That this House take note of the importance of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) in the security and defence of North America, and of the government's intention to renew the NORAD agreement with the United States for a further five years.
Mr. Speaker, I want to express my appreciation to all members of the House in agreeing to this important debate. This is the second time in three weeks that we have had the opportunity as parliamentarians to look at a critical aspect of Canadian foreign policy.
In this case we are dealing with one of the most important bilateral treaties that has been established between ourselves and the United States over the last almost 40 years; the renewal of the North American air defence agreement which has represented a major issue of security and defence co-operation between our two countries.
NORAD has been a key element in this co-operation since 1958. It has served our countries well during a variety of changes, particularly during the period when we were concerned about the surveillance of airways during the cold war.
It is our assertion, one I believe most Canadians share, that the continuation of NORAD can serve us equally as well in a post-cold war environment, an environment which despite the reduction and elimination of the ballistic missile threat to North America still remains full of many uncertainties in the world we live in.
NORAD represents a key element of our foreign and security policies. For 40 years, this agreement has been a strong link in our bilateral relationship with the U.S. That is why we are proposing today to renew this agreement for a further five years effective May 12, 1996.
My colleague, the Minister of National Defence, will further review during this debate the specific military and defence requirements and aspects of this agreement.
I will concentrate my remarks on the rationale, the new objectives, the new security context as well as the foreign affairs dimension of this proposed NORAD renewal.
I hope we can encourage members to participate in how we situate this important resigning of the NORAD agreement within the broader context of our relationships with the United States.
Four sets of issues have dominated Canada-U.S. relations in the past few years: first, economic and trade relations following the implementation of NAFTA; second, culture; third, the environment; and fourth, defence matters.
Defence relations have been the least controversial of the last three sectors. In fact, the U.S. and Canada generally share the same vision and interests with respect to the security of North America.
This very close co-operation in defence and security matters has constituted for 55 years a fundamental and important foundation of our relationship in the North American continent with the Americans.
The question before us today is how these fundamentals evolve in a post-cold war era. Times have drastically changed, as we all recognize, since the basic text of NORAD was last updated in 1981. Canadians can legitimately ask whether we still need a NORAD agreement.
Since becoming the Minister of Foreign Affairs I have carefully studied the reviews of NORAD undertaken by Canada and the U.S. in the last two years. I have read the recommendations of the
special joint committee on Canada's defence policy and the special joint committee that reviewed Canadian foreign policy, both of which endorsed the renewal of NORAD.
In that assessment and review I conclude the following. Even though Canada does not face the same threat or concern about bombers, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles it did during the height of the cold war period, the capability and the necessity to continue to exercise effective surveillance and control over Canadian air space are still basic defence requirements with important implications for Canadian sovereignty.
A binational aerospace defence co-operation through NORAD remains a highly effective, cost effective means to meet this basic national objective. What we are saying is that NORAD itself is a very important way in which the continued protection and advancement of Canadian sovereignty and responsibility can be maintained at a cost within our means.
To date the central purpose of NORAD has been to provide both Canada and the United States with the means to ensure an appropriate level of air sovereignty, attack warnings, assessments and responsive defence. The agreement offers a number of key advantages which are just as relevant today as they were a few decades ago. Let me cite a few.
First, NORAD provides a comprehensive warning capability against any residual stocks of ballistic missiles and provides defence against bombers and cruise missiles.
Second, NORAD discourages criminal activity, especially drug smuggling and illegal immigration, which we do not need in this day and age. It is evident that we need continual protection against terrorism and common criminals who may seek access to our borders through the use of air means.
Third, it gives Canada access to valuable military and technological intelligence in the aerospace field that is unique among all countries.
Fourth, it substantially enhances the ability of the Government of Canada to ensure its will is respected throughout all areas within Canadian jurisdiction by providing in a very cost effective way the capability to monitor and control developments within our aerospace.
Fifth, it gives Canadians a voice in the planning and operations of the aerospace defence of North America, developments which whether we were in NORAD or not would directly affect our interests.
For these reasons alone NORAD continues to make good basic sense. While NORAD has continued to serve these basic national interests our government felt strongly that aspects of the agreement needed to be substantially updated to meet current and future defence needs. In the last two years new considerations have come forward and are being addressed in the new agreement. This is not just an old NORAD agreement; it is a substantially revised agreement.
I will cite four major changes in the proposed renewal. First, there is a concern about the proliferation of advanced military technology including weapons of mass destruction in the hands of rogue governments that may support terrorism. As we all know, Canada is a leader in the effort to deter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. We recognize this is an essential component of an effective defence against attack by nations or terrorists using nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.
The reason for this leadership is that there is concrete evidence that the number of countries working together to acquire these weapons is increasing. In this regard the end of the Soviet Union diminished one threat, a nuclear exchange between east and west. At the same time it increased another threat, the opportunity for other countries to acquire the expertise and materials to build their own weapons. This is a concern that has become increasingly apparent as we see the trade and exchange of components of nuclear weapons, delivery and manufacture.
The new NORAD agreement will provide clear provisions of aerospace warning and control to meet the potential of this new threat of arms proliferation. It is one way to provide a clear deterrent against that expansion we so greatly fear.
There is another equally important reality. In renewing the NORAD agreement we faced the growing importance of space in military operations. The special parliamentary joint committee on Canada's foreign policy recommended Canada should be prepared to renew the NORAD agreement, but should press for a further shift of emphasis from air defence to global space surveillance. Canada should require prior consultations on any move to abrogate the anti-ballistic missile treaty or to place weapons in space.
The new agreement does exactly that. It is one way we can ensure full protection against developments that would increase the risk of new space based weapons. As a result of the NORAD agreement we are now in a position to exercise real control and judgment.
