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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.

Conservative

Ted Opitz Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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 Conservative 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.

12:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Bezan

Your time has expired.

We're moving on to Mr. McKay.

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

Liberal

John McKay Liberal 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 Liberal 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 Liberal 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 Liberal 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 Liberal 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 Liberal 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 Liberal Scarborough—Guildwood, ON

Okay. Thank you.

Am I done?

12:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Bezan

Time is done. Thank you.

Ms. Gallant, you have the floor.