Keynote address by Minister of National Defence Anita Anand to the Halifax International Security Forum: Canadian Leadership for the 21st Century


Good afternoon. What a wonderful afternoon it is to be here all together again at the Halifax International Security Forum. General Eyre, Deputy Minister Matthews, NATO counterparts, ministers who have come from far and wide, distinguished delegates, friends, Allies, partners, welcome to Canada, welcome to Halifax.

I acknowledge that we are gathered on the ancestral and traditional lands of the Mi'kmaq People. Today and every day we reaffirm our commitment to meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

I am so pleased to be at this Forum once again. How many of you have been to this Forum before? It's just wonderful to see people coming back and back again. Why? Because this conference, this venue and the discussions that we will have offer an unparalleled opportunity for the world's democracies to connect with decision-makers, military leaders and industry partners from around the world. Thank you Peter, thank you to you and your entire team for co-hosting such a fantastic event year after year.

Back in the good old days when I was a prof at the University of Toronto, I organized many conferences and I know that tomorrow or Sunday you will start the process of planning for next year. You will gather ideas and you will begin the 365 process of making sure we can gather again. So I thank you for your work year after year.

On a more personal note we are just 90 minutes, well I think 60 minutes now with the new and improved 101, from where I was born and where I grew up in Kentville, Nova Scotia. So if you have time after the Forum is over be sure to head North to Kentville and tell them Anita sent you. Nova Scotia is a special place and not just for me but for our entire country. It's full of talented smart people who love this country and who stand with our Armed Forces.

Earlier today I announced that Canada is proposing the Halifax Regional Municipality to host the North American Regional Office of DIANA, NATO's Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic. The objective of DIANA is to facilitate cooperation between military operators and the Alliance's best and brightest start-ups, scientific researchers, and technology companies to solve critical Allied defence and security problems. I thank Admiral Bauer for being with us on the jetty this morning and for your remarks.

With more than 300 entrepreneurial science and technology start-ups, Canadian Forces Base Halifax, Defence Research and Development Canada, and seven universities, the Halifax Regional Municipality is a natural host for DIANA.

A lot has changed since last year's Forum and I am loathed to state the obvious. But I will say that our conversations this weekend take on a new sense of urgency. No matter how you look at it our world is growing darker. From the ashes of the Second World War emerged a rules-based international order which has underpinned global security and prosperity for nearly 80 years. That order is based on a set of shared values and principles meant to govern the international order, including respect for national sovereignty and the rule of law.

But now emboldened authoritarian regimes are openly challenging the international order in pursuit of their own reckless agenda, whether it is Russia's illegal and unjustifiable war in Ukraine or China's increasingly assertive behaviour in the Indo-Pacific. Non-state actors are becoming bolder. All the while, rapidly emerging technology like AI and robotics are leading to new challenges, risks, and moral dilemmas. And climate change continues to disrupt life as we know it—both at home and abroad.

These threats are all real and our world has come to an inflection point. Collectively we face two paths. Do we let the hard-fought gains of the past 80 years slip away and return to a world where might makes right? Or do liberal democracies stand together to preserve the longest stretch of progress, cooperation and freedom the world has ever known?

Path number two will require a strong and united effort of likeminded nations. Call it multilateralism for the 21st century. Canada for its part is firmly on the side of liberal democracy and international order. The number of Ukrainian flags flying in solidarity in communities across this country makes that abundantly clear. And I hope those of you visiting from abroad get a chance to see these flags. They are on porches, they are flying from vehicles, they are on lapels and we are all collectively committed to the stability, the sovereignty and the security of Ukraine.

Today I will discuss how reaffirming multilateral cooperation and institutions is essential to meeting modern security challenges. And I will highlight the unique leadership role that Canada is playing in Ukraine, in North America, and in the Indo-Pacific.

