SUPPORT US

In The Media

Military officer's suspension casts clouds over federal shipbuilding effort

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. David Perry)

Yahoo! News
January 18, 2017

OTTAWA — The suspension of the military's second-highest-ranking officer has cast a pall over the federal government's multibillion-dollar plan to build new warships, which the Liberals had hoped was finally back on course after listing for years.

Government and military officials remained tight-lipped Wednesday over why Vice-Admiral Mark Norman was abruptly stripped of his responsibilities last week by his boss, Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of the defence staff.

Media reports say the RCMP are investigating allegations that sensitive documents dealing with the $35-billion national shipbuilding strategy were leaked.

Norman was deeply involved in the strategy during the three years he served as commander of the Royal Canadian Navy before becoming the vice chief of defence staff this past summer.

That included charting a new course for the largest part of the shipbuilding strategy, replacing the navy's destroyers and frigates, which had been buffeted with numerous delays and cost overruns.

To save time and money, Norman led an intense soul-searching exercise that saw the navy scrap plans to design new warships from scratch, and instead modify an existing foreign design to fit Canada's needs.

The government officially launched a competition to choose that foreign design in October, with the winner to be selected this coming summer and construction to begin in Halifax in the early 2020s.

But now the already cut-throat defence industry has been left gnashing its teeth as it tries to learn more about Norman's suspension, including whether any of competitors received an unfair advantage.

The wall of silence adopted by the military and government has only added to the frustration, particularly given the huge amounts of money involved in the shipbuilding plan.

"If there's a sense that something was corrupted in the process, then what are they doing to rectify it?" asked one industry representative, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his relationship with government.

Public Services and Procurement Canada had little to say about the ramifications for the program.

"Through the national shipbuilding strategy, we are committed to getting the women and men of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard the equipment they need to do their jobs protecting and serving Canadians," said spokesman Nicolas Boucher.

"We are committed to open, fair and transparent procurement processes."

The government had gone to great lengths to insulate the warship project from criticism and court challenges through extensive industry consultations, the hiring on an independent fairness monitor, and limiting what companies can say in public.

The initiatives were a direct response to the growing trend in recent years of military procurement projects being subjected to legal action, independent audits and the court of public opinion.

"We still don't have any idea what the truth is (with Norman's suspension), but there's huge sensitivity around fairness, transparency and openness around big military procurement projects," said defence analyst David Perry of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

Industry officials say as long as the government and military remain tight-lipped about the reasons for Norman's suspension, there will be a gaping hole in the procurement system's credibility when it comes to shipbuilding.

"Military procurement is challenging enough without having something like this," said one industry source, predicting companies will try to use the incident to their advantage if they lose a shipbuilding competition.

The shipbuilding strategy, launched by the Conservatives in 2010 and originally earmarked at $35 billion, was intended to provide the navy and coast guard with new fleets while building up a sustainable shipbuilding industry on the east and west coasts.

The plan included building a heavy icebreaker, fisheries and science vessels for the Canadian Coast Guard, as well as Arctic patrol ships and resupply vessels for the navy.

But the backbone of the strategy was to build 15 warships to replace the navy's destroyers and frigates at an estimated cost of $26 billion.

Naval officials, however, pegged the cost at closer to $40 billion in 2015, before the Liberal government said it would not decide on a budget or number of ships until later.

 


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
UPCOMING EVENTS


No events are scheduled at this time.


SEARCH
EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Passport? What passport?

by Martin C. Barr (feat. Andrew Griffith), Laval News, June 29, 2022

Oil production test looms for OPEC heavyweights Saudi Arabia, UAE

by Editorial Staff (feat. Ellen Wald), S&P Global, June 29, 2022

Eric Nuttall & Amrita Sen - Oil & Energy Update

by Eric Nuttall (feat. Amrita Sen), Nine Point Partners, June 29, 2022

All talk, no traction

by Maura Forest and Andy Blatchford (feat. Robert Huebert), Politico, June 29, 2022

U.S. pushes for Russian oil price ceiling. Feasible?

by Matt Levin (feat. Ellen Wald), MARKETPLACE, June 28, 2022

Russia Ukraine Update

by Susan Bonner (feat. Andrew Rasiulis), CBC Radio One, June 28, 2022

Un sommet de l’OTAN pour tenir tête à la Russie

by Marie Vastel (feat. David Perry), Le Devoir, June 26, 2022

A geopolitical alternative system of co-operation for nations

by Staff Reporter (feat. Swaran Singh), The Zimbabwe Mail, June 26, 2022

Analyst says high oil prices spurs little drilling

by Lee Harding (feat. Kevin Birn), Western Standard, June 26, 2022

It’s time for Canada to get serious about defence

by John Ibbitson (feat. James Fergusson and Rob Huebert), The Globe and Mail, June 25, 2022

Trudeau meets with Rwandan president, expands diplomatic mission in Kigali

by CBC Newsroom Staff (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Newroom, June 24, 2022

With New Threats Looming, Canada Commits Billions to Air Defense

by News Desk (feat. Andrea Charron), New Express News, June 24, 2022

Drop in oil prices is not a quick fix for global inflation

by Editorial Staff (feat. Amrita Sen), The National, June 24, 2022

Highs and Lows of the Spring Sitting

by Peter Van Dusen (feat. Andrew Griffith), Prime Time Politics, June 24, 2022

Oil Incurs Second Weekly Loss As Analysts Differ On Inflation, Demand

by Ship and Bunker News Team (feat. Amrita Sen), Ship And Bunker, June 24, 2022


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email