House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was defence.

Topics

Supply
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Order, please. The hon. member for Lethbridge.

Supply
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Rick Casson Lethbridge, AB

Mr. Speaker, I do not know exactly how to react to that. I just go back to the fact that what we are discussing and what has been proposed is a land based and sea based defence system. That is what has been discussed at the present time. We have to be at the table.

If the member is so concerned about that , why would she want to disengage in discussions with the Americans when we should be there to get those points across? If that is her position, how will we get them across if we are not fully engaged in the debate?

Supply
Government Orders

11:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Lethbridge for allowing me to share his time with him. He made excellent points and I would like to keep the ball rolling.

It is always a pleasure to rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central. Today it is to participate in the debate on the Bloc motion, which reads:

That, in the opinion of this House, the government should oppose the proposed American anti-missile defence shield and, therefore, cease all discussions with the Bush administration on possible Canadian participation.

The Liberal government had eight years to decide its involvement in the U.S. missile defence system, but rather than deciding to have involvement in the program it has been putting off even launching the formal discussion.

In 1998 I had an opportunity to accompany the now foreign affairs minister to Washington, D.C. I had discussions with the assistant defense secretary in the Pentagon. I raised this issue there in 1998. The Americans would appreciate our getting involved in this program, at least in the discussions. It is going to be an issue that affects Canada.

After waiting for eight years, last month the defence minister wrote a formal letter to Donald Rumsfeld, his American counterpart. In it he said that Canada is ready to negotiate an agreement, a kind of framework for a memorandum of understanding on a ballistic missile defence system with the United States with the objective of including Canada as a participant in the current U.S. missile defence program and expanding and enhancing information exchange.

Ballistic missile defence, also known as national missile defence, is a cornerstone of the Bush administration's security policy. The Government of Canada confronts the difficult policy decision on whether or not to participate in the ballistic missile defence program. This decision will have serious implications for Canadian foreign policy and Canadian defence policy. It could be a decisive moment in charting the future of Canada-U.S. defence cooperation.

The idea of ballistic missile defence and the deployment of nuclear warheads on intercontinental ballistic missiles can be traced back to the 1960s. However, the deterrent effect of mutually assured destruction was deemed more stable than a world of offensive missiles and defensive missiles. In 1972 the United States and the Soviet Union signed the anti-ballistic missile treaty restricting the number of ABM systems either country could deploy to two, and later to one, at one site.

In 1983 U.S. President Ronald Reagan called on the U.S. to build a space based ballistic missile defence system that would protect the United States. The strategic defence initiative, also known as star wars by some misinformed people, was a research program designed to develop emerging technologies, including high intensity lasers and particle beams for ballistic missile interception.

Even as the cold war wound down and the Soviet Union collapsed, billions of dollars earmarked for missile defence were reduced to some extent but the funding was not eliminated. President Bush Sr. and President Clinton also continued to provide funding for missile defence. The result of the research and investment in the last 20 years will soon materialize into a missile defence system for the United States and perhaps the allies of the U.S.

In July 1998 a commission headed by then Republican Senator Donald H. Rumsfeld concluded that the threat was imminent and that the U.S. should develop and deploy a system as soon as possible to protect it against ballistic missile attack from countries such as North Korea, Iran, Russia and China, whether intentionally or accidentally, or even some rogue nations and terrorist organizations.

Almost on cue, in August 1998 North Korea tested a long range three stage version of its Taepo Dong I missile and later developed the Taepo Dong II, both capable of hitting North America. This prompted the Clinton administration to accelerate the ballistic missile defence system, aiming for deployment by 2005.

The proposed system is directed against a ballistic missile threat that many analysts expect to grow dramatically in the next 10 to 15 years as ballistic missile technology diffuses through the international system.

Construction is already underway in Alaska. Construction crews are busy at work at a former military base a mere 400 kilometres from Dawson City, Yukon. They are carving 25 metre deep holes for missile silos and are erecting about a dozen state of the art military command and support facilities. This will be the home of a vanguard force of rocket propelled interceptors for defending the United States against ballistic missile attack. Incoming warheads would be destroyed in their mid-course phase by exo-atmospheric kinetic kill missiles.

