Closing Keynote – Ottawa Conference, Minister Anita Anand

Good afternoon, bonjour tout le monde.

C’est un grand plaisir pour moi d’être ici avec vous cet après-midi.

I am very pleased to be joining you today from the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg people, and I want to start also by thanking Youri and everyone at the Conference of Defence Associations Institute for organizing this incredible conference on security and defence. Let’s give them a hand.

Je salue également la présence du général Wayne Eyre, chef d’état-major de la Défense, et je le remercie pour son leadership des Forces armées canadiennes, et je salue la présence du sous-ministre Bill Matthews et la chef du CST, Shelly Bruce – peut-être virtuellement.

Ça fait quatre mois que le Premier ministre m’a demandé de servir en tant que ministre de la Défense nationale du Canada.

I have not and will not take a single day for granted. Time is of the essence in everything we do – when so much is at stake for Canada and the world.

We are facing the greatest threats to international peace and stability since the end of the Second World War. Russia’s ongoing attack against Ukraine is also an attack on the rules-based international order. For this reason, the work you all do to promote global security and stability has never been more important.

Today for my remarks, I am bringing forward a timely question: What can a country like ours – an incredible country like ours – bring to the table when the international order upon which we all rely is in such clear and present danger?

En tant que Canadiens, comment peut-on contribuer à la sécurité de notre monde ?

I am going to, in true professor fashion, address this question in three parts.

Let us start with an update on Canada’s support for our Ukrainian friends.

We will then move to review Canada’s contributions to address security challenges around the globe – including here in North America, in the Euro-Atlantic region, and in the Indo-Pacific.

Finally, I will turn to discuss the importance of building a strong, healthy, modern military that can meet the security challenges that I’ve laid out.

1. Ukraine


On February 24, I received a call in the middle of the night from the Chief of Defence Staff, General Eyre, confirming what we all thought would occur, and indeed what open-source intelligence said would occur – which is that Russian forces had commenced a full-fledged, multi-pronged attack on Ukraine.

For many years, Vladimir Putin has sought to rewrite history and to redraw maps to deny Ukraine’s right to exist. And now, Putin has turned his war on history into a war of aggression against the innocent Ukrainian people – one that involves the crushing and horrible use of military force.

Mais il est clair que Poutine a sous-estimé la force et le courage du peuple ukrainien.

Ukrainians have bravely fought Russia’s attack at every step of the way, and I want to be clear: Canada stands with them, and we are here to help.

Under Operation UNIFIER, Canada’s training mission in support of Ukraine, our Canadian Armed Forces have trained over thirty-three thousand Ukrainian soldiers two-thousand members of the Ukrainian National Guard.

Through this mission, Canadian soldiers have conducted over six hundred courses on tactical-level combat, military policing, engineering skills, military medicine, and much more.

This partnership has also been valuable for Canadian Armed Forces – who developed techniques in camouflage, concealment, and dispersion in this realm.

When I was in Ukraine just over a month ago, I saw evidence of just how well Canadians and Ukrainians worked together through Operation UNIFIER, and we are honoured to support them in their courageous fight today.

Le vingt-six janvier, nous avons annoncé la prolongation et l’élargissement de l’opération UNIFIER, avec davantage de personnel, qui reprendra les opérations de formation lorsque la situation sécuritaire le permettra.

Under this announcement, the Communications Security Establishment, our national cryptologic agency, is also sharing threat intelligence with Ukraine and helping Ukraine defend itself against cyberattacks.

In February, Canada donated 7.8 million dollars in lethal aid to Ukraine including machine guns, pistols, carbines, rifles, and 1.5 million rounds of ammunition – all of which arrived on the ground before Russia commenced its attack.

But that was only the beginning.

We are providing $25 million in military equipment requested by Ukraine, including night vision gear, body armour, and helmets, and Royal Canadian Air Force airlift support to deliver these goods and to support NATO’s efforts in the region.

We are also providing additional lethal aid:

  • 100 Carl Gustaf anti-tank weapons systems,
  • 2000 rockets,
  • 600 fragmentation vests,
  • 4500 M72 rocket launchers,
  • up to 7500 hand grenades, and
  • $1 million in funding for modern satellite imagery to help our Ukrainian friends track the movement of Russian forces.

Just this week, we announced an additional $50 million in military aid, to purchase cameras for military drones.

In response to all of this support, my friend and counterpart, Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov, has thanked us time and time again – saying that “Real friends are known by deeds, and Canada is one of them.”

I am in almost-daily contact with Minister Reznikov. Today, he told me, “We will win, and I will see you again.”

Au cours des dernières semaines, le Canada a également annoncé plusieurs tranches de sanctions économiques sévères et coordonnées contre des banques, des oligarques et des officiels russes – y compris Poutine lui-même.

Thanks to Canada and our closest allies, we moving to ensure that Russian banks cannot benefit from the SWIFT messaging system, moving to paralyze Russia’s Central Bank as well.

In short, all of these measures are designed to ensure that there is no safe haven for Russian oligarchs or their assets in the West.

