Mr. Speaker, I listened carefully to the minister. At the beginning of his speech, he referred to comments some hon. members from this side of the House have made so far, including me, about how this debate will really influence the decision the government is about to make or will make in the next few days concerning the renewal of the NORAD agreement.
I was pleased to hear the minister say, and I am ready to believe him, that this debate is relevant and that the government intends to take into consideration what is said in today's debate when the time comes to make a decision.
However, I cannot help but be a little sceptical. In his speech, the minister described the process which will ultimately lead to the renewal of the NORAD agreement. He described the whole process. So, I am a little bewildered, since the negotiations with our American partners are over and, from what I hear, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is expected to travel to Washington to sign the agreement very shortly, on the 13th or 14th of this month.
Therefore, following today's debate, can the government really take into consideration all the information and the suggestions we have for them? I put the same question to the Minister of Foreign Affairs earlier, but, unfortunately, his speech was not followed by a question and comment period, so he could not answer. Maybe the Minister of National Defence will provide the House with an answer.
Technically, is it possible for the government, following this debate, to reopen the negotiations with our American partners in order to include a number of recommendations made by members from Quebec and elsewhere in Canada, including the ones I made about the demilitarization of the Arctic and the integration of new member states in the NORAD agreement? Is it possible to reopen the negotiations on some of these issues before the agreement is to be signed? Or is this only an exercise in futility, where we debate the NORAD agreement, knowing full well that, in the end, not a lot can be changed before the agreement is ratified?