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cda-logo1.gifWe are pleased to announce that the 24th annual Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDAI) Seminar and the 71st annual general meeting of the Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) will be held 21-22 February 2008 at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa , Canada.

This year’s theme is “ Canada ’s National Security Interests in a Changing World.”

More details: http://www.cda-cdai.ca/AGM_Agenda.htm

The Conference of Defence Associations (CDA) is pleased to announce the release of its written submission to the Independent Panel on Canada ‘s Future Role in Afghanistan , headed by John Manley.

The submission is available online on the CDA website, along with a cover letter signed by our Chairman, Lieutenant-General (Ret’d) Richard J. Evraire. A French version of our submision will soon be posted on our website.

Submission to panel: http://www.cda-cdai.ca/Policy_Statements/IndepPanelAfghanistanNov2007.pdf

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Defending Democracy: Diversity and the RMC connection
By Captain Paule Poulin

Force-generation and attrition represent for the Canadian Forces (CF) two notions that are not only poles apart, but also challenges to act upon. While the first entails increasing the numbers of enrollees, the second challenge highlights the decreasing number of those leaving the CF. Complicating the issue, are the demographics changes experienced in Canada.

For these reasons, non-traditional ways to recruit, attract and retain members have to be examined. Visible minorities and Aboriginal peoples have not traditionally joined the Canadian Forces. A Conference entitled “Defending Democracy: Accommodating Diversity in the Security Sector” was held at the Queen’s Centre for International Relations from November 1-3, 2007 to examine the magnitude and implication of diversity-related issues for the CF and the security sector.

RMC faculty members were involved in the coordination and as members of the different panels throughout the weekend, including Principal Dr. John Scott Cowan, Dr. Christian Leuprecht (organization and moderator), Dr. Al Okros, Dr. Brian Selmeski and Dr David Last, Ms. Karen Davies (CFLI) and Mr.Ed Wissian (Aboriginal Advisor). The different panels included gender issues, country case studies and the civic obligation and institutional culture in heterogeneous societies, amongst others.

During a roundtable on Citizenship, Identity and Canadian Security, the Assistant Deputy Minister for Canadian Heritage, Mr. Bruce Manion, spoke about the delicate balance with respect to multiculturalism, namely, “How much accommodation do you allow and how much adaptation do you demand?” During the same roundtable, Dr. Cowan stated that, “RMC is specialized in nation building.” He went on to explain that RMC ensures diversity is at the front and centre by having Francophones and Anglophones share a room in first year, by insisting its undergraduate take courses in civics, law, politics and Canadian history on top of regular program requirements, and that RMC has a say in the selection of its student population, and is therefore able to influence the population coming to the College. Dr. Cowan, using some statistics also demonstrated RMC’s leadership in fostering a more diverse environment. He mentioned, among other accomplishments, the language equality (French and English numbers) amongst the Faculty, the high percentage of Muslims among the Faculty, and the high percentage of women among the officer-cadets compared to the rest of the CF.

Another panel, in which RMC faculty was taking part, as well as Canadian Defence Academy (CDA) staff, was the panel on Aboriginal participation. Dr. Brian Selmeski, who has been studying Aboriginal soldiers for 10 years, talked about the necessity to adopt a “Mission Command” approach to diversity. In other words, “guiding principles”, rather than “rules and regulations”, represent a concept that would apply well within the Aboriginal population, due to the differences found across different communities. This approach could be achieved by deciding on a shared vision of the future which would be equitable, open and representative.

Captain Bob Thibeau from CDA presented the new Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) Program, a one-year program that will be offered at RMC in academic year 2008-2009, with the aim to provide opportunities for Aboriginal candidates to interact with RMC Cadets in a bilingual, multi-cultural, supportive and challenging environment. He mentioned that the ALOY program was a “Multiple Paths-Multiple Choices” program due to the Individual Learning Plans that will be tailored to each candidate. This fits right into the “Mission Command” approach mentioned earlier.

Dr. Al Okros spoke about the very tight culture and strong social entities of the military. He then asked one of the most challenging questions on the issue: “How much of one’s identity must [be given] up to fit into this organization?” A question that will become more and more important in this very diverse population, and one that, if answered, could help recruit, attract and retain members for the Canadian Forces.