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May 10, 2022

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Introduction

Good morning, everyone.

It is a privilege to join you here today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin Anishinaabeg peoples. I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to you, Dave, and the entire team at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute for organizing this timely conference.

As we all know, our world changed immeasurably on February 24th. The rules-based international order – in addition to Ukraine’s territorial integrity – is under attack.

Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has caused the largest ground war in Europe since the end of the Second World War. Millions of Ukrainians have been displaced, killed, murdered, or raped – and we as allies have come together to determine our appropriate response.

And we know that one day – hopefully one day soon – this war will come to an end.

And even as we work around the clock to supply Ukraine with the weapons it needs to win this war, we must contemplate the world order that awaits Canada on the other side.

I am so heartened that this conference will focus on this issue today. And in particular, as an academic, these conferences are – or at least, used to be – my bread and butter.

So I’m particularly grateful for the work that goes into studies and discussions of the type you will have today.

In my remarks I will make three broad points and focus on three areas.

  1. I am going to start with our immediate focus – that is, Canadian support for Ukraine and our work with our NATO allies in that regard.
  2. I will then move on to discuss NORAD modernization and continental defence that we will be advancing in the short term.
  3. And finally, I will focus on the long-term, multi-year approach to national defence – and our defence policy update to, Strong, Secure, Engaged.

These three areas of work are key to protecting Canada and our allies as we analyze and ensure that we are prepared not only to launch and maintain Canada’s response during this war, but after this war as well.

Section 1 – Security situation in Europe (immediate)

So, number one.

Let’s start with the security situation in Europe, which concerns our allies right now.

Two and a half months ago, Russia attacked is sovereign, democratic neighbour Ukraine.

Since then, the Ukrainians have fought courageously to defend their country. The Ukrainian forces have managed to repel the Russian attack on Kyiv, to sink the flagship of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and have fought with honour and courage to protect their people from Russian war crimes.

Canada has long stood by Ukraine’s side. Through Operation UNIFIER, for example, launched in 2015, Canada has trained over 33,000 members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, and this training has helped Ukrainian forces defeat attacks from a much larger neighbour.

We have supplied Ukraine with guns, pistols, sniper rifles, Carl Gustaf anti-tank weapons, hand grenades, and cameras for military drones. And Budget 2022 invests an additional $500 million in military aid for Ukraine in 2022-23.

Our allies and partners are united in support for Ukraine, and that unity is helping Ukraine win. Two weeks ago, at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, I joined over forty counterparts to discuss Ukraine’s most pressing defence needs – where we announced that Canada supply Ukraine with eight armoured vehicles.

Recently, we delivered M777 howitzers to Ukrainian forces, and Canada is training Ukrainian forces in the use of this equipment – a significant ongoing contribution to Ukraine’s defence.

This weekend, Prime Minister Trudeau went to Kyiv. The Prime Minister raised the flag at the Embassy of Canada to Ukraine and announced its reopening.

And, alongside President Zelensky, the Prime Minister announced an additional $50 million in military assistance for Ukraine – including additional drone cameras, small arms, satellite imagery, and M777 ammunition.

When we last met, my friend, Ukrainian Minister Oleksii Reznikov reiterated that Canadian aid has been “very helpful in Ukraine’s fight against the Russian occupiers,” and that “we are grateful that Canada stands with us.”

In short, Canada will continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to fight and win this war.

[pause]

Although we are not expecting an imminent attack on one of NATO allies, we must be prepared for any eventuality. This is why we have increased our contributions to NATO operations.

We have added approximately 460 personnel on land, air, and sea to NATO deterrence operations in Europe. This includes an artillery battery, which has been deployed to the Canadian-led multinational Battle Group in Latvia, a maritime patrol aircraft, and a second frigate, HMCS Halifax, which has joined NATO’s maritime forces in the region. 3400 Canadian personnel remain on standby in case they are needed by the Alliance.

We have also deployed approximately 120 people to Poland to help the Polish authorities with the Ukrainians fleeing the violence in their country.

Canada’s contributions to Ukraine and our allies will serve our country well, even beyond the present crisis. Our defence partnership with Ukraine is deep and enduring. And, through contributions like our five-year leadership of NATO’s multinational enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia, Canada is building even stronger relationships with our NATO allies that will benefit our collective security in the years to come.

We will continue to provide comprehensive military aid to Ukraine. We will continue to contribute meaningfully to NATO operations. And we will always be ready to help defend every inch of NATO territory – as is our obligation under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty.

Section 2 – NORAD/Continental Defence (short-term)

Moving now to NORAD and continental defence.

As we work to support Ukraine and ensure the security of our allies in Europe right now, we are also laying the groundwork for decisive action in the short-term to shore up our continental defences.

Canada’s geographic position has kept us safe for much of our history – but new threats, such as advanced cruise and hypersonic missiles, cyber-attacks, and climate change, demand that we innovate and invest in state-of-the-art defences for our continent.

