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MP Neil Ellis gets feedback on Canada’s defence policy

Neil Ellis and staff listen to input from people at Canadian defence policy review Wednesday night at the National Air Force Museum of Canada. Ross Lees photo

Neil Ellis and staff listen to input from people at Canadian defence policy review Wednesday night at the National Air Force Museum of Canada. Ross Lees photo

By Ross Lees

MP Neil Ellis speaking at the meeting. Ross Lees photo

MP Neil Ellis speaking at the meeting. Ross Lees photo

A town hall meeting Wednesday at 8 Wing Trenton gave Neil Ellis, MP Bay of Quinte riding, just what he was looking for – feedback on Canada’s defence policy review and military-related issues.

Heading the top of the list was the opinion of many in attendance that military personnel should not be decreased and that those in uniform should be properly equipped, housed and funded to respond wherever they were required.

“We want to encourage open, inclusive discussion and find out what Canadians think about the military and the direction we should go in the future,” said Ellis.

The 50 people at the meeting were willing to oblige, suggesting that military personnel should be aligned with budget availability with emphasis on strategic deployment as opposed to carte blanche;

– that money and resources should be spent within this country to help those in need before spending it elsewhere;

– and the veterans who have fought in conflicts and been seriously wounded get pensions and medical assistance as they recover and live the rest of their lives.

Four topics were discussed, including the security environment, a presentation on the Military Family Resource Centre and its role in the future of the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian approach to defence, and the defence capabilities and the future force.

The meeting’s format created initial problems for those attending, as some wanted answers as much as giving input, but those issues were quickly worked out and the information began to flow.

Procurement staff under-staffing was raised by one man who felt there was a need for more informed human resources in procurement.
Others felt Canada’s commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the North American Aerospace Defence (NORAD) was diminishing and that Canadians are relying on other forces to defend them in these areas.

One man said discarding the F-35 for a simply political reason was an incorrect decision and that it should remain in consideration because Russia would be using stealth aircraft in the north. He felt the aircraft should remain on the table and be given serious consideration because, if it was ordered now, it would not be delivered until 2024.

Any information on military equipment procurement should be obtained from military men and women familiar with the equipment and future demands, not bureaucrats, one man noted, adding open competitions should always be held in any procurement process.

Quinte Mayor Jim Harrison questioned information being published about recently expropriated land, and delays in putting it to use for the Joint Task Force 2 commando unit.

“Let’s make sure we grow something on it rather than noxious weeds,” he said, adding that he felt a veteran’s centre should also be established through the Military Family Resource Centres (MFRC).

Tamara Kleinschmidt

Tamara Kleinschmidt

In a special presentation at the review, Trenton MFRC executive director Tamara Kleinschmidt noted that MFRC funding at present is inconsistent because it often depended on the government in power for nearly half of its annual funds. She felt that should be changed for budgeting consistency of MFRCs.

MFRCs have been working on behalf of military families for 30 years and Kleinschmidt said they have learned over that time how to operate effectively. While in Ottawa recently, she noted the MFRCs presented a brief to the Department of National Defence (DND) as part of the public consultation on the future of the CAF.

“That was the first the executive directors of all 32 MFRCs agreed on anything,” she said.

Four recommendations came out of the MFRC meetings:
– Military families should be included in the next defence policy as an integral part of the mission of the CAF;
– MFRCs should be officially recognized as the service providers for military families; signal the commitment of defence toward military families by means of specific actions; and to develop through the implementation of an intergovernmental cell a strategy related to the support and issues facing military families. One person suggested the intergovernmental cell should be changed to a national government cell as it was the federal government who created the issues faced by military families.

If there was one last message transmitted by the people at the meeting it was: “We have the ability to protect ourselves – let’s do it properly.”

Ellis announced he would be hosting a veteran’s town hall meeting in August.


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  1. Dennis Fox says:

    I believe that this effort to secure information (from the public) on such a basic topic as in what direction should our military be looking, is a great positive change from what we have seen over the past ten years. I feel so good about NOT hearing news stories about another Canadian soldier being killed and returned home, or about one of our own killing themselves because of the lack of support shown back home. We owe Ellis and Trudeau our thanks for keeping their word for pulling back and for helping our vets.

    Just one comment about the news article – The F35 is a dud and not worth the money. If Canada needs a new plane, then why not try building our own again and save a ton of money?

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