Comment and Articles

As an advocate of discussion and debate of Canadian defence and foreign policy, RUSI Vancouver will share opinions and observations from academia, the media, and respected historians.

For now, the category is not available for feedback to the website on published topics.

July 16

(Korean War (1) and (2) appear below on this page.)

In sleepy Ottawa, Prime Minister St. Laurent and the members of Parliament, including Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester Pearson, were caught off guard by the US reaction as much as were Stalin, Mao, and Kim Il Sung. As the situation in Korea developed they took their cue from prior Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who would surely have been content to wait and watch under almost any circumstances.

On July 5th 1950 one Canadian service was ready: RCN destroyers HMCS Cayuga, Athabaskan, and Sioux slipped and proceeded from Esquimalt bound for Korea in support of the UN.

Moving the government to committing the army, though, took a request from the Secretary-general of the UN on July 14th, when he asked Canada to consider sending ground troops to Korea.

What to do? Canada’s Active Force was exhausted after their heroic efforts in Europe; numerically they were grossly undermanned, and their veteran soldiers felt like the last thing they wanted to do was get into a far-off dustup having survived the most deadly war of all time. The army was unable to attract enough recruits to maintain its already slim ranks.

Minister of National Defence Claxton and Chief of the General Staff Foulkes cobbled together a solution: a Special Force, the backbone of which would be three new battalions (approximately 940 men each) named after current army regiments, thus the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment (2RCR); 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI) and 2nd Battalion Royal 22e Régiment (2R22eR).

Ultimately, the infantry battalions would be supported by artillery, a field ambulance detachment, workshops, a transport company, engineers, a signal squadron, and an armoured squadron—some 7,500 personnel of all ranks.

The prime minister announced on August 7th that Canada would recruit the Canadian Army Special Force. To the shock of many, within a week 10,000 men had signed up.

Steve Kern, in the story below, is a member of RUSI Vancouver and is the Parade Marshall at both the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at Victory Square on November 11th and at the Vimy Day Commemoration at Mountain View Cemetery in April.

Bravo Zulu to Steve!

B.C. man among those who jumped in to help Raptors parade shooting victims

St. John's Ambulance volunteer with a history of helping people
waded through fleeing crowd to help victim

By Matt Robinson
June 19, 2019

Steve Kern, photographed in Toronto on Tuesday.    Postmedia Wire

When gunshots rang out during Monday’s celebration for the NBA champion Toronto Raptors, Steve Kern was among those who ran toward them.

Kern is a volunteer with St. John Ambulance and a sergeant-major with the Canadian Armed Forces’ 39 Signal Regiment in Vancouver. He has worked in law enforcement for 35 years. He was also among the first on the scene in Toronto when four people were shot and in need of help.

Kern, who was on vacation at the time, had gone down to watch the parade and was standing across the street from Nathan Phillips Square around 3:30 p.m.

“The crowds were very big. Lots of people,” he recalled Tuesday.

Kern figured the shots had come from a handgun, rather than a shotgun or rifle, and he determined they had originated from across the street.

Around him, people were seeking cover. Ahead of him, many in the huge crowd turned heel and started to run, pushing and shoving to get away from the area.

“I headed in the direction of where the shooting sounds came from. I just put my hands in front of me and just sort of weaved through the crowd as they were heading in the other direction,” he recalled.

Kern stood on a cement block to get a better view and saw two injured people on the ground not far from him. One victim was already being treated by paramedics. He went to the other victim and helped a doctor, a nurse and a pair of officers provide her with basic first aid. After an ambulance arrived, Kern helped get the victim into the vehicle.

Steve Kern is shown in a cap and sunglasses as first responders attend to an injured person
after shots were fired during the Toronto Raptors NBA championship victory celebration.

Among the many photographs taken on Monday was one that captured Kern, dressed in a light-coloured plaid shirt and wearing a hat and sunglasses, kneeling over the victim he helped.

Asked whether he was concerned for his own safety, Kern said: “No. I was cognizant of the dangers around us. The Toronto Police were very fast to respond in large numbers, and they created a perimeter with both metal fencing and yellow tape and themselves around us so we could have the space that we needed to treat the patient and have a successful outcome.”

