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Have Your Say: Defence Policy Review 2016

Community Engagement Guide

Alternate Formats

Thank you for supporting the 2016 Defence Policy Review Process. These community engagement events will play an important role in augmenting the work being done by the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces and help to ensure that the review process is credible, evidence-based, and informed by the views of Canadians.

To ensure a successful engagement event, we encourage you to reach out to your community in advance and invite them to read the Defence Policy Review Terms of Reference and public consultation paper available at While the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces are interested in all input provided by Canadians, the public consultation paper and materials in this kit are focused around the core themes to be explored during the review and will help focus discussions.

Similarly, while you may wish to focus your community engagement event on a particular theme or area of inquiry, we have provided a guide below to facilitate an event that covers the three topics forming the core scope of the review:

  1. the global security environment;
  2. the Canadian approach to defence; and
  3. defence capabilities and the future force.

Opening Remarks

Defence policy outlines the government’s defence priorities and objectives and describes what Canada wants to achieve with its military at home and abroad, with whom and how. This is critically important as it guides the preparation and actions of the military at all levels across the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces including:

A credible, realistic, and evidence-based review of defence policy will ensure that the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces are able to deliver results for Canadians – Canadian expectations of their military both at home and abroad should substantially inform this process. 

We hope you have had the opportunity to review the review Terms of Reference and consultation paper in advance – if not, be sure to visit for more information on the Canadian Armed Forces, the 2016 Defence Policy Review, and how you can get involved.

We encourage open and inclusive discussion. The crux of this exercise is to find out what Canadians think about the military and the direction it should go in the future in order to inform the review process.

Section I: The Security Environment

An examination of the security environment is the starting point for the defence policy review. We need to understand the world we live in, including the threats and challenges, and opportunities that the military must be ready to face in order to make important choices about how to position the Canadian Armed Forces to succeed today and into the future.

The strategic context in which the Canadian Armed Forces operates has shifted in the last decade, in some ways significantly.Canada is facing a range of new challenges, from the rise of terrorism in ungoverned spaces, to the expanded use of hybrid tactics in conflict, to new opportunities and vulnerabilities associated with the space and cyber domains. Canada must also deal with rising international interest in the Arctic and the challenges related to the changing environment and increased accessibility of our Northern waterways.

[Refer to Security Environment section of the consultation paper if you wish to have a more in-depth examination of this topic with the audience]

Discussion Questions:

  1. Are there any threats to Canada’s security that are not being addressed adequately?
  2. Are there particular regions or issues that you are most concerned with?

Section II: Canadian Approach to Defence – Canada, North America and International

Defending Canada and protecting Canadians is the Government’s most fundamental responsibility. The Canadian Armed Forces also play a vital role in advancing Canada’s interests and promoting Canadian values abroad.  This has meant that for decades, the Canadian Armed Forces has focused on three main roles: defending Canada, defending North America in partnership with the United States, and contributing to international peace and security. 

To achieve this mandate, defence has employed an integrated military-civilian workforce and the military has been oriented as a multi-role, combat-capable force that works in cooperation with other governments and conducts missions and operations with allies and partners. This approach has provided great flexibility in responding to Canada’s defence needs at home and abroad

As part of the defence policy review, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces will be considering how best to deliver on the enduring responsibilities of the military within each of the three main roles and an examination of the overall orientation of the military. 

The Minister’s mandate letter highlighted a number of themes that will help inform this discussion, such as renewing Canada’s commitment to United Nations peace operations, maintaining strong commitments to NORAD and NATO and renewing focus on the surveillance and control of Canadian territory and approaches, particularly the Arctic.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What roles should the Canadian Armed Forces play domestically, including in support of civilian authorities?
  2. How should Canada-United States cooperation on defence of North America evolve in the coming years?
  3. What form should the Canadian Armed Forces contribution to peace support operations take? Is there a role for the Canadian Armed Forces in helping to prevent conflict before it occurs?

Section III: Defence Capabilities and the Future Force

In defining the core roles and mission of the military, the defence policy review will also need to consider the capabilities and future force required to deliver on this renewed vision for defence.

The unpredictable nature of national and international security will drive the requirement for an agile and adaptable force that can support a range of operational tasks.  This requires well-selected, educated, and trained personnel who are physically and psychologically fit, and resilient to meet the ever-changing defence requirements of Canada.

These personnel must also be well-equipped with robust and modern capabilities to ensure they are able to conduct the important missions we ask of them. The emergence of new capabilities, such as space, cyber and unmanned systems are changing the way militaries operate. With this evolution comes the need to adapt, both in terms of capability requirements and the necessary skill sets to support the future force. As the Canadian Armed Forces continue to modernize their equipment and their workforce, key questions will need to be answered about the balance between recapitalizing existing fleets and investing in new technologies and approaches.

Whatever decisions are made about capabilities and the future forces, the new vision for defence must be affordable. Careful consideration will be required to balance priorities and make the necessary trade-offs to ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces have the robust, modern capabilities and personnel required to succeed.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Should the size, structure, and composition for the Canadian Armed Forces change from what they are today?
  2. How can the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces improve the way they support the health and wellness of military members? In what areas should more be done?
  3. Should Canada strive to maintain military capability across the full spectrum of operations? Are there specific niche areas of capability in which Canada should specialize?
  4. What type of investments should Canada make in space, cyber, and unmanned systems? To what extent should Canada strive to keep pace and be interoperable with key allies in these domains?
  5. What resources will the Canadian Armed Forces require to meet Canada’s defence needs?

Closing Remarks

Thank you for participating in this important process. Your feedback will help to inform the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces as they review and consider the way forward for our military.

The consultation process remains open until 31 July 2016. We encourage you to visit to participate further using a number of interactive online tools. The website also provides updates on the consultation and will feature weekly activities.

If you are interested in further information on the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, please visit  This website also includes links to Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces social media including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds, amongst others.

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