The ballistic missile threat is real and requires a defence capability. Alternative policy responses such as strengthening the missile technology control regime, pre-emption and deterrence will prevent most threats. Some countries will defy arms control, build weapons and will be undeterrable. Arms control, deterrence, pre-emption and defence are complementary strategies, not alternative strategies. They have to work in combination with each other.

The U.S. government does not require the participation of the Government of Canada in order to deploy or operate the proposed ballistic missile defence system. No installations need to be built in Canada and the use of Canadian territory is not required by the proposed system architecture. The U.S. would prefer Canadian participation as it would provide a more comfortable political environment and would enable the United States to operate the system through Norad.

Canadian refusal will make little or no difference to the direction of the international security environment, the future of arms control or international perceptions of Canada. Canadian refusal will certainly not stop the deployment of BMD. However, a refusal to participate would sacrifice larger, more tangible interests that are at stake in any decision.

Although Canada may unlikely be a direct target of a ballistic missile attack, the proximity of most of the Canadian population to the United States and the poor accuracy of first generation intercontinental missiles mean that Canada shares largely the same threat as does the United States. We know that 90% of the Canadian population lives in very close proximity to the Canada-U.S. border, within a 100 kilometre range. It is a very serious threat and very serious concern for Canadians.

For states that have just developed ballistic missile capabilities, such as North Korea, it is extremely likely that their missiles are very inaccurate. Thus, the possibility of a warhead going astray and impacting on British Columbians or Albertans is quite possible. Do not forget that many people live in British Columbia and Yukon, in between Alaska and the mainland United States

Even if there were no missiles anywhere targeted at Canada, even if the threat to Canada was non-existent, a nuclear explosion in the United States would have a serious and profound impact in Canada environmentally, economically, politically and militarily. If Canada refuses to participate, it would in effect strip Norad of many of its current capabilities and functions and we would not have access at the table to discuss future opportunities

Moreover, Canada has a history and its reputation is at stake. There could be serious consequences. We have 87% of our trade with the Americans. I will conclude by saying that Canada should participate. Even the polls are indicating that 70% of Canadians want Canada to participate.

Supply
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Murray Calder Dufferin—Peel—Wellington—Grey, ON

Mr. Speaker, first I want to make my position clear. I believe that we should be at the table. I believe that we have been a good participant in Norad before.

The issue keeps coming back, then, to the weaponization of space. I would like the hon. member to comment. It took us centuries to establish the international law on the high seas. Today I see space as being very similar to the high seas. I know for a fact that the other countries of the world will not allow the United States to weaponize space without their acceptance. Would the member comment on what process he thinks we would go through to establish international law for outer space similar to what we have for the high seas?

Supply
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the question.

For these very reasons he has mentioned I think it is evident and very important for Canada to be a partner. The government has wasted eight years.

I think the international community has to negotiate. We have to bring the world together rather than divide the world. At the same time, in the accomplishment of that objective, which is pre-emption or deterrence and preventing most of the threats, I believe an effective defence system is important. Canada could be a prominent component of that whole discussion or forum, but some of the actions we have taken, such as those on landmines or the International Criminal Court, have alienated our neighbours already.

Our participation in this particular national missile defence program, at least in discussions at this moment, will be very effective. This is one reason why I have been urging the government to do this. I did my part in 1998 when I was at the Pentagon. I did my part and the official opposition has done its part. It is this government that should take the initiative and carry on the discussion and the participation.

Supply
Government Orders

11:40 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have brief questions for the hon. member who has just entered the debate.

The first relates to his reference to seven out of ten Canadians who support Canada's participation in missile defence. I wonder if I could ask him to shed some further light on this statistic. It was used the day before yesterday in debate by his defence critic, the former leader of his party. He undertook to table in the House the polls on the basis of which that assertion is made. He has still not done so two days later. I wonder if that could be clarified.

