OTTAWA, Ontario --- We had an extensive discussion led by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and National Defence, concerning the invitation to participate in the evolution of the proposed ballistic missile defence system.
It is in respect of that discussion that we are announcing today that Canada will not take part in the proposed ballistic missile defence system.
Let me be clear: we respect the right of the United States to defend itself and its people. Indeed, we will continue to work in partnership with our southern neighbours on the common defence of North America and on continental security.
However, ballistic missile defence is not where we will concentrate our efforts. Instead we will act – both alone and with our neighbours – on defence priorities such as those outlined in yesterday’s budget. These include: strengthening the security of our common border, bolstering security at points of entry, reinforcing our coastal and arctic sovereignty, increasing support for intelligence, expanding our armed forces and increasing our capital investment in helicopters, trucks, aircrafts and ships.
As part of this, Canada remains steadfast in its support of NORAD, which is essential to continental security and our national sovereignty. That’s why we agreed last summer to enhance our longstanding commitment to track missiles through NORAD. We stand by that commitment. It underscores an important ongoing partnership with the United States and, most of all, it is in Canada’s strategic national interest.
Canada will also continue to work closely with the United States – and with other allies - on security and defence matters right around the world. The examples of mutual interest are many – We are partners in combating global terrorism, in Afghanistan and Haiti we have worked side by side to promote stability and security. In the Middle East, Canada intends to play an enhanced role. For Iraq we will provide training and are contributing to the NATO fund. We are also collaborating on efforts to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons to powers such as Iran. In numerous failed and failing states we are helping to keep the peace and build institutions of good government.
Canada recognizes the enormous burden that the United States shoulders when it comes to international peace and security. The substantial increases made yesterday to our defence budget are a tangible indication that Canada intends to carry its full share of that global responsibility. In the foreign and defence papers to be released soon we will elaborate further on how we will discharge these international responsibilities.
In concluding, let me say that Canada and the United States remain one another’s staunchest allies and closest friends. Our respect for - and our commitment to one another, and to the ideals we share as nations, is unwavering. Our mutual commitment to a safer and more secure world is resolute. Finally, we will continue to ensure that our overall relationship grows stronger and that our people enjoy increased security and prosperity in the years ahead.