Kern was in Toronto on his way back from France, where he had attended the D-Day commemorative ceremonies earlier this month. While there, he also assisted someone who he saw was in distress.

Kern’s next stop is Ottawa, where on Saturday he will be recognized in the Senate as a serving member of the Order of St. John. That award is not connected to the help he provided Monday, but for assistance he has provided others in the past.

“I’m a magnet for this stuff. Things like this just happen to happen around me,” he said.

Kern said he never stopped taking first aid training and he encouraged others to pursue courses of their own.

“Everyone should be taking training from St. John Ambulance so that they don’t have to be bystanders. They can help when it’s safe to do so. No one needs to be like me and run toward the shooting. I’m still in emergency responder mode, and that’s not expected of the general public.”

Monday’s shooting left four people with non-life-threatening gunshot wounds. Police arrested three people and recovered two guns, but are still looking for one more suspect and a third gun.

'Pleased to be recognized as a veteran': New banners honour Minnedosa's military vets

50 banners will hang along streets in the Manitoba town,
each with the name and photo of a local veteran

Riley Laychuk · CBC News
June 19, 2019

Each banner contains the name and photo of a Minnedosa veteran, along with the years they served.
(Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Fifty banners honouring local veterans will soon hang on the street light poles in Minnedosa, Man.

The banners were unveiled in front of a crowd of more than 200 at a ceremony on Wednesday afternoon in the town, located about 200 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

Each features the name and photo of a local veteran, as well as the dates they served and which conflict they fought in.

"I hope [community members] have a sincere sense of pride — pride in the way we are honouring our veterans," said Duane LaCoste, president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 138 in Minnedosa.

He also hopes the banners will generate interest "both with the general public and also with our schools."

The banners will be hung on poles along Minnedosa's Main Street, as well as on some side streets.
(Riley Laychuk/CBC)

LaCoste said local legion members decided to pursue the project about a year ago, when they saw a magazine article about another town that had taken a similar initiative.

'An honour'

Five veterans — including three Second World War vets, a Korean War veteran and a current member of the Armed Forces who did three tours in Afghanistan — were on hand to unveil their own banners on Wednesday.

Thomas James Clark — also known as Jim — joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1950, when he was just 18 years old, and served for four years.

"I'm pleased to be recognized as a veteran and I think that is an honour," he said. "It'll be great."

Jim Clark fought in the Korean War. He was one of five veterans who unveiled their own banners on Wednesday.
(Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Clark's enlistment included a tour overseas to fight in the Korean War, which saw more than 26,000 Canadians serve between land, sea and air units.

Five hundred and sixteen Canadians lost their lives in that conflict, according to Veterans Affairs Canada.

"At my age … it was scary," Clark recalled. "It was quite frightening to arrive there and the guns going off … they were going off during the evening, when you were trying to sleep."

He hopes the banners inspire people to take time to learn about the people who served their country and the battles they fought in.

Banners tell a story

Each banner was sponsored by family and friends of the veterans, according to LaCoste, and there's already been interest in ordering more.

Some of the banners feature more than one person, with each side of the banner highlighting a different veteran.

"We have husband and a wife teams that are up," he said. "We have fathers and sons, brothers and friends.

"They are just so, so very young looking."

He also hopes the banners will draw visitors to the town and its legion branch, where an album and book will be on display to help people learn more about each featured veteran's story.

"We're going to continue it on as long as well can, as long as there's interest," said LaCoste. "And I think that will, and should, happen forever."

Fifty banners have been made so far and Legion Branch 138 president Duane LaCoste says there is already a desire to have more made.
(Riley Laychuk/CBC)

LaCoste said the banners will be installed next week along Minnedosa's Main Street, as well as along some side streets.

He expects they will stay up until after Remembrance Day in November, when they will be taken down for the winter.

June 18

Korean War (1)

Sixty-nine years ago Kim Il Sung led North Korea. Kim had spent World War II outside his country as a member of the Soviet army. Following the war, and with the sponsorship of his Russian masters, he returned to Korea with the rank of major in the Red Army, eventually taking charge of North Korea, that is, all of the Korean Peninsula north of the 38th parallel.

