Peter MacKay: Defence Minister Calls For Strengthening Of Military Ties With U.S.

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PETER MACKAY STANFORD
United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, left, shakes hands with Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay during a meeting of NATO defense ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2012. (AP) | AP

STANFORD, Calif. - The defence minister says there's a greater need for stronger partnership between Canada and the U.S. in uncertain economic and political times.

But at the same time, NATO's global partnership is in need of reform to function effectively in a complex security situation, Peter MacKay said in a set of speeches at Stanford University in California on Wednesday.

Domestic security issues begin internationally and it's best to act before they happen, MacKay said.

Yet, the events of the Arab Spring show that expecting the unexpected has become the norm in preparing for global events, he said.

"These wide-ranging security requirements are further compounded by new fiscal realities forcing governments to make difficult budget and capability choices as they undertake their future defence investments in an effort to prepare for an uncertain future security landscape," he said, according to a prepared text of his remarks.

Strong partnerships are one way to move forward, MacKay said.

"Not just to share the burdens, but because partners bring different assets, capabilities and relationships to the game," he said.

MacKay's set of speeches at Stanford came at the invitation of former U.S. secretary of state of Condoleezza Rice.

He called the Canada-United States defence relationship the one certain thing in the world today and told students, faculty and security experts he looked forward to hearing from them how the relationship can be further developed.

His speeches also come as the Defence Department is expected to face major cuts in the next federal budget.

MacKay is set to address the Conference of Defence Associations in Ottawa on Friday, where's he's expected to lay out some of the challenges facing his portfolio as all eyes are on how the military moves forward after Afghanistan.

In his speeches Wednesday, MacKay highlighted the close relationship Canada and the U.S. built during their work together in Kandahar as well as Canada's contribution to the recent NATO-led military mission in Libya.

Groups like NATO are crucial in the global effort for stability, but they need updating, MacKay said.

More resources need to be placed into operational capability and less into administration, he said at Stanford's Center for International Security and Co-operation.

"I believe that this is the only way to make sure that NATO stays agile and effective in a constantly evolving world and that it can continue delivering results for our common security and collective defence," he said according to a text of his remarks.

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