When Vladimir Putin further invaded Ukraine on February 24th he made a number of false assumptions. One assumption was that the Russian army would easily override the Ukrainians. He was wrong. The spirit and determination of the Ukrainian people and President Zelenskyy continue to inspire us all. Ukraine's Armed Forces are driven, disciplined and make no mistake better trained, and they are winning. Another assumption was that the international community would simply look away. Again Putin misjudged. Russia's full-scale and unprovoked invasion has only strengthened NATO's resolve and unity and renewed its raison-d'être.

I feel this in every phone call and meeting with my NATO counterparts. And I welcome the Netherlands Minister of Defence, to our Forum for the first time. Welcome.

For our part Canada stands firmly with Ukraine. We have provided Ukraine with M777 howitzers, artillery ammunition and anti-tank weapons, dozens of high-resolution drone cameras and 39 armoured combat support vehicles built right here in Canada. At Wednesday's meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group I announced a further $34  million in military aid for Canada to Ukraine including satellite services, drone cameras, winter gear to keep the Ukrainian troops warm in the winter months. And earlier this week we announced that we have allocated another $500 million for additional military aid for Ukraine, bringing our total commitment of military aid for Ukraine to over $1 billion since this February.

Our defence industry is also very important as it produces high quality equipment, and moving forward, we will continue to work hand-in-hand with industry partners to get Ukraine the help it needs.

We are also training new Ukrainian recruits in the United Kingdom. As announced this week, this training will continue through the end of 2023 in England. And as I recently announced, Canadian Armed Forces combat engineers are deploying to Poland to train Ukrainian sappers. In fact, since 2015 the Canadian Armed Forces have trained more than 34,000 Ukrainian military personnel under Operation UNIFIER.

The Communications Security Establishment is working with our Five Eyes partners to share valuable intelligence, cyber threat information with key partners in Ukraine while supporting efforts to counter Russian disinformation. And Canada is taking a leading role in NATO's Eastern Flank by leading the multinational enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia.

I was in Kyiv at the end of January, about three weeks before the invasion began. I met with my good friend and colleague, Minister Reznikov, and other Ukrainian officials. And I also met with Ukrainian citizens. When they saw the maple leaf on the shoulder of the uniforms of our soldiers they stopped us on the street and they told us how much it meant to have Canada's support, not just in 2022 but since 2015 under Operation UNIFIER. And I told them what I will tell you now: Canada will continue to stand with the Ukrainian people for however long it takes, period.

Now while Canada is working in lock step with its partners on the security crisis in Europe, we are also closely working with the United States to bolster our continental defences. We must invest in the Arctic which is quickly becoming a place of economic and geopolitical interest for countries like Russia and China.

That is why in June I announced Canada's plan to invest $38.6 billion over 20 years to modernize our NORAD capabilities. This marks the most significant upgrade to Canada's NORAD capabilities in nearly four decades. Our investment is focused in five key areas: enhancing surveillance and modern threat detection, improving command and control, strengthening air defence capabilities, modernizing infrastructure and research and development.

Since I made the announcement in June we've already begun to work with our U.S. partners to strengthen our integrated surveillance and decision-making capabilities. Our air forces are working together to refine plans to establish a cutting-edge network of over-the-horizon radar sites in Canada and in the U.S. These sites will significantly improve our ability to detect incoming threats at longer ranges, including over the Arctic. And we are also looking at how we can upgrade infrastructure at four of our North operating locations, while also upgrading our future fighter infrastructure and Quick Reaction Alert capabilities at military bases across the country.

These upgrades will extend the range and capacity of NORAD's defences, especially in the North, while ensuring that our infrastructure is more resilient to climate change. And our defence scientists have been working with U.S. counterparts to identify initial priorities for R&D—including how hypersonics, quantum technology and space-based capabilities will shape new and emerging threats, and how we can respond to them.

Modernizing Canada's NORAD capabilities is a significant undertaking that will continue to roll out in the coming years. At every step of the way, we are committed to working in collaboration with our U.S. partners, as well as with northern communities and Indigenous Peoples across Canada.

