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Much more serious than a Chinese balloon

Justin Trudeau can tell us, in front of two military planes in the Yukon, that the North American defense system is working very well, Madame la Marquise.

Posted at 5:00 am


It’s hard to understand why the United States and Canada would fly a Chinese spy balloon across the entire continent before shooting it down.

It’s even less clear why the two countries waited a week later for another object to be over Lake Huron to neutralize it on Sunday.

Despite the element of mystery, one thing is clear: our territory is vulnerable. We need to take our national defenses far more seriously, because this series of craft – four in total were destroyed in just over a week – is just the tip of the iceberg.

China doesn’t hesitate to spy on us… even in our universities collaborating with Chinese soldiers without Canada being able to stop them. An aberration, as we have recently argued. 1

Added to this is the threat from Russia, our neighbor in the Arctic, which has begun sending fighter jets back to near Alaska. She also uses her submarines to flex her muscles in North America.

We cannot stand idly by in the face of the real danger posed by these dictatorships that aim to undermine our democracies.

Unfortunately, our defense systems are in a state of advanced disuse. The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) radar chain was deployed in the 1980s, during the era of rotary phones and turntables.

Meanwhile, Russia has developed hard-to-detect nuclear missiles and hypersonic missiles that travel five times faster than sound. China has also joined.

Fortunately, there is good news.

The first: Ottawa woke up. In its most recent budget, the government announced it would reinvest about $2 billion a year in defense. Therefore, military spending should increase from 1.33% of GDP to 1.59% of GDP by 2026-2027.

This falls far short of the 2% target set by NATO, which certain countries such as Germany and Japan have pledged to achieve, a revolution for those countries that had followed a pacifist faith at the end of World War II.

But reaching that level in Canada is unthinkable in the medium term, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said, as it would require an additional $13 billion a year in long-term investment.

In this context, Canada will have to make decisions, and national defense deserves to be at the top of its list of priorities, which have been ignored for so long. The chapter on continental defense was literally missing as proof when the Liberals presented their defense policy in 2017!

But here’s the second bit of good news: The federal government announced in June a major reinvestment of $40 billion over 20 years into the NORAD defense system. However, in the short term, over six years, only 4.9 billion will be provided. Then everything will depend on future governments…

Additionally, in January, the Liberal government announced it would purchase 88 F-35 fighter jets, after scrapping the Conservatives’ plan in 2015 to buy… F-35s. What a waste of time swapping out our old planes! Especially since the first devices will not arrive before 2026.

To send a strong signal, Canada needs to pick up the pace and address the remaining blind spots.

For example, we don’t have drones to monitor hard-to-reach areas of the Arctic. We also have no plans to replace our crumbling submarines. However, as the ice melts, China will increasingly have a presence in Arctic waters as it seeks to establish its status as a world power.

If there’s a message from his balloons flying overhead, it’s that the days of naivety are over. The security of our country is not just an empty idea.