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Canada  

Not talking missile defence

While the Canadian military is preparing to work with the U.S. on upgrading North America's aging defences, Canada's top general says there have been absolutely no talks about joining its ballistic-missile shield program.

Chief of defence staff Gen. Jonathan Vance's comments come amid swirling questions over Canada's potential involvement in ballistic-missile defence, particularly given rampant concerns about North Korea.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan appeared to leave the door open to participating in the controversial program in October, but the government has otherwise remained largely ambiguous when asked about missile defence.

The opposition parties, meanwhile, are sharply divided, with the Conservatives saying Canada should start immediate talks with the U.S. while the NDP has strongly opposed any Canadian participation.

Vance told The Canadian Press that Canadian military officials are preparing for what are expected to be in-depth talks with the U.S. about upgrading the North American Aerospace Defence Command, or Norad.

Those discussions are expected to focus on what new and emerging threats the joint U.S.-Canadian system — currently used to spot potential enemy airplanes, missiles and ships — should be able to guard against.

"What I am happy about is we're going to take a holistic view of the military defence of the continent over the next 20 to 50 years," Vance said in an interview Thursday.

Ballistic missiles will be one threat that is considered, he acknowledged, especially as countries like North Korea attempt to acquire and expand their missile and nuclear capabilities — but there will be many others like cyber threats.

"Continental defence is not a simple binary 'yes' or 'no' about BMD, and it would be improper to boil it down to just that," Vance said. "Continental defence is about a lot of things."

But when asked specifically whether there had been any talks between Canadian military officials and their American counterparts about joining the current U.S. ballistic-missile defence system, Vance was categorical.

"None whatsoever. Absolutely not," he said, before noting that the Liberal government's recent defence policy explicitly said that Canada's position of non-participation remained in effect.



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