The absence of Canadian naval policy is worrisome

Canada's maritime interests at home and overseas are changing. On one hand, the effects of global warming on the Arctic Ocean and the lengthening of the shipping season there coupled with concerns for national security especially in isolated parts of the Canadian coast will demand a higher level of surveillance of those waters. Not doing that is tacit acceptance that others can use those waters as they please. This is an abrogation of sovereignty.

The complexity of the new domestic mission is such that only the navy has the capacity to manage the information and coordinate the operations of all involved government departments. On the other hand, Canada's economic well-being and high standard of living are direct results of its involvement in the world marketplace. Thus, Canadian interests will continue to demand active involvement in international security operations on land and at sea, especially through the use of naval forces as the first response to crises.

The versatile naval fleet, capable of sustained expeditionary operations, that has served Canada so well for the past 15 years will still be needed for the foreseeable future. Not maintaining an effective naval force is tantamount to surrendering one's sovereignty at sea. An effective navy is a prerequisite of statehood; a country with an ocean but without a navy cannot claim to be truly sovereign. Thus, defining an appropriate broadly-based naval policy that provides continuing guidance for the development and maintenance of the necessary force structure is fundamental to establishing a sound national maritime security policy. That policy does not exist at the moment and its absence is an obstacle to the necessary replacement and modernization of the Canadian fleet and thus hampers Canada's ability to meet the challenges of the 21st century.