Opening remarks before Commons Standing Committee on National Defence, 25 March 2014

Je tiens à vous remercier de m’avoir invité à comparaitre aujourd’hui.

Ma présentation portera sur l’avenir de NORAD et les relations de défense continentale entre le Canada et les États-Unis. 

L’idée qui animera mes commentaires est que le moment est venu pour élargir le rôle de NORAD et d’approfondir le niveau de coopération en matière de défense continentale.  

Avec la fin de la guerre en Afghanistan et la pause opérationnelle que vivront les FC dans les prochaines années, le temps est venu de s’engager davantage dans la défense de l’Amérique du Nord. 

In the immediate aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, the United States approached Canada about the possibility of expanding NORAD into a full-fledged continental defence command. The idea was rejected by Ottawa. 

In 2005, the Canadian government also rejected a role for Canada in North American ballistic missile defence. 

Although much was done to strengthen our continental defence cooperation thereafter, notably in the area of military assistance to law enforcement and consequence management, the time is right to reverse these two previous refusals. 

Specifically, as Canada undertakes a review of its defence policy, and as both Canada and the United States consider how best to spend their tighter defence budgets, it is an opportune moment to consider how an expansion of NORAD to include a veritable binational approach to the defence of North America on land, at sea, in the cyber realm, and in the Arctic. 

An expanded NORAD would arguably be more efficient and cost effective than a bilateral approach to continental defence cooperation in these areas. As well, an enlarged NORAD would better prepared to address potential threats to the continent, particularly in the cyber realm and in the Arctic. 

An enlarged NORAD, moreover, would accord well with the government’s commitment to the perimeter approach to continental security proposed in the Beyond the Border initiative.

Since the early 1960s, NORAD has provided integrated tactical warning and attack assessment of ballistic missile launches against North America. It is this function that makes NORAD an aerospace defence command, rather than merely an air defence command. 

As part of an August 2004 agreement between Canada and the United States, NORAD’s ITWAA function has been allowed to assist the United States’ missile defence system, despite the fact that the Canadian government has declined a role in that system. 

In 2010, NATO issued its latest Strategic Concept. Included in the document was a commitment by the Alliance to the ballistic missile defence of Europe and the United States. As a member of NATO, Canada therefore endorses missile defence for its allies –yet the Canadian government does not support an extension of those defences to Canada. 

Canada’s inconsistency on BMD makes sense politically –there is no pressure to take part and any government that requested a formal role in the system would face critiques. 

Yet Canada’s current abstention acts as an obstacle toward closer cooperation within the existing NORAD construct, it restricts Canada’s access to information and technologies that would serve the national interest, and could make Canada more vulnerable as ballistic missiles proliferate. 

The time has come to examine whether political expediency should continue to prevent Canada from taking part in this aspect of North America’s aerospace defence and from joining its fellow allies in fully accepting the logic of maintaing BMDs.

En somme, les relations de défense continentale entre les États-Unis et le Canada sont bonnes, mais elles pourraient être meilleures. Étant donné la révision de la politique de défense canadienne en cours, le moment est propice pour accroître notre intérêt quant à ce dossier. 


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