by Amanda Connolly in Ottawa
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan yesterday launched the Liberal government’s Defence Policy Review, including the appointment of four prominent foreign affairs and defence experts to advise him on shaping the direction of the new government’s defence policy.
In a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Ottawa, Sajjan pledged to listen to the different perspectives and views that will emerge from Canadians, allies and advisors in the first review of Canada’s military policy in nearly two decades.
In particular, four names will carry special weight as part of Sajjan’s advisory council: former Supreme Court justice and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, former foreign affairs and defence minister Bill Graham, former Chief of the Defence Staff retired Gen. Ray Henault and Margaret Purdy, former deputy secretary to the Cabinet (Security and Intelligence) in the Privy Council Office.
“My goal is to establish a renewed vision for our military that will be nested in our foreign policy,” said Sajjan. “The role of this panel will be to provide me with the insight and perspective that comes from their many years of experience.”
All four have been appointed by the Privy Council Office but Sajjan did not say how much they are being paid for their insight, nor did he provide a total budget for the defence policy review.
The government is preparing to ramp up on two other high-profile policy reviews of its cyber preparedness as well as its international aid priorities, and demonstrated during its integrated roll-out of the adjusted mission against ISIS that it views issues such as defence, security, foreign affairs and international development to be interconnected.
However, while Sajjan said the teams at Public Safety and International Development work closely together, he did not say whether there would be any kind of an official liaison working between the departments as they launch their reviews.
Sajjan said earlier this year that he planned to have the defence policy review finished by the end of the year and said Wednesday that public consultations will wrap up July 31.
The government has launched a web portal to allow Canadians to submit their feedback for the review, and will hold six stakeholder roundtables in Toronto, Vancouver, Yellowknife, Edmonton, Montreal, and Halifax before the end of July.
The first of those will take place April 27 in Vancouver.
Published in partnership with iPolitics.ca.