In the last number of years, there has been a dramatic shift in Canadian  security and foreign policy with regards to continental, hemispheric and global  issues. While Canada is working with the U.S. on a North American security  perimeter deal, there are also efforts to strengthen defense relations with  Britain and other allies. Canada has also elevated its status in NATO and is  playing a more prominent role in military operations overseas.

Canadian  Defense Minister Peter MacKay recently met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon  Panetta to discuss bilateral security cooperation issues. In a news  release, Minister Mackay praised the Canada-U.S. partnership as unique and  explained, “Our binational command in NORAD, as well as the daily operation between  our military and defence teams is a tangible demonstration of how we stand  shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the defence of North America and  in addressing common global challenges.” He went on to say, “We are proud to  work alongside our U.S. friends in the Americas, in Libya, in Afghanistan, and  as transatlantic partners of NATO.” At a press  conference following their meeting, Secretary Panetta acknowledged that both  countries are looking to improve their bilateral engagement in the Western  Hemisphere. He stated, “If we can develop better capabilities and partnerships  throughout the hemisphere, that's something that I think both of us consider to  be a real step forward in our relationship.” Future plans could also include  expanding a security perimeter framework beyond North America.

While  addressing North American security efforts during a news conference with  Secretary Panetta, Minister Mackay brought up the Permanent  Joint Board on Defence (PJBD) which was created in 1940. The PJBD, “is the  senior advisory body on continental defence. It is composed of military and  diplomatic representatives from both nations.” Over the years, it has, “served  as a strategic-level military board charged with considering, in a broad sense,  land, sea, air and space issues.” This includes areas concerning, “policy,  operations, financial, logistics and other aspects of Canada-U.S. defence  relations.” Although the PJBD has been used as an alternate channel of  communication, it appears to have once again become more relevant as a venue for  bilateral security and military dialogue. In a move which represents its growing  importance, President  Barack Obama recently appointed former Congressman John Spratt, chairman of  the U.S. section of the PJBD. In the coming years, the board could play a  significant role in plans for a fully integrated North American security  perimeter, as well as in other facets of the evolving Canada-U.S.  partnership.


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