March 2020 - Assistant Deputy Minister (Public Affairs) - Chris Henderson
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- Appointed in October 2017.
- Head of Communications for the department.
- Over the previous 10 years, held senior leadership positions at Canada Border Services Agency, the Privy Council Office, and Coast Guard in program areas and in strategic communications.
- Had a distinguished 20-year career with the Royal Canadian Navy.
- Provide communications advice, guidance, services and products in support of the Government and its defence priorities
- We focus on:
- understanding the views of Canadians and defence stakeholders through public opinion research and consultations;
- developing and implementing strategic communications plans and products;
- leading defence internal and external communications channels;
- monitoring and responding to the media;
- implementing strategic marketing and advertising related to recruitment.
283 civilian and military
- $32.4M (2019-20)
- National Defence Headquarters (Pearkes Building)
- National Defence Headquarters (Carling) by March 2020
Has a decentralized model in DND and CAF, with slightly more than 55% of public affairs resources residing and reporting to other senior leaders.
- All Defence Team
- Central agencies
- Various Other Government Departments (including, Global Affairs Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada, etc.)
- North American Aerospace Defence Command
- Defence and security experts community, incl. academia
- Defence industry
- NATO, Five-Eyes Partners,
- United Nations Diversity partners and stakeholders
Top issues for Assistant Deputy Minister (Public Affairs)
Communicating About Personnel
Care for CAF personnel and their families is a major institutional priority. Public affairs challenges include:
- transition to civilian life;
- mental health;
- issues related to sexual misconduct, diversity and inclusion, and hateful conduct; and,
- institutional progress milestones do not resonate as loudly as examples of individual failures; negative attention will persist.
Communicating About Operations
- Stakeholders and media focus on each CAF operation separately, and not as one part of a larger contribution. This results in limited coverage that does not capture the reality of the CAF presence in operations domestically and internationally.
- The sum of contributions can be better communicated with routine media briefings on operations.
- Adversaries create disinformation and leverage misinformation to disrupt CAF operations. Detecting and correcting is difficult to achieve within legitimate government restraints.
Recruitment, Advertising and Attractions
- Support for the CAF is high, but familiarity with CAF operations and career opportunities is low, especially among those in the younger age group.
- In an economy with low unemployment, the CAF faces significant competition in attracting qualified and motivated applicants in the 18 to 34 range.
- To increase applications from women and individuals with diverse backgrounds, DND/CAF is working to overcome traditional perceptions of the military as a non-inclusive work environment.
Perception of Procurement
- Defence procurement is a highly complex process, involving many internal and external stakeholders.
- Ongoing public affairs issues:
- Major procurement projects with complex histories, such as the Interim Fighter Capability, the Future Fighter Capability, and the Canadian Surface Combatant;
- Some negative perceptions of the procurement system (including equipment requirements and number of steps/approvals);
- Deviations from initial cost and scheduling estimates that occur with complex projects.
Perception of Defence Spending
- Defence spending is a significant portion of federal program spending.
- Most of defence spending is on personnel and procurement.
- Ongoing communications challenges include:
- Negative perceptions of stewardship, transparency and favouring certain companies;
- Spending on capital projects;
- Spending relative to GDP (NATO 2% guideline) and percentage of spending on equipment (NATO 20% guideline often mentioned in media).
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