Parliament and Foreign Affairs

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Ballistic Missile Defence

Ottawa examines merits of U.S. missile defence program

Steven Chase

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Monday, May. 12 2014

The governing federal Conservatives appear to be trying to gauge the Canadian public’s appetite for joining the U.S. ballistic missile defence program, defence watchers say.

Conservative-dominated committees in both the Senate and Commons are examining the merits of the U.S. missile defence program, which former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin opted against joining in 2005. Both committees are studying broader security matters but have been hearing witnesses on missile defence as part of their research.

The Conservative government is saying little. A spokeswoman for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson repeatedly declined to answer whether Ottawa is considering changing Canada’s policy on missile defence.

Johanna Quinney, press secretary to Mr. Nicholson, would only say the policy is still intact.

“No decision has been made to change this policy. We will continue to monitor international developments and ensure the safety and security of Canadians both at home and abroad,” Ms. Quinney said.

The minister’s office said it looks forward to what the Senate’s national security and defence committee report will say on the U.S. missile defence program.

James Bezan, the parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Defence, told a defence summit last week that Ottawa “hasn’t made any decision” on the matter.

Last Thursday, Agence-France Presse reported Mr. Bezan saying there is concern about the “accuracy” of missiles being developed by some rogue countries that could target Canada’s neighbour, the United States, and end up striking Canada. In the same comments, the parliamentary secretary expressed concern that under the current arrangement Canadian officials would be “sidelined” in the decision-making on the response to any missile threat incoming to North America.

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat who recently testified in support of joining the U.S. missile defence program, said he believes the Conservative government is weighing this during a promised review of Ottawa’s defence strategy.

He said the United States isn’t pushing Canada to join but that Ottawa is concerned about the rising threat from countries such as North Korea.

“I think the government is testing the waters to see whether the conditions are right,” said Mr. Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute.

He called the missile shield an “insurance policy” and said it “makes a lot of sense.”

David Perry, a senior analyst with the Conference of Defence Associations Institute, who also supports joining the U.S. system, said he thinks many of the 2005-era arguments against ballistic-missile defence have been proved immaterial. He thinks Ottawa is curious whether Canadians agree.

“I kind of get a sense they’re floating a trial balloon,” Mr. Perry said.

Philip Coyle with the U.S. Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, testified against Canada joining the U.S. program at Senate hearings Monday.

He said U.S. missile defences remain ineffective. “Shooting down an enemy missile going [24,140 kilometres per hour] out in space is like trying to hit a hole-in-one in golf when the hole is going [24,140 kilometres per hour],” he said. “The hardware being deployed in Alaska and California has no demonstrated capability to defend the United States, let alone Canada, against enemy missile attack under realistic operational conditions.”

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Ballistic Missile Defence

May 8, 2014 7:20 pm

Ottawa quietly taking another look at ballistic missile defence

Vassy-Kapelos By Parliamentary Correspondent

Watch above: Vassy Kapelos explains how the Canadian government is re-visiting the the idea of joining a ballistic missile defence program.

It’s an age-old debate in Canada, and it’s now being quietly re-visited.

For months, the senate committee on national security and defence has been studying the possibility of joining a NATO/U.S.-led ballistic missile defense program.

The last time Ottawa looked at the possibility, in 2005, they opted out, but sources say this time there could be a different outcome.

“You can just get a sense from the questioning that this is something that the government wants to consider,” said NDP defense critic Jack Harris.

Harris questioned the government on the issue during question period on Thursday, asking directly if the government will participate in the U.S. ballistic missile defence program.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Defence James Bezan responded by noting in the past Canada has declined to participate in ballistic missile defence programs.

“We’ll continue to monitor international developments and also continue to ensure both the safety and security of Canadians both at home and abroad,” Bezan said.

Bezan also noted House and Senate committees are studying the issue.

“We’ll have some collaboration and discussions and make a recommendation and report back to the House of Commons,” Bezan said.

So what has prompted another look at ballistic missile defense? With threats from North Korea, Iran and even Russia, proponents say it’s not impossible to imagine a scenario where a missile aimed for the U.S. instead ends up heading towards Canada.

“From a Canadian perspective, the threat has improved such that we are potentially vulnerable, particularly cities like Saskatoon, Edmonton – the cities closer to the border,” said former diplomat Colin Robertson.

Robertson says Canada currently has a seat at the table when allies talk about potential threats.

But, “when it actually comes time to make the decision to launch a missile, unlike the Europeans, Japanese, Australians – we have to leave the room,” Robertson said.

