An American firm with a key role in the U.S. missile defence program lobbied a Canadian senator in the weeks leading up to a Senate report urging Canada to join the warhead interception network, a meeting that raises questions about the credibility of this recommendation.
An official from Raytheon International Inc., a subsidiary of U.S. defence contractor Raytheon Co., met with Senator Joseph Day on May 8, the company reported to the Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada.
Mr. Day is a Liberal member of the Senate defence and security committee that on June 16 released a report unanimously recommending Canada sign on to the U.S. ballistic missile defence system. It’s now up to the federal government, which said it was waiting for the report, to decide whether to respond.
Both Conservative and Liberal senators on the committee called for the Harper government to reverse the policy that former Liberal prime minister Paul Martin laid down in 2005 when he rejected joining the program.
One of the reasons Raytheon International officials are registered to lobby these days in Ottawa is “defence procurement with respect to Canadian involvement in the North American ballistic missile defence network,” the federal lobbyists registry says.
Michael Byers, who holds a research chair in global politics and international law at the University of British Columbia, says Raytheon’s lobbying undermines the Senate report because the company is a potential beneficiary should Canada join the U.S. anti-ballistic missile program.
Prof. Byers points out that Canada could end up establishing a high-tech radar station in the Happy Valley-Goose Bay area in Labrador as part of its contribution to the anti-missile network. This would be what’s called an X-band radar installation and they are built by Raytheon to function as part of the ballistic missile defence system.
A spokeswoman for Raytheon in Canada declined comment on the nature of company’s May, 2014, meeting with Mr. Day.
“While we appreciate your interest, our lobbying activity is fully disclosed and a matter of public record, beyond which we do not provide further information or comment,” Val MacDonald said in an e-mailed statement.
Mr. Day said he met with Raytheon executive Denny Roberts in early May but that the company didn’t press him on the Senate report on missile defence.
“Until the political decision is made, they don’t want to appear to be pushing,” he said.
The senator said the meeting was to talk about a different radar project – surface-band radar – and that he meets with Raytheon from time to time to keep abreast of their technology. Mr. Day does hold out hope, however, that Canada might end up locating an X-band radar station in the Goose Bay area.
Raytheon also lobbied a senior National Defence bureaucrat in April, according to the lobbyists registry.
A company official talked with John Turner, the assistant deputy minister of materiel, whose job deals with military equipment purchasing.
Prof. Byers, who doesn’t believe there’s a compelling reason for Canada to join the U.S missile defence program, said he wonders why this debate is being reopened.
“The company was in direct contact with one of the committee members just weeks before the report was published,” he said.
“No rule has been broken here, but I do think to some degree it undermines the
credibility of the Senate report.”
Senator Daniel Lang, the chair of the defence and security committee, said Mr. Day wasn’t involved in the finalization of the missile defence report, and the study wasn’t based on any input except the witnesses who testified before senators.