On Monday, June 18th, as Chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence, it was an honour to table our committee’s report Canada and NATO: An Alliance Forged in Strength and Reliability.
It was the Committee’s 10th report and was unanimous.
Since 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been the cornerstone of transatlantic security for nearly 70 years.
As a founding member of NATO, Canada has been a reliable and strong member for almost 7 decades and has contributed to every NATO mission since its inception.
Adapting to major shifts in global security from the end of the Cold War to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the NATO political, military and economic alliance remains vitally important, and continues to provide its 29 member states with collective security and stability.
NATO has also proved its ability to adapt to today’s highly complex and unpredictable international security environment. In 2014, Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and behaviour in Eastern Ukraine marked a fundamental shift for NATO, and prompted NATO’s largest reinforcement of collective defence since the end of the Cold War, an effort in which Canada plays a major leadership role.
At the same time, the persistent threat from transnational terrorist groups and the rapid rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria has compelled NATO to enhance its efforts in conflict-prone regions throughout the Middle East and North Africa.
Throughout the Committee’s study, witnesses repeatedly said Canada matters to NATO, holding the view that Canada is a well-respected and dependable ally within the organization, capable of integration and leadership at every level within it.
The Committee also heard that more could be done to support NATO and its allies: witnesses pointed to improving Canada’s procurement process, allocating funds for developing new technologies, and investing in cyber and information warfare.
It was also suggested that Canada do more to support the Canadian defence business sector with the goal of increasing their participation in NATO’s procurement projects.
In total the Committee’s report contains 27 recommendations relating to Canada’s involvement in NATO in such areas as NATO’s programs and operations, public outreach, educational awareness and communications, issues in relation to NATO procurement and the defence industrial sector, research and development on new technologies, cyber defence, Arctic and maritime security, the Women, Peace and Security agenda, security sector reform, nuclear disarmament, and NATO’s unity and interoperability.
At its core, NATO remains a values-based alliance, committed to the principles of individual liberty, democracy and the rule of law.
Canada’s leadership within NATO, the value of the country’s contributions, and the recognized professionalism and interoperability of the Canadian Armed Forces with other NATO countries makes us a reliable, well-respected ally within the North American alliance.
Canada has been a dependable, strong partner and remains committed to both NATO and the collective security of NATO countries. Certainly, Canada matters to NATO, and NATO matters to Canada.
We look forward to receiving the Government’s considered response to see how it envisions meeting the needs of NATO including through the objectives of Canada’s defence policy Strong, Secure, Engaged.
For those interested in reading the full report please go to www.ourcommons.ca .
Stephen Fuhr, CD is the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country