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Canada funds Europe-based missile defence program but won't join one at home

Canada funds Europe-based missile defence program but won't join one at home
From CBC - July 17, 2017

While Canada remains on the outside of ballistic missile defence in North America, it is contributing cash towardthe development of a similar, somewhat less sophisticated NATO system in Europe, federal documents reveal.

An issues paper, prepared for Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan in the fall of 2015, shows Canadian officials have participated in discussions at the alliance level about the Europe-based defence system and Canada "contributes financially to elements" of the program.

The initial cost of the missile defence system was pegged at $1.1 billion, but upgrades could add at least another $300 million to the price tag (all figures are Canadian), which is expected to be borne by all 29 NATO members through their quarterly contributions.

The Canadian government will contribute $77.9 million towardalliance operations and an additional $60.1 million to NATO investment programs in the current budget year.

Since the missile money goes into a common fund, National Defence and NATO say they do not have a precise tally of how manyCanadian dollars have been allocated to the development of the system, which has limited direct benefit for the Canadian military.

"Canada considers the NATO system to be solely for the protection of NATO European territory, populations and forces," said the documents, obtained by CBC News under access to information legislation.

Ca not cherry-pick

In 2005, the Liberal government of former prime minister Paul Martin decided not to participate in a North America-based version of ballistic missile defencea position upheld in the Trudeau government's recent defence policy.

A spokeswoman for Sajjan tried to reconcile the contradiction of paying to protect Europe from the missiles of rogue states, but not North America.

"It is not inconsistent for an international alliance to have common defence policies while individual nations have their own policies," said Jordan Owensin an email statement.

Canada cannot cherry-pick what the military alliance does with the country's overall contributions, she argued.

"As a committed member of NATO, Canada contributes to the collective defence of our European allies and partners in a variety of ways."

In fact, under the rules of the program, each nation does have a limited say on what aspect of ballistic missile defence will be funded by its dollars.

Canada contributes to the development of the command-and-control system, which links a web of radar installations and anti-missile batteries throughout Europe at sea and ashore.

Harper limited Canada's role

When the former Conservative government signalled its intention to participate in the NATO program in 2010, the idea was to protect alliance troops and installations, but it has been expanded in the years since to defend the entire European continent.

And it was former prime minister Stephen Harper who insisted at the 2010 NATO leaders summit in Lisbon that clauses be added limiting the scope of the program to Europe, says Richard Cohen, who served as an adviser to former defence minister Peter MacKay.

Evolving system

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