Tag Archives: Canada

Mark Collins – “The fall of Aleppo shows us exactly what we have become”

Terrible Terry Glavin roars his rage; amongst other things he excoriates feckless and irrelevant Canadian word-mongering at the UN General Assembly–an excerpt:

The truth of it is we’d just rather not take the trouble [see end of post]. We aren’t prepared to suffer the sacrifices demanded of the commitments to universal rights we profess, so we absolve ourselves by talking about “the Muslim world” as though it were a distant planet. We talk about Arabs as though they were a different species. It’s easier on the conscience that way.

Between the drooling bigotries of the isolationist Right and the clever platitudes of the “anti-imperialist” Left, the only place left to address the solemn obligations we owe one another as human beings is in negotiations over the codicils of international trade agreements, or in the rituals of deliberately unenforceable resolutions entertained by the United Nations General Assembly.

Just last Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion and his diplomats conducted just such a ceremony in sponsoring a non-binding General Assembly resolution demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities in Syria, humanitarian aid access throughout the country, and an end to the siege of Aleppo. It passed, 122 to 13. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic coup [and heralded by our government–wowsers: “UN General Assembly calls for action on Syria in Canada-led resolution”].

Canadian Ambassador to the UN Marc-André Blanchard was pleased to claim that the resolution was already having an effect even before it was voted on, because the day before, Russia announced it was temporarily halting its bombing of Aleppo and had even offered to open corridors to allow civilians to flee. This is what counts these days as a diplomatic triumph.

The UN human rights office later announced that it had received credible reports that hundreds of men who crossed into Aleppo’s regime-controlled districts had gone missing…

Whilst Aleppo was falling our government issued this clarion call; one is sure it had Assad and Putin furiously reconsidering their course. Why do we bother with this worthless verbiage?

Canada demands that Assad regime and backers stop violence now and respect human rights in Syria

And if they don’t? Bah and humbug.

The start of a post from April:

The West and the Middle East: No Guts

I wrote earlier:

What to Do About the Bloody Middle East?

Poor bloody locals. If the West is truly willing to sort things out right now, are we then willing to rule–one way or another–for some decades or so to try to ensure things work out wellish? Triple double HAH! Given no willingness for, or today in the West intellectual acceptance of, such a prospect, then let us just face things honestly…

We don’t. Thank goodness we have Mr Glavin.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Advertisements

Mark Collins – Public Safety Canada’s Emergency Management May Suck

Just read between the bureaucratese at this report, damning stuff. The previous Conservative government cared little for this core federal responsibility; what about the new one? Not a sunny subject. From a January 2016 Public Safety Canada departmental audit:

Internal Audit of Emergency Management Planning: Leadership and Oversight

Executive Summary

Background

Under Section 3 of the Emergency Management Act (EMA [text here]), the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is responsible for providing government-wide leadership and oversight over the emergency management (EM) activities of federal institutions – including their emergency management plans, which include the following instruments:

– Strategic emergency management plans;
– Business continuity plans; and,
– Event-specific contingency plans.

Specifically, the Department is expected to:

– Promote a common approach to EM, including EM planning;
– Establish policies, programs, measures & advice for preparation, maintenance & testing of EM plans;
– Analyze and evaluate plans of federal institutions; and,
– Conduct exercises & provide education & training.

Public Safety Canada exercises its leadership and oversight role in this area through the Emergency Management and Regional Operations Branch (EM&RO [organizational and personnel details here, webpage here]). The Branch has been in existence since 2011 and has, since this time, undergone many changes to its structure, priorities and leadership [emphasis added]. The Branch operates in a complex environment characterized by multiple inter-dependencies, numerous stakeholders with competing priorities and, as noted, change.

EM&RO delivers its mandate through a range of specific programs, implemented by its directorates, which collectively are responsible for policy, planning, program development and regional service delivery. These programs are enabled by a management regime that supports the planning and allocation of resources and the oversight of performance. Collectively, this regime is referred to as a management control framework.

