Canada needs to beef up its missile defence — now
As the showdown between United States and North Korea continues over the Hermit Kingdom’s nuclear program and escalating missile tests, the need for Canada to revisit its ballistic missile defence couldn’t be more apparent. Or more urgent.
One former Canadian national security adviser, Richard Fadden, recently told a Canadian Global Affairs Institute conference that it was only a matter of time before the North Koreans would develop the capacity to hit North America. That time is here.
The primary target of any such attack would likely be the United States. But either as a result of Canada’s commitments to the United States under NATO’S Article 5 — which states that an attack on one is an attack on all — or the proximity of its major cities to our shared border, this country would get dragged into such an event. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan acknowledges that the threat to Canada from ballistic missiles is real.
This gap in our national defence dates back to 2005, when then prime minister Paul Martin opted out of a proposed ballistic missile defence program shared with the United States. He cited the impact of the system on the global security environment, concerns about its effectiveness and its cost in the context of other needs. The last six months have, quite simply, changed the game.
Canada’s most senior officer at the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), Lt.gen. Pierre St-amand, recently put it bluntly to the House of Commons national defence committee — that, under the current conditions, “the United States is under no obligation to defend Canada in the event of a ballistic missile attack.”
Given all of this, it is now time to take another look at joining the American ballistic missile defence system. Canada simply cannot afford the risk of remaining isolated and unprotected in the event of a missile attack.
Discussions should begin immediately. But it should be noted that Canada wouldn’t simply be opting into an American system — there’s much that this country can offer to enhance both countries’ collective security.
Minister Sajjan should look at the Canadian Forces Base Goose Bay in Labrador as a pivotal link in any new missile defence pact with the United
States. The primary mission of its air force base, known as 5 Wing Goose Bay, is all ready to support NORAD operations for the projection of air power on the north and northeast coasts of Canada and to support military training for the Canadian Armed Forces, its allies and NORAD.
Even though the Canadian government has not actively considered joining the American program since can hear each other, even if it means yelling. They’ll talk about how sad it is young people can’t buy houses, about the failure of the education system, about their pets and their hobbies. The same scenario plays out regularly on latenight flights, evening into the early morning hours; there’s always someone whose entertainment is more important than anyone else’s.
But it’s not only the yakkers — who, believe me, invariably have a tone of voice that cuts glass and renders headphones obsolete. Heck, they have a background speaking role on 2005, the U.S. military and its contractors have continued to look at the base in the context of their missile defence program. It would appear to be the perfect location for radar and interceptor installation.
In the years since 2005, there have been lower-level discussions, including the possibility of installing a high-tech radar system at Goose Bay as an offering to the U.S. for Canadian participation in the Pentagon’s missile shield. From the Americans’ perspective, this radar could have the advantage over other sensors as it would be able to give several minutes’ advance warning of a missile attack on North America’s eastern seaboard. The Americans would provide the radar system and Canada would offer the support and prime territory required.
That’s just one example of how Canada could put its military assets to use, upping this country’s role in protecting North American interests in turbulent times. It seems like a small premium for Canada to pay in order to be covered by the protection of the American missile defence program. Especially now.
Canadians deserve the best defence available. To get it, we’ll have to pull our weight in sharing this responsibility — a protection that all NATO partners share except Canada.
“On every single plane that flies, you will be within three rows of two wide-awake people who know each other — or, worse, don’t know each other.”
every single film on the inflight entertainment system, no matter how high the volume.
How about this scenario? It’s unexpectedly snowing, the airline announces it wants to load the aircraft quickly to get to de-icing and stay on schedule, but the aisle is blocked by a man in his late 50s or 60s who absolutely must stand and fold his coat properly — even though it’s going into the cram-fest known as the overhead bin, and will come out a rumpled mess anyway. He must choose his electronics before sitting down. Must carefully place and replace his second bag in the overhead (no cramped feet for him).
The best part is that the acting troupe “Men of a Certain Age” are guaranteed to be performing on one out of every two aircraft that you fly on. Their time is critically important, and they want you to know it, even if it means missing a connection. Yours is not. (Oh, and if they don’t reprise “You can stand and wait until I’m done,” when you’re trying to get off the plane, you can be sure that they will perform the long, but aptly titled, “What do you mean I can’t use these wireless headphones/ electronic equipment? It’s my equipment, I want to use it, and you’re just stupid professionally trained air crew.”)
Now, I know these are small things, passing events in the march of days that will eventually end. But like so many things, they mark they fact that we can have a clear ignorance that we share the world with others, and owe them the same courtesy we’d expect. Just look around once in a while.
Oh, and don’t get me started on the 1 a.m. outside-the-elevator loud hotel discussion; the hotness of your girlfriend matters little to me. Sorry.