Deputy Director, Conference of Defence Associations
Joe Varner is Deputy Director of the Conference of Defence Associations, an Adjunct Scholar at West Point’s Modern War Institute and is author of “Canada’s Asia-Pacific Security Dilemma.” He served as Senior Adviser and Director of Policy to the Minister of National Defence and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada the Hon. G. Peter MacKay from 2008 to 2014. Joe went on to serve as Chief of Staff to the shadow Defence Minister the Hon. Kerry-Lynne Findlay from November 2021 to September 2022. Varner also served as an Associate Professor and Program Director with the American Military University from 2001 to 2009 and again as an Adjunct Professor from 2015 to 2019 specializing in teaching homeland security and intelligence studies. He is also a Fellow of the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society, Royal Society of Arts, Royal Asiatic Society of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies and Royal United Services Institute of Defence Studies.
Varner is also a past Senior Research Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, Research Fellow of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, the Naval Officers’ Association of Canada and has also been published by the MacDonald-Laurier Institute, Mackenzie Institute, and the Heritage Foundation. Joe is a Knight of Grace of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem and was awarded the Canadian Forces Medallion for Distinguished Service and two Command Commendations. He served as a Platoon Commander, Intelligence Officer, Assistant Adjutant and Company Second-in-Command with the West Nova Scotia Regiment. A native of Nova Scotia, Varner has an B.A. Honours in International Relations and a M.A. in Political Science from Acadia University, and has undertaken Doctoral work at Henley-Putnam College, National American University in Strategic Security.