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.

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Canada can afford new fighters or new frigates — but not both at once: report

Murray Brewster
CBC News • Posted: Jan 08, 2019 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: January 8


U of Calgary paper says Ottawa may have to abandon the idea of a multi-purpose military.

A Gripen fighter aircraft performs on the second day of Aero India 2017 at Yelahanka air base in Bangalore, India, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.    The Associated Press

The Trudeau government can't afford to buy ultra-modern warships and advanced warplanes at the same time, given the limits of federal finances, a new research paper argues.

The study, written for the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy, says that — contrary to the assurances offered in the government's defence policy — Ottawa will soon be forced into a series of tough, far-reaching choices about the structure and capabilities of the Canadian military.

Using the government's own figures, researcher Alex McColl concluded that the Liberals either will have to pour more money into their defence budget in the mid-2020s or scale back their ambitions by buying a less expensive fighter jet.

The reason, according to McColl, is that the bills for both new frigates and new fighters will come due at the same time.

Absent the political will (to spend more), the Canadian Forces can no longer afford to be a modern, multipurpose force ...

                                               - University of Calgary researcher Alex McColl

"Not only will the CF-18 replacement program have to fight for funding against the gene ral austerity and easy riding nature of Canadians, but it will also be running concsurrently with the largest military procurement in Canadian history: the National Shipbuilding Strategy," he wrote.

During the 2015 election campaign, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged Canada would not buy the F-35 stealth jet — that it would go with something cheaper and pour the savings into rebuilding the navy. The way the defence policy figures roll out, McColl wrote, suggests the government is on track to do just that.

"Absent the political will to provide considerably more than 1.15 per cent of GDP in defence spending," he wrote, "the Canadian Forces can no longer afford to be a modern multipurpose force and should instead move to a Navy centric force structure."

The Liberal defence policy, released just over 18 months ago, forecasts that by 2025, annual defence spending will rise to $32.7 billion, or about 1.4 per cent of GDP.

However, the projections in the defence policy do not go past the fiscal year 2024-25 — something the Parliamentary Budget Office flagged in a report in November 2017.

That PBO report also raised concerns about whether the Liberals would even meet their procurement targets and predicted the numbers would fall off a cliff before the 20-year defence spending policy reaches its halfway mark.

"Measured as a share of the economy, the new spending plan will raise the defence budget by over 17 per cent to about 1.1 percentage points of GDP by 2024," the PBO analysis said. "Following this, spending will decline by 38 per cent to 0.69 percentage points of GDP by 2035."

McColl said Canada may be left with no choice but to buy a cheaper fighter.

"The best value solution to the CF-18 replacement is the least expensive jet in the competition: the Saab Gripen," he wrote in his report.

In an interview CBC News, McColl said he chose the Gripen because it is "the dramatically least expensive option," although the Super Hornet is also a cheaper alternative.

A Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18F Super Hornet drops two flares as it performs during the T150 Defence Force Air Show on October 15, 2016 in Townsville, Australia.   Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

"I wouldn't say we would be forced (to buy them)," he said. "What I would say is that buying an inexpensive fighter that meets the minimum requirements of what we use the CF-18 for today would be the optimal policy.

National Defence announced last week it had concluded a deal with Australia to buy 18 used F-18 fighters to bolster the current CF-18 fleet until a brand-new replacement is selected.

That competition to replace the CF-18s with new aircraft is slated to kick off this spring, when the federal government puts a tender on the street. A contract award is not expected until 2022.

The first new fighters won't arrive until 2025 — and it will be another year after that before they are operational.

Dave Perry, a procurement expert at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, said that new accounting rules — which allow National Defence to spread the cost of weapons system over their lifetime, instead of accounting for them all at once — give the Liberal government a bit of flexibility.

But he also pointed out that, by trying to rebuild the navy and the air force at the same time, the Liberals are trying to do something rarely accomplished outside of a wartime setting.

Halifax class frigates like HMCS Charlottetown, seen heading out of Halifax harbour for Libya on March 2, 2011, are expected to reach the end of their usefulness by about 2025.   Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press

"Between new fighters and surface combatants [frigates], those are by far the two biggest projects that have gotten underway in this country in a long time, and doing them at the same time is not something we've done in peacetime before," said Perry. "Previously, we've done these things in sequential order."

