“Because the incoming Biden administration places a high priority on fighting global warming,” John Ibbitson writes in the Globe and Mail, “Canada may be asked to spend billions of dollars modernizing NORAD.” All I can says, is a) it’s about bloody time, IF it happens; and b) won’t that make Justin Trudeau’s day? While it may irritate and frustrate Canada’s man-child prime minister, it ought to please most Canadians … but it probably will not. We shelter (cower some, like me, might say) behind America’s military skirts but we are always reluctant to do anything even approaching a fair, much less a full share of protecting ourselves. It has been that way since Pierre Trudeau took over in 1968.
As Mr Ibbitson explains: “For more than six decades, Canada and the United States have shared responsibility for protecting the continent from air attack. But the North Warning System – a network of Arctic radar stations deployed in the 1980s – is hopelessly out of date … [and] … At the very least, the North Warning System will need to be replaced with a more modern radar system situated farther north. Such a system could cost more than $10-billion, with Canada expected to pay 40 per cent of the cost … [but] … ground-based radar would only be one part of a truly effective, multilayered system, combining land-based, ship-based, space-based and cyberbased detection systems that could be continuously modified as threats evolved …. [because the threats constantly change, as Stephen Fuhr, who as a Liberal MP chaired the House of Commons defence committee in the first Justin Trudeau government explained:] …. “Cruise missiles have much longer ranges, sub-launched cruise missiles are way more capable, hypersonic weapons are now a reality … So what sort of sensing systems are we going to need to take care of those new threats?” … [and that, Mr Ibbitson says, is] where global warming comes in.“
John Ibbitson explains that “President-elect Joe Biden has vowed to recommit the United States to the Paris accord on climate change. That commitment will require close observation of the Arctic, which also happens to be the frontline of today’s great-power struggles … [because] … “That’s where the Russians want to be, that’s where the Chinese want to be, that’s where the resources are, that’s where the next round of investment is already coming,” said Sarah Goldfeder, who served two U.S. ambassadors to Canada and who is now a principal at Earnscliffe, a consulting firm … [and] … A modern early warning system would allow for detecting incoming missiles or “the movement of troops, the movement of merchant vessels and coastlines and icepacks and water temperatures and oil spills and that kind of thing,” Ms. Goldfeder said.“
“Such a system,” Mr Ibbitson says, “would be cutting edge, upgradable and very expensive. But the Liberal government’s 2017 white paper on defence policy, while committing to the modernization of NORAD, did not also commit funds.” Now, it seems, the rubber might be about to meet the road and John Ibbitson says “If the Trudeau government, or its successors, aren’t willing to spend those billions to watch for both incoming missiles and changing climate, the Americans may upgrade the North American Aerospace Defence Command on their own, at the expense of Canadian sovereignty.” The doctrine of ‘force majeure‘ doesn’t just exist in contract law. It also applies in international relations. If America’s vital, strategic interests depend on Canada’s cooperation and that is not sufficiently forthcoming then the USA will consider itself justified in violating our sovereignty and installing their own sensors and systems, including military units and even sovereign bases ~ in effect they would colonize us.
There are two separate aspects to our strategic problem:
- First, we are responsible for 40% of the costs of upgrading our share of the continental defence system. (There are elements of the system which are not under NORAD’s control and we do not share the costs of maintaining and upgrading them.) The price for not meeting our fair share is that the Americans do it alone … but not quite alone, they need our territory and the maritime approaches to it and the airspace over both and that’s where ‘force majeure‘ and the recolonization of Canada comes into play; and
- Second, as our own generals have told our own Parliament, the USA does NOT plan to defend Canada against e.g. a North Korean ballistic missile attack unless and until we join the US continental ballistic missile defence system. That might seem like a “no brainer,” but Justin Trudeau is our prime minister.
“The reality is,” John Ibbitson says, “that the U.S. probably could and would push ahead with protecting itself if Canada lost interest in making a meaningful contribution to NORAD.” Professor James Fergusson, who is deputy director of the Centre for Defence and Security at the University of Manitoba, said that ““If the United States comes to the conclusion that we need this, this, this and this in the Canadian Arctic, and Canada says, we understand, but financially we just can’t do this, the United States will just do it … [and] … All we’ll do is give them permission to put it on our soil.””
Mt Ibbitson concludes that “It wouldn’t be the first time Canada allowed the United States to assume the cost and responsibility for protecting the continent from attack, while claiming to be a true partner in the endeavour. For some reason, Canadians seem not to mind.“
And therein lies an amazing Canadian national dilemma: too many of us, perhaps nearly half of us just don’t care about being a sovereign nation. Those Canadians see their government in Ottawa as a cash cow that funds their “entitlements” and they ignore the fact that the central government might have some duties other than just shovelling someone else’s money into their pockets. Pretty much all of those people who vote for the BQ, the Greens, the Liberals and the NDP seem to think that way. Just electing a new, government with mature, responsible leaders will not solve that problem. The media. especially, has been complicit, since 1967, in making Canadians feel “entitled to their entitlements” and, equally, persuading Canadians that the USA is, somehow, duty bound (by self-interest if nothing else) to defend us. But, that’s not true, and just changing US presidents will not alter that fact. Someone ~ someone other than just John Ibbitson, who is a bit of a voice in the wilderness ~ needs to remind Canadians that we are NOT entitled to a free ride in Uncle Sam’s military-security limousine.
We, Canadians, are not entitled to our sovereignty. We need to pay for it. We are fortunate to live beside the richest and more powerful nation in human history and we are even more fortunate that, for more than 150 years, it has not coveted our territory and has, rather, been generous is how it asks us to share the burdens. But we MUST do a fair share in helping our good neighbours to defend our shared continent. For a start, Canadians (even those who wish for the destruction of our country) should understand that every vote for Yves-François Blanchet, Annamie Paul, Justin Trudeau and Jagmeet Singh …
… is a vote for Canada becoming a colony of the United States of America. They (above) all share the same view on continental defence: let Uncle Sam do it. Well, Uncle Sam will do it, but at a price, and the price is that Canada surrenders its sovereignty to the Pentagon. Is that what we want? I hope not.