House of Commons Hansard #108 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was norad.

Topics

Public Service
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Westmount—Ville-Marie
Québec

Liberal

Lucienne Robillard President of the Treasury Board

Mr. Speaker, the public service is committed first and foremost to the merit principle. However, we also want to respect the principle of employment equity.

I think that it is unacceptable that certain groups in our society are under-represented in the public service. It is time for the public service to represent the Canada of today, a multicultural society.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

The Deputy Speaker

I would like to draw to the attention of hon. members the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Dr. Mulatu Teshome, Speaker of the House of the Federation of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

Presence in Gallery
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Some hon. members

Hear, hear.

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

May 29th, 2003 / 3 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Reynolds West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the government House leader if the plans for the government from now until June 20 are the same as he outlined at the House leaders' meeting earlier in the week, and do we plan to have any late night sittings so that we can meet the government's objective to complete all those bills between now and June 20?

Business of the House
Oral Question Period

3 p.m.

Glengarry—Prescott—Russell
Ontario

Liberal

Don Boudria Minister of State and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, to answer the last question first, as to whether we need to have late night sittings, I suppose it depends on the co-operation on the part of the opposition, which is usually quite good, I must say.

Going to the substance for the next few days, we will continue this afternoon with the opposition day motion. The House does not sit tomorrow because of the Conservative leadership convention.

We are now entering June, the month when we try to wrap up the year's work and we will be consulting other House leaders on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, in order to determine the precise order of bills. However for the next few days we will be dealing mostly with report stages, third readings and consideration of Senate amendments to bills we have already passed.

The bills that will be considered next week will be, and I will start with the one on Monday, although we intend to have a minor conversation about another minor issue later, but generally speaking they will be as follows. We will start with Bill C-25, the public service bill. We will then move on to Bill C-31 respecting certain pensions for veterans and the RCMP. When that bill is completed I would hope to start Bill C-7 respecting first nations governance; and because they are all government days next week we are going to take them probably in roughly that sequence, Bill C-17 public safety; then Bill C-13, the reproductive technologies bill which is presently at third reading.

It would be my intention to then call Bill C-32, the Criminal Code amendments. When the bill is reported to the House, which hopefully will be one day next week, we could then commence Bill C-24, the political financing bill. We also have the amendments from the Senate which I understand might happen on Bill C-15, the lobbyist bill, and Bill C-10B, cruelty to animals.

At some point, we would also like to debate the second reading of Bill S-13, respecting the census, and Bill C-27, the airport bill.

As a matter of courtesy, I wish to indicate to colleagues that it is my intention to call the final supply day on or after June 12. This is not, of course, an official designation of that day at this point but that is why I say on or after, but at least to try and give an indication to colleagues in the event that they will not take other commitments at or about that particular time in order for them to be able to plan their agenda.

The House resumed consideration of the motion.

Supply
Government Orders

3:05 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise to debate this issue, an issue which already has been before the House and an issue which I expect will be before the House again.

I would like to advise the Chair that I will be splitting my time with the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie.

I want to speak in favour of the motion before us today. In doing so, I would like to reiterate a few of the points already made by the Minister of National Defence earlier today.

First, I would like to try to put this issue in some context in terms of our relationship with the United States. We all know that we have been working with the United States on continental security for some time and that clearly the United States is our best friend and best ally.

This relationship goes back to the 1940 Ogdensburg agreement between Canada and the U.S., which represented a concrete acknowledgement of the indivisibility of our security interests and committed us to assist one another in the case of hostilities. That agreement led to the creation of a high level, bilateral forum, the Permanent Joint Board on Defence, whose two chairs report directly to the Prime Minister and to the U.S. president.

I should add by way of introduction to my colleague that the hon. member for Brossard—La Prairie is our representative on the PJBD and I must say that based on what I have seen thus far the hon. member has done a very admirable job in that capacity.

Today, the Canada-U.S. defence relationship is an extensive one. It is a complex one. It is governed by something in the order of 80 treaties and 250 memoranda of understanding. There are as well approximately 145 bilateral fora in which our two countries discuss defence matters.

