(Adds remarks on active discussions, paragraphs 7-8)
OTTAWA, June 5 Canada has not changed its
position on not joining the U.S. missile defense shield, but is
examining its stance given changing global circumstances, Prime
Minister Stephen Harper said on Thursday.
Speaking in Brussels at the end of a meeting of the Group of
Seven leading industrialized nations, which was dominated by the
crisis in Ukraine, Harper said Canada regularly examined defense
policies, including the missile shield.
"It was our judgment in the past that Canadians did not need
the security of participation in the anti-ballistic missile
defense system," the Conservative prime minister said.
"Obviously there are changes occurring in the world and we
will continue to examine whether that does or does not serve
Canadian interests and we'll make whatever decisions are in the
best security safety interests of Canadians, but obviously at
the moment, we have not decided to revise the position."
The previous Liberal government had decided in 2005 under
Prime Minister Paul Martin against joining the shield, at a time
when then-U.S. President George W. Bush was not popular within
the Canadian government.
But two former Liberal defense ministers, Bill Graham and
David Pratt, urged the Conservative government in Senate
committee last month to join the program.
Riki Ellison, founder of the non-profit Missile Defense
Advocacy Alliance, welcomed Harper's remarks and said there were
active discussions by U.S. and Canadian officials about
integrating Canada into the U.S. ballistic missile defense
He said one proposal called for Canada to invest about $100
million to join the defense system. Another proposal would see
Canada add radar and other early warning sensors to its new
ships, which would help augment the United States' ability to
track possible incoming missiles on both the Atlantic and
Part of Canada's calculation in not investing in the defense
shield had been that with its main cities close to the U.S.
border, it would already be effectively covered to a large
The thinking went that missiles heading in the general
direction of Vancouver, British Columbia, for example, would
likely be targeted anyway by U.S. defenses protecting Seattle,
Washington, just 120 miles (193 km) to the south.
The system is still in the process of being tested and
improved upon, and is not yet fail-safe, but advocates say it is
important to try to defend against possible threats from
countries like North Korea and Russia.
(Reporting by Randall Palmer in Ottawa, additional reporting by
Andrea Shalal in Washington; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid and G