U.S. will not defend Canada if it's targeted in ballistic missile attack - Macleans.ca

U.S. will not defend Canada if it’s targeted in ballistic missile attack

The revelation came about as parliamentarians study Canada’s preparedness for potential attack from North Korea

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this handout photo by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) made available on April 26, 2017. (KCNA/Reuters)

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in this handout photo by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) made available on April 26, 2017. (KCNA/Reuters)

OTTAWA – Current U.S. policy directs the American military not to defend Canada if it is targeted in a ballistic missile attack, says the top Canadian officer at the North American Aerospace Defence Command.

“We’re being told in Colorado Springs that the extant U.S. policy is not to defend Canada,” said Lt.-Gen. Pierre St-Amand, deputy commander of Colorado-based Norad.

“That is the policy that’s stated to us. So that’s the fact that I can bring to the table.”

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St-Amand delivered that revelation Thursday during an appearance before the House of Commons defence committee, which is studying the extent to which Canada is ready for an attack by North Korea.

The study comes after several provocative nuclear and ballistic missile tests by North Korea, which have stoked fears Canada could end up in the middle of a confrontation between the U.S. and the so-called hermit kingdom.

The latest test occurred on Friday, when North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan into the northern Pacific Ocean. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile travelled about 3,700 kilometres and reached a maximum height of 770 kilometres.

Those tests have also resurrected questions over whether Canada should join the U.S. ballistic missile defence shield, which it famously opted out of in 2005 following a divisive national debate.

MORE: As the North Korean crisis escalates, Canada must step up

St-Amand said Canadian and U.S. military personnel at Norad headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., work side-by-side detecting potential airborne threats to North America.

But Canada would have no role in deciding what to do if North Korea or any other country fired a missile at North America, he said.

Canadian military personnel would instead be forced to sit on the sidelines and watch as U.S. officials decided how to act.

The general did acknowledge that U.S. officials could ultimately decide to intervene if a missile was heading toward Canada, but that the decision would likely be made in “the heat of the moment.”

St-Amand’s comments appeared to confirm the worst fears of many people who believe it is time for Canada to join the U.S. ballistic missile defence shield.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau seemed to all but close the door on joining ballistic missile defence last month when he said Canada’s position is “not going to be changed any time soon.”

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But that has not stopped various defence experts, retired military personnel and even some Liberal MPs from calling for Canada to embrace the missile shield to ensure the country’s protection.

Earlier in the day, officials from Global Affairs Canada and National Defence warned the committee that it was likely only a matter of time before North Korea would be able to launch an attack on North America.

But they also said that based on recent contacts with Pyongyang, the North Koreans do not see Canada as an enemy, but rather as a potential friend that has the ear of the U.S.

Those contacts include a meeting between Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and her North Korean counterpart in August.

“There has been no direct threat to Canada,” said Mark Gwozdecky, assistant deputy minister of international security at Global Affairs Canada.

RELATED: Will North Korea attack the U.S.?

“On the contrary, in recent contacts with the North Korean government … the indications were that they perceived Canada as a peaceful and indeed a friendly country.”

Pyongyang’s primary goal is self-preservation, the officials said, and it understands the consequences of a war with the United States or any other country.

Yet the officials also said the risks of a miscalculation are high, and the Liberal government believes Canada has an important role in helping find a peaceful solution to the situation.

That includes talks, but also trying to exert more pressure on the North Korean government — either through diplomatic isolation or economic sanctions — to give up its nuclear weapons.

“We must convince Pyongyang that it can achieve its goals through peaceful diplomatic means,” Gwozdecky said.

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U.S. will not defend Canada if it’s targeted in ballistic missile attack

  1. Generally, it’s time for Canada to stop freeloading off its US neighbour for our defence infrastructure. Relying on the US for:
    -Our planes sent out without adequate ground/air support.
    -Evacuation & transport.
    -Our lack of naval & undersea capability, especially in Arctic waters
    -The list goes on…
    Successive Liberal governments & unsupported Conservative policies have eroded our military ability.
    We take the moral & social high ground but rely on the US to bail us out when needed.
    In Canada, all defence spending is highly contested. Australia does a much better job in defence procurement.

  2. US has never been going to defend Canada. Anything they shoot down would fall right on us.

    Canada cannot defend itself no matter what we buy.

    So playing nice in the sandbox is our best option.

  3. This is a standout in a wave of nonsense posing as news. How would the US know it was really going to hit Canada and how long would they wait until the missile exploded?
    Is the media not aware that replying to a madman ramblings and strange actions is counter productive.
    North Korea hits a nuke on US territories and becomes a radioactive wasteland.

  4. Avro Arrow.

    We had the air superiority fighter and scrapped it under a cloud of military industrialist secrecy.

    Suggesting that we would be ALLOWED to defend ourselves is a joke.

    We would need the will to stand up to the global military industrial complex, kind of like what North Korea is doing.

    • The myth of the Arrow continues – the Arrow was a plane built to respond to a certain kind of warfare (which it would have been really good at), but sadly that type of warfare’s time passed and the Arrow would have been useless in what was needed.

      • It was the best as was the record setting avro jetliner.

        As the third largest employer in Canada AV Roe was on the verge of making Canada a world leader in aerospace.

        It was all shut down overnight and has given Canada it’s “good guys finish last” identity.

        One might as well explain throwing away a winning lottery ticket.