Audit Objective

The audit objective was to provide reasonable assurance that the core management controls in place across EM&RO Branch are adequate and effective to:

– support robust management and decision-making, in compliance with policy and legislation; and,
– fulfill the department’s roles in relation to EM planning leadership and oversight of federal institutions, in accordance with the EMA.

Summary of Findings

The point of departure for this audit was an examination of the EM&RO management control framework, which collectively provides a foundation for good management, program integrity and results. The audit noted positive efforts to strengthen governance through the establishment of formal management committees and through the introduction of strategic planning. While positive, the audit also noted that more deliberate and cohesive policy dialogue on the tenets and principles of EM as well as the roles and focus of EM&RO is needed to focus the directions of the Branch [emphasis added].

This, coupled with needed improvements to the planning and performance management regime of the Branch will lay a stronger foundation for priority-setting and targeted resource allocation, which were also concerns.

Specifically, the audit found that resource allocation processes are not sufficiently informed by priorities, expected results, risk and past performance. Efforts to enhance these mechanisms will have positive impacts, particularly given the current fiscal challenges being faced by the Branch. Finally, the audit noted that stronger leadership, including communication and management unity is needed to support the improvements in the formal controls.

The second major line of enquiry of this audit related to the adequacy and effectiveness of the practices that Public Safety Canada has in place to lead federal institutions in the discipline of EM Planning, as well as the mechanisms they have to oversee institutional activities and results, in accordance with Section 3 of the EMA.

Public Safety Canada’s leadership role is effected through the provision of guidance and through the establishment and management of fora for discussion and engagement with federal institutions. The audit found that guidance is provided to institutions in line with the EMA and Federal Policy on Emergency Management; however, opportunity exists to streamline and consolidate guidance, to enhance clarity and reduce unnecessary complexity. The audit also noted that government-wide structures are indeed in place, but, by most accounts, are in need of improvement – both from an efficiency and effectiveness perspective. These structures exist and provide a mechanism for information sharing from Public Safety Canada to federal institutions. However, in their current form and use, there is not a sufficient forum for substantive, government-wide engagement, direction-setting or signals-checking for matters related to EM Planning [emphasis added].

The Department exercises its oversight role through a variety of monitoring activities, including the assessment of institutional Business Continuity Plans, Strategic Emergency Management Plans and through National Exercises of selected contingency plans. The audit found that the monitoring of federal institutions’ EM planning is done in a fragmented and, in some cases, insufficient fashion [emphasis added]. Opportunities exist to strengthen the monitoring mechanisms by reinstating the assessment of business continuity plans, enhancing the robustness of methodologies, and examining opportunities for more streamlined and internally cohesive approaches.

In examining the national exercise program, the audit found that the national exercise calendar is developed, but concluded that the process for its development is not robust enough to ensure all necessary inputs are considered, particularly threat information [emphasis added]. As well, we identified opportunities to strengthen internal and external coordination and dialogue around the calendar’s development.

In light of the noted weaknesses in the monitoring of federal institutions, we are concerned that the Department does not have sufficient or effective mechanisms to appropriately gauge the readiness of federal institutions in the face of emergencies. As well, lack of monitoring limits the Department’s ability to gain insight into the strengths and challenges within federal institutions which itself should inform Public Safety Canada’s directions, policy and guidance [emphasis added].

Audit Opinion

In my opinion, the governance, risk management and controls in this area of departmental activity are not yet in a sufficient enough state of maturity to provide reasonable assurance that the objectives of Public Safety Canada will be achieved [emphasis added]. Opportunity exists to build on existing practices, some of which are already being enhanced, and to strengthen the adequacy (design) and effectiveness of internal controls…

Feel confident in the feds if a balloon really goes up? I had some experience with emergency preparedness and management with the Canadian Coast Guard; my confidence in things today is minimal. The country needs a single, dedicated, emergency agency, not a part (whose personnel are public servants coming in and out as they try to climb the greasy pole) of a department with many other difficult–and sexier (terrorism!)–responsibilities.

