The Trudeau government in Canada is giving serious consideration to joining the U.S. on ballistic missile defense (BMD), the Globe and Mail reports. The Liberals had agreed to an opposition demand for an emergency session of the House of Commons standing committee on national defense in order to discuss how Canada would react to any intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) attack from North Korea.
The meeting will be scheduled sometime before the Canadian Parliament resumes sitting on Sept. 18, after its summer recess.
The emergency session will occur weeks after North Korea threatened to send an ICBM to Guam and President Donald Trump warned of grave consequences if they did so.
Canada has debated the merits of BMD since it was first invited to join the program in 2005 by then-President George W. Bush. The Liberal government of Paul Martin turned down the offer but the new Conservative administration of Prime Minister Stephen Harper was widely expected to endorse the plan when it took office in 2006. For the next decade, Harper did his best to avoid the issue, though former defense minister Peter MacKay recently told the National Post that he wish he had of signed a deal with the U.S. when he had the chance.
The defense committee plans to bring in a series of government officials and academics to analyze the situation.
“Canadians are talking about North Korea and what’s been going on and they want to know answers to some of those questions,” Liberal committee member Mark Gerretsen told the Globe and Mail, adding that with North Korea being a potential ICBM threat, “I think ballistic missile defence would be something that would most definitely come up.”
The Canadian department of national defense is not saying the government’s position on BMD has changed but admits it is studying the concept as part of Canada’s ongoing NORAD partnership with the U.S.
The Conservative opposition remains non-committal to BMD. Defense Critic and defense committee member James Bezan told The Daily Caller that he is anxious to hear what plans the government has to defend Canada in the face of North Korean hostility.
“Opposition members requested the meeting and the Liberals agreed to the hearings. The meetings will focus on what the Canadian Armed Forces and the government are doing to prepare for a possible attack by ICBMs, other conventional weapons and/or non-conventional weapons of mass destruction,” Bezan said.
“The main question is what is the Canadian Armed Forces’s state of readiness? How is Canada working with the U.S. through NORAD and other defence cooperation efforts to protect Canadians? As the official opposition, we will let the Liberal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau explain what steps they’re taking to protect Canada.”