I want to make one thing very clear: NORAD's technology remains the best in the world to provide surveillance and warning functions with efforts to defend our aerospace. However, that new technology is not the stuff and matter of a star wars program. It involves no weapons in space, a concept we as Canadians oppose. There is no anti-ballistic missile system in any way connected to this NORAD agreement. NORAD has evolved to reflect the threats faced by Canada and the United States and this process will continue if we decide to renew the agreement.
In fact, one important objective which was sought by Canada and will be met in the renewal of the agreement was to develop a more formal mechanism for the two countries to consult on developments with implications for North American aerospace defence and through which NORAD's missions could evolve. Because of NORAD we will have a place at the table to determine the pace and timing of any developments and the ability to say no or to register our concerns.
Moreover, the agreement will make clear that these missions will require the approval of both governments to proceed. In effect, we have a veto within the North American defence agreement to say no to these particular proposals.
A third consideration when renewing the agreement was the increased use of North American air space for legitimate purposes, such as civil air traffic, which has expanded geometrically with the signing of the open skies agreement. Unfortunately, it is also becoming increasingly penetrated by illicit activity from the air. That is particularly true when it comes to the drug trade and their use of air space to make their connections.
The agreement we are proposing will clearly refer to the need to co-ordinate national systems for the surveillance and control of North American air space to cope with these added activities, both of a legal nature and of an illegal nature so that both governments can make sure that the best protection for our citizens is provided.
A fourth consideration, and one that I know is of great importance to members of the House, was the need to reflect the contemporary concern for environmental protection. Up to now the NORAD agreement has not contained any clause on environmental protection whatsoever.
At Canada's request, a new clause will be added in the accord to refer directly to environmental issues, expected to be few, but that reference will go to the permanent joint board of defence by a national group made up of defence and diplomatic representatives, the chair of which is the member of Parliament for High Park, who is our representative and the co-chair in that area.
With these changes, ensuring again that any problems related to the environment under the new agreement will be relayed to that joint board and decisions will be made jointly, I think that completely and clearly answers the concerns expressed by members of the House during those hearings.
With the changes I have just outlined, I believe that the revised agreement will transform NORAD from a cold war defence arrangement to one of the 1990s and beyond and will give us a much better ability to protect our sovereignty and provide for increased co-operation in areas of vital concern to us in the use of our valuable air space.
As rewritten, the new NORAD agreement should meet today's security environment as well as Canadian interests and needs. It will also provide a clear indication of the government's commitment to Canada-U.S. defence co-operation and reaffirm at the highest level our intention to continue the co-operation in North American aerospace surveillance and air defence.
Let me in closing take a moment to talk about how NORAD fits into the broader context or scenarios of Canada-U.S. relations. We have all read from our school days on, the variety of cliches that abound about Canada-U.S. relationships. However, beyond those cliches there is one fundamental truth. The most comprehensive relationship between any two countries in the world is that which exists between Canada and the United States. It exists in the hundreds of thousands of transactions that take place every day between private citizens and businesses across borders. It also exists in a wide variety of areas such as trade, culture and the environment. In these cases we have been able to or tried to manage these relationships in a variety of ways.
Much of what we do bilaterally, regionally and internationally relates directly to the special management of our unique relationship with the United States. Our co-operative yet complex relationship stands as a model. I do not believe any two countries in the world have been able to manage these complex relationships in the way we have. In saying that, it is clear we have our differences, and sometimes the differences tend to be a lot more visible than the matters in which we share common interests, common values and common visions.
We are all very aware of the irritants which characterize the trade and environment areas, to take just two examples. The extraterritoriality being proposed under the Helms-Burton bill, or the disputes on Pacific salmon which are now being dealt with, are serious integral challenges to our basic interests. I can assure members of the House that we will take all necessary steps to defend the Canadian national interest in these two areas.
We also have differences of opinion, not just in direct relationships about larger foreign policy issues such as the reform of the United Nations. We think the United States has a responsibility to pay its bills. We believe on the issue of Cuba that an active program of engagement is the best way to provide for the evolution of democracy and the treatment of human rights in that country rather than a policy of isolation.
We know how to work out those differences in a productive and friendly manner through good debate and dialogue. Subject to the recommendations of this debate, Canada's intention to renew the
NORAD agreement offers yet another illustration of a good working relationship with the United States.
Furthermore, the NORAD agreement offers to those elected representatives in the United States who have been making some comments in the last few weeks about Canada's position, how things should properly be done: where we sign an agreement; where we have a framework; where we engage in dialogue; where there are rules of the game; where there is processes to follow. That is the way two countries get along, not by calling each other names or having certain members of the senate make aspersions about our past history.
The NORAD agreement is the model on how we conduct our relationship, not the kind of statements made by the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, the senator from North Carolina.
I believe a renewal of this agreement provides a very strong message, a very effective message, to Canadians and Americans alike. This is the way to do business together. This is the way to get along together. This is the way to co-operate together and to do it in an orderly rules based system that allows us to express our differences but at the same time to co-operate where that co-operation is in our mutual interests.
We have differences and similarities. The way to deal with these is to have rules in place to make sure that those rules and similarities have their best expression and their best outlet. It is a relationship that must continue to be based on mutual respect and a solid understanding of our respective individual and independent needs and priorities.
The new NORAD agreement that we are putting before the House today for debate builds on this relationship. It demonstrates to both our populations how we can continue to advance and secure good, co-operative relationships with our very important neighbours. Perhaps it can demonstrate to other countries around the world that is better to get along than to have disputes. The NORAD agreement is one clear way of doing that.