Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to take part in the debate for the NORAD renewal. I am pleased that both the Bloc Quebecois and the Reform Party have given their general support to the renewal of the agreement, although I am perplexed at the convoluted logic of the last speaker, the critic for the Reform Party.
In one breath he is supporting the NORAD renewal but in another he is issuing a virtual declaration of war against the United States for incursions the Americans are allegedly making on the west coast militarily. That will bring some smiles, if not in Washington certainly in the parliamentary press gallery.
Another point raised is that the debate is somehow irrelevant. That could not be further from the truth. Cabinet has not looked at this issue. There has been no debate and therefore it is totally wrong to say that what is being said here today will have no influence on ministers when they look at the agreement.
I urge the House to support the renewal of the North American Aerospace Defence Command or NORAD agreement. The reason I want this agreement, which served the interests of this country and this continent well, to be renewed is because I am confident that, in this regard, the government is supported by most Canadians and by the vast majority of members. Incidentally, my colleagues and myself are very grateful for this support.
Throughout the cold war, this Canada-U.S. partnership for the aerospace defence of North America faced the greatest threats that defence technology could devise. NORAD waited and watched, always ready to sound the alarm and intervene. This task, however mundane, was necessary and if it went largely unnoticed, it is precisely because it was so successful.
Today the cold war is over and there is no immediate threat to Canada. Hon. members are correct to assert that. However, it would be a mistake to conclude that Canada can go without defences. Although the challenges facing us have changed and laudable
progress has been achieved in arms control, not all dangers have been eliminated. Dangers continue to be posed by the huge remaining stockpiles of nuclear weapons, by the proliferation of advanced military technology, by the transfer of technologies to rogue regimes and by the growing importance of space in military operations.
That is why the House of Commons and Senate special joint committee on defence drew attention to the instability in the world when it brought forward its recommendations in the fall 1994. These instabilities were reflected in the white paper the government issued in December of that year.
None of the dangers we have been talking about is of an immediate threat to North America, but in a world characterized by turbulence and uncertainty all of the dangers are real. Despite the emergence of a new international order, prudence dictates we must maintain an adequate aerospace defence capability for the longer term.
NORAD's basic missions, early warning and the preservation of air sovereignty, are and must remain unchanged. That said, the NORAD agreement we placed before the House today has been substantially revised to meet today's specific conditions and to anticipate future requirements.
NORAD has adapted to the new geopolitical and financial realities, in that the agreement was substantially rationalized to make it much more affordable. Since the agreement was last renewed in 1991, spending has been greatly reduced and other savings are contemplated.
The agreement remains vital to Canada's defence and economic interests, to the establishment of close and harmonious relations between Canada and the U.S., as well as to international peace and stability.
The NORAD agreement is the most important and most visible bilateral agreement on security and defence that Canada has entered into with the United States. It was originally signed on May 12, 1958, and it has since been renewed, extended seven times, the latest renewal dating back to 1991 and carrying us over to May 12, 1996.
Canada-U.S. co-operation for the defence of North America was already well established long before 1958; after the French were defeated in 1940, Canada and the U.S. established a permanent joint board to oversee defence planning and commitments.
A point of particular relevance to this discussion should also be mentioned. During the years immediately following the second world war, the U.S. air force and the Royal Canadian Air Force began working together to ward off the launching of an attack on the continental air space.
This co-operation was inevitable. General Charles Foulkes, the chair of the Canadian joint chiefs of staff from 1951 to 1960, once wrote: "There were no boundaries upstairs and the most direct air routes to the United States' major targets were through Canada. Therefore air defence was to be a joint effort from the start".
The original NORAD agreement put in place a binational command structure for fighter defence against long range Soviet bombers. In the mid-1960's the emphasis shifted from air defence to attack warning and characterization of attack in response to the emergence of nuclear tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, ICBMs, as the primary threat to the North American continent.
The 1975 renewal of the agreement redefined NORAD's mandate in the following way. First, it was to assist Canada and the U.S. in safeguarding sovereign air space. Second, it was to contribute to deterrence by providing attack warning and assessment of aerospace attack. Third, it was to ensure an appropriate response against air attack if required. NORAD has retained these missions in all subsequent renewals.
