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House of Commons Hansard #103 of the 37th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was plan.

Topics

Canadian Forces Superannuation ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Markham Ontario

Liberal

John McCallum LiberalMinister of National Defence

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-37, an act to amend the Canadian Forces Superannuation Act and to make consequential amendments to other acts.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Immigration and Refugee Protection ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Libby Davies NDP Vancouver East, BC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-436, an act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (sponsorship of relative).

Mr. Speaker, I am very proud to rise in the Housetoday to introduce my bill. I believe it will help reunite families in Canada.

The bill, called “once in a lifetime”, would, simply put, allow someone to sponsor a relative to come to Canada who otherwise would not qualify under the immigration family class rules.

I know in Vancouver East and across the country there are many families desperate to reunite with a family member. The bill would allow them to do that in a reasonable and compassionate way.

I truly hope that members of all parties will support the bill to strengthen our multicultural diversity in Canada and to support families.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Employment Insurance ActRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Peter Stoffer NDP Sackville—Musquodoboit Valley—Eastern Shore, NS

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-437, an act to amend the Employment Insurance Act (persons who leave employment to be care-givers to family members).

Mr. Speaker, again I rise with great pleasure to introduce what I think should be the finest piece of legislation ever to grace the halls of Parliament.

The bill basically would enable people with relatives under palliative care or severe rehabilitation to leave their place of employment for up to six months to provide care for that individual.

It is not a question of if people will become caregivers, it is a question of when they will become caregivers. We have over 3 million caregivers in the country today that the bill would greatly assist.

Also, for those concerned about dollars, for every $1 from the EI program that would be spent on the bill, $4 would be saved on the health care system. That is not only a great fiscal initiative, it is also a great family initiative.

We encourage speedy resolution and support for the bill throughout the country.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Halifax West Nova Scotia

Liberal

Geoff Regan LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons

Mr. Speaker, if Question No. 187 could be made an order for return, the return would be tabled immediately.

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is it agreed?

Questions Passed as Orders for ReturnsRoutine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed

Question No. 187Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

John Duncan Canadian Alliance Vancouver Island North, BC

Concerning Canada-Iraq trade, what is, on an annual basis, the value of trade between Canada and Iraq for the past 20 years with a breakdown by imports/exports and type of merchandise?

Return tabled.

Question No. 187Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Mr. Speaker, I ask that all other questions be allowed to stand.

Question No. 187Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Is that agreed?

Question No. 187Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

Question No. 187Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

It is my duty pursuant to Standing Order 39(5) to inform the House that the matter of the failure of the ministry to respond to the following questions on the Order Paper is deemed referred to several standing committees of the House as follows.

Question No. 187Routine Proceedings

10:05 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Question No. 180, standing in the name of the hon. member for North Vancouver, is referred to the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Question No. 184, standing in the name of the hon. member for Edmonton Southwest, is referred to the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology.

Question No. 186, standing in the name of the hon. member for Battlefords—Lloydminster, is referred to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

Question No. 191, standing in the name of the hon. member for Macleod, is referred to the Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development.

Question No. 194, standing in the name of the hon. member for Prince George—Peace River, is referred to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:10 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

moved:

That this House urge the government not to take part in the United States' missile defence plan.

Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleagues for their support. I am pleased to take the floor to address the motion before the House.

I was wondering how I should introduce this debate, and I finally decided that my starting point would be the long-standing military doctrine of the offence vs the defence. This doctrine probably goes all the way back to Cro-Magnon man.

In the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey , we see a Cro-Magnon man clubbing another man. Those who witnessed the incident probably thought that being hit with a big club seems to hurt, that maybe people should don a helmet to cushion the blow.

This has always been the military doctrine. The offensive side tries to overcome the enemy's defence, and the defence tries to resist the adversary's offence. This has evolved over time.

Other weapons, like arrows and javelins, were invented and other types of shields were found to fend off these new attacks. To this day, things have evolved that way.

Now we have a missile defence plan, or antimissile shield. The concept of a shield has evolved as well. In our modern world, we are threatened by antiballistic missiles. There are people who wonder if we should get ourselves a shield, a missile defence plan. It is an American idea.

