NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Canada's Weak Defense

July 17, 2003

Is Canada's sovereignty threatened by its weak defense forces and its reluctance to participate in continental security operations? According to Mercedes Stephenson and Barry Cooper, chronic military underfunding severely compromises Canada's ability to participate in a U.S.-led coalition to protect the continent from foreign threats.

Not only is the Canadian military obsolete and underprepared, Canada is increasingly viewed by the United States as a liability rather than a key ally, say the authors.

  • By 2004, nearly half of Canada's weapons and vehicle fleet could be grounded for lack of spare parts -- no one makes them anymore.
  • Canadian officials refused to commit wholeheartedly to the Ballistic Missile Defense program and now have almost no influence in its operations.
  • Canadians exercise half the control of NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) but supply less than 10 percent of its resources.
  • Canada is a prime location for terrorists to plan attacks against the United States., but Canada's intelligence capacity is too weak to fully investigate terrorist networks.

Furthermore, Canada's presence in continental defense programs is decreasing due to the lack of a deliberate and coherent government policy. Since Canada has refused to take an active role in protecting North America, the United States is beginning to withdraw its unlimited "defense umbrella" and Canadian sovereignty is coming into question, say the authors.

Source: Mercedes Stephenson and Barry Cooper, "The End of Canadian Sovereignty?" Fraser Forum, March 2003, Fraser Institute.


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