Continental Defense | Nearly $5 billion to modernize NORAD

(Ottawa) To meet the “urgent” need to modernize continental defenses and “protect Canadians from new and emerging threats,” the federal government is spending $4.9 billion over six years on this massive project — an announcement published in remains unclear in several respects.

Updated yesterday at 21:25.

Melanie Marchese

Melanie Marchese
The press

National Defense Secretary Anita Anand visited Trenton Air Force Base, Ontario on Monday to announce the cash injection, stressing the need to ensure territorial sovereignty with this partnership-based support of the strategic relationship with the United States, “Canada’s closest ally.”

“This is the most important upgrade for Canada in nearly four decades,” she said, specifying that this first tranche is part of a total investment plan of nearly $40 billion over the next 20 years for the national defense budget item.

The built-in capabilities of our potential adversaries, combined with the impacts of climate change, mean Canada cannot rely solely on its geography to protect us.

Anita Anand, Secretary of Defense

It was “more important than ever to ensure members of the Canadian Armed Forces have the tools they need to protect us,” she continued from the lectern on the base’s tarmac.

The minister reiterated that this was new money, on top of the approximately 8 billion allocated for the defense post in the last budget. Later, in a press release, the ministry corrected the situation: 3 billion is in the 2022 budget, and 1.9 billion “residual amortization” will be added, over six years, from 2022 to 2023.

Warning system north

One of the plan’s priorities is to upgrade the North Warning System (NAS), a network of 50 radar sites, 47 of which are in Canada, whose capabilities will be increasingly tested with the arrival of modern weapons technology, including advanced cruise missiles and hypersonic weapons.

Meanwhile, the three-decade-old facilities will remain operational, said Minister Anand, who was accompanied by Chief of Defense Staff Wayne Eyre and Lt. Gen. Alain Pelletier, NORAD’s deputy commander.


Wayne Eyre, Chief of Defense Staff, Anita Anand, Minister of National Defense, and Lt. Gen. Alain Pelletier, NORAD Deputy Commander

The Minister has not presented a timetable or the total amount for this specific component. Aside from the Department of Defense press release just before 10 p.m. Monday, 11 hours after that big announcement, we didn’t have a detailed briefing document to utter.

No to the US missile shield

While Minister Anand indicated last May that the Trudeau government would no longer rule out participation in the American missile defense program, she signaled on Monday that this was no longer in sight.

“Our country’s position has not changed [en ce qui a trait] to the ballistic system,” she said of Canada’s participation in that program, which was abandoned in 2005 under former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin.

We will instead opt for an “integrated system” that will allow Canada to protect itself against “many types of missiles,” the minister explained.

This strategy has caught the attention of Rob Huebert, a professor of political science at the University of Calgary. “It is announced that we could launch hypersonic missiles like Russia, but not ballistic missiles? It doesn’t make sense,” he commented.

Expenditure “Upward Trend”

Nonetheless, Canada will remain a poor student within NATO, which has a funding target of 2% of GDP. In a recent report, the House Budget Commissioner estimated that the federal government would need to increase military spending by $75.3 billion over five years to achieve this.

“We have been on an upward trend since 2017 after the previous government let spending fall below 1%,” Minister Anand defended.

Maybe the trajectory is going up, but it’s “wrong” to pretend Ottawa is getting there, Professor Huebert says. “We’re not there at all,” he pounded, criticizing the federal government for ignoring the underwater threat detection aspect of the plan.

Learn more

  • 1958
    Year in which the NORAD Defense Treaty was concluded between Canada and the United States. In 2006 it was extended permanently.


  • 1.39%
    Percentage of Canada’s GDP devoted to contributions to NATO. The US pays 3.5% of them and the UK 2.3%.

    Source: NATO report as of June 11, 2021

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