Mar 05, 2022

By Jeremy Logan

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s decision to put his country’s nuclear arsenal on high alert last weekend has sparked hope that Ottawa will finally act with urgency in upgrading North America’s defences.

Successive Canadian and American governments have been promising for years to modernize the North American Aerospace Defence Command, or NORAD, which was first created during the Cold War to protect against a Soviet attack.

Yet despite increasingly urgent warnings from senior military commanders on both sides of the border about the need to address a growing number of gaps in North America’s defences, many are still waiting for Canada to act.

Defence Minister Anita Anand this past week declined to provide an update on efforts to upgrade the string of radars in Canada’s Arctic built in the 1980’s that form this country’s main contribution to NORAD.

Andrea Charron, an expert on NORAD at the University of Manitoba, says upgrading the system needs to be the federal government’s top priority so Canada and the U.S. can detect and respond to attacks on North America.

Retired chief of the defence staff Tom Lawson, who previously served as deputy commander of NORAD, says he’s hoping the crisis in Ukraine and sabre-rattling by Putin will serve as a catalyst for pushing ahead with modernization.

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