In South Korea the government was led by Syngman Rhee, a man who had lived much of his life in the United States. He was autocratic and had been uncooperative with UN efforts to promote democratic reforms.

The Korea-wide free elections that the World War II allies hoped would lead to unification were never held, with the result that the two Koreas – North and South – Russian-influenced and US-leaning – followed ever-more divergent paths.

In the spring of 1950 the North had a population of nine million, contrasted to the South’s 21 million. North Korea, however, had a clear preponderance of military forces. Their army outnumbered that of the South and included thousands of veterans of the Red Army and the Red Chinese Army. In addition they featured modern tanks, aircraft, and weapons provided by the Russians.

Guerrilla warfare raged in the south, with irregular communist fighters taking on the beleaguered Republic of Korea troops. The US’s 500-man KMAG—Korean Military Assistance Group—were probably more concerned about the upcoming baseball season back home than they were with keeping an eye on the north.

The stage was set for a surprise. Kim mustered his troops for a bid to amalgamate North and South by force.

Korean War (2)

Kim Il Sung’s North Korean troops stormed across the 38th Parallel in the predawn hours on June 25th, 1950. Kim was determined to unify North and South Korea under the banner of international communism, aided and abetted by Stalin in Russia and Mao Zedong in Communist China. All three dictators assumed Kim would sweep the token American forces from the peninsula, and that the US would not come to the defence of the overwhelmed South. They were 90% correct about the former, but totally mistaken about President Harry S.Truman’s reaction.

Truman compared the Korean situation to that of Europe before the Second World War, when Hitler swallowed more and more territory from timorous neighbors. He appealed to the United Nations where, as it happened, the Soviet Union was boycotting the organization and so not in a position to veto any response. The result was a demand for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of North Korean troops. Predictably the demand was ignored.

The UN authorized the United States to lead Allied forces in Korea. But the Americans, as well as the South Koreans, had been caught napping by Kim. By August 1st his North Korean People’s Army had occupied nearly the whole peninsula, cornering US and South Korean forces in a pocket around the southeastern port of Pusan, an area barely 80 miles square, their situation desperate.

June 6

To mark the 75th Anniversary of D-Day on June 6, 1944, RUSI Vancouver President Cam Cathcart was invited to appear on the City TV program “Breakfast Television” in Vancouver on June 6, 2019. He was interviewed by Host Riaz Meghji, about the significance of Canada’s role in the historic Normandy invasion, which eventually led to the Allied victory in World War Two.

The screenshot above is a link to the TV interview.

May 10

Yes, it's 74 years since V-E Day--Victory in Europe, as most will recall, when the war against Germany came to an end. Veterans Affairs Canada celebrated the event by publishing a video that can be seen here. Unfortunately the folks who put the video together couldn't tell the difference between Canadian troops and enemy soldiers.

Quite frankly, I think the minister should accept responsibility for his part in this--he appeared in the video--and resign. And the department should clean house of employees or contractors capable of such careless work. No wonder our veterans have difficulties with the bureaucracy.

May 5

Sixty-nine years ago Kim Il Sung led North Korea. Kim had spent World War II outside his country as a member of the Soviet army. Following the war, and with the sponsorship of his Russian masters, he returned to Korea with the rank of major in the Red Army, eventually taking charge of North Korea, that is, all of the Korean Peninsula north of the 38th parallel.

In South Korea the government was led by Syngman Rhee, a man who had lived much of his life in the United States. He was autocratic and had been uncooperative with UN efforts to promote democratic reforms.

The Korea-wide free elections that the World War II allies hoped would lead to unification were never held, with the result that the two Koreas – North and South – Russian-influenced and US-leaning – followed ever-more divergent paths.

In the spring of 1950 the North had a population of nine million, contrasted to the South’s 21 million. North Korea, however, had a clear preponderance of military forces. Their army outnumbered that of the South and included thousands of veterans of the Red Army and the Red Chinese Army. In addition they featured modern tanks, aircraft, and weapons provided by the Russians.

