Canada is ‘vulnerable’ to threats, outgoing commander of navy warns

The outgoing head of the navy says Canada is vulnerable and needs to work even more closely with the United States to improve the maritime security of North America.

HALIFAX — The outgoing head of the navy says Canada is vulnerable and needs to work even more closely with the United States to improve the maritime security of North America.

Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, said the government should look at investing in sensors to improve maritime surveillance and the information-sharing relationship between Canada and the U.S.

Norman, who will hand over the navy to Rear-Admiral Ron Lloyd on June 23, said the sensors could take a variety of forms, such as an underwater sensor network or land-based radar.

“At the moment we’re vulnerable,” said Norman during an exclusive interview recently with The Canadian Press onboard HMCS Windsor as it sailed roughly 57 metres below sea level off the coast of Halifax.

“There are a number of threats and the question is: Are we prepared to simply accept the threats and the implications of them? Or do we want to do something about it? Do we want to know what’s going on?”

Those threats could include drug trafficking in the Caribbean, illegal migration, or “potential military threats in a circumstance that perhaps people don’t like to think about,” said Norman.

He said Canada has been “fairly lucky.”

“We’ve been able to avoid any real situations that either have embarrassed the country … or have actually threatened the security of Canadians,” said Norman, who starts his new role as second in command of the Canadian Forces on Aug 5.

“But that doesn’t mean that the potential for those things happening isn’t real… As senior military officers, our responsibility is to provide advice beyond just being lucky. You don’t base strategy or policy on, ‘We’ve been lucky so far’.”

Norman says such sensors would bolster what he called “maritime domain awareness” under the NORAD agreement. Established in 1958, NORAD is the joint U.S-Canada command providing aerospace warning, air sovereignty and defence for North America.

Norman’s comments come as the Defence Department undertakes a review of the future of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Ken Hansen, a professor at the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said working more closely with the United States is imperative because it’s impossible to defend Canada on our own, given its size and population.

“If a serious threat was to develop, we would have absolutely no choice but to call on the Americans for help,” said Hansen in a recent interview.

“That means that they have to trust that we’re doing a reasonable job and not just, as Donald Trump says, freeloading.”

Hansen also agreed with Norman about investing in sensors.

“You need intelligence and you need surveillance systems to get that intelligence and to shape and coordinate what we do and where and when,” said Hansen. “You can build a trust relationship by being smart about where you put your resources.”

Norman said investing in a sensor system is important, but it may not be seen as urgent in the context of the defence review currently underway.

“Do I see us having as a result of this defence policy review an explicit mention of improving the underwater sensor network in and around North America? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll see what happens,” said Norman.

“But it’s a growing concern from a maritime defence perspective and it’s something we need to think about going forward.”

Just Posted

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

EDMONTON — Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg marched into the middle of… Continue reading

Alleged sex assault victim details struggles in proposed suit against Toronto school

TORONTO — A former student at an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto… Continue reading

Leaders trade accusations of desperation tactics as campaign heads down to wire

OTTAWA — The three main party leaders accused one another of desperation… Continue reading

Probation for some new Alberta bus, truck drivers after Broncos family pressure

EDMONTON — Alberta’s transportation minister says there will be a two-year probationary… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP looking for missing 64-year-old woman

Red Deer RCMP are asking the public to help find a missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer Citizens on Patrol monitoring downtown with new program

Volunteers will patrol downtown Red Deer to help keep the city safe.… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Wednesday Red Deer River Naturalists Flower Focus Group Meeting. When: Oct. 16… Continue reading

Meet the candidates running in Red Deer-Mountain View

Each of the candidates running in the Red Deer-Mountain View riding were… Continue reading

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

EDMONTON — Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg marched into the middle of… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels struggle early, fall to Oil Kings

Oil Kings 5 Rebels 1 It’s been a tough stretch for the… Continue reading

Pick ’Em: No clear favourite on Canadian men’s curling scene this season

The days of just one or two Canadian men’s curling teams being… Continue reading

Brooke Henderson hits hole in 1, leads LPGA Shanghai

SHANGHAI — Canada’s Brooke Henderson hit a hole-in-one and shot a tournament… Continue reading

Alleged sex assault victim details struggles in proposed suit against Toronto school

TORONTO — A former student at an all-boys Catholic school in Toronto… Continue reading

Leaders trade accusations of desperation tactics as campaign heads down to wire

OTTAWA — The three main party leaders accused one another of desperation… Continue reading

Most Read