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What others have to say.

Quote from speech delivered by Lieutenant-General Andrew Leslie, who was Chief of Land Staff at the time of the 2010 Army Ball

Senator Kenny
Could you please stand
The Senator is the past chair of the Senate Committee on Defence.
And though to be franchment – blunt Testifying in front of him - um was an interesting experience because of his knowledge.
There is no doubt of his passion, his dedication and his vision for the armed forces.
His love for those who wear the uniform
So, Senator Sir thank you for your service.


Message to Senator Kenny from Assistant Commissioner Mike McDonell, Commanding Officer 'O' Division.

April 2008
Thank you Senator Kenny for your support of the leadership in Counter-Terrorism Program.
Your support demonstrates the commitment of the Canadian Government and Canadian Public in the fight against terrorism.
Moreover, your attendance demonstrates your personal, selfless fight to make this world a safer place.
Gratefully & Respectfully
Mike McDonell

Toronto Star Editorial - January 23, 2012:

Where does Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government get off trying to micromanage the Royal Canadian Mounted Police commissioner’s day-timer?

Newly-installed Commissioner Bob Paulson has just been told that he can’t meet with Members of Parliament or senators without getting a green light from Public Safety Minister Vic Toews’ office. In their hubris, the Tories have decided that they alone will book the chief’s get-togethers with parliamentarians.

This follows hard on Harper’s demand that the Mounties check with Toews’ office before making any public statements that might “garner national media attention,” as the Star reported last year. To some, that looked like a gag option.

As Liberal Senator Colin Kenny puts it, not only is the RCMP chief not allowed to speak without a chaperone, he’s not even allowed to listen without one.

These are nasty precedents, and they threaten the credibility and independence of the force. No RCMP commissioner can function with a political bit in his mouth, yanked by the Conservatives or any other party. No commissioner worth his salt would accept it. Certainly not one who aspires to restore the force’s credibility, badly shaken by the death of Robert Dziekanski, claims of sexual harassment and allegations of physical assault. Paulson needs to affirm the force’s independence and rebuff such meddling.

The day-timer issue arose when Kenny, a respected expert on security and defence issues, wrote to Paulson asking for a meeting. Paulson wrote back to say that “some guidelines” suddenly require that Kenny route his request through Toews’ office. Toews’ minions said they would arrange the meeting, but would also invite members of rival parties to sit in on it.

The policy, an official explained, is to “ensure that all parliamentarians are given the same level of access to officials.” Really? Was there an access issue? Until now, MPs and senators from all parties have been free to request meetings as they see fit. If there was a “problem” that needed solving, we can’t see it.

To us, this looks more like a policy of making sure the RCMP chief can’t meet opposition politicians without a Tory in the room taking notes. Kenny had ready access to Paulson’s nine predecessors. Suddenly that’s been cut off. Who gains? Only government control freaks.

An excerpt from:

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie: The Influence of External Studies and Reports on
National Defence Policy - 2000 to 2006 by Douglas L. Bland and Richard Shimooka (2011), 106-108.

The Senate Committee on National Security and Defence that we reviewed provides a very important example of how committees of the Senate and the House of Commons – and not just those concerned with security and defence matters – can increase their effect on public discourse. This Senate committee devised a strategy to enhance the appeal and the credibility of their reports in the public domain. Five concepts were particularly central to the strategy.

First, the committee attempted, and usually successfully, to take a non-partisan approach to national security and defence policies. Second, the chair and the members very carefully mapped out before any hearing the principal issues to be addressed, the strategy for digging information out of sometimes reluctant ministers and officials and officers and their plan to maximize the presentation of their findings and recommendations. These particular subject strategies then formed the framework for calling witnesses, for the questions and the challenges that would be presented to them, and the follow-on information the committees would demand from governments.

The third innovation was the decision to “take the show on the road.” The intent, and a successful idea, was to take questions on policies and practices directly to the officials and workers and soldiers and sailors who were obliged to implement the governments’ policies. These field trips, for instance, to Afghanistan, to major Canadian ports and airport handling facilities, and to military bases and communities provided unequalled access to ‘witnesses’ who would only rarely have the means or be allowed to travel to Ottawa to meet otherwise immovable committees of the Senate and the House of Commons.

Fourth, the Senate Committee on national Security and Defence purposely designed and formatted their reports to make them clear, readable, and pointed. The texts were, in almost all cases, addressed not to expert readers and members of the Senate and the House of Commons and especially not to federal bureaucrats, but to the media and to the lay public. The conclusions were especially highlighted and reinforced with direct quotes from the “ordinary Canadians we encountered in our research travels.”

