Speech at the U.S. Embassy – We are NATO

September 11, 2017

OTTAWA – I want to thank the NATO Association of Canada for inviting me here today, and I would also like to thank the US Embassy for hosting this event. As we are all aware, today is the memorial of the September 11th attacks. The devastation of that day changed the world forever. But during that horrific event, we came together to support our ally. We responded as an alliance and for the first time, NATO invoked Article 5.

The time for strength and unity as an alliance has not passed. I am sure it is not news to all of you that we currently find ourselves in an unprecedented time of global instability. The value of international alliances is being questioned, long standing trade agreements are being challenged, and we are seeing what John Manley coined a “tectonic shift” in power dynamics on the global stage.

Certains iraient même jusqu’à dire que le monde n’avait pas été aussi instable, tant sur le plan économique que sur les plans de la défense et de la sécurité, depuis la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

And yet the question of whether or not NATO is still relevant is surfacing with increasing frequency. I am often asked “Why does Canada need to be part of NATO – we should leave Europe to the Europeans” And “we spend too much money on NATO and get nothing in return – it’s money that would be better spent elsewhere”.

I am confident that in this room I am not alone in being radically shaken by those perspectives. My Dad was a MGen in the Canadian Air Force where he was posted to NATO several times. For my whole life very few things have been more constant than the importance of NATO as a central pillar to Global Peace and security.

But often when things are “intuitively obvious” – they become less so over time  – because we forget the reasons why. WWII was multiple generations ago, the cold war is now almost a generation ago – we have cashed in on the “peace dividend” and we have a great many people whose focus is elsewhere and believe that all of ours should be as well.

So today, I would like to implore all of you to join me in having the conversation and clearly articulating

Why does NATO matter to Canada, and to each of our nations?

And why do each of our nations matter to NATO?

In short, in a world of 10 second soundbites, we must respond to a subtle but growing undercurrent questioning Canada’s, and each of our country’s NATO participation. We need to be able to state not only that NATO is important, but we need to also effectively argue the “why”.

WHY NATO is relevant and WHY NATO matters to the NorthAtlantic and each of our allied nations.

Perhaps one of the key answers to that question is that warfare is changing, and it is now our intellectual capital that is being threatened. An attack on our digital infrastructure is no less a threat to the safety and security of our nations, than the invasion of a physical armed force. In today’s world of cyber threats, with record numbers of illegal hacking, it is clear that it will be challenging to fight this new threat on our own. This asymmetric warfare is perhaps why NATO is needed now more than ever.

Whatever the answers are, we must ensure continued and strengthened membership in the alliance by bringing the conversation to the forefront.

En plus de mon rôle comme présidente de l’Association parlementaire canadienne de l’OTAN, je siège aussi au Comité permanent de la défense nationale. À l’automne, nous mènerons une étude sur l’OTAN afin de déterminer pourquoi l’OTAN revêt de l’importance pour le Canada et pourquoi le Canada revêt de l’importance pour l’OTAN.

Canada is looking forward to hosting the Annual Session of the NATO PA, for the first time since 2006, in November 2018 in Halifax. Approximately 800 parliamentarians from 29 NATO member nations and many more partner nations will attend this event to discuss NATO political, economic, science and technology, as well as defence and security matters.

This is a time for Canada to demonstrate the value of the contributions we can, do and will make to NATO, and to emphasize to Canadians why we cannot take NATO for granted.

Finalement, je tiens aussi à remercier toutes les personnes qui sont ici pour leur engagement à veiller à ce que le rôle du l’OTAN demeure l’un des piliers centraux de notre cadre de défense et de sécurité dans le monde.

Thank you to everyone here for your commitment to ensuring that NATO remains a central pillar in the world’s defence and security framework.

 WE. ARE. NATO.

Thank you.

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