WATCH: Responding to a report from Global News, NDP MP Jack Harris questioned the federal government over it’s willingness to re-enter a NATO- or U.S.-led ballistic missile defence program (May 08)

Critics aren’t convinced there’s a need to join a program.

Steven Staples is President of the Rideau Institute. He argues there’s little proof the missile defense technology even works. “It’s incredibly complicated – what they’re basically trying to do is hit a bullet with a bullet – in space, “Staples said.

Staples also points to cost as an issue; early estimates peg the price of joining a program at $500 million, that could always rise.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Minister of Defense Rob Nicholson told Global News “we look forward to reviewing the report from the Senate committee.”

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Ballistic Missile Defence

Star wars, the sequel

Canada is reconsidering joining the controversial U.S. missile defence plan it rejected in 2004

Luiza Ch. Savage

May 8, 2014

AFP/Getty ImagesAFP/Getty Images

It was in a speech in Halifax in December 2004 that a newly re-elected George W. Bush—worried about the nuclear threat from North Korea, Iran and from terrorists—pitched Canadians on a continental missile defence shield “to protect the next generation of Canadians and Americans from the threats we know will arise.” Paul Martin, then the prime minister, rebuffed him, to the relief of his fractious caucus.

Now Stephen Harper’s government is reconsidering whether Canada should join in the controversial program as part of its national defence strategy.

Since 2005, 30 interceptor missiles—the 17-metre-tall infrared-guided rocket built to collide with enemy warheads 150 km above Earth—have been installed in America, most in Alaska with a handful in California. Barack Obama’s administration has said it’s studying the addition of a third cluster in the eastern U.S. (This is not Ronald Reagan’s 1980s’ “strategic defence initiative,” known as Star Wars, that envisioned the weaponization of space. Today’s system relies on ground- and sea-based interceptors that do not carry nuclear material.)

Already through the binational command at NORAD, Canadians share information in early warning and attack assessments with the U.S. But advocates of the system complain Canada doesn’t have a say in responding to a potential missile attack. “It seems ludicrous, but when it comes time to make the critical launch decisions, our officials literally have to leave the room,” says Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat in Washington and a fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, who plans to testify on the subject before the joint committee on defence in Ottawa on May. 8. Robertson says Canada should benefit from the U.S. security umbrella. “The algorithms developed by U.S. Northern Command to protect the American homeland do not include Canadian cities like Edmonton or Saskatoon.” (Some Canadian cities benefit from proximity to large U.S. centres.)

Canada has already endorsed missile defence internationally. In 2010, all 28 countries of the NATO alliance agreed to “develop the capability to defend our populations and territories against ballistic missile attack as a core element of our collective defence.”

The vulnerability of North America, however, is open to debate. In 2013, North Korea boasted it could attack the U.S. mainland. “They probably can’t—but we don’t like the margin of error,” said Obama, who responded by ordering up 14 new interceptors by 2017. As Iran acquired short and medium-range missiles that could reach Europe or the Middle East, Obama placed interceptors aboard navy warships that could be closer to Iran.

Now Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has renewed interest in bolstering missile defences in Europe, including demands to speed up the deployment of missile interceptors in Poland and Romania.

What role Canada could play in the system by “joining” it is unclear. (The U.S. has not pressed Canada to contribute and in 2004 it didn’t ask for financial support or to put interceptors on Canadian soil.) The system’s critics are still numerous. Missile defence “has yielded a dysfunctional weapon system and has set back efforts at nuclear disarmament,” says former Canadian diplomat Paul Meyer, a fellow in international security at Simon Fraser University.

When the U.S. sent a missile destroyer ship to Spain last month to “reassure allies” in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Moscow said it proved false Washington’s past assurances that the sea-based interceptors were aimed only at Iran. “It all confirms our previous estimates that the missile shield in Europe is aimed at undermining Russia’s nuclear deterrent,” said Russian deputy defence minister Anatoly Antonov.

But the clearest obstacles are technical. Only half of test launches have succeeded in intercepting their practice targets. “Neither North Korea nor Iran have [intercontinental ballistic missiles] that could threaten North America. The current interceptors would be useless against them even if they possessed such missiles,” says Meyer. Thorough testing of the system won’t be completed “until at least 2022,” according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. But the Harper government can’t wait until then to make a decision.