The feds, when I was on that job, once had such agency (scroll down here to “CANADIAN INITIATIVES”, cf. on a much smaller scale the US FEMA). But, for reasons I have never understood, our Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness was abolished soon after having been transferred (p. 3 PDF) to Public Safety Canada from National Defence in 2003. Its functions were then assumed within and as part of the broader bureaucracy. Not a good recipe for focus and success.

The government at the top of the Canadian food chain does not like thinking about, nor planning and paying for, emergency preparedness and response (hey, no Katrina here just that pesky 1998 central Canadian ice storm–where are the votes, eh?). So how much long-term dedication developing subject expertise might one expect from those greasy pole-climbing bureaucrats now on the, er, emergency job?

Related and very relevant at Public Safety Canada:

Canadian Government’s Crisis Ops Centre Sucks

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – World Defence Spending 2015/2016

A tweet–US$, Canada steady at no. 15 (what do we buy–only part of defence spending–for it?):

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – SNAFU, or, Canadian Defence Procurement

The start and end of a book review by Matthew Fisher, a rare Canadian journalist who is actually interested in matters military and has a real understanding of them–and note the deleterious role of our media generally:

New book pleads for fix to Canada’s dysfunctional military procurement system

The new book Charlie Foxtrot: Fixing Defence Procurement in Canada [see here] is a “cri de coeur” for political leaders to forge a bipartisan approach when deciding what to buy for the Canadian Armed Forces.

The author, Kim Nossal, is not delusional. The Queen’s University professor [more here] recognizes that for this to happen “involves a considerable leap of faith.” However, given how procurement blunders have “degraded the Canadian military,” he argues a better way must be found to replace them than the largely dysfunctional procurement system that exists at present.

Charlie Foxtrot — military shorthand for “clusterf—” — is particularly relevant today because the Liberal government is seemingly intent on equaling if not surpassing the their Conservative predecessors’ brutal mishandling of the multi-billion dollar programme to finally buy new fighter jets [see “What Stinking RCAF Fighter “Capability Gap” for NORAD and NATO?“]…

It has not only been the politicians who are to blame for Canada’s politicized procurement process. The media treat procurement as political theatre. There is little dispassionate analysis of the choices and the dilemmas involved in buying equipment that must last for decades in an environment where technological advances can render many acquisitions quickly obsolete [emphasis added, OH SO SADLY TRUE].

The government, for its part, has never hired enough procurement specialists, a problems that bogs down every purchasing process. Nossal argues that if Canada matched what its allies spend on a GNP basis, a lot of these problems would disappear. As it is, he writes, too many programs are always chasing too few dollars.

Nossal’s inevitable conclusion is that the “root cause” of Canada’s procurement failures has been an absence of political leadership. Governments have been able to get away with botching procurement for years because “the consequences of decisions made by one Parliament will not be felt until much later, usually well past the next general election.”

The only practical solution, Nossal says, is for Canada’s two leading political parties to create a bipartisan approach to defence procurement…There is zero chance that even an exceptionally brave Canadian politician would dare embrace such an obvious and honourable idea [OH SO SADLY TRUE]. Still, Charlie Foxtrot is worth reading to understand how much Canada would benefit if its leaders confounded voters and actually took the high road.

Lots more here on the constant Canadian procurement morass.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – PM Justin Trudeau Makes Foreign Policy’s “leading global thinkers of 2016”

I guess the world does need more Canada; who’d a thunk him, eh?  The prime minister is in “the decision-makers“.  I didn’t notice any Canadians in the other categories.
Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Canadian Government’s Crisis Ops Centre Sucks

No other way to put it, note main software UNCLASS only. The previous Conservative money wouldn’t put needed money into a core federal responsibility; will the current Liberal one?

Government crisis response centre outdated, inefficient and understaffed, audit warns
Facilities housing federal nerve centre deemed to be ‘inadequate’ and unable to handle multiple events at once

The federal government’s crisis response centre is outdated, understaffed and “inadequate” for co-ordinating emergency situations such as national security threats or natural disasters, a new audit warns.

