Maritime & Northern safety and security issues

A retired maritime barrister, Joe Spears is a principal of the Horseshoe Bay Marine Group (HBMG) in West Vancouver Canada. He has a long-standing interest in all aspects of emergency response, regulatory law enforcement and governance, and the growing impact climate change has on these issues in Canada, an arctic and ocean nation. Joe has acted as ad hoc civil agent for the Attorney General of Canada and has prosecuted federal offenses on behalf of the Public Prosecution Service of Canada. He has developed and delivered a national investigation course for Transport Canada Marine Safety and Security. A graduate of Dalhousie University, with a Masters from the London School of Economics, London, England in Sea-Law law, Economics and Policymaking, he has acted for various private sector organizations and government departments as a legal, policy and training advisor (including commercial interests and insurers). A certified mariner and pilot, Joe is a frequent lecturer, commentator and writer both domestically and internationally on these issues. Joe has been writing for FrontLine since 2008.

Articles by this writer

May 2018  |  Magazine

The global threat environment has become more complex because of lawfare and hybrid warfare. Canada must respond with interlinked policies of defence and security; foreign affairs; economic and international trade; and environment. These issues cannot be viewed in isolation.

March 2018  |  Opinion

The Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs, announced Canada new peacekeeping mission in Ottawa on March 19th. It has taken 2 years and a Vancouver summit to get to this point of making a commitment to peace operations. It remains unclear when the Canadian Forces will actually deploy.

September 2017  |  Magazine

The history of marine safety legislation and standards are built on a solid foundation past incidents. Learning from them is an important element of risk management.

June 2017  |  Opinion

Corporal Lionel Desmond served his country proudly, and for that, Canada is grateful – but the national commitment does not end with a medical discharge, and must not end at his death.

May 2017  |  Opinion

With the wide variety of marine activity in the waters around Vancouver and Victoria, it is easy to see why the Canadian Coast Guard decision to cancel its only rescue diving program came as a shock.

May 2017  |  Magazine

The political and military alliance of NATO has stood the test of time for the past 69 years and has expanded into the global commons of cyber, space, the oceans and airspace.

April 2017  |  Magazine, Magazine

Asymmetrical warfare presents a need for Canada to develop its R&D expertise.

February 2016  |  Magazine

Do Canadians know how vulnerable the submarine fiber-optic cables are, and should we protect this critical infrastructure?

November 2015  |  Opinion

The new Minister of Defence has the respect of Canada’s warriors; bit of a badass in his own right.

October 2015  |  Opinion

The sinking of the Newfoundland Fishing Vessel Atlantic Charger raised questions like “where was the damn chopper” regarding Canada’s Arctic search and rescue capability.

September 2015  | 

The 21st century has been called a maritime century, but Canadians don’t see themselves as a maritime nation. Many factors impact the existing and future maritime capability, and can often have unforeseen consequences.

September 2014  |  Magazine

International shipping issues will become more central to Canada’s economic decisions and future trade policy, and the RCN plays a big part in Maritime security.

November 2013  |  Magazine

A robust Marine Domain Awareness (MDA) capability must be developed as an element of Canada’s northern strategy.

November 2013  |  Magazine

Robotic vehicles can be a critically important tool for protection of sovereignty infrastructure in Canada’s Arctic and ocean spaces.

January 2013  |  Magazine, Magazine

While the planet heats up, defence budgets are melting down. Canadian defence planners need a sharper focus on a hotter Arctic.

September 2012  |  Magazine

Can unmanned systems help Canada exercise sovereignty effectively and cost-efficiently?

March 2012  |  Magazine, Magazine

The important role that the Canadian Rangers can play along with the private sector and volunteer groups such as the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and CASARA (the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association).

September 2011  |  Magazine

A 737 jet aircraft owned by First Air crashed in heavy fog at Resolute Bay. Luckily it was during Operation Nanook.

July 2011  |  Magazine

The Arctic Council recently signed an international treaty on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Arctic.

May 2011  |  Magazine

Most analysts would agree that the Atlantic has been the primary focus of Canada’s Navy – but that is changing.

September 2010  |  Magazine

The Arctic presents a real opportunity for Canada to be a leader on the subject of Domain Awareness, using this to showcase Canadian thinking and technological expertise.

July 2010  |  Magazine

A wildcard, both domestically and internationally, Canada grapples with challenges impacting its sovereignty. These changes include direct environmental impacts and indirect geopolitical aspects which are exceeding difficult to plan for and respond to.

May 2010  |  Magazine

There been little input from Arctic communities on how SAR service delivery is provided. This needs to change.

March 2009  |  Magazine

The subject of SAR in the north is a very real and pressing issue. Canada must be prepared for any major incident – with resident resources at the ready.

November 2008  |  Magazine

An important role for First Canadians.

September 2008  |  Magazine

Melting sea-ice, increased resource development and transpolar air flights, plus renewed interest in the Arctic Basin by our neighbours combine to require a robust air presence to exert Canadian Sovereign rights.

July 2008  |  Magazine

Leadership needed for marine security.

July 2008  |  Magazine

Will Canada Command play a key role?

March 2008  |  Magazine

Is this the Avro Arrow spelled backward? What does the sale of national security assets mean for Canada’s Foreign Policy?

March 2008  |  Magazine

An increasing need for long range, maritime patrol aircraft capability – CP140 Aurora.