Canada and Western Security: The Search for New Options


39 pages
ISBN 0-7727-0804-5




Edited by R.B. Byers and others
Reviewed by Barry M. Gough

Barry M. Gough is a history professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and
author of The Northwest Coast: British Navigation, Trade, and
Discoveries to 1812.


This important work is a contribution to a debate initiated in February 1981 with the publication of Western Security. What Has Changed? What Should Be Dane?, written by authors and an advisory group from Great Britain, France, the United States, and the Federal Republic of Germany. That report snubbed Canada, and made few references to the northern North American country’s contributions and commitments, both existing and potential, to the security of the Western world. This publication brings together the writings and discussions of an illustrious group of scholar-strategists, including Rob Byers, Margaret MacMillan, Jacques Rastoul, Robert Spencer, Gerald Wright, and others who contributed to the cause at the editorial stage. The work argues consistently, despite its multi-authorship, that Canada is central to the future of the North Atlantic Alliance, that the 1980s will provide future challenges to Canada’s security, most notably in the form of the Soviet threat in ballistic missiles, and that the North Atlantic area is a region in which each member of the Atlantic alliance has a vested interest. The worry, in the last-named instance, is that governments of the alliance will lose their traditional sense of the overwhelming importance of the alliance and NATO, with a consequent weakening of the alliance. The report recommends that the alliance be strengthened by a working group of first ministers who will formulate a long-term approach to dealing with the Soviet threat, and that the Canadian government should reassess its security needs and update and reconfirm its commitment to the alliance and to NATO. The report, a cogent statement of realities, deserves a very wide readership as a short but insightful document on ongoing relevance to the continuing debate concerning the role of nuclear weapons and Canadian security.


“Canada and Western Security: The Search for New Options,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,