The question of whether the federal government is organizationally and fiscally prepared to start paying big defence bills is open to debate, he added.

Almost four years ago, Perry co-wrote a seminal report that noted the number of staff dedicated to defence procurement at National Defence had never recovered from the budget cuts of the mid-1990s — dropping to 4,300 positions from 9,000.

In the time since his report was released, Perry said, there's been progress at the Department of National Defence in hiring procurement specialists and getting systems in place, but he's not certain the rest of the federal government is prepared.

"I think the biggest shortcoming is whether the Government of Canada writ large has the capacity, across government, not just in defence, to manage files this size with that level of complexity," he said.






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

On Huawei and 5G, Canada must unapologetically pursue our national interest

Contributed to The Globe and Mail - Updated December 6, 2018


Richard Fadden is a former national security adviser to the Prime Minister;
Brian Lee Crowley is the managing director of the Macdonald-Laurier Institute.

On Nov. 28, New Zealand joined Australia and the United States in banning Chinese telecom giant Huawei from participating in the next-generation mobile data networks. One of New Zealand’s largest telecommunications networks had proposed using Huawei’s equipment in its 5G networks, but the government rejected it on the grounds that it posed “significant national security risks.”

This decision has now placed Canada in the uncomfortable position of being a minority among its partners in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing community. While the United Kingdom has not yet formally banned Huawei, Britain’s main telecom company, BT Group Plc, has announced they will not use Huawei 5G equipment. Now Washington has begun a campaign to dissuade its allies from doing 5G business with Huawei on security grounds.

There are plenty of reasons why intelligence professionals are alarmed by Huawei’s involvement in our 5G networks.

When we hear the name Huawei, the company wants us to picture slick smartphones and a normal telecommunications firm endowed with what its advertising calls a “higher intelligence.”

Yet, it is not a normal telecom company. Founded by a former officer of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Huawei is extremely close to the upper echelons of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Indeed, Huawei operates in what the PRC calls a strategic sector, a core of their domestic security interests. The company supplies the PLA itself and is officially referred to as a national champion.

China has a long history of conducting extensive cyberespionage operations against the West. Canada is not immune: There is evidence of the Chinese hacking Nortel(before its demise in 2009), the National Research Council and the potash industry. Ottawa has experienced breaches in energy, natural resources and the environment, and China is widely thought to be the culprit.

The close relationship between Huawei and a Chinese government with a history of cyberespionage should be worrisome. Add the fact that China’s 2017 National Intelligence Law gives Beijing the power to compel Huawei’s support for its intelligence work, and the red flags become too numerous to ignore.

Rather than a “higher intelligence,” a better catchphrase for Huawei might be a “covert intelligence” – one that is neither innocent nor friendly to the West.

Britain has not yet banned Huawei, but they too are increasingly wary.

For instance, the U.K.’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre admits the equipment it has tested might not match what Huawei uses, concluding that it can no longer provide “long-term technical assurance … around Huawei.” Yet Ottawa relies on the exact kind of equipment testing to support its claim that Huawei poses no national security threat.

Huawei already has extensive relationships with Canadian institutions of higher learning, including a promised $50-million to 13 universities to develop 5G technology. Not only would Canada be reliant, then, on Huawei software and hardware for its next generation of wireless communications technology, but Huawei may well end up owning the patents of 5G technologies that arise from these research partnerships.

Curiously, Ottawa refuses to allow Huawei to bid on federal contracts, a strange position for a government that seems relatively sanguine about the Chinese giant’s presence in the development of a wireless network that will soon transmit our most sensitive information.

It is not too late for Canada to reject the firm’s participation in 5G. Ottawa is currently conducting a security review designed to analyze cyberthreats from companies just like Huawei. It is difficult to see how such a review could conclude that Huawei’s support in 5G doesn’t pose a serious and unacceptable security risk.

We have no reason to doubt the expertise and good faith of Canada’s cyberdefenders, but – and it’s a big but – they can’t know what they don’t know, and that fact alone involves considerable risk. Allowing Huawei access to our 5G network means we are giving our cyberadversaries the means to learn how to defeat our defences. And once they have done so, it is too late.