Second, I want to ask the hon. member whether he has any concern at all about the fact that there are repeated statements by President Bush himself, by Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. secretary of defence, by the U.S. space command director, by Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, all of which clearly indicate that their multi-layered plans include the weaponization of space.

Does the member have a concern that the government keeps pretending that this is not the case? Would he not see there being more integrity in the position if the government said, “We know that weaponization of space is part of the plan, is the objective--”

Supply
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Excuse me. I have to give an opportunity to the hon. member for Surrey Central to answer the question.

Supply
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, about the poll showing that almost seven out of ten Canadians support Canada's participation in a missile defence system, I referred to that in my comments. It was the Pollara survey. It was done very recently, in November 2003, by Pollara. Therefore, that is clear.

The second point was about deterrence. This is the discussion that we hear. The hon. member referred to some comments. It is important that we develop a strong deterrent. We know that Taep'o-dong 1 and Taep'o-dong 2 missiles have already been tested by North Korea. This has already been done. We are already aware that China has ICBM technology, allegedly stolen from the U.S. It becomes quite evident that deterrence is logical. It is reasonable and real. We also know about the terrorist organizations. They may have nuclear bombs and all kinds of stuff.

The only solution that we can develop is strong deterrence. We can effect counterterrorism because we have the rogue states. One way to control rogue states is to have this program.

Supply
Government Orders

11:45 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the obvious place for me to pick up is with the two questions that I put to the previous member, both of which were avoided or evaded in his answers.

On the issue of citing a poll that says seven out of ten Canadians support Canada's participation in Bush's missile defence, there was an undertaking by the member's foreign affairs critic that this poll would be tabled. It has not been done. We all know, first of all, that something that is as absolutely fundamentally important as this issue should surely not hinge on polls.

Secondly, the citing of polling information requires a full understanding of what the questions were and therefore what it was that Canadians expressed themselves on. So far there has been an extreme reluctance by the official opposition to table the poll, which the member for Okanagan--Coquihalla said he had in his possession and would table. I again would ask that the House be respected and the commitment that was made be actually carried out.

I want to go further today in the brief time available to me, because I intend to split my time with the hard-working member for Windsor West. I want to pursue two brief issues.

One of those issues is the steadfast refusal of the Liberal government in office and of the official opposition, the Conservative opposition, to acknowledge the extensive evidence, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, that what we are here agreeing to become part of, to participate in, is indeed one stage in an intended process to lead to a militarization and a weaponization of space.

I want to further ensure that there is on the public record not the sugar-coating and, I would have to say, just misrepresentation about what is contained in the letter from our Canadian defence minister to the U.S. defence secretary.

I just want to make sure that Canadians understand what that letter actually says. It actually makes it clear, and I will quote: “the objective of including Canada as a participant in the current U.S. missile defence program...”. It goes on to make it clear that this is intended to, and I quote: “help pave the way for increased government-to-government and industry-to-industry cooperation on missile defence...”.

I do not know what purpose is served by the government sticking its head in the sand. Actually I do not believe it did stick its head in the sand; I want to take that back. Because if I thought it was sticking its head in the sand, then I would think that maybe it is not actually willing to look at the evidence. But I do not believe for a moment that it has not seen the evidence. That is why it is very difficult not to come to the conclusion that there is wilful misrepresentation of the facts taking place.

The facts speak for themselves when we read the letter that went from the minister of defence to Rumsfeld. If the letter itself was not cause for concern, what became an even greater cause for concern was the hypocrisy and the duplicity of the letter saying one thing, utterly devoid of a single reference to Canadian opposition to the weaponization or militarization of space, while the press release that the minister put out in a kind of afterthought and a footnote said, for the home crowd, “By the way, this is really what it seemed like, we are kind of opposed to weaponization of space but we are not putting it in the letter”.

This has simply underscored the concerns of Canadians on this point. In case there is any possibility that anybody on the government side or the official opposition side, who absolutely share the same point of view here, is not in command of the research materials that are available, let me just say that there is no shortage of direct statements by George Bush, by Donald Rumsfeld, and by Paul Wolfowitz and others that make it clear that weaponization of space is part of what this is about.

