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Enhancing Defence Relationships

The past decade has also seen significant and cumulative changes in Canada's geopolitical landscape: the end of the Cold War and post-Cold War expansion of NATO; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile technology; the rise of asymmetric threats, including global terrorism; and growing U.S. concerns regarding its homeland security and emerging threats to American citizens and assets.

Indeed, before the events of September 11th and in response to many incidents over the past decade, the United States had already launched several initiatives to address these concerns, including a review of U.S. defence priorities and plans under the new U.S. administration, and proof-of-concept testing for the possible development and deployment of a ballistic missile defence system.

Not surprisingly, the events of September 11th have accelerated U.S. action and expanded the potential implications of these developments for Canada. Since September 11th, the United States has:

  • published its quadrennial defence review and indicated that, in the latest Budget Plan, it intends to significantly increase defence spending and initiate a significant modernization of U.S. forces;
  • signaled that it intends to proceed with developing a ballistic missile defence system and renegotiating strategic arms-control arrangements with Russia;
  • created a new Homeland Security cabinet position in the U.S. government;
  • begun to develop a new Unified Command Plan for U.S. forces to support homeland security; and
  • clearly stated that the campaign against terrorism has only just begun.

All of these developments have significant implications for the future of Canada-U.S. defence relations. Canada and the United States share one of the most extensive defence relationships in the world. As the United States continues to modernize its forces, it will increase the challenge for the Canadian Forces to remain interoperable.5 Furthermore, while Canada has not yet been asked to participate in ballistic missile defence, and while it is not clear if or how the new Unified Command Plan will affect continental security, both developments could affect the future of NORAD. In short, Defence and Parliament will need to be fully engaged on Canada-U.S. defence issues in the year ahead.

  • Canada joined the System Development and Demonstration Phase of the U.S.-led international Joint Strike Fighter Program (JSF). Participation in the Program will allow us to obtain important information to support our national security requirements. The Canadian partnership in the JSF Program will enhance Canada-U.S. relations and enhance co-operation between the two countries.

At the same time, the European Union (EU) has continued to move forward in its efforts to strengthen European integration. Last year, the EU announced a new European Security Defence Policy and, this year, it launched a new common currency. While Canada clearly supports a strong Europe, it is also in Canada's interests to continue to work with its allies in Europe to promote a strong NATO.

Closer to home, Defence also needs to continue to strengthen external communications and its partnerships with the private sector and other levels of government in Canada. Canadians want their governments to work together to address public policy challenges. Defence is well-positioned to build public awareness and understanding of defence issues, and to make a difference in support of national priorities as a national institution with a national presence.

As part of its mandate, OCIPEP must also reach out to the provinces, municipalities, and the private sector to support a national, co-ordinated approach to critical infrastructure protection and emergency preparedness. DRDC also has a key role to play in nurturing defence research and development with the private sector, research labs, and universities. In addition, more can be done to nurture and engage Canada's Security and Defence Forum.

To enhance its relationships, Defence will move forward in fiscal year 2002-03 to:

  • strengthen defence and security arrangements in North America;
  • promote other key international defence and security relationships;
  • expand strategic partnerships with other levels of government and the private sector; and
  • continue to improve external communications.
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