VICTORIA, British Columbia - A Canadian parliamentary committee has recommended the government reconsider its earlier rejection to contribute to US missile defense, moving participation in the ground-based system to protect North America one step closer to reality.
In 2005, then-Prime Minister Paul Martin of the Liberal Party declined to take part in the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system, despite being lobbied directly by US President George W. Bush. At the time Canada reaffirmed its support for the US as a military ally but noted it did not want to focus on missile defense.
But potential participation in the system is now back on the agenda, this time being pushed by the current Liberal Party government.
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said a defense review, now underway, is examining whether Canada should play a role in the US system. Former Liberal Party defense minister Bill Graham, an advocate for Canadian participation in the system, is one of the advisors on the review.
That view also now has support from the House of Commons defense committee.
In a newly released report it has recommended that the defense review reconsider Canada's previous position not to take part; it has also suggested the country's research and development capabilities be considered in any new role in ballistic missile defense.
In the 100 page report, titled "Canada and the Defence of North America," the committee also recommended the Canadian government recognize the proliferation of cruise missiles, as well as related emerging technologies, and "take the necessary action to protect Canada from this threat."
Canada could contribute sites for interceptors or radars for the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system, according to Canadian military officers. Another potential contribution is a multi-purpose sensor system in Arctic which could not only track ballistic missiles but also ships and aircraft in the region. That capability could be one of Canada's major future contributions to the joint US-Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD.
An April 2015 outline of projects compiled by Defence Research and Development Canada – the Canadian military's science organization – noted the intent to conduct research into what is being termed "continental surveillance radars."
"Desired outcomes (include) enhanced interoperability with NORAD," the document noted.
In 2005 the Canadian government also looked at installing a X-Band radar in Goose Bay, Labrador, on Canada's east coast as a potential contribution for the US missile defense system. That radar could contribute to the tracking of ballistic missiles fired from countries in the Middle East.
Graham, the Liberal government's defense advisor, has argued that Canadian participation in the US missile system is key to protecting its country's strong security relationship with America.