One of the most important institutions or agencies developed over the years in terms of this defence relationship is certainly Norad, the North American Aerospace Defense Command. For 45 years Norad has been the cornerstone of this very close defence relationship. The fact that this military command serves both Canadian and American military and security interests has very much helped build a harmonious Canada-U.S. relationship in the field of air and aerospace defence.

I should say as well that a number of years ago I had the great pleasure and honour of visiting the troops, both Canadian and American, at Cheyenne mountain. I cannot express how impressed I was at the level of bilateral cooperation exhibited and on display at Cheyenne mountain between Canada and the United States.

Norad obviously has a binational command structure. The deputy commander is a Canadian officer. This structure ensures that Canada has a voice in planning and in operations for the aerospace defence of North America, as the commander is responsible to both countries.

I have talked a little about the history of the defence relationship with the United States, particularly with respect to Norad. There are obviously many other dimensions to that relationship, not the least of which is the defence production sharing agreement along with other agreements we have with the United States. But clearly our relationship with the United States and our shared approach to continental defence have been affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I think it is safe to say they have changed. Certainly the security perspective that exists within North America has, and I would venture to say that these attacks have changed the entire strategic environment in which we operate today.

Since September 11, 2001, the government has shown that we are committed to protecting Canadians from emerging threats and that we are equally committed to continuing to work with the United States to address our shared security needs. The government has clearly recognized the fundamental importance of continental security and the benefits of working closely with our American allies to protect lives on both sides of the border.

That is why, last December, the Canadian and American governments established a binational planning group. This group is co-located at Norad headquarters in Colorado Springs and is led by a Canadian, Lieutenant-General Ken Pennie. Furthermore, some positions on this planning group may be filled by “double hatting” personnel already assigned to Norad. The establishment of this group marked yet another critical step in furthering the already strong defence relations that exist between Canada and the United States.

By coordinating surveillance and intelligence sharing, the planning group may play a role in deterring further terrorist attacks in North America, while in the event of a crisis the planning group's arrangements may well save lives as well. This group represents a very important addition to our bilateral defence relationship.

I would now like to turn to the issue of ballistic missile defence. The announcement made earlier today by the Minister of National Defence to proceed with discussions on ballistic missile defence is an important step in our efforts to have the command of ballistic missile defence assigned to Norad, where we can have a say in the development and operation of the system. We have already seen for ourselves that Norad can adapt to the new security environment. We saw it react quickly and effectively after September 11, taking steps to greatly improve its internal airspace surveillance.

Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I would bring to your attention the fact that it was a Canadian who was in the chair as the acting commander on September 11 when those jets hit the World Trade Center. I think it is an expression of the level of trust that has existed between Canada and the United States that a Canadian would be in the chair giving the commands to Norad in connection with air defence at that critical time in American history.

The organization that is Norad has certainly proved to be flexible, flexible enough to successfully accommodate and make a contribution to a new missile defence mission. Such a mission would in fact be a natural extension, certainly in my view, of Norad's current responsibilities. As things currently stand, the North American missile defence mission has been assigned to the U.S.-only northern command. Reassignment of the North American missile defence mission to Norad would make Canada well placed to influence the development and functioning of this new missile defence system.

I want to clarify that these issues remain hypothetical, as the government has not yet made a decision concerning ballistic missile defence. We are, as I stated and emphasize once again, only engaging in discussions at this point. Moreover, any decision to negotiate would not be about saving Norad. It would be about building on it.

During question period we heard talk about this new missile defence system. A lot of red herrings have been brought up, not the least of which is the whole issue of SDI, or star wars, as it has been called. That is not what we are talking about in connection with missile defence today. It is a ground based, sea based interceptor system that is intended to protect against small numbers of missiles entering North American airspace. It is no more and no less than that. To suggest for a second that this is automatically going to lead to some huge star wars based system is misleading the Canadian public, I think, and doing a disservice as far as the public debate on this issue is concerned.

