The Politics of Procurement
288 pages, 6 x 9
12 b&w photos
Release Date:01 Jul 2010
Release Date:15 Dec 2009
Release Date:01 Jul 2010
Release Date:01 Jul 2010

The Politics of Procurement

Military Acquisition in Canada and the Sea King Helicopter

UBC Press

Following its victory in the 1993 election, the first act of Jean Chrétien’s Liberal Party was the cancellation of an order to replace the Sea King maritime helicopter. The Liberals claimed the Tory plan was too expensive, but the cancellation itself actually cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The incident and subsequent attempts to replace the Sea King have drawn public attention to inefficiency and waste in Canada’s defence spending and to the under-equipped state of its military.

Seeking an explanation for this situation, Aaron Plamondon explores the history of the weapons procurement process since Confederation and describes the development of the navy’s helicopter capabilities and the acquisition of the Sea King. His account of the bungled attempts to procure the Sea King’s replacement reveals that partisan politics, rather than a clear desire to increase the military’s capabilities, has driven Canada’s military procurement process. As of 2009, it is still unknown when the Sea King’s replacement will arrive in Canada.

A fascinating saga of politics playing havoc with military procurement, The Politics of Procurement is for anyone interested in Canadian military history, civil-military relations, or the roles of the government and the military in weapons acquisition.

This book will appeal to anyone interested in Canadian military history, defence economics, civil-military relations, or the specific issue of the roles of the military and the government in weapons acquisition.


  • 2011, Winner - John Lyman Prize for Canadian Naval and Maritime History, North American Society for Oceanic History
The Politics of Procurement is well written, painstakingly researched, and definitely not to be taken lightly. Katherine Doucet, Canadian Military Journal, Vol 11, No 2, Spring 2011
Selected as one of Embassy’s Top 20 reads of 2010
Given the wide attention that the Sea King issue has received, this book should attract a large body of general readers, including serving and retired military personnel – naval and air force – who have had personal experience with rotary-wing aviation in the Royal Canadian Navy/Canadian Forces over the past few decades. The Politics of Procurement will prove fascinating reading; it provides a devastating critique of procurement practices in the Department of National Defence. Scot Robertson, Department of History & Classics, University of Alberta, and former Defence Scientist in the Department of National Defence
This important book is the only study to connect temporally the history of maritime helicopter operations, the Sea King helicopter replacement, and the political realities of weapons acquisition in Canada. It clearly adds to the ongoing debate about the purpose of purchasing military weapons: Providing the best equipment for the military or contributing to regional economic and industrial base development? The Politics of Procurement should be read by all those interested in civil-military relations and the military profession. Craig Stone, Department of Defence Studies, Canadian Forces College
The best book yet on what’s wrong with Canada’s military procurement system using the Maritime Helicopter Project as a case study. David Bercuson
Aaron Plamondon teaches Canadian and military history at the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University. He is also a National Fellow at the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.


Introduction: The Canadian Defence Procurement System

1 Procurement in Canada: A Brief History

2 Early Helicopter Operations: The Exploration of a New Capability

3 The Procurement of the Sea King: Slow but Solid

4 The Sea King in Canada: Time Is the Enemy of Us All

5 The New Shipborne Aircraft Project: A Commitment to Replace the Fleet

6 The Vulnerability of the NSA: Political Parrying

7 The 1993 NSA Cancellation: Money for Nothing

8 The 1994 White Paper and the New Statement of Requirement: The Ghost of Procurements Past

9 The Maritime Helicopter Project: Procuring on Eggshells

10 The Cyclone Decision: Caveat Emptor



Selected Bibliography


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