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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.

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 Conservative James Bezan

Thank you. It's time to move on.

Mr. Kellway.

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

NDP

Matthew Kellway NDP 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 NDP 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 NDP Beaches—East York, ON

Really, I'm talking about the new—

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative 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 Conservative 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?

1 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Bezan

Okay.

1 p.m.

Conservative

Chris Alexander Conservative Ajax—Pickering, ON

We have a vote at 1:20.

1 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Bezan

Bells will be going off again in about 20 minutes.

Okay, we'll keep moving along.

Mr. Strahl, you're on.

1 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Thank you, Chair. That will affect my questioning structure a little bit.

I was going to ask, in light of Mr. Kellway's question, whether the new Russian and Chinese fighter jets have the capability to deliver nuclear weapons.

1 p.m.

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

Dr. Ernie Regehr

I am not aware of the Chinese. The Russians certainly do. As long as they maintain non-strategic weapons, they will have fighter aircraft with that capability.

1 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Is that in response to the F-35, or is the F-35 design responding to what Russia has, in your view?

1 p.m.

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

Dr. Ernie Regehr

It's part of a long-term strategy of simply maintaining a mix of nuclear capability from strategic—air, land, and sea—to a variety of non-strategic.The United States has gone down to virtually a single non-strategic weapon, the B61. Russia keeps a wider range.

1 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Perhaps you could answer. I was going to ask Professor Granatstein. I'm assuming you observe NATO for more than just nuclear disarmament reasons. Some of the things he talked about were problems with a 60-year-old alliance. When pressed quickly into an actual operation, it had obvious communications difficulties and some concerns with interoperability. Would you agree with me that it's important to Canada as part of NATO to continue to participate in international exercises, and when we are procuring equipment, we make sure the interoperability of that equipment with our NATO allies is paramount?

1 p.m.

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

Dr. Ernie Regehr

As I said before, I think it's very important that Canada continue to participate in military and other kinds of operations beyond its borders and that it has the capacity to make a contribution. Having said that, I think we need to adopt a bit of modesty about what can be accomplished, as both Libya and Afghanistan indicate these expeditionary operations can be very efficient, and particular elements of military operation, as in deposing regimes. As in both cases, we are seeing that the major challenge is in rebuilding new regimes. There, a different set of resources, skills, and capabilities are required. While Canada needs to maintain a capability to cooperate with allies and others, including in the United Nations, in the military peace support operations internationally, I think a much more heightened approach to the diplomatic reconstruction elements of resolving those conflicts needs to be included.

1 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Do you think NATO is best placed to head those sorts of rebuilding efforts, or should that be left to the United Nations or another body? Is NATO designed to have that whole-of-government approach to a rebuild?

1:05 p.m.

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

Dr. Ernie Regehr

I think the evidence is that NATO is not designed particularly for that. Its primary role is collective defence. It has adopted the role of crisis management with some mixed degree of success. The cooperative security needs a much broader canvas than what NATO can provide.

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

Mark Strahl Conservative Chilliwack—Fraser Canyon, BC

Thank you.

1:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative James Bezan

Thank you. You still have time left, but we will move on.

Mr. Brahmi, you have five minutes.

1:05 p.m.

NDP

Tarik Brahmi NDP Saint-Jean, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I will be asking my questions in French.

Mr. Regehr, you talked mostly about nuclear disarmament against NATO's traditional backdrop, in other words, the Cold War and the traditional nuclear powers, so to speak.

Do you have any suggestions on the role NATO should play as far as emerging traditional powers go? Without getting into the conflicts, could you comment on the tensions that exist between India and Pakistan, and between Iran and Israel? How might the pursuit of global nuclear disarmament take shape for these two sets of countries, which are all emerging nuclear powers?