It was not just Lloyd Axworthy, the former foreign affairs minister, it was not just the highly respected Order of Canada recipient, Nobel laureate John Polanyi, who appeared before the defence committee to say this is like climbing onto a conveyor belt to the weaponization of space. It is the very people in the U.S. administration who are making these decisions and who have not just acknowledged that, but have laid it out as part of their plan.

Let me just briefly quote from one such statement. Rumsfeld's deputy Paul Wolfowitz confirmed the Bush administration's ambitions to see weapons in space become part of its multi-layered concept of missile defence. Here is the quote:

...while we have demonstrated that hit-to-kill works, as we look ahead we need to think about areas that would provide higher leverage. Nowhere is that more true than in space. Space offers attractive options not only for missile defence but for a broad range of interrelated civil and military missions. It truly is the ultimate high ground.

We are exploring concepts and technologies for space-based intercepts.

I mentioned in debate the day before yesterday that my leader, who is doing tremendous work on this issue, and I had a day and a half in Washington last week. I noticed that the former defence minister stood up and said he did not know why the NDP is not willing to acknowledge that actually it was not George Bush who first signed on to the next stage of missile defence research; it was the Clinton administration in 1999.

That is absolutely true. I have to say that I think it is one of the most worrisome things about what is going on here. There are courageous, far-sighted and peace-loving members of the Democratic Party who are in Congress and the Senate who support the position that Clinton took in 1999. There are also a great many who very much regret that this was done. Do members know why? Because the Bush administration has seized this fact of the limited agreement in 1999, providing for research around sea based and land based missile defence; it has been seized with glee, not surprisingly, by the Bush administration to say, “Let us get right back on track with our original plan, the Bush I plan, which did include weaponization of space”.

What was very alarming was to hear the descriptions from U.S. Congress member after member with whom we met, as well as representatives of the NGOs, that it is like the case of the emperor who has no clothes. It is like a situation where everybody now knows that the notion of land based and sea based missile defence has not been properly tested. The limited testing that has been done has found it wanting. Most sophisticated scientists agree that it is not a system that would work, can work or will work. But we need to get through that stage, to put aside the normal testing requirements, which is what the Bush administration has done. It has abandoned the normal testing requirements so that it can ramp up and accelerate its commitment to go to the next layer of space based militarization. That is what is being acknowledged.

What disallows this government and the Conservative opposition from acknowledging this? Actually, Conservative opposition is more and more an oxymoron in this House, because we do not have a Conservative opposition to the Liberal government anymore. We have a conservative Liberal administration and a Conservative opposition that actually applauds and embraces most of the new and not so liberal conservative plans coming from the new Liberal government. That is what we have going on. But what is it that prevents them from acknowledging that this has more to do with the financial interests of the military-industrial complex? It has more to do with a militaristic approach to dominance of the world than it has to do with any defence from realistic threats.

Who is it that our government and the U.S. government are so convinced will launch sophisticated, highly expensive missiles on Canada for which this system will be the appropriate defence? Who is the threat? Who is the enemy? Who is causing us to become implicated in a system that could potentially, as estimated by a good many experts, cost as much in the end as $1 trillion to escalate the arm's race, to make the world a less safe and secure place, and result in the weaponization of space, which both of those parties pretend to oppose?

If they actually do oppose weaponization of space, why do they not at least have the honesty, decency and integrity to say that they acknowledge it is about the weaponization of space, that there is evidence of it and that they agree to go to the table because they think it is terrifying and that they had better be there to fight against the implementation of the U.S. plans to weaponize space? That would be a position of some integrity.

Supply
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat alarmed when I hear comments such as the ones I just heard. Historically we have always had shivers when the United States has talked about its need for isolation and to close its borders against other countries. Usually we are thinking in economic terms and the disaster it would be for Canada if the U.S. were to adopt that kind of isolationist policy again.

