Mr. Speaker, I want to make a couple of remarks about the speech that was made by my friend from Saanich-Gulf Islands.
First, since it has occurred twice now in the debate with respect to America's defences, not just North America but South America, I should tell the hon. member that Mr. Perry, my counterpart in the United States, convened a meeting of all defence ministers of the Americas for the first time in Williamsburg last October. A second meeting will be held later this year. We are starting to develop links with those countries through trade. Therefore, it is natural that security questions should be discussed also.
Second, I want to take note of the hon. member's criticism of my colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, whom he alleges has said that the defence forces of Canada exist solely for peacekeeping. That was not what the minister said and the hon. member knows that is not true.
The fact is that peacekeeping is the most visible portion of our defence effort because we have been involved in so many peacekeeping efforts. The participation in IFOR in the last couple of months, the first NATO force to which I alluded earlier, shows that there are other bilateral arrangements and engagements in which we take part.
It is true that many in Canada believe that Canadian defence forces should be relegated solely to peacekeeping. Those people are wrong. Canada has armed forces for: first, domestic assistance to the civil authority; second, in defence of sovereignty, which is what we are talking about today with NORAD; and third, the involvement in multilateral assignments, most of which have been the UN but it is not exclusively so.
Last, I would just like to comment on the hon. member's continual reference to expenditure cuts in the defence budget which he is tying into the NORAD debate. I find it somewhat odd that Reform Party members, who have campaigned for the last few years on slashing the deficit and have chastised the Minister of Finance for not going fast enough, are being somewhat selective. When they do not like expenditure cuts in certain areas they then have some other justification for their position. We saw this in their defence of social programs when we know the Reform Party is out to demolish social programs. There is a bit of incoherence here.