Canada and Ballistic Missile Defence

Tasneem Jamal

Ernie Regehr

Canadian policy has never focused on ballistic missile defence (BMD) as a credible or even promising response to the threat of nuclear destruction. Even so, Canadian officials are currently engaged in extensive discussions with the United States on how BMD might protect Canadians and how Canada might link to the systems now being constructed.

The discussions are appropriate in the sense that Canada needs to be at the table when Washington explores military measures affecting the defence of North America; however, Ottawa should be aware of the possibility that the BMD project is headed for trouble.

A combination of cost overruns, technological challenges and discernable diplomatic progress in mitigating the perceived threat could lead to a quick reversal in the political favour BMD now enjoys.

Moreover, the government should seriously question Washington’s single-minded pursuit of BMD, which is causing present disruptions in the global security environment.

Finally, Ottawa should recognize that, as with any number of other American undertakings, Canada is not obliged to draw this experimental BMD program into a formal policy declaration.

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