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API 6336: Canadian Defence Policy

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University of Ottawa - Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

API-6336: Canadian Defence Policy

Description: Canadian defence policy is shaped by a number of competing concerns, including partisan politics, alliance considerations, economic constraints, global trends and events, and international and domestic security threats. In spite of these myriad influences, however, since the Second World War Canada’s defence policies have remained remarkably constant in terms of their scope and aims. Over the past sixty years, Canadian defence policy has sought to defend Canada and Canadians, protect North American alongside the United States, and contribute to international peace and stability. As well, Canadian defence policy has endeavored to meet these objectives in an affordable and realistic manner. Though critics have often lamented that Ottawa’s defence policies has failed to properly defend Canadian interests or reflect Canada’s true potential on the world’s stage, both the historical record and current achievements suggest otherwise. While the Canadian military has occasionally been plagued by shortfalls and overstretch, on the whole Canada’s defence policies have succeeded in equipping, maintaining, and deploying the Canadian Forces in a manner that has been consistent with the national interest and Canada’s place in the international system.

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the determinants and dynamics of Canadian defence policy. The first part of the course will focus on the actors who shape Canadian defence policy and on the evolution of Canadian defence policy from the end of the Second World War to the end of the Cold War. The second part of the course will examine Canadian defence policy from the early 1990s to today. Lastly, the third part of the course will explore contemporary defence policy debates and concerns, including questions related to defence budgets and procurement, civil-military relations, and the CF’s future deployments. The objective of the course is to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of Canadian defence policy, and of the actors, factors, and situations which have shaped it.

Faculty: Philippe Lagassé and Kenneth Calder

Source: Syllabus downloaded from on 19 January 2014.

Teaching Topics Addressed in this Course, Organized by Public Management Subject



Commentary by the Atlas editors: The class titles and the headings in the bibliography in the Syllabus suggest a number of the potential topics to be developed for the Atlas:

  • Canadian Defence Policy Actors and the Administration of Defence in Canada
  • Defence Analysis and Canada’s Defence Determinants
  • Canadian Defence Policy during the Cold War
  • Issues in Canada’s Cold War Defence Policy 
  • Canadian Defence Policy, 1987-1994
  • The Chrétien Era in Canadian Defence Policy
  • Defence Policy under the Martin and Harper Governments
  • Defence Procurement
  • Defence Budgeting and the Defence Spending Debate
  • Civil-Military Relations and Public Opinion
  • Canadian Defence Policy After Afghanistan

Page created by: Ian Clark on 19 January 2014. The content presented on this page, except in the Commentary, is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases.




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School of Public Policy and Governance