Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Canada and Ballistic Missile Defence, 1954-2009: Déjà Vu All over Again

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Canada and Ballistic Missile Defence, 1954-2009: Déjà Vu All over Again

Article excerpt

Politics and Social Sciences

James G. Fergusson, Canada and Ballistic Missile Defence, 1954-2009: Déjà vu All Over Again (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2010), 352 pp. Cased. $85. ISBN 978-0-7748-1750-9. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-7748-1751-6.

The authority on his topic - dubbed 'Mr BMD' - James Fergusson has drawn from a host of government documents, interviews and press reports to produce a rigorous disquisition that will be useful to students and academics as well as to politicians and policymakers who may be inclined to view this tale as a cautionary one. Although a leading proponent of missile defence, he has provided a balanced account of Canada's participation, or, rather, non-participation, in the many iterations of United States BMD programmes. But his focus is not so narrow. Rather, Fergusson delves into Canada-US relations, Canadian defence policymaking and issues surrounding missiles defence in its broadest strategic and international sense. Indeed, the incisive coverage of wider attitudes toward missile defence, and how this strategic environment relates to Canada, is one of the main strengths of a very strong study. Much of the book is not new. Readers of other works on defence policymaking in Ottawa or of Canada's participation in NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defence Command, will not be surprised by the bureaucratic infighting between Canada's defence department and its foreign ministry. Further, showing the influence of domestic considerations on Canadian defence decisions, particularly the impact of perfervid nationalist/ anti-American Canadians, is also not new. Nor is it surprising that Fergusson focuses so much on decisions not made, or that he does look at two vital prime ministerial decisions: Lester Pearson's 1968 insistence that the NORAD agreement include an exemption for Canada regarding participation in missile defence and Paul Martin's 2005 declaration that there would be no active Canadian involvement in BMD. …

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