University of Calgary

Olympic Connection

September 17, 2009

Who calls the shots over Olympic skies?

Joseph Jockel
Joseph Jockel
Security is expected to be tight when the 2010 Winter Olympics get underway next February in Vancouver. The RCMP will be the lead agency responsible for security on the ground. But when it comes to protecting Canadian skies, it could quite possibly be an American military officer making critical judgment calls should a terrorist incident or other security situation arise, says Canadian Studies professor Joseph T. Jockel.

“On paper, it appears that in planning for the Vancouver Olympics, the Canadian Air Force will be responding to two commanders—an American in Colorado Springs and a Canadian at Command Headquarters in Ottawa,” says Jockel. “While the overall responsibility for air defence rests with NORAD, who provides final advice for the responsible Canadian minister? Will the head of Canada Command have any role at all?”

In his paper, released today by The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, Jockel takes a critical look at the 51-year old bilateral agreement and ponders its future. He suggests that the U.S. Administration of Barack Obama provides an opportunity for Ottawa to reconsider both the Martin government’s rejection of the missile defence pact in 2005 and the Chretien government’s decision not to consider a broad expansion of NORAD. In his paper, titled: Saving NORAD: Should Ottawa Seize the Obama Moment?, Jockel argues that while it’s tempting to try to save NORAD for symbolic reasons, it should be disbanded. He advocates instead for air defence cooperation, particularly with respect to large scale events like the Olympics.

SPP Briefing Papers are published by The School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary to provide timely studies of current issues in public policy. Focus on The United States is a collection of papers resulting from an initiative the Institute for United States Policy Research within The School of Public Policy and the Canada Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The intention of this ongoing collaboration is to cast light on the critical issues pertaining to Canada-US relations.

Joseph T. Jockel is professor of Canadian Studies at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York. The full text of his paper is available on The School of Public Policy’s website at

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