Paul Martin: Decision on ballistic missile defence might be different today
Former prime minister Paul Martin says the decision not to join the U.S.’s ballistic missile defence (BMD) program over a decade ago was based on the information available at the time — and he might make a different choice today.
In an interview with The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos, Martin explained that the world has changed dramatically since 2005.
“(The) circumstances have changed substantially,” said the former PM. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that North Korea is the greatest threat that any of us face at the present time.”
During an appearance at the Standing Committee on National Defence on Sept. 14, Pierre St-Amand, deputy commander of NORAD testified that the U.S. would not defend Canada if a North Korean nuclear missile is heading toward North America.
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Currently, Canada has no means to defend itself. Martin said the country has an “excellent” minister of defence in Harjit Sajjan, however, and that the Department of National Defence will need to decide what to do moving forward.
“But you can rest assured that what’s going on in North Korea is going to be front and centre as they make those decisions,” Martin noted.
The North Korean regime, led by Kim Jong-un, has carried out a series of ballistic missile tests in recent weeks that have drawn widespread condemnation from the international community.
Earlier this month, a former high-ranking NORAD commander told Kapelos that the Martin government’s decision not to join the BMD program back in 2005 had taken both him and our American allies by surprise.
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But Martin explained that the choice came down to several key, unanswered questions. What role would Canada play in the program, for example? How much influence would we have when it came time to make decisions?
A decade ago, there were also still widespread concerns that BMD was destabilizing from a global military perspective, that the costs were too high and that it simply it didn’t work (the complexity of stopping a nuclear-armed missile mid-flight has been compared to hitting a bullet with another bullet).
There have been significant technological improvements since then, but it remains unclear if Canada will attempt to join the BMD program in the coming months.
Tune in to The West Block at 11am ET on Sunday for the full interview with former prime minister Paul Martin.
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