16 janvier 2018 | Local, Aérospatial

Report could renew Canadian debate over U.S. missile defence system: defence analyst

A European report forecasting a surge in billions of dollars worth of missile and missile defence sales worldwide over the next 10 years could renew Canadian debate over signing on to the U.S. missile defence system, a defence analyst says.

The forecasting agency based in Amsterdam is offering a market report on missile systems to global defence production companies that forecasts a rise in the value of sales to $93 billion for 2027 — compared to $55 billion in 2018 — for a total of $725 billion in sales over the decade.

In the summary of its industry report, ASDMedia BV says the main driver for missile production, including all types of missiles from ballistic to short range and air-to-air missiles, is an increase in “territorial conflicts.”

“The market for missile defence systems is anticipated to be the largest category primarily due to the ongoing procurement of missile systems by countries of the Asia Pacific, North American and European regions,” the report says.

The report was published recently, during the escalation of tension over North Korean nuclear missile launches, but prior to the missile attack scare from a false alarm in Hawaii on Saturday.

The missile spending forecast could also be of interest to participants in an international conference the Canadian government is hosting in Vancouver this week on the North Korean standoff.

Senior analyst with the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, David Perry, says the market forecast of missile sales reflects a concern the Department of National Defence included about missile proliferation in the Liberal government's first national defence policy earlier this year, which at the same time included no specific plans for a response to the problem.

Although the Liberal strategy included references to ballistic missile defence and modernizing northern defence warnings systems along with the U.S., it did not take a position on the long-sensitive question of whether Canada should sign on to the U.S. ballistic missile defence system.

“It was one of those strange bits of the policy where there was an identification of an increased concern and a threat, but then not really any specific itemization of what was going to be done about it,” said Perry.

Perry, who took part in closed-door consultations with experts in the lead-up to the review, said the market forecasts, along with the ongoing North Korea crisis, indicate ballistic missile defence should be renewed in Canadian defence discussions, following a short-lived flirtation with the idea by the last Liberal government in 2005.

This past August, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to almost rule out any chance of discussions with the U.S. over ballistic missile defence, but in September said Canada was not considering the idea “for the time being.”

“Based on the comments by the Prime Minister, I'm not expecting any urgent movement on ballistic missiles,” said Perry, who argued for Canadian involvement in missile defence during the policy consultations.

“I'm curious in a strategic sense, international market observers are saying there's a growing market for this technology because the potential threat of missiles is proliferating, and you've got that (ambiguous) language reflected in the defence policy,” he told iPolitics.

The head of Ottawa's Rideau Institute, founded as an advocate for the rule of international law and disarmament, said Perry's desire to renew ballistic missile defence discussions is a reflection of the defence industry's views.

“In my view, there isn't actually a debate,” said Rideau Institute president Peggy Mason.

“The defence industry lobby keeps raising it, but I think it's absolutely clear that this government, the Liberal government, the Justin Trudeau government, has no interest in reviewing this issue, so long as President Trump is President,” said Mason.

“There are so many good reasons not to review it,”Mason told iPolitics, “but just the difficulty of trying to sell this, getting closer to the U.S. on a very controversial and very costly area while President Trump is in office...”


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