The Conference of Defence Associations Institute (CDA Institute) has released Vimy Paper 31: "Canada, NORAD, and Missile Defence: Prospects for Canadian Participation in BMD" by David McDonough.
The Canadian government recently launched its Defence Policy Review, expected to be completed by early 2017. The Department of National Defence also released a consultation paper that offered an overview of the issues facing the Canadian Armed Forces and key questions meant to guide public consultations as part of this review process. Of note, the document raised the previous government's 2005 decision to refuse participation in the US ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, and asked whether it was time to revisit this decision "given changing technologies and threats?"
This Vimy Paper explores the debate about Canada's possible participation in US missile defence plans, and assesses the advantages and possible disadvantages of such a commitment. The paper begins by examining the Canadian role in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), particularly the implications if NORAD fails to be directly involved in BMD. It then looks at the possibility of Canada receiving some protection in a BMD system, possible scenarios in which such protection would be required, and the likely contributions necessary if Canada wants to participate in missile defence and receive a modicum of protection. Lastly, the paper disentangles and assesses some of the key arguments used by critics against BMD.
By directly participating in BMD, Canada would reinforce the status of NORAD, strengthen the Canada-US defence relationship, and potentially ensure an important element of protection against ballistic missile threats. Canada will likely have to offer an "asymmetrical" or "in-kind contribution" if it hopes to receive protection afforded by the BMD system, so the question of cost needs to be further assessed. Lastly, criticism of BMD have often been either overstated or hampered by a degree of logical inconsistency or dissonance. As the Vimy Paper concludes, for these reasons, Canada should begin discussions with the United States on this issue - to better ascertain the costs Canada may be expected to shoulder for participation and ultimately to become an official participant in BMD.
The paper is available at the following link: