Is it Time for a Canadian as NATO SecGen?



by Brett Boudreau
Read The Full 'Up For Debate' Discussion on Frontline Defence
April 26, 2018

The ‘decade of disdain’ for NATO, under the Prime Minister Stephen Harper / Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay / Chief of the Defence Staff General Rick Hillier period, marked a nadir for Canada-Alliance relations. Recently, there have been earnest efforts to repair the bond, but Canada remains far from any serious consideration as the prospective source of a future NATO Secretary-General.

Last December, NATO’s 29 member nations unanimously extended Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg’s four-year term for another two years, to 30 Sept 2020. Of the 13 leaders since the position was created in 1952, the Netherlands and the UK have each been the source country for three Secretaries General, Belgium twice, and Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway and Spain once each. Canada does not deserve, should not expect, and should not want to join that list anytime soon.

The four main reasons for this can be summed up in four Cs (capability, contributions, candidates, and continent). Canada’s real military capability is low, relative to other key, long-standing members and partners (such as Australia). Actual contributions to the Alliance, as well as filling important headquarters positions, remain overly modest. There is a decided lack of Canadian candidates with the necessary experience and gravitas. And, we happen to be on the wrong continent....


Image credit: NATO

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  • Michael Shannon
    commented 2018-04-28 19:39:59 -0400
    Canada shouldn’t provide head of NATO simply because NATO is about Americans coming to rescue Europeans- who no longer are in peril. Canada’s primary role on NATO’s formation was to set an example for the US. Given the end of the Warsaw Pact and the massive disparity in power between the European parts of NATO and Russia there’s no real reason for Canada to be in NATO let alone supply it’s titular head. Of course DND would argue we should stay put- but with three LGen positions at stake that would be expected.

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