Liberals should say “no” again to American BMD



Both Conservative and Liberal governments have concluded, in 1985 and 2005 respectively, that participation in American ballistic missile defence does not accord with Canadian defence and security priorities. The Trudeau Liberals would be wise to do the same. — Peggy Mason (9 May 2017, Esprit de Corps)

At the beginning of April 2016, the Liberal government decided that it would launch a review of Canada’s defence policy and, as part of that, has reopened the issue of Canadian participation in Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD).

Since then a chorus of defence lobbyists and their academic and journalistic echoes have urged the government to seek Canadian participation. See, for example, an extraordinarily silly and inaccurate piece in the National Post by John Ivison, arguing that Canada can help make up its alleged NATO budgetary shortfall by contributing to a non-NATO ballistic missile defence system. That article also dismissed international concerns that BMD “would weaponize space” because the interceptor missiles are ground based (which is why the system is known by the acronym “GMD” for ground based missile defence). One has to assume that Ivison is unaware the aim of the American GMD system is to try to shoot down the incoming missile in outer space. As such:

So-called defensive missiles designed to intercept and shoot down incoming missiles in space have an intrinsic offensive anti-satellite weapon capability, which is precisely why the fear of weaponizing space is such a serious one. — Peggy Mason

The House of Commons Standing Committee on Defence heard testimony on the pros and cons of Canada re-opening the BMD participation issue during its hearings in May 2016. Particularly relevant was this admission by Professor James Fergusson, one of the strongest proponents of Canadian participation:

The American research and development program is well advanced across the board in missile defence. The likelihood that there are any opportunities for Canadian firms or Canadian technology is extremely low.

While Canadian firms would likely get little or no benefit, the Canadian taxpayer would be on the hook for as much as $4 billion dollars for Canada’s share of the programme.

And did we mention that this astronomically expensive system does not work?

Shooting down an enemy missile going 15,000 mph out in space is like trying to hit a hole-in-one in golf when the hole is going 15,000 mph. And if an enemy uses decoys and countermeasures, missile defence is like trying to shoot a hole-in-one in golf when the hole is going 15,000 mph and the green is covered with black circles the same size as the hole. — Hon. Philip E. Coyle.

There are many other reasons why Canada should continue to stay as far away as possible from the American missile defence boondoggle, including its destabilizing effects on international security, the lack of any meaningful operational role for Canada in the American command and control structure for GMD, and the likelihood that, despite all the monies expended, there will not even be an American guarantee that Canadian cities would be defended by the system (assuming the system worked, which it does not).

For an elaboration of these arguments see the May 5th testimony and Peggy Mason Speaking Notes by Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason to the Standing Committee on National Defence.


Photo credit: US Government

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12 Responses to “Liberals should say “no” again to American BMD”

  1. Reynold ReimerApril 7, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    Sounds like another boondoggle to give buckets of money to weapons merchants.

  2. Ed LehmanMarch 13, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    I am very appreciative of again addressing this issue. The previous attempts by Canadian governments to go along with the wishes of the Americans with this Star Wars system was squashed because of the rallying of public opinion across Canada. I hope and others will again help facilitate a country-wide campaign – according to the Atomic Scientists the atomic clock has moved closer to midnight – before the Canadian government foolishly acts to make war in outer space a reality.

  3. Gregory FraserMarch 12, 2017 at 10:16 pm #

    Canada’s role around the world has primarily been as peace keepers, not peace makers and I would not like to see that role changed and continue to enjoy Canada’s good reputation that was almost destroyed by the non progressive Conservatives, who are preaching Trumpisim right now. The world needs peace keepers not ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. Are we really considering going back to what amounts to two people in a gas filled room, one has 10 matches and the other has 15,? We need to think about peace not mass murder with corporate benefits. I want us to remain Canadian, not to become Americanized.

    • Canada JoeMarch 13, 2017 at 1:27 am #

      You remember when the Liberal authorized the storage of over a 100 Genie nuclear rockets in Canada for over 30 years? Was that peacekeeping?

      4 CMGB in West Germany? Peacekeepers too?

      Tell us more about Canada’s ‘role’ as peacekeepers.

  4. Jacob RempelMarch 12, 2017 at 12:12 am #

    The “great powers” and all other nations in the United Nations must now transition to peaceful cooperation, be allied in a worldwide transition to environmentally sustainable industry and trade, with specific focus on transitioning to carbon free energy technologies. Return to the peaceful ideals of the founding of the United Nations.

    • Canada JoeMarch 13, 2017 at 1:28 am #

      Or what?

  5. Peter DavisonMarch 11, 2017 at 10:06 pm #

    This is just another example of the military-industrial complex diverting resources from peacemaking and social justice to projects of dubious efficacy. Canada should say a loud NO.

    • Jean JonesMarch 12, 2017 at 6:36 pm #

      I completely agree. And, I would love to see a country wide campaign undertaken to inform every Canadian household of the facts, and consequences of voting yes to our participation in BMD.

  6. Jeffrey SimpsonMarch 11, 2017 at 7:10 pm #

    The Canadian government should continue to avoid this whole concept. Negotiate to settle disputes.

  7. Howard A. DoughtyMarch 11, 2017 at 6:25 pm #

    From the moment President Reagan introduced his “Star Wars” fantasy to the present day, military-industrial visionaries have been sharing their hallucinations about a missile defence shield.

    I am thankful that Prime Minister Mulroney took Nancy Reagan’s advice and applied it to this issue. He “just said no.”

    I am also thankful that Prime Minister Chretien not only declined President Bush’s invitation to join the United States in the madness of the “attack on Iraq,” but also chose not to enter into the BMD folly two decades after the initial rejection.

    If Prime Minister Trudeau wishes to retain any bits and shards of his image of a “sunny ways” leader, he would be well advised to follow the examples of his predecessors. Any initiative undertaken by President Trump is to be viewed with scepticism – especially ones with a military tinge. Canada may need to carry on a pragmatic, business-like relationship with our neighbours to the south; but, under the current circumstances, we should err on the side of caution.

    • Canada JoeMarch 13, 2017 at 1:29 am #

      I guess Safeguard never happened eh?


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