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article imageCanada not talking to U.S. about joining missile defense system

By Karen Graham     Dec 1, 2017 in Politics
Canadian and U.S. officials quietly held exercises last spring to practice dealing with worst-case nuclear scenarios, yet Canada has balked at joining the U.S. ballistic-missile shield program.
In a story posted last night in Digital Journal, rising tensions, particularly those involving North Korea, prompted Canada's federal government to review, and in some cases, take action on contingency plans to assure the continuity of the government in the event of a crisis. The plans include the opening up of two bunkers at classified locations.
However, there is more to this story, and it involves Canada's missile defenses and whether or not Canada will join the U.S. missile shield program. It has been learned that Canada's top general, Chief of defense staff Gen. Jonathan Vance, says there have been "absolutely no talks" about joining the U.S. ballistic-missile shield program (BMD).
NORAD Command Center  Cheyenne Mountain  Colorado
NORAD Command Center, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado
U.S. Air Force
Canada's non-participation will remain in effect
In light of the Canadian government's concerns over a ballistic-missile defense, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has left that door open, despite saying he was well aware of the threat from North Korea. But he still believes "a diplomatic solution is the way to go because I think that there is hope for it."
Joining the U.S. ballistic-missile shield program has been fraught with controversy in Canada. Conservatives are saying Canada should start immediate talks with the U.S. while the NDP has strongly opposed any Canadian participation.
However, Vance did tell the Canadian Press the military was preparing for some in-depth talks with the U.S. about upgrading the North American Aerospace Defence Command, or NORAD. The talks are expected to cover the U.S.-Canadian system - currently used to spot potential enemy airplanes, missiles, and ships.
North Korea has sparked global alarm with its nuclear and missile tests in recent months
North Korea has sparked global alarm with its nuclear and missile tests in recent months
str, South Korean Defence Ministry/AFP
"What I am happy about is we're going to take a holistic view of the military defense of the continent over the next 20 to 50 years," Vance said in an interview Thursday. "What is occurring out there could come here in a military way that could impact the safety and security of Canadians, and in the NORAD context, of Americans as well."
But when asked about the BMD, Vance was adamant on Canada's stance concerning the BMD, saying, "None whatsoever. Absolutely not," he said, before noting that the Liberal government's recent defense policy explicitly said that Canada's position of non-participation remained in effect.
Many people remember that back in September, deputy commander of Norad, Lt.-Gen. Pierre St-Amand revealed that the current U.S. policy is not to intervene in the event of a ballistic-missile attack on Canada.
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis says he "fully" supports Secretary of State Rex Tillers...
US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis says he "fully" supports Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's efforts to find a diplomatic way out of the North Korea nuclear crisis
ALEX WONG, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP
U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has said the latest test earlier this week shows North Korea is capable of building missiles that can "threaten everywhere in the world."
But Vance said the rogue state still doesn't have the ability to reach Canada with a missile, and that "we're protected against the threats that exist now." However, some people might think this sort of reasoning is much like thinking about a response to a disaster after it has taken place.
More about Canada, Norad, North korea, complans, missile threat