I would like to talk about more recent history. In 1972, the ABM treaty was signed, with the goal of preventing the militarization of space. The proliferation of nuclear arms was on people's minds and there had already been discussions about limiting this proliferation. But the great powers, Russia and the United States in particular—for we were still in the cold war era—understood then that it was very important not to militarize space. That is the ultimate in defence. It is also possible to have offensive weapons in space and people could not allow that, because it would restart the arms race.

In 1983, President Reagan put forward the idea of a space-based missile defence system to intercept missiles. This project was abandoned for many reasons, but especially because the technology at that time was not available. It was all rather futuristic. And it was about the same time that the film Star Wars came out, and the project became known as star wars, as well. Thus, this project was abandoned for a time.

President Reagan also understood that the ABM treaty signed in 1972 would make it difficult, and nothing could be done without amending the treaty or repudiating it.

The situation evolved under President Clinton, with what they called at the time the NMD or National Missile Defense. The idea of a counterattack or of a shield seemed to be downgraded. Perhaps it would no longer be done from space. Ground-based possibilities were to be studied.

This theory has changed again with the arrival of George W. Bush, who wanted, perhaps, to see a group of elements that would block a potential attack on the United States. It could be done from ships, for example; antimissile missiles could be launched from ships, or from aircraft or from the ground.

So we can see that this idea has evolved. At present, it appears to have been reactivated. I remember the debates we had here in this House two years ago. The Bloc Quebecois asked questions. The federal government stayed far away from the new American philosophy of the antimissile shield, because it said we did not have enough details and that we would wait for the Americans to spell out the details.

We believe it is becoming an important issue today because the Americans want it to be. We also believe there have been contacts with the Americans.

But what is really going on? Is it realistic to think that a state could launch a ballistic missile attack against the United States of America?

There are various types of missiles, with different ranges. Obviously, if we are talking about an intercontinental missile, not many people have such a capacity, apart from Russia, China and perhaps North Korea. Indeed, North Korea has been extremely active lately for reasons of international relations, and also perhaps to indulge in a little blackmail in order to get some economic support, to get some assistance. Its nuclear program is up and running again. Therefore, I believe that it possesses the necessary capability for such an attack. Actually, North Korea has the technology needed to launch a nuclear weapon against any city in the U.S.

However, we should remember that we still subscribe to a military concept which was developed at the time when the balance of terror, at it was called, was the rule, and which was known as mutually assured destruction. Now, any state that launches a missile against the United States can be assured of its own destruction. It has always been the rule that if you attack, we will respond in kind.

Furthermore, any state that decided to launch a missile against the United States should be aware of the fact that it runs the risk of simply being wiped off the face of the earth. I believe Russia as well as China have understood this.

Russia, specifically, has the means to launch a massive attack on the U.S., because it has enough nuclear weapons and the means to launch these weapons toward America. It is the only power currently able to do so.

China also a number of missiles, but perhaps only a dozen that could be aimed at American cities. So, China has no reason to attack the U.S. because this would mean its automatic self-destruction.

This leaves the so-called rogue states, of which Iraq is not currently one. Incidentally, the Americans are still searching that country for weapons of mass destruction, without success. Nor do I think that Iran has the technological capabilities to launch a nuclear weapon on any American city. That leaves North Korea.

Is it really necessary to spend such sums for just one country, when obviously if that country were to attack, it would be destroyed. This is one consideration with regard to such missiles.

Of course, India and Pakistan also have nuclear capabilities, but their range capability is limited to the continent. So they can attack each other. I do not think they have the capabilities to launch a missile attack on an American city.

Canada's geography must also be considered. This is very important. Currently, the Americans are telling Canada that they will set up interceptors in Alaska. So they have to ask Canada, “Do you want to join us?”

I am happy that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is here to listen to what we have to say. I am happy that he is here because, ultimately, international relations are also at stake.

There is the whole question of debris because Alaska is on the far western tip of the Arctic. If a rogue state—North Korea, for example—were to launch a missile, this attack would cross the polar ice cap. It would fly over the polar ice cap. So, this is a problem for Canadians. In fact, interceptors leaving Alaska could fly over Canadian territory. I have a theory about this that I will discuss shortly.