When I visited Ukraine in February – just a few weeks ago – I met with countless honest, hard-working, smart people, and all they wanted was to be able to live in peace and freedom.

It is our moral obligation to stand with Ukrainians. We will leave no stone unturned in our effort to support them.

2. Commitment to NATO, NORAD and Global Stability

Moving now to the broader security environment: NATO, NORAD, and global stability. We have to recognize that this war in Ukraine presents consequences for our multilateral partnerships and for the rules-based international order. I want to focus briefly on North America, NATO, and the Indo-Pacific.

(A) North America

Here at home, obviously we cannot take our security for granted. Global security threats affect us all, and we have to be clear-eyed and ready for any eventuality.

Cela commence par la défense continentale. La modernisation de NORAD est un élément clé de ma lettre de mandat, et j’ai l’intention de livrer la marchandise.

I’ve got to say, I am very driven by the mandate letter that the Prime Minister has given me. People say it’s because I’ve been trained in report cards, but all I can say is that I focus on that mandate letter with my team every day.

And part of that mandate letter is modernizing NORAD.

Our most recent budget invests over 252 million dollars in initial funding for continental defence and NORAD modernization – with new investments in

  • situational awareness,
  • modernized command and control systems,
  • research and development, and
  • defence capabilities to deter and defeat aerospace threats to this continent.

But this is just the beginning. This is what I want to assure people: this is just the beginning.

We have so much more work to do on NORAD modernization. In that vein, I am in frequent contact with my counterpart, Secretary Lloyd Austin, about what we must and what we can do to enhance continental defence capabilities and ensuring our Arctic sovereignty.

We are making landmark investments to increase our Arctic defences – through joint exercises, six new Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels, and enhanced surveillance and intelligence capabilities.

Make no mistake: Canada will be at the table in the short-term term with a robust package to modernize NORAD – a system that has kept Canadians and Americans safe for over sixty years.

(B) Euro-Atlantic

Moving to the Euro-Atlantic.

In Europe, our support for our NATO allies remains unwavering.

Ça c’est clair.

Même si nous ne pensons pas qu’une attaque contre un pays de l’OTAN soit imminente, nous devons être prêts, et nous devons faire notre part pour assurer la sécurité de l’alliance.

Under Operation REASSURANCE, Canada is active on land, air, and sea to support our allies in Europe – especially those on NATO’s eastern flank. Just this week, the Prime Minister and I announced the extension of this multi-year commitment beyond 2023.

On land, Canada leads NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia, with over 540 Canadian personnel on the ground, and more to come.

In fact, I just returned from Latvia, where, alongside the Prime Minister Trudeau and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, I visited Camp Adazi and witnessed the enduring integration between Canadian Forces and our allied counterparts.

In the air, our RCAF participates on a rotational basis in NATO Air Policing missions in Romania, demonstrating our ability to respond to any possible incursion of Allied airspace. I am pleased to confirm that our next Air Policing rotation will begin this summer.

At sea, Canada has a frigate deployed to the region on a persistent rotational basis, currently HMCS Montreal, soon to be joined by HMCS Halifax.

Just a few weeks ago, we announced a significant expansion of Operation REASSURANCE itself with up to 460 additional personnel.

We will deploy:

  • An artillery battery and electronic warfare troop to the Battle Group in Latvia,
  • A second frigate with a helicopter to NATO’s maritime forces,
  • A CP-140 maritime patrol aircraft under NATO command.

We have also announced 3400 membres des Forces armées canadiennes to be ready in case they receive the call from NATO.

We will continue to work with NATO to prepare for non-conventional threats including in cyberspace.

In short, our commitment to the security of our NATO allies is steadfast and unwavering. We stand ready to defend every inch of NATO territory.

(C) Indo-Pacific

Moving now to the Indo-Pacific.

What this crisis has demonstrated more than ever is that Europe is not the only fault line in the global security environment at the current time.

En tant que nation du Pacifique, le Canada est depuis longtemps un partenaire pour la paix, la coopération et la stabilité dans la région indo-pacifique.

What we’re doing is developing an Indo-Pacific Indo-Pacific Strategy to guide Canadian engagement, but in the meantime, we must be committed to what we can do in that region.

The Royal Canadian Navy has had a long history of regional engagement. We are looking to increase its presence, with more port visits, with more training, with more exercises with international partners and Allies.

Why? We have to be fully cognizant about China’s range of assertive activities in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world. The patterns are there for all to see, frankly.

China seeks to achieve its geopolitical goals through a mix of political, economic and military means, including:

  • coercive behaviours in the East and South China Seas;
  • hostage diplomacy tactics, as we saw with the two Michaels;
  • irresponsible and concerning behaviour in cyberspace;
  • and theft of intellectual property and sensitive technologies.

Ces actions violent l’ordre international fondé sur des règles et menacent la sécurité maritime.

We are not alone in being concerned about this region. Canada enjoys excellent relations with our Five Eyes partners in Australia and New Zealand, and we are working to deepen our relationships with ASEAN and South Asia partners.

Section 3: a Strong and Healthy Military

Now, my final section, and arguably the most important section for the duration and the longevity of the protection of our country, and our continent, and our contributions globally.

