Conservative MP and foreign affairs critic Michael Chong is urging the federal government to take immediate action to counter foreign political interference and physical incursions into Canada’s air space. In a tweet on Feb. 14, Chong stated that the government has failed to “counter foreign interference, stop funding Beijing’s military research, upgrade NORAD’s early warning system, and acquire modern fighter aircraft.” He asked, “Does the government understand how vulnerable we are?”
Chong also expressed his concerns in the House of Commons on Feb. 13, saying that recent violations of Canadian air space should serve as a “wake-up call” to the federal government. He noted that the Liberal government has had warnings from intelligence agencies and the military, yet Canada is still vulnerable.
The incident began when a high-altitude Chinese surveillance balloon was shot down by the U.S. military off the coast of the Carolinas on Feb. 4. This was followed by three more unidentified flying objects being shot down in Canadian and American air space between Feb. 10 and Feb. 12. It is yet to be determined if these incidents are related to the initial Chinese spy balloon.
Chong again stressed the need for the government to upgrade NORAD’s early warning system and acquire modern fighter jets. Defence Minister Anita Anand announced in June 2020 that the federal government would be investing nearly $5 billion over the next six years to bring North America’s aging defence systems up to date. In January of this year, Anand also revealed that the government will be spending $19 billion over the next nine years to replace its fleet of CF-18 Hornets with 88 F-35 fighter jets. The first 16 jets will arrive by 2028, with the full fleet expected to be received by 2032.