Finally, this Senate committee very deliberately tracked the responses of governments to their recommendations and published the committee’s reaction to them. This “recall procedure” helped the Senate in some respects to overcome the inhibiting custom that governments have no obligation to respond to Senate reports (unless the Senate asks formally for such a response). The gambit allowed the Senate committee to simply recall witnesses to ask them what action had been taken to implement the Senate’s recommendations. The “threat of such confessions”, as one senator described it, seemed to sharpen officials’ and officers’ initial testimony and the attention of members in the PCO as they prepared their responses to reports.

We must note, however, that while these procedures and practices greatly highlighted and enhanced the committee’s reports, the policy influence was at best uneven. Nevertheless, the Senate’s security and defence committee was especially effective and influential in bringing to the public’s attention the insecurity in Canadian ports and in the negligent handling of stowed cargo at Canadian airports. The committee can take a great deal of credit for significantly influencing the government’s security policies in these areas and in the reallocation of government funding for national security policy generally. The prime mover in these cases was the media, well primed by a (mostly) non-partisan committee and its energetic chair, Senator Colin Kenny.

Five Key Recommendations for National Defence and Security Committees of Parliament

1.  Act as though parliament does not intend to be treated with contempt by ministers, officials, or other servants.

2.  Conduct specific inquiries, not wide ranging, whole-of-policy studies. For example, study in detail the specifics of individual military acquisitions and not the entire government, multi-departmental procurement apparatus. Reports on comprehensive studies merely provide governments and officials great opportunities to deliberately “miss” the vital points committees might be trying to make and give officials and their masters reasons to delay, sometimes for months, governments’ responses to committees’ recommendations.

3.  Develop a process of “will-say” interviews to take place (perhaps in-camera) before witnesses are called to testify in public as a means of determining lines of inquiry for committees dealing with complex matters. This process is commonplace in other types of inquiries and in the production of public affairs media shows. These pre-interviews could very well be managed directly by senior, well-informed committee research staffs.

4.  Always demand a comprehensive response from government for every House of Commons report – and put them on short timelines to respond. For the Senate, always use provisions that allow for committees to make demands for timely responses from governments.

5.  Always conduct follow-up committee hearings and re-call witnesses to review governments’ formal responses to every parliamentary report. Failure to do so not only leaves recommendations handing in the air, but also provides a huge incentive for governments (and their officials) to return to parliament gaseous responses devoid of meaning knowing that their responses will never be challenged once they are received by the Senate or the House of Commons.

 (Dr. Douglas Bland is Professor and holds the Chair in Defence Management Studies in the Queen's University School of Policy Studies. His research is concentrated in the fields of defence policy making and management at national and international levels, the organization and functioning of defence ministries, and civil-military relations.)

An excerpt from a Senate Debate Speech delivered by the Honourable Grant Mitchell, Senator on February 28, 2012:

Finally, I want to say that the committee (Senate Committee on National Security and Defence) has been running much better of late. With great trepidation I have to make one point. The chair of this committee has actually been nice to me for the last two weeks, and I want that to sustain. However, in her comments about a month ago she made a statement that I think she probably did not mean in the way she made it. However, I cannot leave it unanswered. She said, in reference to the committee before she took it under her leadership, "We will not first decide the conclusions and then write a report to fit some personal point of view."

In doing that, not only did she undermine and discredit a committee that I think has distinguished itself from the day that it was created, but think about the members on that committee who would never have countenanced that kind of activity. They would never have been silent if that had been occurring: Mike Forrestall, Laurier LaPierre, Michael Meighen, Pierre Claude Nolin, Joe Day, Norm Atkins, Willy Moore, Tommy Banks, Lucie Pépin, Hugh Segal, Roméo Dallaire, Dan Lang and many others.

I want to say in closing that the one who has made much of that tremendous success possible is Colin Kenny. He is one of the finest chairs that has ever managed a committee in this Senate. He has accomplished more than most or any other committee I could imagine. It was some of the best experiences I have ever had, and I think it is fair to say that the public of Canada understands that.

When that statement was made about bias in reports, I know that the chair of this committee did not mean it in the way that she said it. I know she did not mean to undermine and cast aspersions on these fine, distinguished senators who would never have countenanced that kind of activity.

Rather than distinguishing this committee as being better than its efforts in the past, I would say we should all work to sustain and aspire to the great success and the model that committee has been for as long as it has been in existence. Should we do that, it will remain a great committee and one of the best committees this Senate will have.

(See full debate here)

The National Board of Directors of the Navy League of Canada recognized the Honourable Colin Kenny as the recipient of the Robert Hendy Award for the year of 2005:

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to Canada's maritime security through the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence.

Senator Kenny has been a driving force for public policy dialogue on defence issues in Canada. His tireless efforts to support our Navy and promote the welfare of our sailors is in keeping with the highest principles of the Navy League of Canada.