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

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Your time has expired.

We're moving on to Mr. McKay.

May 17th, 2012 / 12:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Thank you, Chair. Thank you for coming, Mr. Perry.

I want to explore the issue of limitations on interoperability. We've had some discussion here and elsewhere about the caveats that nations impose on their participation in joint operations. We've had some observations with respect to intelligence sharing, that some people get more intelligence than others, and that's clearly a limitation.

One of the things that's coming up, and I don't know whether you've addressed your mind to it, is that the government has introduced a treaty in the Senate, the cluster munitions treaty. A couple of clauses are contained in the proposed bill, which frankly you could drive a truck through. We as a nation say we will not use cluster munitions—and I'm paraphrasing here and somewhat exaggerating, but I'm not too far off—but if we are in joint operations with other nations that do use them, then we can use them or we can command those that do use them. It's a strange position to be in to say we don't use them, but we'll go along with people who do use them. Of course, the principal nation that does use them is the United States.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on what that does to interoperability going forward vis-à-vis NATO operations, but also your thoughts with respect to whether that came up or should have come up with respect to, say, General Bouchard's command of the NATO force in Libya.

12:35 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

With respect to the last point, I'm not aware that issue was raised because I don't believe there were instances of cluster munitions being dropped in Libya.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Yes, I think you're right.

12:35 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

I haven't read the Senate bill, so I don't want to comment on that in too much detail.

I think the current approach we've been taking does make sense. We don't want to totally proscribe our ability to work with folks who use these kinds of munitions, because as long as the United States is using them—I think Libya gives us a perfect example—NATO or Canada, anyone else, essentially can't do very much at all without the United States. As long as the United States is still employing these types of munitions, if we were to proscribe ourselves from being involved in a coalition or commanding one involving American aircraft because they might be using cluster munitions, then we'd be setting some pretty narrow limits on what we were prepared to do internationally.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

It is also an intensely hypocritical position, wouldn't you agree? Somehow or other, we won't use them for our own purposes, but where somebody else does use them, we will use them.

12:35 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

I don't think we're saying we'll use them, just that we're not going to not participate and operate with folks who do.

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

So as long as we're participating in joint operations, it's okay to use what has arguably been described as a horrific weapons system.

12:35 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

Again, I'm not familiar with any previous experiences of the Canadian Forces using them, so I'd take issue with the use of the words “our using them”. I'd just point out that—

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

I think you're right. The Canadian Forces have never used them. I think Canadians would be pretty horrified if we did use them. It's almost a guilt by association concept when you enter into a joint operation, you in effect have to go to the “lowest common denominator” and participate, because in this case, the United States has no hesitation to use them in certain situations.

12:35 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

Right. I think you're getting into specifics that I can't necessarily address, but I would simply state that I think there is an opportunity for arrangements like NATO to try to set out rules of engagement and any kinds of restrictions that other members of a coalition, like Canada, might want to set on the types of munitions that could be used and the types of situations under which they could be deployed.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

It does strike me as a limitation on interoperability, but it also strikes me as an opportunity for nations such as Canada to say that if this is going to be in the game, if this is going to be a weapons system, we will use in conflict X, Y, or Z, then we will have to pull back, or we will have to write a caveat or something of that nature.

12:40 p.m.

Defence Analyst, Conference of Defence Associations Institute

David Perry

I think that's an accurate assessment.

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

John McKay Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Okay. Thank you.

Am I done?

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Time is done. Thank you.

Ms. Gallant, you have the floor.