Trudeau, Anand discuss defence strategy with U.S. secretary
Neither Trudeau nor Anand were able to offer any specifics about when details about the plans would be forthcoming.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Anita Anand got a first-hand look on June 7 at North America’s first line of continental defence, a system experts and political leaders agree is badly in need of an upgrade.
But as they wrapped up their visit, neither Trudeau nor Anand were able to offer any specifics about when details about the plans would be forthcoming.
“We have a number of initiatives on the table right now with the United States and we will be coming forward shortly with a plan to modernize Norad,” Anand said. “I will leave it at that.”
Trudeau and Anand, flanked by the U.S. and Canadian commanders of Norad, exchanged pleasantries with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as their visit got underway in a boardroom festooned with images of fighter jets and military insignia.
U.S. Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck, the current joint commander of Norad and U.S. Northern Command, opened the meeting by professing the importance of his mission.
“I get up every single day, as do all of our other members, knowing that we have the most noble mission on the planet, and that’s defending our homeland,” VanHerck said.
“We need to talk a little bit about the challenges we face in the homeland. We’ll talk about our strategy to address those challenges. And then we’ll talk about some of the capabilities that we’re pursuing.”
The Canadian delegation later decamped to Cheyenne Mountain, the towering home of a concrete-walled Norad command fortress embedded deep in the rough-hewn granite of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.
VanHerck presented Trudeau with a hunk of the very rock that encases the base, mounted on a platform and adorned with two of the commander’s challenge coins.
“Very impressive,” Trudeau marvelled as officials demonstrated the facility’s imposing blast door, a metre-thick, 20-tonne hydraulic behemoth fortified with 22 thick steel rods that slide shut to ensure an impermeable seal.
Afterward, the prime minister held up the shared responsibilities of Norad — the only binational joint-command early warning system in the world — as a perfect illustration of the unique Canada-U.S. relationship.
Trudeau, Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly will spend the rest of the week in Los Angeles, where President Joe Biden is hosting leaders from across the Western Hemisphere for the Summit of the Americas.
On June 6, Trudeau wouldn’t say explicitly whether he supports Biden’s decision to exclude Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba from the summit, owing to their disdain for democratic values and dubious human rights records.
The decision generated protests from other quarters of Latin America, as well as a prominent no-show from one of the endeavour’s most important partners: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.