Cablegate: Your Meeting with Canadian Defense Minister

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000049



E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/07/2012

REF: A. (A) 02 OTTAWA 3442 (B) 02 OTTAWA 3101

B. (C) 02 OTTAWA 3556

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Michael Gallagher,
Reasons 1.5 (b) and (d).


1. (C) Canadian Defense Minister John McCallum is looking
forward to discussing Iraq, missile defense, and NATO
post-Prague in your January 9 meeting. Canada has told us it
would participate militarily in a UN-blessed operation
against Iraq, but is reserving judgement on participation if
there is no explicit Security Council authorization. We
believe that Canada would, in the end, take part in a
coalition campaign even if the Security Council is divided.
On missile defense, Canada finally realizes that the train is
leaving the station and that it needs to get on board;
discussions with U.S. experts are scheduled for January 28.
At NATO, Canada supports your Response Force proposal but has
been one of the worst offenders for inadequate resources.
Given Prime Minister Chretien's ambitious domestic agenda for
his 2003-2004 budget, which will be announced in February,
McCallum needs a strong message from you on defense spending
to take back to Ottawa. END SUMMARY.

2. (C) Since his appointment in May 2002, Minister McCallum
has had a positive impact on U.S.-Canada defense relations.
While he has not gotten the substantial increase in defense
spending that most Canadians (outside the Prime Minister's
office) believe is needed, he has made progress in expanding
defense cooperation. In response to the increased terrorist
threat to North America, he pushed succesfully for an
agreement, signed in December 2002, on a binational military
planning group at NORAD headquarters (ref. A). He also was
able to shift the debate in Ottawa on missile defense,
convincing a skeptical Foreign Minister Graham that Canada
should accelerate discussions with us on possible
participation (ref. B). In addition to having a good
relationship with Graham, McCallum carries more weight in
Cabinet than did his predecessor Art Eggleton.


3. (C) As indicated in a December 16 meeting with Under
Secretary of State Grossman (ref. C), Canada shares our

concerns about the Iraqi WMD threat, and strongly supports
our efforts to work through the UN to disarm Saddam. But the
GoC wants to avoid being seen as pre-judging the UN process
or backing the U.S. just for the sake of the bilateral
relationship. Canada's response to our request for a
contribution to a potential military coalition had four main

-- Canada remains committed to the UN process, and prefers
that Iraq be disarmed peacefully;

-- should Iraq fail to meet its obligations, and the UNSC
explicitly authorize the use of force, Canada will
participate militarily;

-- should the UN process fail and no explicit authorization
of force is given, Canada will decide at that time whether to
participate militarily; and

-- Canada will proceed with military-to-military
consultations with the U.S. on potential coalition
contributions (Canadian military planners have since arrived
at CENTCOM and are engaged in discussions with U.S.

4. (C) To the extent that we stay the course on the UN
process and can keep other allies onside, we make the
decision on military participation easier for the GoC to sell
domestically. The inspectors' report and any other evidence
that we can share on Iraq's WMD program will be key. As for
what Canada might bring to the table, our expectations should
be modest. Canada probably would need to use assets
currently devoted to Operation Enduring Freedom, including a
Naval Task Group and patrol and transport aircraft.


5. (C) During an October meeting with NORTHCOM Commander GEN
Eberhart, McCallum told us that Canada would be seeking a
high-level meeting with the U.S. to discuss Canada's
potential participation in the missile defense program. This
was a welcome departure from the wait-and-see approach the
GoC had exhibited before, and reflected Canada's realization
that it is better off exploring the costs/benefits and making
a participation decision sooner rather than later, even if
such a decision will be controversial domestically. The
missile defense consultations are now scheduled for January
28 in Washington. Following this meeting, McCallum and
Foreign Minister Graham plan to brief Cabinet and seek tacit
approval for pursuing the discussions further. One of the
key questions for Canada will be how the missile defense
architecture meshes with NORAD and NORTHCOM.

6. (C) While the GoC is moving in the right direction, and
does not want to be left behind other allies, there is still
work to be done here on the policy side. After the
President's December announcement on missile defense
deployment, Foreign Minister Graham reiterated Canadian
concerns about weaponization of space. DFAIT contacts told
us that there was no change in GoC interest in missile
defense cooperation, but Graham's statement does reflect
lingering misgivings in a government that places great
emphasis on arms control.


7. (C) Canada was an early supporter of the robust NATO
expansion at Prague, and it also endorsed your Response Force
proposal. But Canada has been part of the problem when it
comes to inadequate resources, spending only 1.1% of its GDP
on defense in 2002. To put this in perspective, U.S.
spending on missile defense alone in 2002 was roughly equal
to Canada's total defense budget of US$7.9 billion.
Ambassador Cellucci has raised the profile of this issue in
Ottawa by emphasizing the value we place on Canadian Forces
(CF) contributions around the world and our concerns about
the CF's ability to do so in the future. By raising defense
spending with McCallum, you can help him make the case with
his Cabinet counterparts that this issue is a top priority in
Washington, as well.

8. (C) McCallum, again, has done a better job than his
predecessor at making the case for more funding, going so far
as to publicly say that the gap between military resources
and commitments is "unsustainable." He has launched a
defense policy update to try to back up his arguments for the
2003-2004 defense budget, but he faces a very tough sell in
Prime Minister Chretien, who has shortchanged the Canadian
Forces throughout his 10 years in office. Given Chretien's
ambitious domestic agenda for his final year in office, we
are hoping for an increase of a few hundred million for
defense in 2003-2004.

© Scoop Media

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