In 2015, the Government Operations Centre (GOC [webpage here]) was called on to triage more then 5,000 incidents. Of those, more than 500 were deemed to be of national interest, requiring a risk assessment, planning and co-ordinated response, making it a vital nerve centre.

But a Public Safety Canada audit found persistent problems — even after a 2010 review revealed “widespread confusion and uncertainty” about the operation centre’s mandate and its ability to fulfil its role.

The latest audit assessed the policies, processes, controls and protocols the GOC uses to respond to and manage emergency events ranging from flooding and industrial accidents to acts of terrorism and cyber events. It was completed in October 2016 and recently published online.

Nerve centre relied on dubious reports
Government ops centre lacked staff, tech help
Crisis centre communications on day of Ottawa shooting

People interviewed for the audit identified challenges with communications, outdated technology and the ability to staff up quickly, the so-called “surge capacity” required to respond to emergencies.

But the interviewees cited the current physical infrastructure — the building, its fixtures, equipment and utilities systems — as posing the greatest risk.

‘Inadequate’ facilities, operational risks

Despite a long-identified need and business case for a new location, the review found the Government Operations Centre remains in facilities “that have been deemed to be inadequate.”

“From an operational perspective, the principal risk to the operation centre’s ability to fulfil its mandate is that current infrastructure would likely be unable to support the concurrent management of two or more events,” the report warns.

The audit found outdated technology is hampering work, including the main software system. While it’s intended to help share incident data and information among federal, provincial and territorial operations centres, it is certified only to manage unclassified information [emphasis added]…

Floods, earthquakes, industrial disasters

Under the Emergency Management Act, the minister of public safety takes the lead for emergency management — developing contingency plans for floods, earthquakes and industrial disasters, as well as co-ordinating various departments and providing personnel, goods and transportation for regions affected by an emergency [text from Act here].

Documents obtained by the CBC’s Dean Beeby earlier this year through Access to Information reveal a full cost estimate for constructing a new facility was completed in 2005 by Public Works and Government Services Canada, and updated again in 2009.

Information about which options the department evaluated were redacted.
The documents said the GOC serves as the “all-hazards national warning point” for the Government of Canada and led the response to the 2015 Pan Am and ParaPan Am Games, the 2015 fires in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, the 2014 Ottawa shooting and the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak.

One undated document, stamped “Secret, Advice to the Minister,” issues a warning about the current facility’s ability to do the job.

‘Major corporate risk’

“Over the past four years, the Government Operations Centre’s facility has been identified as a “major corporate risk for Public Safety and poses a risk to the centre’s ability to deliver on its mandate,” it reads.

Management agreed with the latest audit’s findings, and laid out an action plan to improve operational performance, setting target dates for completion in 2017 and 2018. It is not clear if there is a specific plan to relocate.

Public Safety Canada spokesman Kevin Miller said the government is working to improve operations, but did not provide details…

Working how hard? How fast? What funding?

Then there is the troubled Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre, also in Public Safety Canada.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Seaspan at Work: RCN JSSs Still Sliding Right (CCG icebreaker not for now)

The story:

Federal shipbuilding program suffers delays
Reports reveal construction of supply ships, polar icebreak is behind schedule.

The federal shipbuilding program has hit another setback, as government documents show more delays in the construction of the navy’s new supply ships and the Canadian Coast Guard’s highly anticipated polar icebreaker.

The delays, revealed in departmental reports recently tabled in the House of Commons, are expected to cost taxpayers as the navy and coast guard are forced to rely even more heavily on stop-gap measures to address their needs.

The two supply ships, which together will cost $2.6 billion, and the $1.3-billion polar icebreaker, dubbed the John G. Diefenbaker, are to be constructed one after the other in Vancouver by shipbuilding company Seaspan…

National Defence and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reported last year that the first new supply ship would enter the water in 2020, while the Diefenbaker would arrive in 2021 or 2022.