I see that my time is winding up, so let me say that the motion before us deals with a very important issue. It is a motion that concerns bilateral relations with our closest ally and the future role and possible contributions of the critical organization that is Norad. It is an issue of Canadian security.

I am in favour of the motion because it speaks to the importance of Norad and the importance of working with our allies to ensure the best possible defence of our shared continent.

I am in favour of the motion also because this government is committed to examining any issues that involve the protection of our continent and our citizens. In that regard, ballistic missile defence is no exception.

Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Bloc

Marcel Gagnon Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, I have just heard it said that the government changed its tactics on September 11, 2001, changed its policies and from that time on started thinking about a missile defence plan. If I understood the previous speaker correctly, I would like him to explain to me how a missile defence plan could have prevented the terrorist attacks on September 11.

I think that, if we want to prevent terrorist attacks throughout the world, if we really want to solve this problem, what we need to do is attack inequality, and seek to ensure that there is greater justice everywhere.

I would like the hon. member to explain to me how arming ourselves more heavily and creating a missile defence system can prevent terrorist attacks.

Supply
Government Orders

3:15 p.m.

Liberal

David Pratt Nepean—Carleton, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to explain. I think what the hon. member is missing in the context of this entire debate is that the security environment changed dramatically on September 11.

Yes, the people who were involved were using box cutters to hijack aircraft and to fly them into populated office towers. That in and of itself constituted, in my view, a weapon of mass destruction. It was a weapon of mass destruction that killed thousands of people. We know that. There is no debate on that.

What we are talking about here is the strategic environment, the use of cell-based terrorism to acquire weapons of mass destruction. As well, we are talking about the situation that currently exists, again within the strategic environment we are operating in, of rogue nations acquiring the technology involved in ballistic missile delivery systems.

The world has changed very dramatically in the last number of years. We have seen rogue states in action. We have seen North Korea in action, for instance. There is no direct connection between North Korea and al-Qaeda, obviously, but some of the thinking on the other side of the House, and specifically within the Bloc and the NDP, involves a kind of cold war approach to the world that does not exist anymore. These were some of the same people who were telling us, when the U.S. cancelled the ABM treaty, that the non-proliferation efforts of the international community were about to collapse. They did not collapse, and they did not collapse because the ABM treaty was a relic of the cold war. It had effectively died back in 1976 when the Americans decommissioned their own missiles at Grand Forks, South Dakota.

What has to be understood here is that we are dealing with an entirely new strategic environment with new challenges that we are going to have to address in new ways. Ballistic missile technology has been around since the Germans launched V-2 rockets on London in July, 1944. Since then, governments have been looking to protect their populations.

At this point in the course of human history, what we see is that Russia is not a threat anymore. China certainly does not appear to be a threat anymore. The Europeans are not going to launch missiles at us. So where are they going to come from? Typically they will come from states that we now categorize as rogue states. Or we may have developments that overthrow governments and replace them with rogue states that are a threat to our security. They are a threat anytime anyone can use weapons of mass destruction to blackmail us as well, as we have seen in terms of some of the attempts that have occurred with North Korea, for example, in using its weapons systems to try to extort food from the international community in order to feed starving populations. We cannot allow that to happen. We cannot allow ourselves to be blackmailed. We must have the defence capabilities in place.

This is not a debate that is occurring just exclusively in the United States. It is a debate that is taking place in Europe as well. They are talking about theatre missile defence, but effectively what we are talking about is a missile defence system which will protect civilian populations in a way that I think all governments have a responsibility to do.

Supply
Government Orders

3:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jacques Saada Brossard—La Prairie, QC

We have a motion before us today which I would like to read:

That this House affirm its strong support for NORAD as aviable defence organization to counter threats to North America, including the threat of ballistic missile attack; and support giving NORAD responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles.

Before setting out my reasons for supporting this motion, I would like to revisit a fundamental principle for Canada-U.S. defence cooperation as set out in the 1994 White Paper:

The United States is Canada's most important ally and the two countries maintain a relationship that is as close, complex, and extensive as any in the world. Canada and the US are partners in the world's largest bilateral trading relationship. The undefended border between them is evidence of the common political, economic, social and cultural values Canada and the US share as advanced industrial democracies. Geography, history, trust and shared beliefs have also made the two countries partners in the defence of North America.

