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

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Professor Regehr wanted to jump in on this.

12:50 p.m.

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

Dr. Ernie Regehr

I feel compelled to introduce into this discussion at least some regard for the United Nations and the United Nations peacekeeping operations. They operate in very difficult circumstances, in very productive ways, in Sudan now—South Sudan as well as in the Nuba Mountains—and still in Darfur. These are all under-resourced operations, as in the DRC. The northern industrialized communities have been largely absent from those operations, except for some financing. If we're thinking of recalibrating Canadian defence policy, I think we ought to include consideration of that, of greater involvement there as well.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

In terms of the Pacific, the coalitions of the willing, do you see any challenges in terms of interoperability and sharing intelligence, given that the NATO countries themselves find challenges from time to time?

12:50 p.m.

As an Individual

Dr. Jack Granatstein

Clearly, there would be challenges. We do have close intelligence relationships with the United States, a Pacific power, with Australia and New Zealand, Pacific powers. The challenges arise when it comes to the countries I mentioned originally—Japan, Korea, Singapore—and I suspect we would treat such nations much as NATO nations are excluded from some of the intelligence that Britain and Canada receive from the United States: we get some of it that others don't.

There were German and Dutch officers in Afghanistan who complained bitterly about what they saw as a conspiracy, that Canadians got more intelligence from the Americans than they did. It's tough in an alliance, because you trust some people more than others, necessarily.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

You mentioned that a dimension in Libya exposed certain European weaknesses. Would you elaborate upon what those weaknesses you observed were?

12:50 p.m.

As an Individual

Dr. Jack Granatstein

Many of the countries in NATO that participated in the Libyan operation ran out of bombs very quickly. Some of them didn't have pilots. Some of them refused to participate in certain aspects of the mission. Some of the communications in aircraft could not talk to other aircraft. After sixty years of an alliance, to have these kinds of problems arise in an operation just offshore, in a sense, and very close to Europe struck me as, frankly, incredible.

12:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Thank you. It's time to move on.

Mr. Kellway.

June 12th, 2012 / 12:55 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thanks to our guests for coming today.

Professor Regehr, you referenced the F-35 and nuclear weapons in your paper and in your comments today. It was very brief, so I'm wondering if you can expand on it a bit and tell us whether, in your view, the F-35, with this capacity to carry nuclear arms, it was kind of a very intentional thought, that the F-35 would be part of a broader nuclear strategy; second, whether it is very consciously perceived as such by certain countries in the world; and third, if there's any controversy within NATO over that capacity of the F-35 in light of your comments around the non-proliferation treaty.

12:55 p.m.

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

Dr. Ernie Regehr

The United States has always had the intention of building some F-35s with dual capability; that is, they would have the capability of delivering these particular gravity bombs, which are the B61s. The B61 is also deliverable by the strategic bomber, the B-2 bomber. But the new fighter aircraft role is to go to the F-35. There are a limited number of them, but they are there.

The question that then comes up is whether those European states that currently host B61 bombs will build into their purchase of the F-35, if that's what they purchase, nuclear carrying capability. There's an expectation that they will.

I think it's a politically loaded issue that is a few years down the line, but it will be coming to the fore. As I said, in a time of financial scarcity, the added cost will be one factor, but I think the political cost will be much more.

In Germany, there's a very strong public attitude in support of eliminating the nuclear role in Germany. Right now, the German government is protected by kind of a legacy. They've had this role for a long time, and there isn't any decision there. But when the decision comes to build this into the new aircraft and overtly declare that they, potentially, for the next 30 to 40 years, are going to continue a nuclear role, that will light a spark of political controversy I think in the Netherlands, in Germany in particular, and also I think in Italy. I'm not quite so certain about Turkey.

I think it'll be a very important political question. Not being a historian, I can predict the future, and I'd wager that Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy will decide not to include the nuclear capability.

12:55 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

That's interesting.

Professor Granatstein, I hear your reservations about NATO. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the role of NATO in the context Professor Regehr laid out with respect to the changing idea of what the nuclear threat actually is. Now we have this threat of the proliferation of nuclear arms. In your view, is NATO a useful entity in light of that threat? If so, how, and if not, why not?

12:55 p.m.

As an Individual

Dr. Jack Granatstein

I'm not sure I quite understand your question, but let me try.

Russia still has substantial nuclear weapons, but they have fewer than they did before. If I were a European member of NATO, I would be very concerned that there not be an imbalance. I would be very concerned that my side at least had enough nuclear weapons to make deterrence credible. I think we do. I think the object should be to sustain that balance.

1 p.m.

NDP

Matthew Kellway Beaches—East York, ON

Really, I'm talking about the new—

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Your time is up. Five minutes goes by fast when you're having fun, I know.

1 p.m.

As an Individual

Dr. Jack Granatstein

Mr. Chair, my time, unfortunately, is up as well, as I must leave at 1 p.m.

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair James Bezan

Okay. It is 1 p.m.

Professor, thank you for coming. We'll excuse you. I found your comments today very intriguing and helpful.

Does the rest of the committee want to continue? I know that we should adjourn at 1 p.m., but since we started late, would you like to have a couple of more rounds of questions with Professor Regehr?