Denying Huawei participation in our 5G network is not a rejection of engagement with China. Rather, it is doing exactly what China is doing – unapologetically and energetically pursuing our national interest. Like many Western countries, we are often bedazzled by China’s economic potential and therefore fail to ensure our national interests aren’t sacrificed in the pursuit of access to Chinese markets.

These two objectives must go hand in glove. A fruitful relationship requires that we gain China’s respect. The indispensable precondition of that respect is that we assert and protect our national interests – and those of our allies – with vigour and clarity.

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.

Auditor General shoots down
federal government's fighter jet follies

John Ivison
Reprinted from The National Post of November 20, 2018


Summary & Analysis: John Ivison joins the commentary on the AG by politely requesting that Russia not invade anywhere until around 2032. He lambasts the government for delays in the procurement process, lack of personnel, and poor policy choices. He also takes aim against claims by the MND regarding how long the FFCP, noting that numerous other countries have been able to complete similar procurement projects in significantly less time noting that while the currently Liberal plan is set to take 13 years, industry professionals say that it could be done in 5.

Let’s hope the Russians have not read the Auditor General’s latest report into the crisis facing Canada’s fighter jet fleet.

If they have, perhaps they would be good enough to refrain from invading anywhere else until around 2032, when the air force will take delivery of its new planes.

That’s being flippant, but the alternative is resignation and despair at the omnishambles successive governments have made in providing for Canada’s air defences.

In typically meticulous fashion, Michael Ferguson’s department detailed how and why the air force is in a predicament where it does not have enough technicians, pilots or combat-ready planes to fulfill Canada’s operational commitments.

The fleet only has 78 per cent of the number of technicians it needs, which means only 83 per cent of the aircraft needed are ready. That shortage has increased the number of hours of maintenance needed to keep the aging CF-18 fleet in the air to 24 for every one hour of flying time.

Let that number sink in. The CF-18s were bought in the early 1980s and were expected to be retired 20 years later. Current plans are to keep them flying until 2032, by which time they will be 50 years old — a bunch of rusted nuts, bolts, airframes and engines supplied by the lowest bidder.

The shortage of technicians means the hours flown by CF-18 pilots has decreased. Pilots are expected to fly 140 hours a year to keep their skills up to date, yet the auditor general found 28 per cent of pilots flew fewer than 140 hours in 2017-18.

In addition to the shortage of technicians, the air force has a dearth of trained pilots — only 64 per cent of the number it needs to fulfill the new commitments the government imposed in 2016. That was when the Liberals said they needed to make an “interim purchase” of 18 new Boeing Super Hornets so that the air force could meet a new operational requirement: enough planes to meet the highest NORAD alert level and Canada’s NATO commitment at the same time.

At the press conference in November 2016, Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance said Canada could not meet those obligations simultaneously, far less do anything else. The implication was that the purchase of the new Super Hornets would allow the air force to do so.

Yet as Ferguson’s report makes clear, the Department of National Defence (and presumably Vance) already knew that buying Super Hornets alone would not allow it to meet the new operational requirement. In fact, the introduction of the Super Hornet would decrease, not increase, the daily number of aircraft available because technicians and pilots would be pulled away from the CF-18 to train on the new aircraft. Even when operational, the new fleet would not have solved the problem because of the shortage of trained personnel.

“The department stated that it needed more qualified technicians and pilots, not more fighter aircraft,” said the auditor general’s report.

That was not what Vance and defence minister Harjit Sajjan said when they unveiled the plan to buy the Super Hornets.

“It’s difficult to rationalize public statements made by military members with that line in the Auditor General’s report,” said David Perry, vice-president at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

DND said it is now trying to hire more technicians and address declining experience levels among pilots. But the picture is getting worse, not better. Between April 2016 and March of this year, 40 pilots left while only 30 were hired. Since then another 17 have left or said they plan to leave.

The personnel crisis is just one example in a litany of failures and mismanagement by governments of all stripes.

The decision to buy the Super Hornets has since been overturned, after a trade dispute with Boeing. Last December, the government said it now plans to buy 18 surplus-to-requirements Australian jets for a purchase price and maintenance cost of nearly $1 billion. But the auditor general found the new planes “will not improve the CF-18s combat capability.”

