James Bezan, is Canada's parliamentary secretary to the minister of national defense. / Parliament of Canada
OTTAWA — Canada is revisiting a decade-old decision not to join the US ballistic missile defense program, a top official in Ottawa said on Thursday.
James Bezan, parliamentary secretary to the minister of national defense, told a defense summit in Ottawa that the issue has come up again before both Senate and House of Commons committees.
“The government hasn’t made any decision” on the matter, Bezan said, explaining that it is waiting for the parliamentary committees to report back.
Bezan said there has been some concern about the “accuracy” of missiles being developed by some rogue countries that could target Canada’s neighbor, the United States, and end up striking Canada, he said.
He also expressed concern that Canadian officials would be “sidelined” in the decision-making responding to any missile threat incoming to North America.
A change in policy would require political consensus, however, which appears elusive.
Without political agreement — or if the issue becomes a political hot potato — Bezan predicted that the status quo would prevail.
There is still considerable opposition, meanwhile, to Canada joining the program.
Jack Harris, opposition New Democratic Party MP and defense critic, said: “We’ve not seen at this point a necessity for it.
“Threats haven’t been outlined sufficiently at this point for us to change our position” against missile defense, he said.
A previous administration in 2005 rejected joining the US missile defense program, which many Canadians feared could spark a new international arms race and damage international peace and security.