It seems to me that the two parties supporting the motion are advocating the same kind of isolationism for Canada in such an important area of our life, and that is the defence of our nation.

I cannot believe that they would say that we should not talk, that we should not meet and that we should have nothing to do with those people. That kind of thinking just isolates us and gives us no influence anywhere at all. I think that isolation should be damned from the beginning and I am prepared to stand with those who do it.

Supply
Government Orders

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I did not really hear a question there but I did hear a complete misrepresentation of what I said.

I actually said that it could be a position that could be defended. Now I would disagree with the position but at least it would be a position with some integrity and consistency and not involve being part of a big lie to say that we acknowledge that all the evidence shows that this is about moving to a multi-tiered, multi-layered system that includes the weaponization of space, which we find truly terrifying and we know Canadians are unalterably opposed to it, but we will go to the table to fight against it. That would be a position of integrity but that is not what we hear.

We have the defence minister who, on the one hand, sends a letter off to say that we want to co-operate and participate in this, and then he sends out a press release in which he says that we are opposed to the weaponization of space, by the way, but we did not say so in the letter. This is not a letter that says we are opposed to the weaponization of space and we want to be at the table to make our views known and fight with our last breath to oppose it from happening.

For the member to stand up and say, in the supposed Conservative opposition, exactly what we hear from the Liberal administration, is terrifying. It is very worrisome that there is no official opposition on this side of Parliament to say that the facts are being misrepresented, that the evidence is overwhelming, and that this is about heading toward the weaponization of space.

Yes, the figure given in debate the night before last on this issue, that only $14 million was dedicated to research around the weaponization of space in last year's budget, is true, but they have refused to acknowledge that we should be very worried that $3.3 billion is now budgeted to proceed with the research on the weaponization of space. This is not just for research. We are talking about moving to an implementation stage.

One of the things that concerns a great many people, who have an eye on what will happen to our children and our grandchildren in North America and around the world, is a defence minister saying that the NDP is being hysterical and scaremongering, and that, for heaven's sake, the plans for the weaponization of space are so far into the future, why would we be worrying about that today in 2004. I think it speaks volumes to the government's lack of vision to focus on a future that--

Supply
Government Orders

February 19th, 2004 / noon

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I must object to the member saying there is no official opposition. There is opposition and at this time we happen to be opposing her point of view.

Supply
Government Orders

Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

That is not a point of order, but the comment is registered.

Supply
Government Orders

Noon

NDP

Alexa McDonough Halifax, NS

Of course it is not a point of order, Madam Speaker, but I know we all try to find ways to make our points, and I am no different in that regard.

I must say something that is absolutely true. The member can object if he wants but he will have to present some evidence to support his point of view if he wants to win Canadians over to what the official opposition is doing on the issue of the weaponization of space. There is not one iota of opposition being expressed by the so-called official opposition, the Conservative opposition, to the fact that the government is on course to support and participate in a missile defence program that will move to its next stage and involve the weaponization of space. That is, in my view, deeply worrisome and extremely wrong-headed.

However the member cannot pretend that in regard to this issue, and a great many others as well, but we will not veer from the topic in this debate, that no effective opposition is coming from the Conservative so-called official opposition on this course of action on which the government is embarking. It was like a love affair between the Liberal government members and the so-called opposition Conservative members in the debate the other night. We are seeing it here again today.

Let me be fair. There are indeed, thank goodness, some members of that government who have the courage, the vision and the integrity to stand up and say that they oppose what the government is doing. Let me say again that it is a test of whether the new Prime Minister is being a complete hypocrite on the democratic deficit or not, based on a free vote on this issue when the vote takes place. If there were ever a case of where ensuring that members have a free vote over something as fundamental as the future security of the world and the possibility of the further escalation, not just of the arm's race, but of nuclear proliferation, it is surely the vote that--

Supply
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

Order, please. I would caution the member to use non-inflammatory language when referring to another member of Parliament. You are a longstanding member and you know you need to use respect. I would just ask you to do so.