Jasen Sagman

Questioning Canada’s Commitment to NATO

Meeting of the NATO Military Committee in Chiefs of Staff session.

At last weekend’s Halifax International Security Forum (November 22-24, 2013) NATO’s Deputy Secretary-General, Alexander Vershbow, was quoted as saying that there exists “a perception among NATO officials that Canada is de-emphasizing NATO in its broader security policies.” He noted that while his comments were not meant to “sound overly alarmist,” he was “reflecting the chatter in the corridors of NATO headquarters.”

The concerns are believed to have stemmed from Canada’s recent decision to withdraw from two key NATO programs: the Alliance Ground Surveillance and the Airborne Warning and Control System. Issues relating to Canada’s planned withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014 are also thought to have contributed to Mr. Vershbow’s allegations.

Canada’s hardline foreign policy has already isolated itself from a number of allies and international organizations. These include distancing itself from the United Nations; boycotting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka over human-rights issues; and, expressing skepticism over the recent deal with Iran, which two of Canada’s strongest allies, Britain and the United States, vehemently support.

In response to Mr. Vershbow’s comments, Canadian National Defence Minister Rob Nicholson reaffirmed Canada’s commitments to NATO. “Canada does more than its share, and has been a strong supporter of NATO and will continue to be.”

Jasen Sagman
Jasen Sagman is currently pursuing an M.A. in Global Diplomacy from the University of London, SOAS. He works for a Member of Parliament in Ottawa, and holds an Honours B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto. His research interests include terrorism and counter-terrorism, Israeli security, and Canadian foreign policy. He has previously researched for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, and the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.