Guerrilla warfare raged in the south, with irregular communist fighters taking on the beleaguered Republic of Korea troops. The US’s 500-man KMAG—Korean Military Assistance Group—were probably more concerned about the upcoming baseball season back home than they were with keeping an eye on the north.

The stage was set for a surprise. Kim mustered his troops for a bid to amalgamate North and South by force.

Matt Gurney: Nine years. Two elections. And still no new fighter jets for Canada

We're really good at deferring and rebooting. It's the buying desperately needed military hardware part where Canada comes up short

By Matt Gurney
April 18, 2019

The fuselage of a CF-18 fighter jet shows in September 2006 how many bombs it deployed during the Bosnian war.    Peter J. Thompson / National Post

How many governments does it take to buy a fighter plane? This sounds like the start of a mediocre joke. In Canada, it’s a sincere question.

With only months left in their mandate, the Liberals have announced that the latest attempt to replace our elderly CF-18 jets will begin next month. The CF-18s, which (like me!) date back to the early 1980s, are in desperate need of replacement. This was known to be an issue many years ago. The planes underwent major upgrades in the first years of the 21st century, which were intended to extend their useful service life all the way to somewhere around 2017 — maybe 2020 at the very latest. Astute readers will note that it is, in fact, already 2019. Not only are we still flying the CF-18, we’re buying used Australian F-18s of a similar vintage, to help restore some bulk to a CF-18 fleet whittled down by gradual attrition. (The Australians, for their part, don’t need the old jets because they’ve acquired new ones. It’s not impossible.)

The Australians … have acquired new ones. It's not impossible.

Canada had a plan to replace the jets by now, or at least to have the effort well underway. In 2010, the Harper Tories announced that Canada would purchase 65 F-35 stealth fighters. The announcement was instantly controversial due to the high cost and the sole-source nature of the acquisition, and ultimately went nowhere. It was an election issue in 2011, but despite winning a majority, the Tories didn’t proceed with the purchase and twiddled their thumbs for their entire mandate. It was an election issue again in 2015, with the Liberals promising to not purchase the F-35 and to hold an open and fair competition to select the CF-18 replacement. It seemed not to occur to them that these two promises were in conflict.

A CF-18 Hornet aircraft sits on the tarmac waiting for its next mission during Operation IMPACT in Kuwait on
February 1, 2015.   Canadian Forces Combat Camera, DND

It didn’t seem to bother voters much — the Liberals won a majority. They also then spent the next 3.5 years accomplishing the square root of zero, presumably because they couldn’t quite figure out how to hold a fair and open competition where one of the primary candidates was already excluded. Almost the entire Liberal mandate has essentially been them ragging the puck, no doubt in the hopes that Canadians will forget about the promises they made back in 2015. In that light, the billion-plus dollars the Parliamentary Budget Officer says we’re spending on the used Aussie jets is essentially a nine-figure punt into the next mandate.

Nine years. Two elections. Two parties in power with majorities. An identified need for new fighter jets. And absolutely nothing to show for it beyond a plan to solicit bids, none of which are likely to be chosen before the fall election. Not that there’s a guarantee that the party in power then won’t just reboot the entire process again, or defer it to some later mandate, if political or economic forces make that a more palatable option. We’re really good at that part — the deferring and the rebooting. It’s the actually buying desperately needed military hardware part where Canada comes up short.

A frame grab from video released on Thursday, November 13, 2014 hows a laser-guided bomb released by a Canadian CF-18 fighter jet destroying an Islamic State target about 200 kilometres north of Baghdad.

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about this (and I have the depressing sense it probably won’t be the last, either). So I know how this goes. Readers will soon be demanding to know why Canada needs fighter jets at all, or why we don’t just go buy a fleet of drones. Well, to answer the second question first, we’re not exactly world-beaters when it comes to acquiring drones, either, and Canada’s procurement dysfunction is not limited to planes. We’re bad at it in general. Drones are improving quickly, but aren’t ready to replace fighters yet … and even if they were, we’d screw up that procurement, too.