When we talk about Norad, we are talking about the fundamental principle of partnership in the defence of North America.

What is Norad? First, Norad is the cornerstone of North American security. Norad was created in 1958 to protect the airspace over North America. The remarkable thing is that this protection is ensured in complete respect for Canadian sovereignty. I repeat, because it is important and it is fundamental: in complete respect of Canadian sovereignty.

Naturally, the motion before us reaffirms our commitment to the North American Air Defence Command, or Norad, and recognizes the role that organization could play in ballistic missile defence.

Missile defence is a normal extension of Norad's role. It is not a novelty; it is not something coming in from left field. It is a step along the evolutionary path we have been following for several decades.

What is remarkable is that the bi-national Planning Group will also be located within Norad. This group will coordinate the planning of emergency measures to react to natural disasters or man-made crises. Everything to do with the conception, coordination and planning of joint security takes place there.

A few days ago, here in this House, we had an opportunity to debate the issue of missile defence. If you will permit, I will repeat a few sentences I used at that time, because they seem very relevant to today's debate as well. I said:

—the state has the duty to ensure the security of its citizens. I do not necessarily share the American assessment that Canada would be a potential target for hostile action by someone, somewhere on this planet.

Not being a target does not necessarily mean not becoming a victim. If an attack were launched using nuclear warheads—or bacteriological or chemical warheads—targeting Chicago, New York or Seattle, the fallout on Canada would be nearly automatic. Are we going to leave it up to others to protect us?

Of course, the issue here is the fundamental principle of our government's responsibility, the exercise of Canadian sovereignty. In terms of decision-making, the missile defence system is a fait accompli for our American friends. It presupposes studying a host of scenarios, planning countermeasures that must begin within 20 minutes at most of the launch of a hostile missile.

The question is as follows: Would we be better able to ensure the protection of Canadians if we participated in examining these scenarios, or if we were absent? Would Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver be better protected if our neighbours were left to assessing needs on their own, or if our government took part in these plans to protect us? For me, the answer is obvious. Canada's participation, incidentally, would be fully in line with our commitment to contributing to the defence of North America.

Norad, which has existed since 1958, protects North American air space and is a perfect example—I want to say this again, as it is so fundamental, so important—of military cooperation under bi-national command that fully respects the sovereignty of our two nations.

In the interests of Canadians and our collective security, we must support maintaining Norad. We must do better than this: we must support Norad's expansion. That is why I am very pleased to support the motion before the House today.

I forgot to say when I started that my hon. colleague from Nepean began by paying tribute to my work as chair of the Canada-United States Permanent Joint Board on Defence, and he was extremely complimentary. I thank him, in the hope that I will live up to these expectations and respond in a manner that is fitting and professional.

Supply
Government Orders

3:25 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I rise to take part in this debate. I will be sharing my time with the member for York North.

As I read the motion that is before us, I find much that I like, particularly when it comes to Norad, and I will be speaking about that. Unfortunately, the motion contains a huge and fatal flaw. It is one word. The word is any, which means that I must oppose this motion. First, let me begin with the part I like:

That this House affirm its strong support for NORAD as a viable defence organization to counter threats to North America, including the threat of ballistic missile attack;--

I like that part because I was in Colorado Springs last week for three days to visit Norad headquarters and saw the amazing complex in Cheyenne Mountain. I came back hugely impressed by the skill, talent and dedication of the Canadian men and women of the armed forces who serve in the joint Norad command. I support Norad and those people.

After my discussions with them, I am of the view that Norad has an increasingly important role to play in the defence of North America after September 11, 2001. In the first place, as we discovered, the aerospace defence of North America is no longer about the perimeter, about armed bombers coming from some other continent, or from inter-ballistic missiles only. The defence of the continent is now about hijacked civilian airliners and the fact that Norad is speaking with our own Canadian civil aviation authority, Nav Canada, and with the American FAA, to ensure the internal defence of North America is an important strong and vital step. Of course, it is logical because we share this airspace with the United States.