The screw-ups are multi-faceted and date back to at least the previous government.

As Ferguson noted, DND “has not done enough, in part because of factors outside its control.”

In 2010, the Conservatives announced their intention to buy 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighters to replace the CF-18s by 2020. After a critical auditor general report that said DND and Public Works did not manage the competitive process properly, that purchase was put on hold. National Defence subsequently decided to extend the life of the CF-18s until 2025.

The Liberals won the 2015 election on a platform that included the apparently contradictory commitments that they would hold an open competition to replace the fighter jet fleet but would not buy the F-35.

That competitive process has now been pushed off past the next election, with the plan being to buy 88 new fighter jets by 2032. DND told the auditor general it hopes to begin transitioning to the new fighters by the mid-2020s but, as Perry noted, it can scarcely manage the fleet it has, never mind think about adding another.

The consequence of government blunders is a fighter jet with severe limitations to its combat capability.

The CF-18s have not been upgraded for combat since 2008, which means they are easier to detect by radar than newer jets.

Ferguson’s report said DND believes the existing fighters will be disadvantaged against potential adversaries and that their combat abilities will continue to erode over the next decade.

As one pilot put it, a tussle between a CF-18 and a fifth-generation fighter would be “like racing a 1970s Ford Pinto with a TomTom GPS against a Tesla.”

The department’s own analysis suggested the extension of the retirement date to 2032 will prove “risky and costly.” No-one else in the world is planning to fly this plane that far into the future.

The auditor general agreed with the risk-assessment.

“In our opinion, flying the CF-18 until 2032, without a plan to upgrade its combat capability will result in less important roles for the fighter force and will pose a risk to Canada’s ability to contribute to NORAD and NATO operations,” the report said.

Thanks to all the hemming and hawing and hesitation, we are still 13 years away from delivery of a new fleet.

Sajjan issued a statement Tuesday saying the air force is in the meantime assessing combat system upgrades for the CF-18.

One pilot said the cost will likely prove “sobering” and will open the government up to criticism for delaying the fighter-jet replacement competition.

Sajjan acknowledged the “enduring solution” to the fighter problems will not be achieved until the new jet has been delivered and an increased number of technicians and pilots have been hired. This will take time, he said. No kidding.

It need not be that way. Industry sources suggest a competition could be completed in two years and new jets delivered three years after that. Who knows, maybe the promise of a shiny new plane might solve the pilot recruitment problem?

There is no concealing the fact that Canada’s fighter jet program is in trouble. For a G7 country and a founding member of NATO, that is not good enough.

A Canadian war hero you've never heard of, but should have. Hub Gray was a hero in the Korean War in which Canada was involved from 1950 to 1953 as part of the UN force. But even after the fighting, Hub Gray wouldn't back down until another soldier's bravery was honoured. Some 26-thousand Canadians participated in the Korean War, at a cost of 516 dead. Canada sent eight destroyers to Korean waters and the RCAF provided transport, supply and logistics.

‘Kapyong’s Neglected Heroes’ is posted here with permission of authors Dan Bjarnason, Bernie Farber and the National Post.

A Canadian war hero you've never heard of,
but should have

By Dan Bjarnason and Bernie M. Farber
Special to The National Post - November 30, 2018


Hub Gray was a hero in the Korean War. But even after the fighting, he wouldn't back down until another soldier's bravery was honoured.

Soldiers from the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) wade through a river in Kapyong
in an undated photograph from the Korean War.   Postmedia News

Hub Gray died the other day. He was 90.

You know, Hub Gray … that war hero you never heard of. The guy from the “Forgotten War.”

Hub showed immense physical courage during the battle of Kapyong in the Korean War. And also deep moral courage which he flung into another battle in the years that followed.

Hub was a young lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (2PPCLI), a special unit of volunteers raised specifically to fight in Korea. It was under the command of Col. Jim Stone, a much-decorated, if somewhat flawed hero of the Second World War. Col Stone was quirky but brilliant.

2PPCLI arrived in Korea on Dec. 18, 1950. In April it found itself near the village of Kapyong, a milepost on the traditional invasion path into the south of Korea.

