Canada and Nuclear Weapons: Canadian policies related to, and connections to, nuclear weapons

Tasneem Jamal

Bill Robinson

Working Paper 02-5

Nearly sixty years after the advent of the nuclear age, Canada still maintains a fundamentally ambiguous policy toward nuclear weapons.

The Canadian government rules out acquiring its own nuclear weapons, opposes nuclear proliferation, and asserts that “the only sustainable strategy for the future is the elimination of nuclear weapons entirely.”2 But it also supports the continued possession of nuclear weapons by its allies, participates in a nuclear-armed alliance, and endorses NATO’s plan to retain nuclear weapons “for the foreseeable future.” The Canadian government continues to state that the defence of Canada must rely on the “nuclear umbrella” that the United States and other NATO allies have unfurled above this country, and it continues to provide both physical and political support for those weapons in a variety of ways. In short, while the Canadian government condemns any reliance on nuclear weapons by non-allied countries, it continues to treat those same weapons as a useful – even necessary – element of Canada’s defences and those of its allies.

The purpose of this paper is to describe recent developments in Canadian policies on nuclear weapons and to outline Canada’s major known connections to the nuclear arsenals of its allies.

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