Defence Procurement: “A Recurring Nightmare”

May 31st, 2012


Robert Roy, the producer of the two-part ichannel investigative special Bang For The Buck and Disorder In the House has posted an article about the defence spending crisis over at Here’s an excerpt:

The F-35 fighter jet, the potential replacement for the current CF-18, has joined the often lamented Avro Arrow, the Bonaventure refit and the Ross Rifle (WW1), as a lighting rod for controversy. It is the kind of problem that governments of all stripes seem to get into when dealing with defence.

Prime Minister MacKenzie King once wished that the “military would stay out of the Cabinet, out of the Treasury and out of trouble.” But large dollar figures, potential jobs and industrial benefits and not least, national security, are all at stake. These are big issues that can’t be ducked by wishful thinking that the military only needs some minor political attention. But not too much.

Conservatives have often tried to capitalize on military “rust-out” and cut-backs when in opposition by promising big spending on the Canadian Forces in both manpower and investment in fighting ships, planes and tanks. When they arrive in power they are confronted by the “national facts of life” that drove MacKenzie King’s thinking.

Prime Minister Harper inherited Afghanistan, which contributed to the Conservatives’ agenda of a more muscular Canada but clearly he did not enjoy the fallout and sought to remove the issue as quickly as possible from political debate. The early announcement that Canada would be out of Afghanistan by 2011 brilliantly smothered the rising public anxiety over the mission, but it was the opposite of taking the lead on the issue and suddenly we are back to MacKenzie King.

Read the whole thing HERE.

ichannel presents Bang For The Buck and Disorder In The House tomorrow night, Friday June 1, at 8 pm and 9 pm ET/PT.

Robert Roy is the producer of Bang for the Buck and Disorder in the House, documentaries on defence spending and parliamentary accountability. He is a documentary film maker who has covered international conflict, organized crime, intelligence, defence and security subjects over the course of a thirty year career. He is currently producing the documentary Bridging The Gap on civil-military relations in the United States. As part of the team that started Stornoway Productions he works with its foundation partner the Breakout Educational Network.


ichannel Special Asks: How Do We Spend Our Defence Dollars?

May 23rd, 2012


ichannel presents the two-part documentary special BANG FOR THE BUCK and DISORDER IN THE HOUSE, hosted by Mercedes Stephenson. Airdates: Tuesday May 29, 8 pm & 9 pm ET/PT | Friday June 1, 8 pm & 9 pm ET/PT

The controversy over the RCAF’s plans to purchase the F-35 fighter jet provides a timely context for ichannel’s special rebroadcast of this two-part documentary series on the problems of Canada’s military spending and the failure of Parliament to provide proper accountability of the government’s defence dollars. The series focuses on the issue of defence procurement — a long and costly process that has so often been mired in debate that inevitably questions of how we are governed must be asked.

Part One, BANG FOR THE BUCK, takes an investigative look at the defence spending  problem, tracing the Defence Department’s attempts to replace and invest in new weapons systems such as helicopters, submarines, trucks and transport aircraft. The program reminds us that the defence procurement system in Canada was broken a long time before the problems with the F-35 were raised. Among those familiar with the issue: Alan Williams, an Ottawa insider (and author of REINVENTING Canadian Defence Procurement: A View From Inside), who oversaw the Department of Defence’s spending programs as Assistant Deputy Minister.

Part Two, DISORDER IN THE HOUSE, examines the fallout from the publication of Alan Williams’ explosive book on defence spending. Can one man make his way to Parliament Hill to change the way the Government spends our tax dollars on Canada’s military? Williams believes his new plan would save years of time, save billions of dollars, and potentially save lives in conflicts like Afghanistan. Does he have a hope? What in our political system is he up against? And what does his story say to rest of us who aspire to influence government through Canada’s parliamentary system?

To find out, tune in to BANG FOR THE BUCK AND DISORDER IN THE HOUSE: Tuesday May 29, 8 pm & 9 pm ET/PT | Friday June 1, 8 pm & 9 pm ET/PT. Only on ichannel.

BANG FOR THE BUCK and DISORDER IN THE HOUSE were produced for Stornoway Productions by Breakout Educational Network. For more information, CLICK HERE.