Second, there is a very important activity going on right now in Norad called the binational planning group, which is looking at a variety of other threats to the security of North America based on our new understanding of the way in which international terrorists operate. That binational planning group is asking itself whether there are things we can do together which are not simply about aerospace, but are about land based threats because we share a common land base with the United States separated only by a frontier. There is also the issue of sea based threats because ships may move in and out of Canadian or American water, and they may constitute a serious threat to the security of North America.

I give the example of some kind of tramp steamer off the coast of the eastern seaboard within 100 kilometres of a major American city that has a fairly low tech cruise missile. Currently, the whole question of it being a ship means that it is under a maritime operation and surveillance, but the moment a cruise missile leaves that freighter and heads toward North America it becomes a Norad task. The only problem is that with about a seven minute period of time to react there is no way we can counteract a cruise missile under the current divided structure between maritime surveillance and air surveillance. Therefore, we may see ourselves, quite apart from national missile defence, with these clear and present dangers, with a Norad which deals with air, land and sea so that we can have an integrated and more pre-emptive approach to the defence of the continent. I think that is an important and useful direction for Norad to evolve.

The problem is, of course, what happens when we get to national missile defence? Where does that fit in to our catalogue of risks to the continent? Let me begin by speaking of the ways in which I agree with the Minister of National Defence in his statement this morning.

Though I have much to criticize in the whole concept of national missile defence in terms of the geopolitical questions it raises, I agree with the minister that it is important that Canadians take charge of the defence of their own space in North America and that they share in a sensible way that duty with the United States; hence the importance of Norad.

I agree with him about the importance of improving our ability to detect incoming intercontinental ballistic missiles from whatever source, whether that is from Russia, China, North Korea, or any other rogue state.

I agree with the minister on the importance of insisting, in our discussions with the Americans, that we will not participate in any scheme which involves the weaponization of space. In saying so, of course, the minister was reiterating what the Minister of Foreign Affairs had said in the House before that.

Finally, it is possible and appropriate that we should proceed with discussions with the Americans on that basis, understanding the limitations of the discussions and the possibility that we may not come to agreement. That is where I agree with the Minister of National Defence.

I, however, disagree with this particular motion. I indicated at the beginning of my speech that my disagreement focuses on one word, that we would support giving Norad responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles, any system. Unfortunately, this is a blank cheque motion. It says in effect, as long as a new weapons system is under Norad control it does not matter whether it involves the weaponization of space or not. It opens the barn door. It opens a huge possibility and therefore, I cannot support it.

The weaponization of space is a great deal closer than people have given it credit. Last week President Bush released a confidential national security presidential directive which had been signed in 2002 in which the national missile defence was described. It said:

We are pursuing an evolutionary approach to the development and deployment of missile defenses to improve our defenses over time. The United States will not have a final, fixed missile defense architecture. Rather, we will deploy an initial set of capabilities that will evolve to meet the changing threat and to take advantage of technological developments. The composition of missile defenses, to include the number and location of systems deployed, will change over time.

Then the President listed some of the things that were being looked at and ends with:

Enhanced sensor capabilities; anddevelopment and testing of space-based defenses.

Space based defences is the weaponization of space. How likely is this? Let me turn to the hearing of the senate armed services committee in Washington held on March 18, 2003, and an exchange between Senator Bill Nelson and Lieutenant General Ronald Kadish, Director, Missile Defense Agency.

Sen. Nelson: All right, General Kadish, your budget documents show that you are going down parallel paths to acquire the ground-based boost phase and a space-based phase.

Gen. Kadish: It is our intent, as far as at least my internal discussions, that that test bed that we would space-base would serve two functions. One is to demonstrate intercepts from interceptors that would be on orbit, so we'd actually do an intercept, and to work out all the difficulties involved with having a constellation of that size potentially on orbit.