As Minister of National Defence, I have been entrusted to present a strong plan to modernize NORAD in collaboration with our American allies – and twelve days ago, I met with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin at the Pentagon to discuss this very crucial issue.

The United States is our closest ally and defence partner, and we have agreed on four key priority areas for new investments. These include:

  • Enhanced situational awareness capabilities to detect, identify, characterize, and track new conventional threats to North America. This means the eventual replacement of the North Warning System with more advanced solutions, like next-generation over-the-horizon radar systems.
  • We will also invest in modernized Command and Control systems, to enable faster and better informed decision-making.
  • We will develop increased capabilities to deter and defeat aerospace threats to North America – including by significantly investing in infrastructure for NORAD operations.
  • And, we must continue to invest in research, development and innovation.

Let me clearly state that we are prepared to do everything it takes to ensure the continued security of our North American continent.

Continental defence is the unwritten chapter of our defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged. And make no mistake – we will significantly invest in modernizing NORAD.

To that end, Budget 2021 invested an initial $252.2 million dollars towards modernizing NORAD, and in Budget 2022, we announced $6.1 billion for defence priorities including continental defence. And, in the short-term, we will have more details to share on our next steps.

We will continue to work in close collaboration with our Indigenous partners so that the economic benefits are shared and new infrastructure can also serve the communities in the region.

We will pursue NORAD modernization in close collaboration with our American allies, and we will work even more closely with other democratic Arctic nations – whose defence ministers I have invited to Canada this summer for an Arctic Security Dialogue.

As climate change makes our northern region more accessible, and adversaries seek to challenge the rules-based international order to suit their own ends, Canada will meet these challenges head-on with new investments in new defence capabilities.

Section 3 – Defence spending and policy update (long-term)

Now, let’s move to defence spending and the policy update.

As we gather today to discuss the kind of world in which Canada will find itself after the war, one thing is certain: the demands on our Canadian Armed Forces will only grow in the years and decades to come.

To ensure our military’s readiness to meet tomorrow’s challenges, we are making significant new investments in national defence.

Under this government, Canada’s defence spending is once again on an upward trajectory.

In 2017, our government released a fully-costed and fully-funded defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, which raises our defence spending by over seventy percent.

These investments are bearing fruit. New Arctic and Offshore Patrol ships are in the water. We have entered the finalization phase of the procurement process with Lockheed Martin for 88 new fighter jets. And, we are investing in fifteen new Canadian Surface Combatants for our Navy.

But, we know that we need to do more. Through Budget 2022, we are investing an additional $8 billion in national defence – to improve the capabilities of our Canadian Armed Forces, to keep us safe from cyber threats, to arm Ukraine, and to better support our people through health and wellness programs, and culture change.

We will also update our Defence Policy to better reflect the current defence and security climate.

To be clear, Strong, Secure, Engaged remains the foundational document for how we support and equip our Canadian Armed Forces. But threats are evolving quickly – from hypersonics, to cyberattacks, to the re-emergence of great power competition. In other words, the world we live in today differs from the threat assessments that underpinned Strong, Secure, Engaged in 2017.

Updating the defence policy will guarantee that our armed forces remain strong and capable, even in the face of new threats.

We will look to bolster our domestic and continental defences, and how we engage internationally – in the Indo-Pacific, for example, in response to growing Chinese activity in the region. We seek to increase Canada’s presence with more port visits, more training, and more exercises with international partners and Allies.

We will work very hard to increase the number of members in the Canadian Armed Forces and ensure that they receive the training and equipment they need to carry out all the tasks we assign them.

And we will make sure to put in place the appropriate supports, so that our personnel can work in a more safe and more open environment.

This policy update will enable Canada to be ready to ensure the safety and security of Canadians and our allies, regardless of the world that awaits us on the other side of this war.

Conclusion

My dear friends and colleagues,

We do live in a world at the present time that appears to be growing darker. In this new world, Canada’s geographic position no longer provides the same protection that it once did. And, in this new world, the security environment facing Canada is less secure, less predictable, and more chaotic.

But because Canada believes in the principles of national sovereignty, international law, and non-aggression, we are a trusted partner and ally to free nations around the globe, because they know what the Maple Leaf symbolizes.

Our allies and partners want more of Canada, and Canada has a great deal to contribute.

We are one of four countries that currently lead battalion-sized battle groups on the eastern flank of the NATO alliance. We have deep expertise in Arctic security, and through contributions like Operation UNIFIER and Operation REASSURANCE, our highly capable personnel have shared their expertise to bolster the security of our democratic partners.

While we make new investments to build the capacities and contributions of our Canadian Armed Forces, the advice we receive from experts like you will help focus our efforts.

We are grateful – I am grateful – for your dedication to building a safer Canada, and I look forward to your continued engagement with the government throughout my mandate as Minister of National Defence.

I will conclude by wishing you all a successful conference, and thanking the Canadian Global Affairs Institute for convening this impressive gathering of experts in foreign and defence policy.

We have a lot of work ahead of us, and I look forward to pursuing it in partnership with you.

Thank you. Merci. Meegwech.

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