Evidence of meeting #46 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

  • Jack Granatstein  As an Individual
  • Ernie Regehr  Research Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Waterloo, As an Individual

12:40 p.m.

As an Individual

Dr. Jack Granatstein

It's been more than 60 years since the founding of NATO. While I'm inclined to agree that Russia is a threat of a kind to eastern Europe, it is a threat of a different kind than it has been for most of the last 60 years.

Is Russia liable to send troops into eastern Europe tomorrow? Very unlikely. Is it possible it might do so 10 years from now? Possibly. But fundamentally, surely this is a European problem.

Canada has an interest, but it is somewhat less of an interest, I would suggest, than what we had 60 years ago when it was a worldwide Cold War taking shape. I don't see the Russians being likely to take that kind of approach on a global scale in the near future.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

I was asking about the situation with Russia because it borders us in the Arctic, so we cannot say that we don't have an interest in Russia.

If you are looking at Russia, and you are putting yourself in the mentality of Russia between the two world wars, they created that big industrial machine between the two world wars and nobody believed it. But now, as a big country, with China on the right and NATO on the left, they are starting to feel squeezed. They will do something, so we need to react. They are bordering us in the Arctic, and the Arctic is opening, so we cannot just neglect our interest in them.

What is your opinion of that?

12:40 p.m.

As an Individual

Dr. Jack Granatstein

I wouldn't for a minute suggest that we neglect the Russians. I would suggest that we assess properly what threats there might be from them and react to them in an appropriate way. We may have a different idea of what those threats might be. That's all.

I think in the Arctic, at the moment, we're much more likely to be cooperating with the Russians than combatting them.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

You're speaking about the nuclear issue. When the Warsaw Pact in the 1990s...conventional weaponry was part of the Warsaw Pact and Russia and the nuclear situation was balanced. Now it is reversed. Conventional superiority is on the side of NATO and you have an imbalance on the nuclear side.

How do you think nuclear disarmament can proceed in this situation when it is a perceived threat from both sides? It's a reverse threat.

12:40 p.m.

Research Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Waterloo, As an Individual

Dr. Ernie Regehr

To quote the Lithuanian minister again, and perhaps too often, she also said, quite explicitly, after talking about the concerns about Russia, that there's no military threat from Russia.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

Corneliu Chisu Pickering—Scarborough East, ON

What about Kaliningrad?

12:40 p.m.

Research Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Waterloo, As an Individual

Dr. Ernie Regehr

There are concerns about what may or may not be in Kaliningrad.

But she did say that.

I quoted Karl Deutsch. His definition of a mutual security community is one in which a pluralistic group of states abides in which the idea of them going to war with each other to solve their problems is really unthinkable.

It's unthinkable for much of the Euro-Atlantic communities. It's probably not entirely unthinkable, but I think the move towards disarmament is in seeking ways of reducing the threat posture both ways and finding ways of commonly addressing mutual interests, as we have in the Arctic.

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you. Your time has expired.

Ms. Moore, go ahead.

June 12th, 2012 / 12:40 p.m.

NDP

Christine Moore Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Regehr, you are a disarmament expert. NATO's strategic concept includes a commitment to arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. I would like to hear your take on NATO's efforts to control arms and the biggest challenges it faces in that regard.

I have another question about arms control. Some of the world's biggest arms exporters are NATO countries, and the regions they export weapons to include north and northwest Africa, and the Middle East, places like Libya, Algeria, Syria, Yemen and Egypt.

Until recently, Canada was selling arms to Libya, Algeria and even Egypt. No one saw the Arab Spring coming or the fact that thousands of civilians would be killed with weapons made in Canada, the U.S. or France. We do know, however, that the leaders of these Arab countries, like Colonel Gadhafi, didn't turn into dictators overnight. There had likely been some awareness for a while that the arms sold had perhaps been used for many years to kill or wrongfully imprison civilians.

What stance should Canada take on this issue? What position should we adopt or try to advance with NATO when it comes to arms control?

12:45 p.m.

Research Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Waterloo, As an Individual

Dr. Ernie Regehr

Thank you very much for that.

I think we have to understand that NATO, as a collectivity, does not have a major role in direct arms control negotiations. NATO can play an important role in shaping the environment in which arms control negotiations take place, but those negotiations are either much narrower, bilateral, between Russia and the United States, or are much broader, multilateral, within the UN context. So NATO as an institution I think doesn't have that direct a role, but it shapes the environment.

Of relevance there are two very important obstacles to arms control, which I've already mentioned, and they are ballistic missile defence and the conventional imbalance in forces between NATO and Russia. Both of those are going to be very important as we move down towards lower levels. In strategic arms control there will be movement down to lower levels. Russia is already below the new START levels in the number of weapons it deploys. So it's going to continue to go down. But I think the further down it goes, the more ballistic missile defence and the imbalance in conventional will be a factor. Ballistic missile defence can be dealt with either by pausing it or by doing it very overtly, cooperatively, with Russia. That's the only solution there. On the conventional imbalance, it means a reinvention of the relationship between NATO and the Russian Federation in particular. I think that is what's required there.

I'm happy to say a little bit about the conventional arms and the export of conventional arms, partly because at the United Nations we're moving in July into negotiations on an arms trade treaty. The U.K. has been a particular champion of that. For a couple of years now there have been preparatory committee meetings towards an arms trade treaty, and that's going to come to the fore this summer when the negotiations take place. I think that's going to be very difficult, because of the wide range of economic and political interests involved in the export of military commodities. But the attempt to create some international standards of restraint is very important. Canada has been largely supportive of the move towards an arms trade treaty, and I think it needs to continue in that direction. Some issues like human rights criteria, for example, need to figure in prominently, and those are things that Canada should be promoting.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you very much. Your time is up.

Ms. Gallant, you have the floor.

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chairman,

Professor Granatstein, you mentioned F-35s in passing today. I recall an article that was published in April; it was on the costing of that. It mentioned that now they have to factor in not only the cost of the plane but also the parts costs, as well as added equipment, and the maintenance. So spares and maintenance have to be factored in. Has it not been customary over the past number of years, 10 or 20 years, to also include projected fuel costs and wages for the pilots, for example?

12:50 p.m.

As an Individual

Dr. Jack Granatstein

I believe so, yes.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Okay.

I want to go back now to the aspect of having not a formal alliance but looking at the Pacific. You mentioned that you didn't need a specific, formal alliance. In the absence of having a command structure or a set of articles, a constitution, upon which to base decisions, how would this work? Would it just be ad hoc?

12:50 p.m.

As an Individual

Dr. Jack Granatstein

Coalitions of the willing, which we have been part of in the past. Realistically they would probably involve a U.S. command structure into which other nations would fit. It would obviously help if we were thinking this way to undertake exercises with some of the nations in the Pacific. We are in fact doing this. We participate in RIMPAC each year, and we're participating in a bigger way than usual this year. We have closer relationships with Australia. We have growing relationships with Singapore. In other words, we're de facto moving in this direction. I think this is a good thing. We have friends in some parts of the world who we should talk to more often about military cooperation.