The Fraser Institute

The Fraser Institute

February 15, 2005 09:00 ET

In Canada's best interest to join the U.S. ballistic missile defence program

CALGARY, Feb. 15 - Canada's participation in the continental
Ballistic Missile Defence program (BMD) is a matter of maintaining Canadian
national sovereignty, and non-participation means we will have little
influence in North American defence, according to Canadian Participation in
North American Missile Defence: A Cost-Benefit Analysis, released today by
The Fraser Institute.
"The main benefit Canada will derive from joining is the ability to have
a voice in how North America will be protected against the missile threat,"
says Barry Cooper, director of the Institute's Alberta office and co-author of
the paper.
In this new paper, the authors present a pragmatic cost/benefit analysis
regarding Canadian participation and conclude the following:

- Participation in BMD will ensure that information is shared - both
military-to-military information as well as information to guide
policymakers in Ottawa in formulating Canadian defence and foreign

- It is in Canada's interest to know what American plans are because
the alternative is to remain an uninformed observer able only to
react after the fact;

- Participation in BMD means influence on early warning, detection,
some deployment decisions, and the overall political-strategic goal
of missile defence;

- Participation in BMD does not mean Canada is responsible for the
cost or for the outcome;

- The window of opportunity for the Government of Canada to make the
correct choice, namely to participate in continental BMD, is closing
very quickly; delay or a refusal to participate means sustaining a
considerable reduction in Canadian sovereignty as well as Canadian

Arguments about the program's effectiveness, costs, its impact on global
arms control, and the weaponization of space do not detract from the fact that
the United States has deployed a North American missile defence system. "For
the next several years, it is the only program there will be and Canada must
join it or be left out. We may be able to influence it from the inside, but
not at all from the outside," said co-author and Institute senior fellow,
Alexander Moens.
The authors of the paper point out that Canada has a choice between a
near free ride in missile defence with our input or without our input.
Canada's decision to participate will not provoke an arms race or betray our
defence or international security policy, or even our highly questionable
position on weapons in outer space. It will not have an adverse impact on our
friends or trading partners. It will likely afford a small boost to our
defence industry. If we do not participate we will receive nothing. Ballistic
missile defence will create a modest amount of goodwill in the overall
bilateral relationship, and it will protect Canadian cities.
"In short, the costs - an incremental addition to the NORAD budget - are
low, and the benefits are high," points out Cooper.

Established in 1974, The Fraser Institute is an independent public
policy organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto. The
complete study and news release are posted at

Contact Information

  • Barry Cooper
    Director, Alberta Policy Research Centre
    The Fraser Institute
    Tel. (403) 216-7175

    Professor Alexander Moens
    Senior Fellow
    The Fraser Institute
    Tel. (604) 291-4361

    Suzanne Walters
    Director of Communications
    The Fraser Institute
    (604) 714-4582