Coming on the heels of general elections at the end of June, the re-elected Liberal party is expected to support several changes in Canadas defense policy, including participation in the U.S.s ballistic missile defense (BMD) system. Another big-ticket item is adding another brigade of 5,000 troops to Canadas existing 53,000 regular military personnel. These troops are to be used for increased participation in overseas peacekeeping efforts. The Prime Minister has stated that Canadas military future lies in peacekeeping, citing the Canadian participating in Afghanistan as a template for future operations. The Liberal Party has also said they would like to add another 3,000 personnel to Canadas existing 15,500 reserve force.
Canadas Foreign Affairs Department website is already presenting a series of questions and answers to respond to issues involving the countrys participating in the BMD system (http://www.dfait-maeci.gc.ca/department/focus/bmd-en.asp). Initial participation in the system would link NORADs radar and command and control systems into the BMD network, a mostly symbolic act since the joint U.S.-Canadian command is headquartered in Colorado Springs and all of the long-range sensors (Radar, satellite) are in U.S. hands. NORAD has been in operation since 1958 to defend North American airspace as a joint U.S./Canadian venture.
Canadian officials fear that that NORAD would become obsolete without participating in the U.S. BMD program. They would also like to find a way to cash in on the billions of dollars being spent in the construction of the BMD program over the next decade as well as have a voice in the future direction of the program. Doug Mohney