Members of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, including Mike Levy in foreground, return from patrol about two weeks before the Battle of Kapyong, in Korea in April 1951.   Hub Gray/Postmedia News

On the night of April 22, 1951, an entire Chinese division attacked, hoping to take Seoul, only a few miles away. 2PPCLI was surrounded, and on its own. This was to be Canada’s first battle of the Korean War.

It was a terrifying night of positions lost and retaken, hand-to-hand fighting in the dark, with bayonets, grenades, rifle butts, and shovels.

At one point, the Chinese attacked battalion headquarters from the rear. If HQ fell, the Canadians would be driven off the hill and the road to Seoul would be open. It did not fall, in part thanks to Hub Gray.

It was a terrifying night of positions lost and retaken, hand-to-hand fighting in the dark.

He was in charge of a small mortar-machine gun unit. Coming at them: about 500 battle-hardened Chinese. With the enemy almost on top of them, Gray’s men opened fire, the Chinese attack stalled, and then fell apart, described by one Canadian as “like kicking the top off an ant hill.” The Canadians were down to their last bullets when the Chinese advance finally broke. Hub’s machine guns had saved HQ. And so Kapyong did not fall. Nor did Seoul.

Hub Gray was a real-life hero whose courage and initiative made the difference. Five men in other units were (rightly) decorated for bravery that night. Hub Gray was not among them. In later years he wrote his own account of Kapyong (”Beyond the Danger Close”) with a vivid account of the fighting, but made no mention at all of his own vital role. You’d scarcely know he was there.

That’s Hub Gray … the hero you never heard of.

Hub Gray, left, is seen at a Valour Canada Flame of Remembrance Ceremony in Calgary on Nov. 15, 2013, with, from left, then deputy premier Thomas Lukaszuk, Brad Pierce of Valour Canada and Honourable Guard Commander David Holmes.   Bill Brooks/Postmedia News

Another neglected Kapyong hero was a dashing young lieutenant, Mike Levy, who’d fought behind the lines in Southeast Asia against the Japanese. At Kapyong, Levy was in command of an isolated platoon that came under an attack so intense his men were on the verge of being overwhelmed. He called in artillery fire on his own position. Levy was an extremely popular officer and everyone in the battalion knew he’d had his own foxholes shelled.

Mysteriously, Levy got no decoration. No one could figure it out.

Enter Hub Gray. Researching his own book on Kapyong, he came across Mel Canfield, an officer logging communications between Col. Stone and his companies during the fighting. Canfield was a fly on the wall. Stone was contemplating the awarding of medals, and Canfield said he overheard Stone saying: “ … I will not award a medal to a Jew.” And there the matter stood for over half a century.

But not for Hub Gray. The injustice of it all haunted him. He had moral courage that matched his battlefield bravery. He lobbied, cajoled, and prodded for years.

Col. Stone — who died in 2005 — was a popular commander with his men, and among historians. Some felt the Levy/Stone issue was history and best just left in the past. Not Hub.

An undated photograph of Mike Levy   Postmedia News

He recruited the-then governor-general, Adrienne Clarkson, to the cause, who had deep personal connections to PPCLI and to the Korean War (she is now PPCLI’s Colonel-in-Chief). In 2004, she granted a coat of arms to Mike Levy in recognition of his work that April night at Kapyong.

So that’s who Hub Gray was: a hero no one’s heard of.

He died Nov. 9 in Calgary. A pity it wasn’t in the news.

Dan Bjarnason was a CBC documentary reporter for over 35 years. He is the author of Triumph at Kapyong; Canada’s Pivotal Battle in Korea. Bernie M. Farber is a columnist, social justice advocate and former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress. He has written numerous profiles on Canadian Jewish war heroes.

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.

World War I from the journal of Captain Fred G. Coxen RFA (Royal Field Artillery)

From the PREFACE:

"My purpose for writing this book was to honor my grandfather by telling his story. In addition I wanted to impart to the reader the experiences, as well as the conditions of war, and what it was like trying to survive each day.

"The story is based on the World War 1 journal written by Captain Frederick G. Coxen, who served in the Royal Field Artillery (RFA) and the Royal Air Force (RAF) from 1905 to 1919."

Download the entire book (158 pages) HERE.


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, 2013 West 11th Avenue, Vancouver, BC.