Time to consider missile defence: Tory critic

OTTAWA — The time has come for Canada to seriously consider joining the controversial U.S. ballistic missile defence system for North America, says the new Conservative foreign affairs critic.

North Korea’s increased capability to potentially reach the continent with a long-range missile is a game changer, Erin O’Toole said in an interview Thursday.

“We now for the first time beyond the Cold War have a credible threat to North America from a ballistic missile,” said the Ontario MP, who was appointed this week as part of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer’s new shadow cabinet.

North Korea test-fired a rocket over Japan earlier this week that landed in the northern Pacific Ocean, the latest in a series of missile tests that has ratcheted up tensions across south Asia and with the Trump administration.

“We know the trajectory for that missile would make parts of Canada vulnerable.”

O’Toole urged the government to raise missile defence as part of discussions with the U.S. on upgrading their joint continental air defence command, Norad.

Canada’s lack of participation in U.S. ballistic missile defence has been an explosive political issue for decades. A minority Liberal government opted out BMD in 2005 after a long political debate and strong opposition in Quebec, while the Conservatives avoided the issue for their near-decade in power.

O’Toole’s remarks come after fellow Conservatives MPs refused to stake out a position for their party on missile defence last week when the House of Commons defence committee held a special meeting on North Korea.

At least two Liberal MPs have said they think the time has come for Canada to consider joining. But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada’s decision to stay out of the Pentagon’s missile shield isn’t about to change any time soon.

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