Then there is more discussion and Senator Bill Nelson asks:

Well, let me--let me ask a policy question to the secretary over there. That would be the first time that we would be weaponizing space, and there has been a policy up to this point that we are not going to weaponize space. Tell me about your thinking with regard to that change of that policy.

General Kadish does not answer that question. It is answered by Pete Aldridge who says:

Now, once you've accomplished that, then you look at various ways to do boost phase, and we are looking at airborne lasers, we are looking at ground-based interceptors, and we are looking at space-based.

And then he says whether they do any of these things depends on whether there is any money or not. We might say if they do not have any money they will not go there.

I happen to have the Missile Defense Agency 2004-05 fiscal year biennial budget estimates. Under space based tests, the Missile Defense Agency will begin developing a space based kinetic energy interceptor test bed in fiscal year 2004, one year from now. Initial on-orbit tests will commence in block 2008 with three to five satellites. The test best capability will be expanded in two year blocks.

The money will be in next year's budget, fiscal year 2004. Money set aside for these interceptors is initially $14 million, and for fiscal year 2005, $119 million with the first satellite launch in 2008 and the first flight test in 2009.

Here is the problem. Weaponization of space is real. We are moving in that direction. It would be naive to think that when we are having these discussions that might not end up being the killer, the end of the discussion, because that is where the United States is going.

Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Cheryl Gallant Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke, ON

Mr. Speaker, the member across the way mentioned that he has problems with the word “any”. In the motion it refers to Norad being in command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles.

If Norad is not going to be in charge, Canada playing a role in the command of the anti-ballistic missile system, then who would he suggest? Would he suggest that Canada not be a part of this altogether? It could go ahead whether we agree or not. Does he not agree that we are in a stronger position to be a part of the discussion rather than already setting lines?

Talking about the weaponization of space, interceptors in space do not constitute the weaponization of space. The member across is far overreaching what the capabilities are or are seen to be within the next couple of decades.

Supply
Government Orders

3:35 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, I have to re-emphasize that the focus is not on Norad control. I do not have a problem with Norad control for the improved surveillance of North America. What I have a problem with is the idea that as long as we are part of Norad control we will allow any system to develop when we have just clearly said that we will not endorse a system which involves the weaponization of space. The whole point of an interceptor based in space is to knock down other satellites, and that is the weaponization of space.

The issue is not the control but rather what kind of a system will the United States put up there. It does not make it any better that we have a hand in a system we have denounced as the weaponization of space. It just means that we are writing a blank cheque and saying that wherever this leads to, any system the United States comes up with we will be there for it. We cannot accept that.

Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Dick Harris Prince George—Bulkley Valley, BC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the member what type of plan North American should adopt to defend a missile strike against our continent that would enable us to deter or destroy any incoming missiles before they reached our continent. Does he have a suggestion of an alternative? Is he hoping that if we ask all potential aggressors against our continent to please not fire anything at us, they will not? Is that good enough for him and the government?

Supply
Government Orders

3:40 p.m.

Liberal

John Godfrey Don Valley West, ON

Mr. Speaker, for 50 years Canada and the other major nations of the world have pursued dual track policy with regard to defending ourselves against inner-ballistic missiles. The first was the principle of mutually assured destruction, which basically said that there was enough rationality on the part of others that they would see it is not in their interests to be wiped off the face of the planet.

The other part of that is we have also worked to restrict the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the proliferation of all of these systems. It was hard and dirty work but it was generally pretty successful.

The problem I have with investing all of this money and energy into national missile defence is that it detracts from the real work of disarmament and anti-proliferation. It means that people have given up on the idea of trying to stop these states from acquiring these weapons, whether it is through diplomacy or some kind of negotiation which has worked for 50 years, in favour of a technology which is incredibly dubious. It is only based on these missiles coming in being extremely primitive. It does not deal with a missile with any degree of sophistication which would have decoys on it, for example.

That is the problem. We need to pursue the old doctrine of first, we crush them if they attack us, and second, we will try to negotiate with them so they do not feel they have to.