But the departments’ most recent timetable says construction of the first supply ship won’t be finished until at least 2021 [see end of post], with completion of the Diefenbaker similarly delayed until 2022 or 2023 [not news, see end of post]…

National Defence spokesman Evan Koronewski blamed “challenges associated with completing the detailed design and organizing the entire supply chain” for the delay in the supply ship schedule.

Those challenges were also responsible for pushing back construction of the Diefenbaker, as work on the icebreaker can’t start until the supply ships are finished.

The federal government has already committed millions of dollars in recent years to extend the lives of the current icebreaker fleet [Davie Québec much involved].

But the new delays help explain why the coast guard started looking last month at whether it can lease between one and five icebreakers from the private sector for the foreseeable future [seeDavie Québec Actually Going to Supply Some Icebreakers for Coast Guard?–the company’s proposed polar icebreaker is here].

They also mean that the navy will be forced to rely more on allies as well as a converted civilian cargo ship to provide fuel, food and other supplies to Canadian naval ships at sea [again from Davie, “Project Resolve“].

There have been questions over the years about Seaspan’s ability to construct complex military vessels, given that its previous shipbuilding experience has largely revolved around ferries [not this one] and tugboats…

Good questions. In fact the slippage of the Seaspan icebreaker’s delivery from 2021-22 to 2022-23 was already public this March, scroll down here. Also in March it was made public that the RCN JSS’ IOC had slipped from 2019 to 2020; now it has indeed slipped further to 2021. Gosharootie. Bets on the icebreaker’s schedule being kept? That Davie proposal seems well worth consideration.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – International Arms Trade: Look Ma! No Canada

A tweet:

Brits rather punching above their weight.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – PM Trudeau’s Envoi to Fidelissimo…and Twitter Reactions

Former British ambassador Charles Crawford writes a nice piece:

So, Farewell Then Fidel Castro

While basking on the sunny South Carolina beaches I took time out to write a piece for National Interest on the death of Fidel Castro and how different world leaders drafted their respective statements:

The Castro case is unusually tricky. There’s no denying that he was a person of international significance, whose opinions and policies offered inspiration to global “progressive” tendencies. Likewise there’s no denying that he was among the most incompetent, brutish leaders in world history: his success in impoverishing and oppressing Cubans for all those long decades is quite astonishing. So how to come up with a few words that do justice to this, ahem, rather ambiguous record? What’s the right tone?

It turns out that it is impossible to issue a statement about Castro that does justice to both the successes and failures of his life without sounding ridiculous. How to be gracious about a plucky monster, a defiant disaster, an inspirational murderer? And what about the countless victims of Castro and Castroism? Do they get mentioned?

With examples:

… Top EU official Jean-Claude Juncker (European Commission) is worse:

The world (sic) has lost a man who was a hero for many. He changed the course of his country and his influence reached far beyond … His legacy will be judged by history.

Note the prominence of “a hero for many.” Not even a teensy hint that most of what Castro did was utterly at odds with EU values?

Canada’s PM Justin Trudeau of course won the coveted Most Stupid Statement By Someone Who (Maybe) Should Have Known Better Award:

Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people (sic) for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation … A controversial figure … My father was very proud to call him a friend … the loss of this remarkable leader

This bafflingly awful statement has prompted a Twitterstorm of #trudeaueulogies derision:

– We mourn the death of Vlad the Impaler, who spearheaded initiatives which touched the hearts of millions
– A quiet loner with a quick wit, Osama Bin Laden inspired tremendous advances in air transportation security methodologies
– Mr Stalin’s greatest achievement was his eradication of obesity in Ukraine through innovative agricultural reforms

Conclusion?

Fidel Castro ended up like the mouldering corpse of Lenin in Red Square: a bizarre shrine to dishonesty, cruelty and subjugation. Fidel Castro became an obscure trinket in a bad video game that dim sly leftists click on to get new life in their endless struggle against … what exactly?..

One might well arsk.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds