Canada Defense and Security

By | December 25, 2021

The Canadian Armed Forces are made up of 66,000 active-duty military personnel. The Canadian army is technologically advanced, also thanks to trade with the US. In 2008 the Canadian government approved the new twenty-year program for the modernization of the armed forces and the redefinition of the strategic concept (called ‘Canada First’), identifying the priorities that can make the military forces more suitable to face the new challenges for the country security. In particular, the greatest challenge that Canada believes it will have to face in the coming years is the competition for access to the routes – mainly that of the Northwest Passage – and for the exploitation of the natural resources of the Arctic region.. The Canadian government’s investments in the modernization of the armed forces are also moving in this direction and, in this perspective, Canada cooperates with the US government, also in the Norad area.

However, the major effort of the Canadian army has been made in recent years in Afghanistan, where as many as 158 soldiers have lost their lives; Canada, one of the first contributors to the NATO- led I saf mission, represents the third country, after the USA and the United Kingdom, in terms of blood spilled on the ground. Canadian operations in Afghanistan formally ended on March 12, 2014, after which the last 93 soldiers who remained on the ground returned home. For Canada defense and foreign policy, please check

Still under the NATO banner, in 2011 Canada was also directly involved in the Unified Protector operations in Libya, in which it participated with maritime forces. In addition, the operational command of all activities was entrusted to a Canadian general, Charles Bouchard. Participation in peacekeeping operations is a deeply rooted tradition in Canada. The then foreign minister Lester Pearson was, for example, the promoter of the first peace mission, in 1957, linked to the Suez crisis, with the creation of the United Nations Emergency Force (Unef). Currently, Canadian troops are engaged on several fronts: Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Iraq and Kuwait. In the latter two countries, Operation Impact was deployed in September 2014, i.e. the Canadian military contribution in the fight against the Islamic State by the international coalition. The contingent, mainly made up of air force units, is made up of 600 men. However, shortly after taking office Trudeau’s government made it known, first and foremost to the United States, which intends to bring its soldiers home, disappointing the Obama administration, which instead relied heavily on Canadians. Ottawa is also very active in security diplomacy: the international convention for the ban on anti-personnel mines was signed in 1997 in the Canadian capital, from which it took the informal name of the Ottawa Treaty.

Canada: the most polluting oil

The peculiarity of Canada’s oil reserves lies in the fact that, unlike traditional oil fields, these are stored in tight oil. It is a much more difficult type of oil to extract and refine: tar sands are a mixture of clay, water, sand, mud and bitumen. It is therefore a solid or semi-solid state oil. The processing of bitumen to obtain oil is much more expensive, not only in economic terms, but also in environmental terms due to the high values ​​of carbon dioxide released by the processing of these unconventional fossils. It is estimated that about 125 kg of CO 2 are produced to obtain a barrel of oil, compared to 29 kg of CO released from ‘conventional’ oil production. Canada, in response to international accusations of increasing greenhouse gas emissions, has created a CO 2 storage center in Estevan costing a total of $ 1.4 billion, which went into operation in early 2014. The government’s goal is to reduce harmful emissions by 20% by 2020.

A disputed region

The Arctic is a geographical region that extends for 30 million km 2 and has about four million residents. It is not a continent (as Antarctica is) since much of the territory coincides with the Arctic Ocean and the extreme lands of Canada, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA (via Alaska).

In recent years, the geopolitical importance of the Arctic region has grown due to two factors: natural resources and shipping routes. It is estimated that the area contains 25% of the world’s hydrocarbon resources not yet explored and it is hypothesized that, should global warming continue at current rates, the Arctic will provide two strategic communication routes, currently usable only for a few weeks in the season. summer: the Northwest Passage, through the Canadian Arctic archipelago, and the Northeast Passage, along the coasts of Siberia. The stakes in particular have pushed Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the USA to make requests for sovereignty over international territories, without these however having resulted in open tensions.

Canada opted for a rearmament policy that allowed it to patrol the Arctic territory more efficiently; it has also launched an airspace control plan, Norad, together with the US, despite the fact that these are potentially a direct competitor for control of the region. The main Canadian disputes concern the section of the Northwest Passage in the Beaufort Sea with the USA, and the Nares Strait, between Greenland and the Canadian island of Ellesmere, with Denmark.

Russia, however, remains Canada’s most formidable competitor: the Russian coasts touch a large part of the disputed region, under which the continental shelf runs which originates from the Russian coasts. And this is what fuels Moscow’s claims. Not surprisingly, President Vladimir Putin announced in September 2013 the reopening, after 20 years, of a Russian base on the largest of the New Siberia Islands, an archipelago north of Yakutia, to protect Russian interests in the claimed Arctic areas. Overall, Canada’s main objectives are the exercise of sovereignty over its territories under historical titles and international law, cooperation with other Arctic Council countries, especially as regards scientific research, and control of the Passage to the northwest.

The growing territorial claims of the countries of the region have given an important role to the Arctic Council, the international forum established in Nuuk, Greenland, with the Ottawa Declaration of 1996, and which includes among its objectives the promotion and cooperation in environmental, energy and sustainable development matters. Since May 2013, Italy, like China, India, Japan, South Korea and Singapore, has obtained the status of permanent observer member of the organization.

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