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The case for Ballistic Missile Defence

Time to join the missile shield, Canada iPolitics Insight

By | Feb 10, 2014

    The Israeli Iron Dome defense system in action in the port town of Ashdod, Nov. 15, 2012. (AP Photo /Tsafrir Abayov, File)

    This article is based on a presentation made by the author to the Senate National Security and Defence Committee.

    When stormy weather threatens, prudent people carry an umbrella. It is time for Canada to find shelter under the umbrella of ballistic missile defence (BMD).

    The threats to Canadians are real. North Korea has developed a road-mobile ballistic missile capability that’s intended to target the U.S. but — given its wonky aim — could just as easily hit Canada. Iran has an arsenal of ballistic missiles. And what if Pakistan, with its missiles and nuclear weapons, were to go rogue?

    Risk assessments conclude that in the coming years we will see more bad actors with access to warheads, intercontinental missiles and weapons of mass destruction — nuclear, chemical and biological.

    Missile defence has been embraced already by our 27 partners in NATO and our friends and allies in the Indo-Pacific: Australia, Japan and South Korea.

    We share information in early warning and attack assessment with the United States through our participation in NORAD. But when it comes time to make the critical launch decisions, our officials literally have to leave the room.

    The algorithms developed by U.S. Northern Command to protect the American homeland do not include Canadian cities like Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto or Montreal.

    The core principle of our Canada First Defence Strategy is the protection of Canadians. Membership in BMD means we are full partners in the conversation on defending North America, including Canada. This is why we need to join BMD.

    Critics of BMD say it doesn’t work. They describe it as a latter-day Maginot Line: unreliable, costly and provocative. NORAD, they argue, provides sufficient defence — but they’re forgetting that, at the critical moment, we must leave the room.

    BMD is not Ronald Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’ initiative, with its improbable futuristic weapons and enormous cost. The current system has no space-based weapons. Instead, it uses kinetic energy to stop warheads.

    New technology, research and constant testing have made BMD a reasonable shield. The Israelis’ Iron Dome demonstrates the worth of anti-missile technology.

    Shouldn’t Canada have a say in the development of the North American BMD architecture before the emergence of a combined ICBM/nuclear threat?

    With the system essentially in place, participation does not come with an admission charge. Any future costs can be scaled and shared within the alliance.

    Foes of BMD also claim that it makes us too reliant on the United States. It’s the same, tiresome old argument typically applied to questions of trade and commerce — but who would argue that free trade has not been good for Canada?

    The whole point of collective security is to contribute according to our capacity for our mutual security and protection. Protecting Canadians (and Americans) was the logic of the original DEW line and NORAD, the bi-national aerospace defence agreement which has served us since 1958 and now includes aspects of maritime warning. Shouldn’t Canada have a say in the development of the North American BMD architecture before the emergence of a combined ICBM/nuclear threat?

    During the cruise missile debate, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau remarked that some Canadians “are eager to take refuge under the U.S. umbrella — but don’t want to help hold it.” The other NATO partners have signed on to missile defence. So have Australia, Japan and South Korea.

    Some critics suggest BMD is somehow morally wrong. But we’re living in the world, not Elysium. We can’t be sure that a missile aimed at the United States isn’t going to strike Canada. Reframe the moral argument and ask yourself: Why doesn’t the Government of Canada have a voice in how BMD may be used? One could argue that it is a moral imperative for the government to have such a say when the target could a Canadian city.

    BMD is part of the continuum of capabilities that contributes to the Alliance and protects Canadians. Taking part in BMD surveillance could save Canadian lives in the event of a missile attack, and provide early warning to the rest of the Alliance.

    By being part of the defensive shield, we strengthen the deterrent effect of BMD. This could include missile defence capacity in our new warship, or using our submarines to track potentially hostile attack subs.

    Participation in BMD is both an insurance policy for our homeland and a renewed commitment to contemporary collective defence. Canada has benefitted greatly from that collective defence, with marginal premiums. Collective defence means preparation and commitment. “Only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt,” observed John F. Kennedy, “can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.”

    Changed circumstances, Alliance solidarity, and self-preservation oblige us to revise our policy. BMD must now be incorporated within our ‘Canada First’ defence strategy.

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    North Korea, China, Canada and BMD

    While we weren’t looking, North Korea got a lot more dangerous

    The Globe and Mail Monday, Oct. 21 2013

    While we focus on Iran and Syria, pay attention to North Korea. It possesses the full arsenal of weapons of mass destruction: chemical, biological and nuclear as well as cyberwarriors.

