Conservatives urge PM to 'explore' joining U.S. missile defence system
In this Aug. 29, 2017 file photo distributed on Aug. 30, 2017, by the North Korean government shows what was said to be the test launch of a Hwasong-12 intermediate range missile in Pyongyang, North Korea. The content of this image cannot be independently verified.(Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP, File)
Published Wednesday, October 4, 2017 10:38AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, October 4, 2017 7:21PM EDT
The Conservatives called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to “explore the option of Canada joining the (U.S.) anti-ballistic missile program” Tuesday and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan suggested he’s not ruling it out.
The Conservatives said in a press release that Canada must consider joining the program that aims to shoot down warheads at high altitudes as the “North Korean threat continues to intensify.”
Sajjan later told reporters that “when we look at what BMD (ballistic missile defence) is, what the threats are, we need to actually spend more time to making sure that we do get this right.”
The Liberals under Paul Martin declined to join the American program in 2005, angering the U.S. so much that then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice cancelled a visit to Ottawa.
The Conservatives under Stephen Harper stuck with the decision.
Former CSIS director Richard Fadden, who served as deputy minister of defence from 2013 to 2015, told CTV’s Power Play that he believes “if we’re going to take our security seriously … we have to participate.”
“It doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to have (U.S. Air Force) anti-missile batteries in Canada,” he added. “It could mean we put specialized radars on our ships. It could mean add people to NORAD. It could mean we participate in research and development.”
Fadden said that he believes the threat from missiles is higher than it was three or four years ago, making a discussion of the program difficult to ignore.
“It’s a very contentious issue politically,” Fadden added. “A lot of Canadians recoil in horror at the very thought.”
Last month, Lt.-Gen. Pierre St-Amand testified that, under current policy, the U.S. would not shoot down a ballistic missile that was headed for Canada.
NDP MP Rachel Blaney told Power Play that there are “serious concerns” about North Korea and that Canada should be taking action by signing on to the United Nations Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons, which has been agreed to by more than 120 countries but not Canada, the U.S., France or the United Kingdom.
The Union of Concerned Scientists has long questioned the cost and effectiveness of U.S. missile defence program, which has already cost an estimated $100 billion.
With files from The Canadian Press