Evidence of meeting #41 for National Defence in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was nato.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Rasa Jukneviciene  Minister of National Defence, Government of the Republic of Lithuania
  • David Perry  Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

12:30 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

The short answer would be no. I think if there are countries that have a desire to go further, then only a limited degree of coordination can happen in Brussels.

12:30 p.m.

NDP

Jack Harris St. John's East, NL

Thank you.

Have I used up my five minutes?

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

You're pretty much over time.

Carrying on, we have Mr. Opitz.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Through you, thank you for being here today, Mr. Perry.

We've just heard, of course, from the Lithuanian minister, and keeping some of the elements in mind with BALTBAT and the fact that they interoperate with other Baltic states—Poland and so forth, and Ukraine on some levels—smart defence means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It will probably mean some different things to some of the smaller nations. We talked about the air force capabilities. She just described the fact that a lot of their air surveillance is helped by the other Baltic states—Poland, and the United States and others providing those ranges of capability.

Are you able, sir, to touch on how smart defence for Canada could mean a drastically different thing than it would for a smaller partner nation like Lithuania? As well, how can members of the alliance work together to ensure that while each nation may have different capabilities, the mandate of NATO, as found in article 5, will always remain its top priority?

Can you comment, sir?

12:30 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

Thank you.

I think the size of the military that's involved does make a difference, so obviously Lithuania is very circumscribed in the kinds of capabilities and the numbers they can devote to any particular task, so they are forced to specialize quite heavily. Therefore, for countries like that there is a significant interest in developing an arrangement whereby they can specialize quite clearly and leave it to other people to do various things for them.

What we've seen so far from Canada is that smart defence is essentially going to mean a continuation of our status quo military posture. I know that some of the witnesses who have appeared before you have essentially said that smart defence for Canada is going to be more of the same. We've seen that the Canadian government has pulled out of two of what would be considered smart defence initiatives. The AWACS contribution and AGS are coming to an end.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

We had James Appathurai here not long ago. In 2010, NATO produced its strategic concept that establishes a road map for NATO over the next ten years.

Sir, what are your thoughts on this strategic concept? In your opinion, does it do enough to address the emerging threats like space and cyber-security? Does the strategic concept itself provide a clear mandate and a way forward for the NATO alliance for the better half of the next ten years?

If not, what would you like to have seen added to this?

12:30 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

The strategic concept was relatively comprehensive. I think the critical issue is going to be trying to match capabilities to the intent that's laid out in the strategic concept. There is a lot of good stuff in there, a lot of aspiration with new security threats, and also new initiatives, like the cooperation with new partners. Then we've also seen the smart defence come later. So I think the key issue will be to try to find the capacity and the willingness within the alliance members to implement what was laid out.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

In terms of Russia and what the ambassador said earlier, what is your view on Russia, NATO, and how sincere do you believe Russia is in cooperating with NATO?

12:30 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

I'm not quite sure. I think a lot of conflicting messages are coming out of Russia. I think they certainly have had a bit of response to NATO's push right up to their doorstep, something they're very sensitive about. So I think it remains to be seen what the evolution of that mission is now that President Putin has returned to office for the third time.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Do you see a way forward for Ukraine and Georgia to enter the alliance at some point?

12:30 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

That's certainly something that there's been a lot of interest expressed in. I don't think that's necessarily going to attenuate any of the potential conflicts we have with Russia, if membership is granted to those states.

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

Canada has developed some significant capabilities in our years in Afghanistan and our cooperation in other missions. How important is it, in your opinion, that Canada maintain these capabilities and is able to grow these capabilities in the NATO context, in terms of smart defence and collaboration with other partner nations?

12:30 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

If we want to keep playing the same kind of active international role that we have in the past, I think it's very necessary. If there is a reduction that certainly exceeds what has been laid out, we're going to have some serious rethinking about what our strategy and policies are, going forward.

Simply put, we need to have at least as much as we have now, if we want to be able to play the same role in the future as we have in recent years.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Etobicoke Centre, ON

If our capabilities were diminished, do you think this would have a serious impact on our reputation abroad and impact our skill sets?

12:35 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

I'm not sure about the reputation part of that, but in terms of our skills sets and our capacity to do things, I think absolutely that would be the case.