U.S. says it may not de­fend Canada

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE -

OT­TAWA Cur­rent U.S. pol­icy di­rects the Amer­i­can mil­i­tary not to de­fend Canada if it is tar­geted in a bal­lis­tic mis­sile at­tack, says the top Cana­dian of­fi­cer at the North Amer­i­can Aerospace De­fence Com­mand.

“We’re be­ing told in Colorado Springs that the ex­tant U.S. pol­icy is not to de­fend Canada,” said Lt.-Gen. Pierre St-Amand, deputy com­man­der of Colorado-based Norad.

“That is the pol­icy that’s stated to us. So that”s the fact that I can bring to the ta­ble.”

St-Amand de­liv­ered that rev­e­la­tion Thurs­day dur­ing an ap­pear­ance be­fore the House of Com­mons de­fence com­mit­tee, which is study­ing the ex­tent to which Canada is ready for an at­tack by North Korea.

The study comes af­ter sev­eral provoca­tive nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­sile tests by North Korea, which have stoked fears Canada could end up in the mid­dle of a con­fronta­tion be­tween the U.S. and the so­called her­mit king­dom.

Those tests have also res­ur­rected ques­tions over whether Canada should join the U.S. bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fence shield, which it fa­mously opted out of in 2005 fol­low­ing a di­vi­sive na­tional de­bate.

St-Amand said Cana­dian and U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel at Norad head­quar­ters in Colorado Springs, Colo., work side-by-side de­tect­ing po­ten­tial air­borne threats to North Amer­ica.

But Canada would have no role in de­cid­ing what to do if North Korea or any other coun­try fired a mis­sile at North Amer­ica, he said.

Cana­dian mil­i­tary per­son­nel would in­stead be forced to sit on the side­lines and watch as U.S. of­fi­cials de­cided how to act.

The gen­eral did ac­knowl­edge that U.S. of­fi­cials could ul­ti­mately de­cide to in­ter­vene if a mis­sile was head­ing to­ward Canada, but that the de­ci­sion would likely be made in “the heat of the mo­ment.”

St-Amand’s com­ments ap­peared to con­firm the worst fears of many peo­ple who be­lieve it is time for Canada to join the U.S. bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fence shield.

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau seemed to all but close the door on join­ing bal­lis­tic mis­sile de­fence last month when he said Canada’s po­si­tion is “not go­ing to be changed any time soon.”

But that has not stopped var­i­ous de­fence ex­perts, re­tired mil­i­tary per­son­nel and even some Lib­eral MPs from call­ing for Canada to em­brace the mis­sile shield to en­sure the coun­try”s pro­tec­tion.

Ear­lier in the day, of­fi­cials from Global Af­fairs Canada and Na­tional De­fence warned the com­mit­tee that it was likely only a mat­ter of time be­fore North Korea would be able to launch an at­tack on North Amer­ica.

CP PHOTO SEAN KIL­PATRICK

Lt. Gen. Pierre St-Amand speaks to me­dia Thurs­day af­ter ap­pear­ing as a wit­ness at a com­mons na­tional de­fence com­mit­tee in Ot­tawa.

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