Since 1975 there have been only two major modifications to the NORAD agreement. In 1981 NORAD changed its name from the North American air defence command to the North American aerospace defence command in keeping with the new emphasis on warning against ballistic missiles.
In 1991 the definition of air sovereignty was expanded to include detection and monitoring of aircraft suspected of drug trafficking. Canada's contribution to NORAD includes aircraft surveillance assets, infrastructure and personnel, which represent almost 10 per cent of NORAD's total cost.
Our annual expenditures include the cost of some 790 personnel working at NORAD headquarters at Cheyenne mountain operation centres on airborne early warning aircraft, at a variety of sensor sites and in NORAD air defence operations. Canada's four operational CF-18 squadrons have NORAD responsibilities on a rotating basis with two squadrons, one in the east and one in the west, out of Cold Lake and out of Bagotville, on designated state alert at any one time.
In recent years the reduced threat of air attack against North America has necessitated the alert state's being reduced significantly. Should there be a crisis or war that threatens North America, two squadrons of CF-18s would be assigned to NORAD for the joint defence of Canada and the U.S. Additional resources could be assigned to the defence of the continent if required.
The hon. Reform critic said the recent budget cuts in national defence could somehow impair our commitment to NORAD. We would not be bringing this agreement for renewal if we did not think we had the capability, notwithstanding the defence budget cuts, to deliver on our capability. The hon. member should be assured that we do have the capability and will retain the capability in that regard.
In addition to the availability of the CF-18s, the Canadian NORAD region headquarters at North Bay operates the Canadian portion of the North warning system, four coastal radars and four forward operating locations to support fighter operations in Canada's north.
Like previous governments, the current Canadian government agrees that our country's aerospace defence needs may be very effectively and efficiently satisfied through NORAD. Early in 1994, the external affairs minister and myself instructed our officials to undertake preliminary discussions with their American counterparts regarding a possible extension of the NORAD agreement beyond 1996.
We were in complete support of the goals and principles of the existing NORAD agreement, but we had come to the conclusion that it had to be adjusted to meet present and future defence needs. From the very start, we were determined to have substantial changes made to ensure that the agreement is streamlined and brought up to date in preparation for the next century.
Our first and most fundamental concern was the wording of the agreement. We felt it should more closely reflect the real world. The gist of it has not changed since 1981, in spite of the fact that the nature of North American aerospace defence has changed drastically. A new strategic framework has emerged since the cold war between east and west. In this framework, while the threat is greatly reduced, new challenges require a new approach and greater flexibility than before, when our present and future needs were set strictly by the cold war.
The government also wanted to make sure that NORAD's mandate would be clearly set out. It also was of the opinion that a consultation process be established that would allow Canada to state its views to the United States in a more formal setting. Thus, the missions would be discussed on a regular basis and, if necessary, they would evolve very naturally.
While these Canadian-American exploratory talks were underway the parliamentary committees independently reviewing Canada's foreign defence policies fully endorsed the renewal of NORAD. They did so in the context of the threat being diminished to North American airspace but not eliminated.
The government followed the reports with strong statements of its own in favour of NORAD in two documents, "Canada and the World", the foreign policy white paper, and the 1994 defence white paper. In that document we spelled out in explicit terms the fundamental role that collective defence plays in our security, indeed in our sense of ourselves as a people and as responsible citizens of the world. The white paper pointed out we are bound to our allies in Europe and the United States by political values, interests and traditions we wish to support and foster.
It is for that reason that Canada has participated in the implementation force under NATO in Bosnia. I was pleased last weekend to be with the Canadian men and women serving in that theatre who are doing a remarkable job in a short period of time to help bring peace and stability to Bosnia. This is a historic mission because it is the first time NATO has actually taken on an operational assignment in its 50-year history. It has shown that the command and control, the lessons of preparation of the last 50 years have stood the organization in good stead for its operational effectiveness which I saw last weekend.