That’s a strong and healthy military – because none of the commitments that I have described today are possible without a strong, healthy, and modern military that is equipped to fight and win.

(A) Personnel/Culture

At the core of this military are people. Members of the Canadian Armed Forces are our number one resource and our first priority. Throughout this pandemic, they have never faltered – always answering the call of service, and I want to thank every one of them from the bottom of my heart.

Merci à vous tous. Je continuerai à me battre pour vous, chaque jour. C’est ma responsabilité. C’est mon emploi. C’est très important pour nous, pour moi, pour notre équipe, pour notre gouvernement, et pour notre pays aussi.

Given the security challenges we face, we want more Canadians to choose to wear the CAF uniform. Under General Eyre’s leadership, our Canadian Armed Forces are prioritizing reconstitution, recruitment, and retention of talent.

What does that look like? There are so many new programs and policies we have in place that I cannot mention them all here. But I will give you a taste of some of the things we have announced and are working on.

Last week, we launched our Total Health and Wellness StrategyThrough this strategy, we are investing nearly a billion dollars to enhance health and wellness programs for our Canadian Armed Forces members, military families, and civilian employees who are ill or injured, face difficult family circumstances, or are on a long deployment far from home.

General Eyre received a question on this yesterday: What about mental health? I want to assure you and Canadians that mental health is top or our priority agenda for the CAF.

Moving on – I met recently again with members of the Minister’s Advisory Panel on Systemic Racism and Discrimination to receive their final report about how we can build a more inclusive institution – an institution that welcomes everyone, that attracts talent from all segments of Canadian society, and that looks like Canada itself.

As our members work to keep Canadians safe, they must never be endangered by their own colleagues.

La lieutenante-générale Jennie Carignan ici devant moi aujourd’hui, notre Chef de Conduite professionnelle et culture, a consulté avec des milliers de membres des Forces armées afin d’entendre des voix diverses et de déterminer les prochaines étapes pour la culture de l’institution. Merci beaucoup Jennie.

We are proud to be expanding the reach and mandate of the Sexual Misconduct Response Centre, led by Dr. Denise Preston, where CAF members and DND employees can seek confidential support and professional counselling – aussi très important.

Last November, I announced – just six days on the job which was somewhat daunting – that I accept in full the recommendation of Justice Louise Arbour to defer the investigation and prosecution of military sexual offences to the civilian justice system.

We are modernizing the military justice system by fully implementing the Declaration of Victims’ Rights.

All of this goes to say that les changements culturels dans les Forces armées canadiennes sont très importants pour moi, pour nous.

Pourquoi? Parce-que nous avons besoin d’une institution où tout le monde peut travailler avec les protections quand ils travaillent.

(B) Defence Spending / Procurement

Lastly, on defence spending, the bottom line is that we need a well-equipped military that can defend our country and contribute to continental and global security. Not for a moment does this leave my mind.

And I’m pressing to ensure that we as a government are able to step up to support and invest in a well-equipped military that can defend our country and contribute to continental and global security.

You in this room – you know this better than most. Sustained and predictable investments are crucial. I know that Chris is going to ask me about procurement so I’ll just pre-empt the questions a little bit by just saying that we know the stat of seventy percent.

We know that we have committed under Strong, Secure, Engaged to invest over a nine-year period seventy percent in our defence spending. C’est important.

It’s a plan for our soldiers – a plan to ensure we have a modern and well-equipped military.

Une flotte moderne, par example, d’avions de chasse est essentielle pour défendre le Canada. C’est pourquoi nous investissons dans le projet le plus important de l’histoire récente de l’Aviation royale du Canada.

It’s a competitive and independent procurement process, and we are moving towards a contract award this year for the Future Fighter Capability Project, which will deliver a new fleet of 88 new fighter jets.

We are also investing in fifteen Canadian Surface Combatants for our Navy. This project will help revitalize the Canadian shipbuilding industry, and will create tens of thousands of jobs in our country.

Despite the global pandemic, we are still on track to increase our defence spending from 18.9 billion dollars in 2016-17 to 32.7 dollars billion in 2026-27.


In conclusion,

C’est un moment crucial pour notre monde, pour notre pays, et pour notre continent.

Our adversaries may think that they can erode the rules-based international order without consequence. But this order has kept us safe for the longest period of peace in modern history. We will always step up to defend it.

Our adversaries think that NATO can be divided, because we are thirty sovereign states. But we are more united than ever before.

Our adversaries think that we are weak, because we are liberal democracies. But that is exactly what makes us strong.

Alongside our allies, we are prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory.

To those who wear the Canadian Armed Forces uniform: In this uncertain world, your service is more important than ever, and you make us proud. You make me proud to be Canadian.

I’d like to conclude encore une fois and ask you all to join me in thanking the members of our Canadian Armed Forces, and the civilians who support them, for their vital work to protect our country, our allies and our partners, and the security of our world.

Merci beaucoup.

Share the article :

Do you want to respond to this piece?

Submit and article. Find out how, here:


In order to personalize your user experience, CDA Institute uses strictly necessary cookies and similar technologies to operate this site. See details here.