Editor’s Corner article

New Year's Resolutions (a message to the PM)
CHRIS MacLEAN  |  Nov 15, 2011

Not long ago, I commended the Canadian Commercial Corporation for ensuring success for their defence sector business by hiring good people with significant experience in the ­military and/or the defence industry. This sector has unique sensitivities that can be difficult to grasp without actual ­military experience, though many in the defence industrial sector do “get it” after years of engaging with the client.

A few issues later, I expressed guarded optimism that the Prime Minister had placed Julian Fantino in charge of Defence Procurement in order to channel a fresh perspective on the underlying problems associated with this often disparaged (for good reason) system of military procurement in Canada.

In what can definitely be viewed as an advantage in many ways, Mr Fantino is not hampered by the baggage that comes from previous business relationships or having preconceived ideas of what or who should win any given ­contract. That fact was made ever-so-clear at a recent AFCEA luncheon when, in using a Canadian success story as an example in his talk, he repeatedly could “not remember the three letter acronym” for the world-renowned satellite ­communications company, which one or two of you might guess is, of course, MDA. There were other embarrassing moments, or more correctly, the audience of defence professionals was embarrassed for him.

My 13-year immersion in defence publishing has only clarified that I will never reach the end of my learning curve, but at least I am aware that I am on one. And, don’t laugh, but even I would have made a better choice for tackling the Defence Procurement challenge.

In our last edition, I questioned the relationship between transparency and communication. The fact that Minister Fantino doesn’t understand the convoluted world of defence procurement provides a legitimate excuse for why he cannot answer questions from frustrated industry executives. From what I can tell, many have stopped hoping he wants to learn. He is a very nice man, but he is drinking the Kool-Aid, deflecting all questions, and muddying the waters with inaccuracies.

Mr Harper, you will be leading this country for quite some time, and have been doing a pretty good job, I might add. That said, I sincerely hope your 2012 New Years’ Resolution includes making sure you direct the right expertise to the right position, at the right time.
© FrontLine Defence 2011