There are practical benefits to collective defence such as standardized equipment and procedures and the accumulated experience of joint and combined operations. I certainly saw that last weekend. These practical benefits are valuable in our continuing efforts in support of collective security.
Alliances dismantled in peacetime may be difficult to revive when a crisis occurs. That is why we have to keep our involvement in multilateral organizations such as NATO and why we must renew the NORAD agreement.
It seems obvious enough but somehow this lesson was forgotten twice in this century when political leaders not only in Canada but among our allies allowed the defence establishment to run down to such a level that it was ill prepared when crisis came.
Despite the compressions in the defence budget, we are absolutely determined to keep a combat capable force with new equipment, a lean and efficient military that will serve our interests and will be the effective cadre, together with a revitalized reserve force, for mobilization should we be called on to go into a major conflict.
In the 1994 report of the special joint committee on Canada's defence policy there was an articulation of our wider international responsibilities as a country:
If we believe that Canada stands for values that are worth promoting in a larger world, we must be prepared to invest resources and commit Canadian troops in defence of those values. If we are not prepared to do so then what do we stand for as a country?
When President Clinton visited Ottawa in February of last year, he and the Prime Minister reaffirmed the intention of both
countries to renew the NORAD agreement. In the same month, I visited NORAD headquarters and toured the operation centre at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado in the company of my colleague, the Secretary of Defence, William Perry.
During that tour, I was really impressed by the continuing necessity of a co-operative, high level aerospace defence function for our two countries and by the competence and dedication of the Canadian and American personnel serving there. These people work side by side in an integrated command structure for the security of our continent. They truly reflect the special relationship that Canada and the United States has developed over 39 years of close co-operation.
Therefore, as the men and women of Canada work, sleep and enjoy their lives, a group of men and women are still, in this age of diminished threat, constantly on watch for any threat against North American air space.
Canadian and American officials continued to meet on NORAD renewal dossiers throughout most of last year. This has resulted in the agreement that we hope to sign. I hope MPs will be pleased by the extent to which the final draft reflects Canada's negotiating aims. I know the critics for the Reform and the Bloc Quebecois have been brought up to speed on the agreement. Briefly I want to touch on a couple of points before I sit down.
The agreement transforms NORAD from a cold war defence arrangement to an international accord for the 1990s and beyond. The agreement's definition of the strategic environment as it affects North America is entirely new. It stresses the revolutionary change brought about by the end of the cold war and the progress that has been made in nuclear arms control.
However, at the same time, it notes that the world has not become suddenly safe.
As I have already said, the threat posed by ballistic missiles may no longer be an imminent one. Nonetheless, we must take into consideration the fact that there are still large stockpiles of such weapons. We must also take into account current and future strategic developments that could impact on the security of North America's airspace. For example, I am thinking of the proliferation of mass destruction weapons and their delivery vehicles, not to mention the increasing use of space for military purposes.
The new text of the agreement also provides that Canada and the United States must work together to monitor and control non-military air traffic in North-American skies. This joint effort is necessary to deal with the increase in legitimate air traffic, and also with air access to North America for illegal purposes such as drug trafficking.
To ensure government transparency as well as clarity in terms of its goal and its policy, the agreement provides, as regards NORAD missions, the most detailed definition ever included in a public document.
These missions are twofold. The first is aerospace warning, including identification of aircraft or missile threat with the potential of striking North America and the monitoring of man-made objects in space and the detection, validation and forewarning of attack, whether by aircraft, missiles or space vehicles, using mutual support arrangements with other commands.
Second, aerospace control, which includes providing effective surveillance and control of North American air space from routine peacetime surveillance through a defence attack from aircraft or cruise missiles.
Before I conclude, I am pleased to announce a heightened level of agreed consultation between the two governments and on a formal mechanism for the consultation on developments with implications for aerospace.
As my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said, any of those disagreements or clarifications will be sent to the permanent joint board on defence. I am pleased to note that the chairman of the board has been re-appointed for another term and is a member of the House, the hon. member for Parkdale-High Park, who has done a terrific job over the last year, ensuring Canada's interests.