From Cold War to Present Day

NORAD (North American Air Defence Command)

NORAD’s Legacy

Some have claimed that NORAD was absolutely essential to Canada, as it would have been unable to assume the costs of such defence alone. Others have been interested in profiting from it. In 1958 the question was posed: Would Canada have at least its fair share of defence production for NORAD? The affirmative answer would be provided the following year, with the creation of the Joint Military Production Program, under which Canadian industries could bid for U.S. defence contracts. This would lead to a kind of common defence market that very quickly became profitable to Canada. In October 1980 the Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence estimated that since 1959 the programme had enabled Canada to achieve an overall positive balance of $1.1 billion. Canada had also been able to stay in the forefront in sectors like electronics and aeronautics.

In NORAD, in contrast to NATO, Canadians and Americans meet head-on. Does Canada really enjoy freedom of choice in its military affairs? Does it or would it have a say about when and how the Americans use nuclear reprisals? In the end, is Canada really running its own show, or is it merely a wagon hitched to the U.S. locomotive? That depends on whether a number of the encroachments on Canadian sovereignty ascribed to NORAD would have occurred in any event.