The Future of Canada's Maritime Capabilities: The Issues, Challenges and Solutions in a New Security Environment, 18‑20 June 2004, Conference Report

By Commander Robert H. Edwards
June 2004
Available Online (PDF)

The Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University, with the support of the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre (Halifax), hosted a maritime conference 18-20 June 2004. The purpose of the conference was to examine Canada’s maritime capabilities within the context of a new security environment.

The timing of the 2004 conference was important for three reasons: the new and emerging global and maritime threats tied to terrorism and organised crime; the transition in Canada to a new Liberal government under Prime Minister Paul Martin, a government which identified the need and then promulgated Securing An Open Society: Canada’s National Security Policy in April 2004; the 28 June 2004 federal election; and, the ongoing International Policy Review in which, according to the National Security Policy, “Canada’s national security [is] one of the top priorities.”

There were a total of 148 conference participants at the 2004 conference. These included 13 policy officials from the Department of National Defence on Saturday the 19th of June, and 12 Canadian naval students from the year-long Operations Room Officer course. Conference sessions were led by highly respected academics and senior government and military/naval officials, and covered a range of important issues related to maritime security. As with previous conferences, a primary attribute of the conference lay in the discussions themselves, both in plenary and ‘in the corridors.’ It was very encouraging to see the active engagement of the participants and clear that the conference served as a catalyst for further discussion and debate on defence and security matters.

The Centre for Foreign Policy Studies is grateful to the Security and Defence Forum, Dalhousie University, and the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre (CFMWC) for supporting the conference. The Centre would also like to extend its thanks to Captain(N) David Sweeney, the Commanding Officer of the Canadian Forces Maritime Warfare Centre, and Lieutenant-Commander Doug Thomas (ret’d), also of the CFMWC, for their support. Thanks also are extended to the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies’ ‘team’ of Alicia Murphy, Rene Ross, and Graham Walker; the graduate student assistants, Richard Jordan, Ailsa Jones, and Grant Karn; and to recent Dalhousie MA graduate, Ewa Petruczynik.

This 2004 conference report is in four parts. Although it concentrates on this year’s proceedings, it incorporates related ideas and comments from the two previous conferences where appropriate. Part 1 starts with definitions and conference themes. The report then proceeds in Parts 2 and 3 to address the conference questions (some of which have been combined) using the presentations, discussions and points raised by the presenters, discussants and participants. Finally, Part 4 suggests the way-ahead for future work and some topics for investigation during the 2005 conference which is scheduled for 10-12 June 2005 and entitled “What Canadian Military and Security Forces in the Future World? A Maritime Perspective.”