Mr. Speaker, this is yet another Liberal pretence of parliamentary consultation on an important defence issue. There is to be no vote and the outcome is a foregone conclusion because all parties are on record as approving the continuation of Canada's participation in the NORAD agreement.
At the risk of dating myself, I first became involved in NORAD in 1958, shortly after it came into force. That was an employment in Quebec at place called Mont Apica and following that to Ontario and to Vancouver. Over the intervening years I continued a sporadic involvement in NORAD matters until my final tour in NORAD at McCord air force base, 25th air division headquarters, Tacoma, Washington.
I have since been involved in studying NORAD through my membership on the special joint committee on Canada's defence policy. In that capacity we looked at NORAD in detail and visited NORAD headquarters at Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs.
The primary objective of NORAD, of course, is to protect Canadian and U.S. air space. By maintaining a known and capable aerospace surveillance we expect and hope to deter attack. If that deterrent should fail it is the responsibility of NORAD to identify the threat, to characterize the type of air attack and respond appropriately by the effective deployment of either Canadian or American aeroplanes or both.
Obviously with the end of the cold war the situation in NORAD has changed and there have been ongoing consultations to incorporate appropriate new postures. Starting in 1994 there have been studies by various agencies including the Department of National Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of International Trade, the American Department of Defence, the State Department and, as I mentioned a few moments ago, the special joint committee on Canada's defence policy. It has also been discussed in the Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs and with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of National Defence.
This had led to a unanimous endorsement of Canada's continued participation in NORAD. This agreement is soon to be approved for a further five years and Reform is and has been on record as supporting NORAD.
This is a good deal. Canada's share of the expense in NORAD is 10 per cent of the total cost, about $320 million. It promotes goodwill between our countries and provides benefits such as intelligence sharing from which we acquire knowledge.
It gives us access to leading edge technology, not only with the United States but also with other countries such as the U.K. We also share research and development activities. This assures Canada's aerospace sovereignty and provides untold benefits to us. I say again NORAD is a good deal for Canada.
Speaking of good deals and Canadian sovereignty, what about the four British Upholder submarines? They are modern. They are almost new. I understand that two of them have barely been used. They are capable. Unlike the description that some people give to them, they are not hunter-killer, they are patrol submarines.
Canada has developed and maintained an expertise that took years to acquire. Continuing our submarine practice would enable us to pay our NATO dues to an extent by providing submarines as targets not only for Canadian but for all NATO forces. Being a member of the submarine club provides intelligence information that is of great benefit to Canada. People do not want submarines running into each other under water, so they advise each other where their submarines are located.
This acquisition would provide Canada with the ability to patrol both coasts, which is something we cannot do full time at the present time. With the advent of air independent propulsion or AIP, these submarines would provide an under ice capability which would answer a lot of critics who look at the northern waters and say Canada can do nothing about them. This is not a nuclear capability. It is in the vicinity 14 days submerged but it would provide the ability for Canadian submarines to transit the Northwest Passage and certainly to seek out anyone who is there without permission.
Submarines are cost effective. They have relatively small crews, about 45 in the Upholder, and they can be sent off for a long time without having to be replenished.
Submarines are surreptitious and thus they are very effective against, for instance, ships jettisoning garbage; tankers or freighters who choose to pump their oily bilge in Canadian waters;
foreign fishers in restricted waters; drug smugglers; and illegal immigrants. In a lot of ways, they are similar to what NORAD assists Canada in doing.
Furthermore, submarines are effective because when people know you have them but do not know where they are, they have to take this into account when they operate. There are well over 600 submarines in use in the world today and more under construction. Forty-four different countries operate them, countries like Iran or Libya. They were a factor in the former Yugoslavia. They had five submarines in that area and we had to take note of them. Most people are aware that there is an active submarine building program under way in China.
Because of its effectiveness and economy, the submarine is really becoming a weapon of choice for a lot of countries. If I might give one example of the effect it can have, if we go back to the Falklands, one British submarine tied up the entire Argentinian fleet by being on patrol outside the harbour. They have an effect and ability to influence operations far beyond their normal capacity.