    The Kim dynasty – grandfather Kim Il-sung , father Kim Jong-il vKim Jong-un – is dangerously unpredictable. Tales from the Hermit Kingdom evoke Game of Thrones.

    In the purge following Kim Jong-un’s taking power, the former Army Minister was dispatched by a mortar round. The family of Kim’s former girlfriend was forced to watch her execution then trucked off to the gulags.

    The regime is also a regional menace.

    North Korea was behind the assassination of the mother of current Korean President Park Geun-hye, the bombing in Rangoon that killed many in the South Korean cabinet, the abduction of Japanese citizens, and the sinking, by submarine, of a South Korean frigate .

    Systematic human rights violations in North Korea remain “widespread”, reports Amnesty International. The annual report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights observed that the “use of political prison camps, frequent public executions and severe food shortages, coupled with the extreme difficulty of gaining access, make DPRK [North Korea] singularly problematic.”

    Unanimous votes of concern in the UN General Assembly and by the Human Rights Council have had no effect. The UN Special Rapporteur has never been allowed to investigate.

    Having withdrawn from the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, North Korea developed a nuclear weapon in tandem with a ballistic missile capacity. It recently reactivated a plutonium-producing nuclear reactor in Yongbyon.

    North Korean missiles threaten North East Asia and they could potentially reach the west coast of North America. After a third North Korean nuclear test in February, the U.S. will spend a billion dollars to place additional interceptors in Alaska.

    North Korea has been an exporter over several decades of conventional arms, nuclear reactor technology and ballistic missiles. Its client list has included Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, and Yemen.

    All of this activity violates UN Security Council resolutions. The decade-long Six Party talks that involving the two Koreas, Russia, Japan, USA and China and was aimed at curbing North Korea stalled out in 2008.

    Recently, the Chinese have made efforts to both revitalize the talks and rein in North Korea. The Chinese, who chair the Six Party talks, hosted an informal session last month in Beijing. Importantly, the Chinese have now imposed export controls on materials that could contribute to North Korean weaponry.

    China bears a lot of responsibility for the problem but it also has the leverage to effect change. Leading the effort to denuclearize North Korea would demonstrate that China’s new leadership is becoming more than a passive international participant.

    China is far more averse to instability on its border than in the more distant Middle East. It would be more motivated to act (even militarily) on matters relating to a potential conflict with the client state on its front door.

    But China will not act by a timetable dictated by the West.

    Different from the West, China takes longer to re-assess what is in its best interests and to adjust policy accordingly. We need to remember this and to persist with patient diplomacy.

    China is now the sixth largest financial contributor to peacekeeping operations and is currently fielding 1769 peacekeepers ( in contrast to Canada’s 157). Active Chinese involvement in sustaining and reforming international architecture is an essential guarantor of global peace and security.

    For Canada, the North Korean threat has a couple of implications.

    First, our growing commercial aspirations in Asia underline the need for secure sea lanes to ship our goods. This means getting on with our new warships. It also underlines the value of our submarines as key assets in sustaining maritime order in the Pacific.

    Second, changing circumstances mean that we now need comprehensive ballistic missile defence (BMD) insurance.

    We are effectively integrated into BMD through NORAD’s Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment mission. We also benefit from US policy to defend a two hundred mile band beyond the U.S. border in order to protect U.S. cities against fall-out.

    But we would not be in the room when the decisions to launch are made. Nor do the current algorithms contain protection for Canadian cities like Calgary or Edmonton. Full participation in BMD would fix this.

    We live in a world of changing perils and shifting poles of influence. This puts the premium on diplomacy that encourages all parties’ active participation. It also obliges us to look to our own security with the necessary hard power to back it up.

    A former diplomat, Colin Robertson is vice president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a senior advisor to McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP.

    More Related to this Story

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    Ballistic Missile Defence under review

    Excerpted from Michael Woods in the Ottawa Citizen April 22, 2013

    U.S. reportedly asks Canada to join missile shield

    OTTAWA — The United States has reportedly asked Canada to join an anti-ballistic missile shield, resurrecting a potentially thorny political issue in this country.

    The request, as reported Sunday by CTV, comes amid heightened concerns over North Korea, which has been levelling bellicose rhetoric at the United States of late…

    A spokesman for Defence Minister Peter MacKay would neither confirm nor deny the report that the U.S. had approached Canada about participating in a missile-defence shield.

    “Canada has declined to participate in ballistic missile defence in the past. We constantly review the security situation internationally,” spokesman Jay Paxton said in an email to Postmedia News on Sunday.

