November 21, 2014 4:30 pm

Blog: Halifax security forum and the idea of ‘Fortress North America’

Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, right, and Justice Minister Peter MacKay address the opening news conference at the Halifax International Security Forum in Halifax on Friday, November 21, 2014.


So here’s my weekend; sitting around with Generals, spooks and politicians talking about depraved terrorists, asymmetrical warfare and spying. We’ll also try and watch a bit of hockey.

I’ll admit this is a bit of a one-off.

But it’s what you do at the Halifax International Security Forum, a gathering of some 300 of the world’s best minds on security and intelligence. Canada has played host to this for the past six years and it’s gaining a reputation as one of the best of its kind.

Story continues below

This year, we’re pulling back the curtain of secrecy on one of the sessions and turning it into a sort of world town hall for a special edition of The West Block.

The question we will put before the forum is this: Can we make North America safe from the worst of terrorism and crime by re-imagining how the continent could work?

In other words, should we bring back the idea of Fortress North America?

Here’s just a few of the people who will answer that: General Charles Jacoby, the head of Northern Command of the U.S. military, Canadian defence Minister Rob Nicholson, American Senators John McCain and John Barosso, General Tom Lawson, Chief of the Defence Staff of Canada, General Frank Grass, the director of the US National Guard and for some spice, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the inflammatory Republican and icon of the Tea Party faction. Thats for starters. There are 293 others who want in on this too.

The idea of Fortress North America has some charms in terms of safety and efficiency, but there are some enormous drawbacks too. If a country like Canada partners more deeply with the United States, how much control and independence do we hang on to? And are we ready to take on the biggest security threat in North America; the scourge of violent organized crime in Mexico. If we buy into Fortress North America, we buy into that as well.

Here’s something else we may as well talk about. If we do go down this road, why not go all the way and create a new North America that looks and acts much like the European Union; separate states with one common border. That should get Senator Cruz going.

This is the first time a public forum like this has ever been tried at the conference. I don’t know how it will turn out, but it won’t be boring.

Catch our highlights from the panel on The West Block Sunday, November 23.

© 2014 Shaw Media

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.