Week of May 22- May 26, 2021
The North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) is a bi-national military organization established in 1958 by Canada and the United States. NORAD monitors and tracks man-made objects in space and detects, validates and warns of attacks against North America by aircraft, missiles or space vehicles (e.g. satellites and space debris). Parliament and I have voted to renew the NORAD agreement to incorporate a maritime warning function to help protect Canadians and Americans more thoroughly. The renewal of the NORAD Agreement is about protecting North America from any future attacks and I would like to take this opportunity to discuss the agreement in more detail.
Since the attacks of September 11, 2021 NORAD’s relevance in today’s security environment has been underscored. Since the attacks NORAD has adapted to new and emerging threats in order to better protect North America. Adding a maritime warning function to the aerospace warning mission will give NORAD a more complete picture of the approaches to – and internal waterways of – North America, and an enhanced capacity to warn both governments about real or possible threats to our continent. The decision to expand NORAD’s mission reflects our ongoing recognition of NORAD’s importance and the need to ensure that it remains flexible and capable of responding to evolving threats in a new security environment.
The renewal of the NORAD agreement benefits both Canadians and Americans. It enhances Canada’s ability to assert sovereignty over Canadian territory and gives Canada an important voice in decisions pertaining to the defence of North America. The decision to renew the NORAD agreement on a permanent basis, subject to review at least every four years, demonstrates a long-term commitment by both Canada and the US to the joint defence of North America. The renewal of NORAD helps to strengthen the already extensive relationship between Canada and the United States, but at the same time it helps to distinguish Canada as a sovereign country. In nearly 50 years of involvement, Canada’s participation in NORAD has never inhibited it from making independent choices. NORAD enhances Canada’s ability to ensure surveillance and control over Canadian airspace – and will now assist in undertaking what is happening in our maritime approaches and internal waterways.
Canada does not participate in the US ballistic missile defence system and that will not change under the renewal of the NORAD agreement. Canada’s decision not to participate in ballistic missile defence was not revisited in Canada-US discussion on NORAD renewal. While NORAD shares its missile warning function with the US commands responsible for missile defence, NORAD is not involved in the US missile defence system. The new NORAD Agreement does not change this relationship in any way.
NORAD has served the citizens of Canada and the United States as the first line of defence against an air attack on their homelands since 1958. It has also acted as a clear deterrent to any aggressor through its space warning capabilities. Through outstanding cooperation and cohesiveness between the two countries, NORAD has proven itself effective in its roles of “deterring, detecting and defending”. By continually adapting to the changing security environment, NORAD will continue to play an important role in the defence of North America.