    Appearing on CTV’s Question Period on Sunday, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews also declined to confirm or deny the report.

    “I think we need to have a broader discussion about that, and I’m not prepared to venture an opinion at this time,” he said.

    “What I can say is co-operation with our allies, especially in relation to a terrorism-related threat, is absolutely essential to keeping Canadians safe.”

    In 2005, Paul Martin’s Liberal government declined to join the United States’ missile defence program, prompting ire from the Bush administration.

    Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat, said it’s now in Canada’s best interests to participate in an anti-ballistic missile shield with its southern counterpart, in light of changing global security considerations and improved technology.

    “To me, it’s an insurance policy,” said Robertson, vice-president and senior research fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. “You hope you never have to use it, but you want to be sure that you’re protected.”

    Robertson, who is also a distinguished senior fellow at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, said although North Korea’s actions have been garnering attention, the larger long-term threat could come from Iran, whose nuclear program is continuing despite strict international sanctions.

    “The Americans are reasonably comfortable that they have the capacity to head off anything (from North Korea),” he said. “But if something came over the pole from Iran, that’s a different dimension, and that would also potentially be a more serious threat to Canada.”

    NDP foreign affairs critic Paul Dewar, speaking on CTV, said Canada should “not act as if we’re going to have missiles sent at us tomorrow” and instead should press China, North Korea’s foremost ally, to pressure the isolated dictatorship into changing course.

    “In 2005, it was not just Paul Martin that said no. Canadians overwhelmingly said no to this approach,” he said.

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    Ballistic Missile Defence

    It’s time for Canada to join ballistic missile defence: former diplomat  April 7, 2013 11:54 am Global TV

    As nuclear-armed North Korea continues to threaten war, a former Canadian diplomat says it is time for Canada to reconsider its decision to not join a ballistic missile defence program.

    “You can’t be sure whether something aimed at the United States isn’t going to strike Canada. Our interest is in protecting Canadians, ” Colin Robertson said in an interview on the Global News program The West Block with Tom Clark.

    Robertson’s call comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un began mobilizing long range missiles and cleared his army to launch a nuclear attack on North America. Diplomats in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang have also received warning that their safety will not be guaranteed past Wednesday and have been urged to leave.

    Although no one is absolutely convinced Kim has the capability to follow through with his threats, the United States has sent a land-based missile defence weapon to Guam, where it has a base. The weapon would detect any attacks and could likely keep Canada safe — even though both the Stephen Harper Conservatives and the Liberal government before that have both refused to endorse the protective umbrella.

    “The circumstances have changed and it’s probably time to reconsider that decision,” Roberston said. “Why wouldn’t we be part of this, particularly because conditions are changed and now our homeland is threatened?”

    If Canada joined ballistic missile defence, Robertson said, it wouldn’t mean putting weapons on Canadian soil.

    Instead, Canada’s main contribution would be satellite technology to track missiles coming over the North Pole.

    “This takes us back to Canada’s geography and our critical placement as kind of the backdoor, or the screen, towards America,” Robertson said.

    While there’s an open invitation for Canada to join ballistic missile defence, Robertson said he doesn’t expect U.S. officials to pressure their Canadian counterparts into making a decision.

    “They understand the Canadian position,” he said. “They do not want to be George Bush … Eisenhower or Kennedy – don’t push Canada because you create such a reaction in Canada, that becomes the issue. It becomes Canada versus the United States, and that’s not where they want this to be.”


    Tom Clark:
    Welcome back. The world continues to watch in disbelief as a sociopathic madman with nuclear weapons threatens war, urging foreign embassies to evacuate by this Wednesday; a warming that so far most countries have ignored. Kim Jong-Un has mobilized his long range missiles while clearing his army to launch a nuclear attack on North America. Now while no one is absolutely convinced that he has the capability to carry out its threats, the United States has sent a land-based missile defence weapon to Guam. Now should North Korean missiles be launched, the American defence system would keep Canada safe, even though both Liberal and Conservative governments in the past have refused to endorse the protective umbrella.And one of the people who is calling on Canada to join Ballistic Missile Defence is Colin Robertson, a former senior diplomat in Canada’s Foreign Service. Thanks very much for being here Colin.

    Colin Robertson:
    Good to be here Tom.

    Tom Clark:
    First of all, make the case why Canada should be involved? Why is that in our self-interest to be involved in ballistic missile defence?

