How to Conquer Canada

Michael Byers, a professor in British Columbia, writes in the Toronto Star about a little-known plan to increase cooperation between the Canadian and American militaries:

They seem harmless enough at first: two mid-level Canadian Forces officers and a mild-mannered bespectacled American consultant explaining the work of their 48-member Bi-National Planning Group to audiences across Canada. Their professed goal is to improve co-operation between the Canadian and U.S. militaries, the better to defend both countries.

Yet a close reading of their final report released last month, reveals that their actual intent — or at least the intent of the politicians who set their mandate — is far from benign. They seek nothing less than the complete integration of Canada’s military, security and foreign policy into the decision-making and operating systems of the U.S. …

Today, two Canadian elections later, the authors of the BPG report can hardly believe their luck. Prime Minister Stephen Harper may have only a minority government, but there is little doubt he desires closer ties with Washington.

Really? What? Looking more closely, it’s hard to say what will actually come of this. Certainly there are degrees of cooperation being considered. At the very lowest level, the BPG report recommends that the two countries expand the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which was established during the Cold War to watch for threats from the air, in order to include maritime surveillance. (And yes, the idea that this continent is in danger of an attack by sea seems ludicrous, but there you go.)

The BPG’s most radical proposal, however, is to put the Canadian military essentially under U.S. command. Does that mean we could use Canadian troops whenever election time rolled around and a failed president needed to topple some “rogue” regime somewhere? It’s not clear, but it sure sounds that way. Of course, that could make any sort of U.S. military action more difficult if the average Canadian voter—who appears a bit less militaristic than your average American voter—suddenly has a right to sound off on who’s invading whom. Either way, it’s kind of a weird development.