies do well in international competition, which means that they can compete well at home. But many do not, and have not.

The best/worst example of this is ship-building.  The effort to re-capitalize the Royal Canadian Navy by building ships in Vancouver and Halifax is mighty good for those shipyards, but is awful from a budgetary standpoint.  There are other countries that could have sold Canada more capable, less expensive ships than what the Canadian shipyards will eventually produce.  Sure, the ship-building competition within Canada was lauded at the time for being fairly systematic, but it was gamed—the competition was only among Canadian shipyards.  Sure, the RCN learned not to buy used ships from the British due to the sub fiasco, but there are companies beyond Canadian shores that could provide excellent ships sooner and for less [see also this post: “Tony Rodger- The Price of Efficient Naval Construction is Practice: Why Canada cannot sustain a naval shipbuilding industry“].

Why?  Because Canada is making a huge mistake—it is turning defence contracting into an exercise in domestic job creation…

…while we often think of the military-industrial complex as a single entity pushing in the same direction, it is very clear why the Canadian Forces and Canadian defence contractors do not see eye to eye on spending defence dollars in Canada to subsidize some companies and win some votes.

Lots more on the looming shipbuilding disaster here—through which the Canadian Coast Guard in particular (though not an armed service like the USCG) is getting screwed.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute

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10 responses to “Mark Collins – Canadian Government Commits to Porkify Defence Procurement, Part 3

  1. As for the Canadian public and the CF, see this comment and following at Milnet,ca:

    There is an interesting article in today’s Globe and Mail about newly released documents from Britain’s National Archives.
    The report refers, specifically, to a briefing not prepared for Prime Minister Margrert Thatcher for a 1983 trip to Canada. It warns her about Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s “unsound personal views on East/West problems and the strategic balance.” It also added that “the Canadians are a people of the extreme centre. They have not been averse to the quiet life offered by Trudeau nor keen to spend more money on defence or effort abroad.”

    Nothing has changed in 30 years, in fact, nothing has changed in 60 years, since the end of the Korean War: Canadians do not like to spend money on defence and they do not like sending the CF overseas. It is the way it always has been and I can see nothing that suggests it will change in my lifetime or yours (which is, I hope, much longer).

    Get used to skrimping and saving and to doing more with less ~ some of us did it for 35 years.”,82898.msg1247095.html#msg1247095

    Mark Collins

  2. The Economist notes the problems piling up for the CF–but does not mention those related to “buy Canadian”. Odd for a liberal, free market paper (and see my comment at the story):

    “Defence policy in Canada
    Strong. Proud. Ready?
    Stephen Harper has championed stronger defence. But impending cuts will take a toll on unreformed armed forces with more tail than teeth”

    Mark Collins

  3. Spencer


    You are missing the point. More defence workers, more defence votes. Easy. Look at Europe even the socialist party support defence purchasing because of the large defence industry votes.

  4. Spencer

    So I free market guy like myself even supports building in Canada because I support a strong defence. This is only way to get Canadians to support defence purchasing no matter what party is in power. The Conservatives are playing the long game. Yes is more expense but could a life saver!

  5. Spencer

    Here is my crazy idea…..Obama has told the USCG to look at replacing their two Ice Breakers. Ok lets deal Sea Span can build three “Polar” class icebreakers. In exchange we buy two “JSS” type ships ie MARS. from US. I would say this would be cheaper for all in the long run and make Sea Span a ice breaker center.

  6. Spencer

    With the savings the CCG can get a second ice breaker.

  7. See also final bit of this post, trying to do too much with too little (and costlier makes little even less):

    Mark Collins

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