Submarines have been recommended by the special joint committee on Canada's defence policy and they were included in the white paper. What we have is a government which lacks resolution. It has reduced the defence budget by some $800 million over the following three years but it is prepared to give away $24 million to put a UN force in Haiti rather than recoup the funds from the UN.
The government is procrastinating unnecessarily and perhaps it is going to forgo this possessed and needed expertise and capability. I refer to a statement by the Minister of National Defence previously when he pointed out that NORAD, an agreement signed and conducted in peacetime, if it were not renewed might be difficult to reacquire were we to go to war. I say the same thing with regard to our submarine expertise. It is something that has taken many years to acquire and surely we should not forgo it lightly.
The same questionable judgment is involved in delaying the maritime helicopter buy. This is a deliberate gamble which will endanger maritime helicopter crews by extending the time they have to fly the antiquated Sea King.
It brings the question to mind, is the government deliberately reducing Canada's military capability to the point where it becomes ineffective? We know that former Prime Minister Trudeau was heading that way until he discovered the ill effects it would have on Canada's trade relations in Europe. Is it a coincidence that our present Prime Minister was a member of Mr. Trudeau's cabinet and presumably supported his thrust?
The submarine decision apparently has been left in the hands of the Prime Minister. I wish I could but I do not have much confidence in the fair, practical consideration that submarine acquisition will be given.
We know that one of the Prime Minister's closest advisers, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, thinks the Canadian forces should become simply peacekeepers, this despite all the evidence which confirms that the best peacekeeper is a combat capable sailor, soldier or air crew.
What should happen here is that the good, the needs of Canada should prevail over politically correct positioning. Despite the recommendations of the special joint committee on Canada's defence policy that 66,700 was the absolute minimum to which the Canadian forces could be reduced without giving up capability, this government is headed for 60,000, several thousand under the recommended minimum. It is my position that the recommended figure was already marginal or too low. Look at what the Liberals propose to do to the reserves.
Is there a threat to justify NORAD'S continuation? There are still a great number of ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads that can reach North America. There is a proliferation of ballistic missile technology and we need to continue to improve methods of missile event protection, assessment and warning.
Furthermore, the role of space is becoming more important. We must remember there are still more than 20,000 nuclear weapons in the world. At present there are about 170 to 200 missile events each year, half of which are space launches. In comparison, missile events peaked in the late-1980s at 1,400, but this is still a substantial number and the technology is improving.
By 2001, which will be the next NORAD renewal, space will assume an even greater role in aerospace defence. Also, the new cruise missile technology may lead to a North American threat. These missiles are becoming smaller and more accurate. They can be deployed from any number of vehicles, a freighter, a small aeroplane, a submarine and so on.
Examples of countries that are proceeding with this type of equipment are North Korea and China, both of whom have a missile capability to strike Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. We have seen the flexing of China's muscle recently in the run up to the Taiwan election.
Peace and global stability are achieved from a position of strength, deterrence and a balance of power, not through the vain hope that reasonable positions or responsible actions are likely to prevail. Any such hope is an illusion.
There has been and still is considerable concern and mistrust among Central American, South American and Caribbean countries when it comes to co-operative ventures with the United States. They have a perception that U.S. interests will overpower the
partnership, resulting in the concerns of smaller states being ignored or overruled.
However, NORAD, by clearly demonstrating that an effective, considerate and balanced partnership can exist between the only remaining superpower and a relatively small-at least in population-neighbour is an example that a security organization like NATO has become in Europe could be possible within the Americas. Thus NORAD could be the basis from which an Americas defence security organization emerges.
OAS, the Organization of American States, would seem to be the logical genesis for such an organization. However, my admittedly limited exposure to the OAS has revealed that the apprehension I referred to earlier is embedded in that body. Whether there is or will be a perceived need for an Americas defence security organization, I do not know. However, I do know that if an example of balanced and co-operative partnership between the U.S. and a smaller, much less powerful state is required, NORAD provides that example.
In conclusion, NORAD has been and is a success story in which it is in Canada's best interests to continue participation.