Backgrounder Article from  National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces

Canada Concludes Public Consultations as Part of Defence Policy Review

The strategic context in which the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) 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.

Important choices will have to be made to ensure that the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF have what they need to confront new threats and challenges in the years ahead.  At the same time, the Government of Canada is committed to engaging all Canadians on the issues and decisions that affect them.

Between April 6 and July 31st, 2016, DND conducted public consultations as part of a Defence Policy Review, where feedback was sought on the type of military Canada needs to represent its interests at home and abroad. Now that consultations are completed, the feedback will be reviewed and analyzed and the input received will be used to help inform a new defence policy for Canada to be published in early 2017.

We will also be considering previously planned discussions with key groups that will take place following the formal conclusion of public consultations.

Who was consulted


  • Canadians had the opportunity to contribute to the discussion at roundtables hosted by Parliamentarians or online via web portal. Online feedback was provided two ways: anonymously, via a workbook, or by logging in and joining the discussion forum.
  • To-date, DND has received approximately 20,200 submissions to the Defence Policy Review online consultation portal and over 4,700 participants have contributed comments and votes using the online discussion forum.

Expert Stakeholders

  • Eight cross-country roundtable meetings were held in Vancouver, Yellowknife, Edmonton, Toronto, two in Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax with academics and experts from various fields of expertise. Two of these meetings were specifically focused on defence procurement and gender and diversity issues. A total of 107 participants contributed to these roundtable discussions.
  • Participants provided short submissions ahead of the meetings, which were used alongside the public consultation paper to guide the discussions. Read what the experts have to say in these submissions.


  • We invited the House and Senate Committees on National Defence to study issues of relevance to the policy review.  
  • We also asked Members of Parliament to reach into their communities to conduct roundtable meetings with Canadians and submit their feedback. An online toolkit was developed to help facilitate these events and over 30 MP led consultation events were held across Canada.

Allies and Partners

  • Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan met with a number of Allies and partners over the past months including with the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Germany, Japan and France – all of whom have provided valuable feedback, with many having recently completed their own defence policy reviews. Multilaterally, he held discussions at NORAD, NATO and the 2016 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
  • Other forms of engagement were held at the Departmental working level with various Allies and partners. Provinces and Territorial governments were engaged and a number of third-party organizations held roundtables, panel discussions and conferences.
  • A Ministerial Advisory Panel was established to advise the Minister of National Defence during the policy review process, and provide an external review of material. The Panel met numerous times in Ottawa to engage with officials from the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces. They undertook study visits to Washington, DC, the United Nations, and NORAD, and have further plans to visit NATO in September. Panel members have been attending stakeholder roundtables and other events throughout the consultation process in order to develop a clear sense of the ideas being presented by stakeholders.

What was discussed

To help guide informed discussions, the Department prepared a public consultation paper to educate the public on the role of the Canadian Armed Forces and the issues affecting their current operating environment, defence capabilities, and the future defence force.

The over-arching themes focused on:

  • the main challenges to Canada’s security
  • the role of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in addressing current threats and challenges
  • the resources and capabilities needed to carry out the CAF mandate.


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