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Cablegate: Canada's New Defense Strategy

VZCZCXRO2218
OO RUEHBW RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHIK RUEHPOD RUEHQU RUEHVC RUEHYG
DE RUEHOT #0649 1331906
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 121906Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7840
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/DIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS OTTAWA 000649

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL MARR CA
SUBJECT: CANADA'S NEW DEFENSE STRATEGY

REF: 07 OTTAWA 1924

1. (U) In a widely televised public address in Halifax,
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter
MacKay outlined a new "Canada First Defence Strategy,"
building upon themes from the 2006 Conservative election
platform and the October 2007 "Throne Speech" at the opening
of the fall Parliamentary session (reftel). Canada will
spend up to $30 billion over the next twenty years to
"recruit and train a new generation" of Canadian Forces --
which will rise to 70,000 in the regular force and 30,000 in
the reserve force -- and to invest in "next generation,
state-of-the-art equipment," including surface combat ships,
maritime patrol craft, fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft,
fighter aircraft, and land combat vehicles and systems. PM
Harper commented that this program reflected the government's
"commitment to stand up for Canada," to "strengthen our
sovereignty and security at home and bolster our ability to
defend our values and interests abroad," and to defend the
country and protect Canadian citizens. He emphasized that
"if you want to be taken seriously in the world, you need the
capacity to act."

2. (U) PM Harper paid tribute to the defense alliance with
the U.S. and shared responsibility for continental security,
which he noted Liberal as well as Conservative governments
over the past fifty years have supported. He promised that
Canada would work to "earn mutual respect" as it fulfills its
obligations under NORAD. He highlighted the importance of
Canada's "robust and reliable" contributions to global
security, notably its role in Afghanistan. He explained that
the stable, long-term funding increases in national defense
as well as a revised procurement process would also bring
economic benefits and advantages for "tens of thousands of
Canadians," including "Canada's knowledge and technology
industries, which will produce lucrative civilian commercial
spin-offs."

3. (SBU) Comment: This government's commitment to
improving its defense capabilities and to invest in military
modernization is welcome, in addition to being mostly
politically popular. It reflects the Conservatives' pledge
that "Canada is back," while recognizing that improving these
capabilities is an expensive and long-term process. The
government has, however, apparently shaved its earlier, even
more ambitious goal of growing the Canadian Forces to 75,000.
Mission Canada will continue its close cooperation with the
Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces to
ensure full commercial opportunities for U.S. firms as Canada
pursues these major acquisitions, as well as maximum
inter-operability between Canadian and U.S. forces.

Visit Canada,s Economy and Environment Forum at
http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/can ada

WILKINS

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