Canada shies away from joining British-led NATO-UN response force

Canada has quietly rebuffed a call from Britain to join a multi-national expeditionary force that Prime Minister David Cameron’s government was promoting in light of heightened tensions with Russia.

OTTAWA — Canada has quietly rebuffed a call from Britain to join a multi-national expeditionary force that Prime Minister David Cameron’s government was promoting in light of heightened tensions with Russia.

Several defence and government sources say there was a determined diplomatic push in the run-up to last fall’s NATO summit to get the Harper government to sign on to the formation.

Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Norway have already said they’d take part.

The British were keen to have the Canadian military aboard and apparently even offered to do a significant amount of training of the force at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright, Alta.

There were behind-the-scenes discussions prior to the Sept. 5 NATO meeting in Wales, but they were abruptly dropped by senior Canadian military leaders, who said the idea required much more study.

The country’s operations commander, Lt.-Gen. Jonathan Vance, wouldn’t comment on the politics, but said joining the force militarily could tie Canada to specific actions during international emergencies when the government might have other plans.