For more than 60 years Canada and the United States have stood shoulder-to-shoulder to protect our shared continent against evolving air and missile threats—a relationship based on mutual trust, shared values and a deep friendship. I thank the U.S. delegation for coming year-after-year in that spirit of friendship and partnership. Thank you. Together we will continue to meet the threats of today and tomorrow.

Now turning to the Indo-Pacific. The fact is the Indo-Pacific is at the centre of a global shift. It is the fastest-growing economic region of the world responsible for almost two-thirds of global growth over the last several years. Every single issue that will impact global security in the coming decades runs through the Indo-Pacific: from economic growth to democracy, from climate change to human rights, including the rights of women and girls.

The region is home to China, a global power that is becoming increasingly assertive as it advances interests and values that continue frankly to depart from ours. Canada will always speak openly when it comes to upholding the values that underpin the rules-based international order. Our approach is shaped by a realistic and a clear-eyed assessment of China's assertive behaviour.

We will challenge China when we ought to. We will cooperate with China when we must. And we will continue to deepen our economic ties with our partners in the region. We will always engage where we must including on Ukraine and North Korea. Let me be clear: North Korea's missile testing is unacceptable, for Japan, for the Republic of Korea and for all of us in the region. Canada condemns this reckless behaviour in the strongest possible terms.

Canada will also continue to work with its partners to enforce and advance the international rules and standards that benefit all states, not just the great powers. As a Pacific nation, Canada is already deeply engaged in the region.

To demonstrate and encourage responsible engagement in the Indo-Pacific, our Armed Forces are participating in multilateral training exercises with our Allies through Operation PROJECTION. And after transiting through the international waters of the Taiwan Strait again this year with our U.S. Allies, our frigates have monitored UN Security Council's sanctions against North Korea through Operation NEON.

We are committed to deepening our engagement in the region over the coming decade and that is why we will soon be releasing our comprehensive Indo-Pacific Strategy. Our strategy will position Canada as a leader in promoting peace and security in the region. From a defence perspective we will increase our military presence and enhance our defence and security relationships with partners and Allies in the region. We are adding a new national economic security lens on foreign investments in Canada, including in the critical minerals sector as highlighted recently by Ministers Champagne and Wilkinson.

In short our soon-to-be-released Indo-Pacific Strategy will showcase the best that Canada has to offer, while making us a force for positive change in the region and in the world.

To do all of this, Canada needs a military that can meet tomorrow's challenges. We are prioritizing recruitment, retention and reconstitution–and we have released strategies to accomplish these goals. We continue to advance meaningful culture change in our military. And I thank Lieutenant General Carignan for her work.

Our government has also begun reviewing and updating our defence policy Strong, Secure, Engaged. The global security environment has changed so much since it was first released in 2017 and we need to change with it. We need to update it. This defence policy update will ensure that Canada is ready to navigate an increasingly complex and dangerous world. And I thank those of you who are here today for your input on this defence policy update.

I'm a student of history. I remember devouring history books during my university studies and reading almost every biography and autobiography that my mother purchased at bookstores right here in Halifax so that we could all read them at home. To me today's global security environment is eerily reminiscent of 1914. We see power struggles between nations, the rise of new technology, disruption and upheaval. And we all know what happened next.

Today's outcome can be different but it will take work, it will take a renewed commitment to bilateral and multilateral cooperation among Allies and like-minded democratic nations.

At the end of the Cold War, I was in my undergrad at the time, American scholar Francis Fukuyama mused about what he called the end of history. He wrote about the final victory of liberal democracy. I think we can all agree that his prediction was premature. But that is not a reason to give up hope. Last month Fukuyama wrote that liberal democracy will not make a comeback unless people are willing to struggle on its behalf.

Quite simply we cannot give up the fight. We cannot take liberal democracy for granted. And as we work together to defend the values that we hold dear, Canada is here as your friend, your Ally and your partner. And we are fully committed to this noble mission.

Thank you very much. Merci beaucoup. I'm looking forward to our discussions.

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