Canada signs arrangement to boost military cooperation with France

Arrangement commits countries to cooperate on new capabilities and leveraging procurement opportunities

February 4, 2015
Michael Power

PARIS—Canada and France are establishing a defence co-operation council.

The technical agreement establishing the body was signed February 4 in Paris by Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The two countries were already being drawn closer together in the defence sector by the Canada-France Enhanced Co-operation Agenda, signed in November 2014 by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and French President Francois Hollande.

But the new arrangement allows for an official dialogue between the two militaries and permits combined and possibly joint operations in the future.

They have already been co-operating, but it has been on a less formal basis.

Canadian C-17s ferried French troops, vehicles and supplies to war-torn Mali in early 2013.

Last summer, troops belonging to the 1st battalion Royal 22e Regiment, out of Valcartier, Que., trained for landing operations aboard the Mistral, a French amphibious assault ship and helicopter carrier.

The arrangement also commits the two defence ministries to work together on development of new capabilities and leveraging procurement opportunities.

The French company DCNS, a leader in shipbuilding and naval designs, has been angling to be part of the Harper government’s plan to construct replacements for the navy’s destroyers and frigates.

France is a member of the U.S.-led coalition battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, a recently upped its commitment with the deployment of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle following the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the attack on a kosher grocery store in Paris.

Nicholson said those events, attacks last October in Canada and others underscore the necessity of signing security arrangements.

“Our two countries have recently seen the extent to which security threats can become global,” he said in a prepared statement. “This technical arrangement will not only strengthen high-level defence dialogue between our two countries, it will also enhance defence and security co-operation on a range of priorities.”