Canada's procurement dysfunction is not limited to planes.
We're bad at it in general.

But it’s the first question that’s more interesting. Canada’s jet fleet is, in fact, very busy. It always has been. An effective fighter force is not optional unless we’re prepared to formally and officially abandon a series of our international obligations.

We need jets for our own self-defence, of course. Canada, as a massive country, has an equally massive volume of airspace to patrol, including vast approaches from the west, north and east. We are committed to continental defence in co-operation with the United States via Norad; Canadian jets are sometimes assigned missions to protect U.S. sovereignty. We need to be able to deliver on those commitments. Canada is also, of course, a member of NATO, and has been committing jets to air patrol missions in Europe, keeping an eye on increasingly provocative Russian air force flights. And there’s the missions that crop up from time to time: the campaign against Libya in 2011, for instance, or the more recent strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Maintainers with the Canadian Air Task Force Lithuania wait for pilots to disembark their CF-18s during Operation REASSURANCE on August 26, 2014.   Cpl Kenneth Galbraith /Combat Camera

These are the jobs we expect our air force to be able to do, with minimal notice and, potentially, all at the same time. This is what our government has signed up for, and no government, Conservative or Liberal, wants to officially back away from these commitments.

But it’s clear that neither party has really made them in good faith. Commitment requires capability. We’re all about promising to be there when our allies need us, not so much about actually being able to meaningfully show up when called. Maybe that’ll change after the next election — the third thus far in this long CF-18 replacement saga. But that doesn’t seem a good bet, does it?

MPs say Canadian military needs external review, regulation

By Janice Dickson
Globe & Mail, Published April 9, 2019


A parliamentary committee formed to address national security concerns is calling on the federal government to bring in greater scrutiny to the military’s intelligence-gathering activities.

In its first annual report, released Tuesday, the committee outlines a number of national security threats facing the country and questions why the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces have not had to undergo any independent reviews.

The report says that the intelligence-gathering functions in the DND and the Forces are largely unknown to Canadians and an external review of their intelligence program has never been conducted. This is despite the fact that it is among the largest programs of the Canadian security and intelligence agencies and is expected to grow.

“The committee believes that independent, external review of security and intelligence activities is a foundational part of improving public confidence and trust in the activities of security and intelligence agencies,” the report says.

A national-security watchdog is calling for stricter controls on the Canadian military’s spying. In a report Tuesday (April 9, 2019) the national-security committee of parliamentarians says National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces have one of the largest intelligence programs in Canada, yet these operations get little outside scrutiny. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan responded saying he will look closely at the recommendations.

The DND and the Forces, the report says, can carry out intelligence activities similar to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Communications Security Establishment or the RCMP, but those agencies are governed by legislative authority that the military is not subjected to.

The Defence Minister told reporters the government needs to make sure that any changes allow for “flexibility within our system” so the Forces are protected and can also be effective. “We also have to take a look at the current processes that are in place plus we also have to take a look at the operational needs of the Canadian Armed Forces because our defence intelligence is there to make sure that our Canadian soldiers stay safe on operations.”

Liberal MP and chair of the committee David McGuinty said independent review of the DND and the Forces’ intelligence activities “will strengthen accountability over its operations. ”Mr. McGuinty also said the committee learned that Canadians know very little of the country’s security mechanisms, saying they are “often in the dark.”

National security and defence experts welcomed the report, calling it the first of its kind and agreeing that the DND should be covered by legislative authority.

Michel Drapeau, a lawyer and professor who specializes in military law, said the report raises awareness of threats and a “glaring point is lack of accountability” over the DND’s intelligence. Mr. Drapeau said he believes the DND needs to operate within a legislative framework. He also said that just because MPs are now suggesting the idea of legal authority to govern the intelligence-gathering activities of the DND and the Forces, does not mean the military is acting outside the law.

Stephanie Carvin, an associate professor at Carleton University and former national security analyst, said the committee is really questioning when the DND is allowed to engage in defence and intelligence activities and what actually permits it.