    Colin Robertson:
    Governments have three general purposes: sound currency, keep law and order and our safety net at home, and external defence. This is external defence. We are potentially threatened now by recent developments in North Korea and Iran so that if they were to launch inter-ballistic missiles aimed at the United States, we can’t be sure that they wouldn’t land in Canada. And for that reason, we should protect Canadians.

    Tom Clark:
    When we talk about ballistic missile defence, are we talking about putting missiles on Canadian soil? What’s our involvement in that?

    Colin Robertson:
    That’s a good question. Less likely now they put interceptors in Canada although they could. More what they really want is to the use the technology that we already have, satellite technology, to track the missiles, particularly anything coming over the Poles; stuff coming across the Pacific, the Americans feel reasonably confident they can get from their various tracking stations: Hawaii, Guam, Alaska, California. But we could make a useful contribution from what we have in places like Goose Bay and across the country.

    Tom Clark:
    So this is like an extension of NORAD in a sense.

    Colin Robertson:
    This takes us back to the DEW Line. This takes us back to Canada’s geography and our critical placement as kind of the back door or the screen towards America which was the whole purpose behind our earlier involvement in things like the DEW Line, that led to the creation of NORAD, which protects North America, because you can’t be sure whether something aimed at the United States isn’t going to strike Canada. So our interest is in protecting Canadians.

    Tom Clark:
    In an article you wrote recently, you revealed that last year, Defence Minister
    Peter MacKay and Foreign Minister John Baird went to Stephen Harper and laid out the case for Canada joining Ballistic Missile Defence. He turned it down. What do you know about that?

    Colin Robertson:
    My understanding is that the prime minister judged the timing wasn’t right.

    Tom Clark:

    Colin Robertson:
    Meaning, the timing was not right to participate…

    Tom Clark:

    Colin Robertson:
    I would think politically, yes, at the time. My view is that the circumstances have changed and it is probably time to reconsider that decision. The rest of the alliance is part of missile defence. We, as members of NATO, support what the alliance is doing to provide ballistic missile defence within NATO in Europe but we have a kind of exemption, a cone, if you will, around Canada. Frankly we should be part of that. The Australians, the Koreans, the Japanese all see value in ballistic missile defence.

    Tom Clark:
    And the Europeans as well.

    Colin Robertson:
    Of course.

    Tom Clark:
    We’re sort of the outlier in this case by not being part of it. But when you take a look at the decision of two Canadian governments – Liberal and Conservatives. In 2005, Pierre Pettigrew, then the foreign minister, said no to ballistic missile defence – basically Paul Martin saying no. Now we have Stephen Harper saying no. So what is the Canadian political case for not joining in? Because Liberals and Conservatives have both now said no?

    Colin Robertson:
    The Canadian case is essentially that we’re protected anyways and that we don’t really need to participate because the Americans will include us in their umbrella as it is. But my view on that is do we want the Americans always providing our defence? A fundamental principle of Canadian security is collective security. We were the architects of NORAD. We went into NATO for that very reason; protection of the collective and it also gives us leverage. Why wouldn’t we be part of this particularly because conditions have changed and now our homeland is threatened? That’s the argument. The argument is this is in the Canadian interest.

    Tom Clark:
    In the minute or so that we’ve got left, I want to ask you what you’re hearing from the Americans on this because while we, as you correctly say, feel that we’re protected anyway, we’re just not going to join the automobile club because we’re going to get a tow if we break down. But what are the Americans telling you?

    Colin Robertson:
    The invitation is there. They are not, however, pushing us. They understand the Canadian position. They do not want to be George Bush, and if you go back to Eisenhower and others, Kennedy … Don’t push Canada because you create such a reaction in Canada that that becomes the issue. That is, it becomes a Canada versus the United States, and that’s not where they want this to be. They have what they need. It would be useful if Canada would joined, but they’re not going to put any pressure on us to join.

    Tom Clark:
    And very quickly in 10 seconds, when we turned it down in 2005, George W. Bush was in the White House. Was that the real reason why he said no to ballistic missile defence do you think? We didn’t want to be seen to be siding with George Bush?

    Colin Robertson:
    I think that the political calculation of that relationship with the United States, it’s the old Goldilocks’ rule, don’t get too close but don’t get too far away. It’s trying to find that fine balance that every prime minister has to try and find.

    Tom Clark:
    Colin Robertson thanks very much for being here today. Good discussion.

    Colin Robertson:
    Thank you Tom.

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