The House

General Jonathan Vance on defence dangers facing Canada

Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff doesn't pull any punches in this interview with Chris, discussing the 'threat vectors' currently facing Canada, from challenges for NORAD to mass migration and Chinese posturing in the South China Sea.
Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jonathan Vance is pictured at the UN base in Gao, Mali, where he arrived with Canadian troops on June 24, 2018. Stephanie Jenzer/CBC (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)
Listen9:09

It can be a scary world out there. But Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance says there's no need to panic — at least, any more than we used to.

"I don't think we should be more worried than we have been before," he said Friday. "The world is technically more at peace by some metrics than it has been in the 20th century."

Whew. But wait ...

Vance didn't sugarcoat the threats Canada is facing, telling Chris Hall that NORAD — the U.S./Canada bi-national organization charged with monitoring continental airspace and maritime warning and control — needs to be modernized in order to counter what he called "threat vectors."

"Weapons are being modernized by potential adversaries, the rate of activity is increasing, the nature of Russian activity, their intent. It means that we must be able to protect Canada first," Vance said.

Vance said the updating of NORAD is ongoing, with both the U.S. and Canada "convening to begin the process of determining what a modernized NORAD is." But the process will take time.

Until then, Vance said, the military is continuing to look "holistically" at the larger security issue. 

"We have to think about new ways to deal with these threats. Not everything is a shoot-down type of scenario. We have to watch technology, those things that at a strategic level could cause potential harm to our countries," he said. 

"There continues to be an absolute certainty that conventional warfare remains a potential threat, so we must exercise and be trained to respond to that, but just doing that alone isn't sufficient."

That's not quite the reassuring message Canadians are hoping to hear. But Vance said he remains confident in the direction of the country's armed forces.

"I'm confident that executing the [defence] policy, the spirit and intent of that policy, will put us in a position to approach mid-century as a credible force," he said. 

And he remains committed to the job.

"It's hard, it can be dangerous. What we do is important for the country and the nature of the preservation of our values. That job is a good one to do. It's an honourable thing to do."

Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff doesn't pull any punches in this interview with Chris, discussing the 'threat vectors' currently facing Canada, from challenges for NORAD to mass migration and Chinese posturing in the South China Sea. 9:09