Ms. Carvin also said that the report is a step in the right direction because Canada was one of the few Western countries not to have any legislative review of its intelligence apparatus. “It really made us stand out so we’re slowly playing catch up … and this is one of those ways, the fact that we’re modernizing our intelligence architecture.”

The report also named Russia and China as “among a handful of states” that conduct espionage and exert influence in Canada.






December 2018

Dear RUSI Members,

On behalf of the Executive and Board of Directors of RUSI Vancouver I extend hearty Season’s Greetings and every good wish for a healthy and fulfilling New Year!

New RUSI Badge

We can now announce the new, long-awaited, Royal United Services Institute Vancouver Society badge recently approved by the Chief Herald of Canada. The simplified design, shown above, is based on the previous RUSI emblem. It shows crossed swords representing the Army, the wings the RCAF, the anchor the RCN, the mural crown emblem of civic authority, the red background emblematic of the RCMP. Royal designation was given the Institute by Her Majesty the Queen in 1989.

The Latin phrase meaning “Work for peace, prepare for war’” conveys RUSI’s mandate for research, education and advocacy on defence issues. The concept originated with Christopher Mackie and Bruce Patterson, the Deputy Chief Herald of Canada. The new badge will be available, along with a new lapel pin, early in the new year. Members will be advised on the cost and availability of the badge when supplies are received from the manufacturer.

New Membership Secretary

We’re pleased to advise that Heather Garrison has agreed to chair the Membership Committee effective January 1, replacing Bob Mugford. Bob will continue as Secretary and as Editor of the RUSI Newsletter for which we’re very grateful. He has been doing ’triple duty’ on these key jobs for several years; commitments that are highly appreciated by everyone. Heather Garrison has a range of experience managing not-for-profit memberships and is ready to volunteer her skills for RUSI Vancouver.

Membership Renewal

Please renew your RUSI membership without delay. Send your annual dues of $50.00 by cheque to: RUSI Vancouver, Bessborough Armoury, 2025 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver, BC V6J 2C7. Or, hand the cheque (or cash) to a member of the Executive at any Wednesday lunch in the 15Fd Officer’s Mess. Lunches resume on January 9, 2019. If your postal or e-mail address, or phone/mobile numbers have changed, please advise Heather Garrison at or at 604 737 7088.

Looking Ahead

The RUSI Speaker Series will continue in the new year. The first series of lectures took place this past fall on Wednesday’s from 5:00 to 7:00 pm. We thank the 15Fd (RCA) Officer’s Mess for its cooperation. The next series will again be held in the Mess from February through April 2019. Timing will remain the same while dates, topics and speakers will be announced early in the new year. Check for this information and other events and activities that are being considered by RUSI Vancouver for 2019 for which members will be invited to be involved and encouraged to attend.

Cam Cathcart, President
Royal United Services Institute Vancouver Society

The following comment on Canada’s military procurement process and call for political cohesion on the issue is provided by Col (Ret’d) Patrick M. Dennis, OMM, CD. Col Dennis is author of ‘Reluctant Warriors’ and an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. For related comment see the article (below) by John Ivison, reprinted from the National Post of November 30, 2018. The opinions expressed in the following comment are those of Mr. Dennis.

The article below (from Air Force Magazine) puts the F-35 delivery process in focus. A decade ago Canada needed to make some smart decisions. Successive governments failed to do so and have relegated the RCAF to a support role. These aircraft are now at least five years away, and more likely seven. At that point we will be like the Baltic countries, or maybe some of the South American republics.

But let's be honest, despite successful, albeit very painful, procurement efforts in all three services, the lack of a bi-partisan defence decision-making process has steadily eroded the overall capabilities of the Canadian Forces for half a century now. Think back to the White Paper in 1987 when we were going to buy 10-12 nuclear submarines.

Credible defence and deterrence is not cheap. But our frugality is an international embarrassment. And false pride in an underfunded, underequipped and undermanned institution is a key part of the problem. Our leaders continue to boast about doing more with less, when we all know that to be false. And just because there are serious "plans" to procure new kit should not obscure the fact that all of it is late to need, sometimes by nearly three decades in the case of the Sea King.

What to do? Politically, all parties need to abandon divisive rhetoric on this file and embrace an entirely new requirements approval and procurement process, one that is committed to expeditiously providing the services, equipment and personnel needed carry out national defence and security objectives. Militarily, it is time to separate NDHQ from CFHQ, with all that this entails. Integrating the two HQs has only served to reduce the military to a shell of its former self, thus preventing the Government from effectively implementing national defence objectives.

Some will argue that such an approach is unaffordable. But it IS affordable. Canadians need to make some tough decisions, though, and I am not talking about reducing transfer payments or health care. But first we have to agree that defence spending is not a luxury or an afterthought but is a fundamental pre-requisite to meeting all other national needs, as opposed to wants. Absent such consensus, I fear the worst. But I have been wrong before.

Patrick M. Dennis, Colonel (Ret’d) OMM, CD

Australia Receives First Two In-Country F-35s

Amy McCullough
Reprinted from Air Force (US) Magazine of December 11, 2018


Australia on Sunday, December 10, 2018, received its first two F-35 strike fighters to be based in country at Royal Australian Air Force Williamtown. Australia already has received 10 of the fifth-generation fighters, but the other aircraft are assigned to Luke AFB, Arizona, as part of the international cooperative F-35 training operations there, according to a Lockheed Martin release.

With the delivery, Australia is now the seventh country to locally base F-35s, joining the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Israel, and Japan. “Australia plays a significant role in the program with the suite of local industrial technology and know-how behind the hundreds of F-35s flying today, as well as the thousands of F-35s that will be produced in the future,” said Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin Australia Vince Di Pietro.

More than 340 F-35s are now operating from 16 bases across the globe, including Williamtown. The total fleet has accumulated more than 170,000 flight hours, and more than 700 pilots and 6,500 maintainers have been training, according to Lockheed.

In 2010, several members of the Naval Officers Association of BC (NOABC) decided to salute the role of BC’s shipyards during World War Two. The project eventually transitioned into a monument to include all workers in the BC shipbuilding industry. The following article in the July-August issue of BC Shipping News by RUSI President Cam Cathcart, outlines the eight year journey of the project, with a few nautical miles left before it’s completed.

...why isn’t there something tangible on the Vancouver waterfront to salute
the legacy of B.C.’s proud and illustrious shipbuilding industry?

Honouring B.C.’s legendary shipbuilding industry

by Cameron Cathcart

Curious how projects get started. Many have a definite purpose. Others, the result of a dream. The shipbuilding monument project began with a question: why isn’t there something tangible on the Vancouver waterfront to salute the legacy of B.C.’s proud and illustrious shipbuilding industry? That question got a few people thinking in 2010.

The Metro Vancouver Naval Monument Society was formed, and the concept of a memorial began to take shape. The idea was to position a statue of a Second World War shipyard worker on the North Vancouver waterfront. But, that hectic period of non-stop shipbuilding also included thousands of women, along with navy personnel acting as advisors. It was clear that all three had to be represented in a shipbuilding monument. The next step was to engage a sculptor.

The artist chosen was Norm Williams, who had recently completed the monument to B.C.’s fishing industry and its workers situated outside the old Steveston Cannery, now the Gulf of Georgia National Historic Site in Richmond, B.C. His first task was to develop a maquette, or model, showing the three statues in various poses within the parameters of a single monument. Mr. Williams has since created the Roger Neilson and Pat Quinn statues located at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

Unfortunately, the initial flurry of excitement for a shipbuilding monument began to wane at this time and for several years the project suffered an overall lack of enthusiasm. That changed in 2017 when the Naval Officer’s Association of BC (NOABC) announced plans to mark its 100th anniversary at a fall 2019 conference in North Vancouver. This sparked renewed interest by the Society and the monument project was revived in earnest.

By now, project costs had increased substantially and it was obvious the final price for the shipbuilding monument would be much higher than originally contemplated back in 2010. Also, urban renewal had changed the old Burrard Dry Dock site at the North Vancouver waterfront with the area that now includes an art gallery, a new hotel, a residential complex, public market, restaurants, boardwalk and a public pier.

