Canada Pursues U.S.-Style Security and Foreign Policy – Dana Gabriel

October 12th, 2011

(BeYourOwnLeader) – In the last number of years, there has been a dramatic shift in Canadian  security and foreign policy with regards to continental, hemispheric and global  issues. While Canada is working with the U.S. on a North American security  perimeter deal, there are also efforts to strengthen defense relations with  Britain and other allies. Canada has also elevated its status in NATO and is  playing a more prominent role in military operations overseas.

Canadian  Defense Minister Peter MacKay recently met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon  Panetta to discuss bilateral security cooperation issues. In a news  release, Minister Mackay praised the Canada-U.S. partnership as unique and  explained, “Our binational command in NORAD, as well as the daily operation between  our military and defence teams is a tangible demonstration of how we stand  shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the defence of North America and  in addressing common global challenges.” He went on to say, “We are proud to  work alongside our U.S. friends in the Americas, in Libya, in Afghanistan, and  as transatlantic partners of NATO.” At a press  conference following their meeting, Secretary Panetta acknowledged that both  countries are looking to improve their bilateral engagement in the Western  Hemisphere. He stated, “If we can develop better capabilities and partnerships  throughout the hemisphere, that’s something that I think both of us consider to  be a real step forward in our relationship.” Future plans could also include  expanding a security perimeter framework beyond North America.

While  addressing North American security efforts during a news conference with  Secretary Panetta, Minister Mackay brought up the Permanent  Joint Board on Defence (PJBD) which was created in 1940. The PJBD, “is the  senior advisory body on continental defence. It is composed of military and  diplomatic representatives from both nations.” Over the years, it has, “served  as a strategic-level military board charged with considering, in a broad sense,  land, sea, air and space issues.” This includes areas concerning, “policy,  operations, financial, logistics and other aspects of Canada-U.S. defence  relations.” Although the PJBD has been used as an alternate channel of  communication, it appears to have once again become more relevant as a venue for  bilateral security and military dialogue. In a move which represents its growing  importance, President  Barack Obama recently appointed former Congressman John Spratt, chairman of  the U.S. section of the PJBD. In the coming years, the board could play a  significant role in plans for a fully integrated North American security  perimeter, as well as in other facets of the evolving Canada-U.S.  partnership.

Released in 2008, the Canada  First Defence Strategy remains the blueprint for rebuilding a modern  military with clearly defined missions and capabilities. This includes  increasing Canadian Forces recruitment levels, raising military spending, as  well as improving and replacing equipment. The goal is for Canada to, “be a  strong and reliable partner in the defence of North America, and project  leadership abroad by making meaningful contributions to international security.” It goes on to say that Canadian-U.S., “armed forces will pursue their effective  collaboration on operations in North America and abroad. To remain  interoperable, we must ensure that key aspects of our equipment and doctrine are  compatible.” It also outlines a strategy which will work towards the, “ability  to conduct six core missions within Canada, in North America and globally, at  times simultaneously.” Besides promoting continental perimeter security, the  document lays the foundation for a more aggressive and ambitious foreign policy  which increasingly represents U.S., as well as British interests.

In a  recent bilateral visit to Canada, British Prime Minister David Cameron met with  Prime Minister Stephen Harper and addressed  a joint session of parliament where he proclaimed, “We are two nations, but  under one Queen and united by one set of values.” Both leaders issued a joint  declaration entitled A Stronger  Partnership for the 21st Century which committed to renewing bilateral  relations in areas of prosperity, security and development. They pledged to, “create greater interoperability between our defence forces and deepen  cooperation on procurement and capabilities.” This included strengthening  cooperation on counter-terrorism issues. They also agreed to, “work toward a  reinvigorated Commonwealth.” In conclusion, the leaders stated, “We commit  ourselves and our governments to achieve what we have set out in this  declaration to collaborate on our commerce, foreign policy, defence, security,  development and intelligence relationship.” In a move which some have criticized  as a step backwards, Canada has re-established the connection between the  monarchy and its military by renaming  Maritime Command and Air Command back to the former titles of Royal Canadian  Navy and Royal Canadian Air Force.

In September, Canada’s Defense  Minister Peter MacKay was in Australia  and New  Zealand for separate meetings to further build bilateral security relations  in the Asia-Pacific region. While in Australia, he met with several ministers  where, “they discussed defence reform, procurement practices, general  Asia-Pacific defence issues, and the transformation of the Australian Defence  department.” Minister Mackay, “emphasized the strong military ties between both  Australia and Canada and Canada’s ongoing interests in the Asia-Pacific region.” During his trip to New Zealand, Mackay met with his counterpart and discussed, “the state of current defence operations, defence reform and procurement.” The  meetings in both countries were, “an opportunity to deepen Canada-Australia and  Canada-New Zealand bilateral ties, to discuss military operations and defence  transformation, and to exchange views on regional and international matters of  operational and strategic importance.” This is part of Canada’s ongoing efforts  to further expand its global influence and it could be directed against China  who has gained much power in the region.

While in the past Canada has  exercised a more independent foreign policy, in many ways, it has now succumbed  to the imperialistic aspirations of the U.S. and NATO. The war in Afghanistan  and the continued bombing in Libya have demonstrated Canada’s willingness to use  military force to advance foreign policy. It appears as if they have also turned  back the clock by further embracing the monarchy and renewing its strategic  partnership with Britain and the Commonwealth at large. Under the influence of a  declining Anglo-American Empire, Canada has shed its peacekeeping image in favor  of a more aggressive and militaristic doctrine. In the coming years, Canada will  be expected to contribute even more to global security including participation  in future U.S.-NATO military operations.

Source: Be Your Own Leader

Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact:

Related Articles by Dana Gabriel
U.S.-Canada Perimeter Security and the Consolidation of North America
Afghanistan: Canada Must Pursue a More Independent Foreign Policy
Deepening Canada-U.S. Security and Military Ties
U.S.-Canada Perimeter Security and an Integrated North American Command




Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterDigg thisShare on RedditShare on Google+Email this to someone