The Canada-United States permanent joint board on defence (PJBD): an examination of its advice outcomes legacy, 1940-2023

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Glesby, Nicholas
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The Canada-United States Permanent Joint Board on Defence (PJBD) was created on 18 August 1940 via the Ogdensburg Agreement, a one-page joint press release issued by Mackenzie King and Franklin Roosevelt. The impetus for the Agreement was the extreme sense of urgency to defend North America given World War II. The PJBD is, in theory, the most important advice provider on North American defence issues to the Canadian Prime Minister and American President. In reality, it has sustained little academic attention, government records are difficult to attain, and given its broad mandate of providing advice on the political and economic consequences of any defence and security issue in “the north half of the western hemisphere,” its infrequent use is perplexing. This is the first study on the PJBD since 1969 and serves as a one-stop-shop for future scholars and policymakers that analyses the PJBD from creation to 2023. To evaluate the PJBD’s decision making role over time and to glean some lessons learned, this thesis has compiled the Board’s record of activity previously scattered throughout secondary literature into a chronography (1927-1945, 1946-1991, 1992-2023) – reflecting geopolitical eras and the peaks and valleys of attention given to continental defence by senior decision-makers. Renewed Great Power Competition between the United States, Russia, and China demands further integration of the Canada-United States defence relationship. Ultimately, this research concludes that the flexible mandate of this secret advisory board and mix of civilian and military representatives provides a forum that encourages frank conversations in private, which is especially useful in an era of hyper-partisanship. As well, as problems and solutions become more technically complicated and require a myriad of agencies to cooperate, the PJBD facilitates a better understanding of the positions and concerns of binational partners. Nevertheless, there are challenges to the PJBD which are highlighted and policy advice is provided for the PJBD’s next iteration.
The Canada-United States Permanent Joint Board on Defence, PJBD, Ogdensburg Agreement, Canada-US defence relations