Chapter

The Imperatives of Canada’s Strategic Geography

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Abstract

If a country’s defence policy cannot avoid dealing with the geographical space, Canada faces a major problem given the vast size of the territory to be defended. But territory plays a paradoxical role in the Canadian case. While most Canadians understand that their geostrategic location has historically kept them secure, the government, when it talks about defence, rarely invokes geography. Instead, defence statements encourage Canadians to conceive of the broader strategic environment in which their country operates in an “a-geographic” way—in other words, without reference to geography as a determinant of policy. This chapter explores this paradox, arguing that ministers have much the same view of Canada’s strategic geography as those they represent and govern. The result is that defence policy statements are purposely framed a-geographically in order to mask the realities of Canada’s strategic geography.

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