The Society now had to re-engage with the City of North Vancouver to determine where the monument could be located on the revitalized waterfront. Meanwhile, the North Vancouver Arts Advisory Committee, along with the North Vancouver Museum and Archives, were consulted for artistic design and historical accuracy of the sculpture components. These were approved, and the City endorsed the project, agreeing that the monument be located east of the new pier on the North Vancouver waterfront boardwalk.

The building of vessels on the British Columbia coast has a long history. Well before European contact, coastal Indigenous people built large, sea-going dugout canoes for fishing, whaling, transportation and war. The first ship built on the B.C. coast by Europeans was at Friendly Cove, now Yuquot, in Nookta Sound in the early 1790s.

As European settlement took hold in the late 1800s, various types of vessels were built by B.C. shipbuilders over the years such as deep-sea sailing ships, paddle wheelers, lake ferries, tugs, fish boats and the occasional pleasure craft. It wasn’t until after the Second World War that U.K.-built passenger ships, used for West Coast service, began to be phased out and replaced mainly by vessels built in B.C. shipyards.

For most of the 20th century, the North Vancouver waterfront housed the largest shipyard in western Canada, with more than 450 ships launched from the site throughout this period. Opened in 1906 as Wallace Shipyard and re-named Burrard Dry Dock in 1921, tugs and barges for the forest industry, navy vessels, ferries, small cargo ships and icebreakers were launched from this historic location including the St. Roch, the RCMP schooner that achieved fame by traversing the Arctic in both directions in the 1940s.

The busiest and most record-setting activity on the North Vancouver waterfront occurred during the Second World War. Burrard Dry Dock, along with neighbouring North Van Ship Repairs, built close to 250 of Canada’s wartime Victory ships and 50 naval vessels, establishing a reputation for high standards of workmanship. Between 1939 and 1945, more than 14,000 workers were employed in round the clock shifts at Burrard, including 1,000 women, to feed the war effort. The B.C. shipyard was the first in Canada to hire women during the war. They filled the gap while men went to war with jobs ranging from store-keeping to welding.

When the war ended in 1945, shipbuilding in B.C. dropped dramatically and thousands of workers were let go, including all the women hired during the war. But, new contracts slowly picked up as the post-war economy began to surge. These included modern tugs, self-loading log barges, cargo ships, coastal tankers, patrol boats, state of the art icebreakers, arctic oil exploration ships and passenger and railcar ferries. In the 1950s the Royal Canadian Navy also began to modernize its fleet with new destroyers, several of which were built in B.C. shipyards.

Today, two replenishment ships have been ordered by the Royal Canadian Navy, along with a polar icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. All three vessels are at the final design stage at Seaspan Shipyards in North Vancouver, from which the first of three fisheries research vessels were recently launched. Along with building new ships, for several years cruise ship, ferry and navy vessel repair and upgrading work have been consistent and reliable activities for British Columbia’s shipyards.

The shipbuilding monument needs $350,000 to be completed and installed on the North Vancouver waterfront by October, 2019. To meet this challenge the Metro Vancouver Naval Monument Society has launched an appeal for contributions at eight levels that reflect the type of ships built by B.C.’s shipbuilders, ranging from Minesweeper to Victory Ship to Naval Supply Ship, to mention just three.

The monument will consist of three bronze statues that show a male worker using a torch to bend pipes, a female worker taking a break, while a naval petty officer unrolls ship plans. It is designed to engage people, with sculptures positioned at ground level on the walkway east of the North Vancouver waterfront pier.

The shipbuilding monument will salute the legendary British Columbia shipbuilding industry and its workers, and for its support of the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Merchant Marine during the Second World War.

The project began with a question: why is there no tangible recognition of British Columbia’s proud and illustrious history of shipbuilding?

The answer is the shipbuilding monument, now ready to be launched.


RUSI Vancouver members gather for lunch on Wednesdays at 12:00 Noon at the Officers' Mess of the 15th Field Regiment (RCA) located in the Bessborough Armouries, 2025 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.