I must point out too that all of this involves NORAD. It is NORAD's decision if a missile is going to be launched. Having visited Cheyenne Mountain, I found American technology very interesting. Their satellite can detect a missile within mere seconds of its being launched. Our only problem, if the missile is headed toward Canada or the United States, is that this is only a realization of the situation. There is no retaliatory measure possible except the concept of mutually assured destruction to which I have already referred.

So a North Korean missile will take 20 minutes to reach U.S. territory. The U.S. President, and likely the Prime Minister, are informed in order to seek a balanced response. There is not much time. In fact, at this time there are no countermeasures that can be taken.

We have, however, always had the concept of mutually assured destruction I have already referred to. I personally do not feel that North Korea would risk launching a missile and then being destroyed itself within minutes.

Now for the limits. As I said, Russia is probably the only country currently with the capacity to launch a massive attack.

At this point in time, not only has missile defence failed in attempts to block a missile aimed at the U.S., but its costs are exorbitant. There is no way to stop a massive attack.

It must be made perfectly clear: tmissile defence is designed to respond to a targeted attack by a few missiles, and it is not yet ready. In future, maybe in ten years or so, perhaps three or four missiles might be blocked. It is certain, however, that if Russia launched a major attack using a hundred or so missiles. the concept of mutually assured destruction would apply and the end of the world would likely ensue.

There are other technological limitations. When this type of missile has been launched and is getting close to its target, it sends out “leurres”, which are I think “decoys” in English. In the recent attacks on Baghdad, the planes launched flares before the attack in order to thwart antimissile responses. The same thing applies to ballistic missiles. Just minutes before it hits, it sends out its decoys. This is where things get complicated; the antimissile missile may go after the decoys instead.

Until now, there have been eight interception trials; five were successful and three were not. However, there were no decoys involved. It was only a missile launched from a base and the Americans were trying to intercept it in a context where everything was well planned.

Therefore, the technology is still very questionable. When additional elements such as decoys come into play, interception will be more complex and increasingly difficult.

Let us talk about the costs. For some time now, the Americans have adopted a step-by-step approach. They no longer tell us, “Are you fully with us, yes or no?” They have opted for a more gradual approach. I want to talk specifically about the joint strike fighter, the famous American stealth fighter airplane commonly called the F-35.

Here is how countries can participate in the development of this aircraft. Taxpayers who are listening will probably hear this for the first time. We have already invested from $250 to $500 million in this program.Our participation concerns a specific stage, stage III; there are several stages. This means that they can now tell us, “When the F-18s are obsolete, you will be able to acquire these aircraft at a better price, because you participated in their development. Furthermore, you will receive royalties”. To those countries that did not participate but want to buy the aircraft, they will say, “You will get some money back and some royalties”.

The same could apply to the missile defence plan. They will probably tell us, “We have defined some stages of the project; do you want to participate in them?”

As I said, the joint strike fighter has so far cost Canadian taxpayers between $250 and $500 million, and nobody knows about it. That too is not part of the public debate. Just like the space shield issue, it has not been brought before the House. Currently, the Liberal Party is split, as everybody knows. There are a lot of differences of opinion within the Liberal Party, especially now that the leadership campaign is on. The problem we have is that on issues as fundamental as the missile shield, they want to stifle the debate and only give briefings to Liberal members to convince them of the need for such a shield. We find it outrageous to have to go about having this debate today in such a roundabout way. We have had to use our opposition day and move a motion which, by the way, is not votable because the Prime Minister dared us to do so. We told the Prime Minister, “We will take up your dare, but we have used up our days to move a votable motion. Will you allow a vote anyway?” But today we most likely will have to be content with debating the issue. We do like a good debate, but we also like to vote.

The costs are astronomical. We can expect that the space shield and the joint strike fighter, in view of what I have just said about it, will cost 100 times more than planned.

Then there is the whole issue of starting up the arms race again. As I was saying earlier, those who saw Cro-Magnon man club someone thought to themselves, “Let us get a shield to protect our head”. It will be the same with the space shield. The offensive--defensive doctrine still applies. As soon as the space shield is in place, people will try to find a way to circumvent it. To do that, they will develop an offensive weapon capable of going through the shield.

This will trigger a new arms race. The government has it easy right now because our defence and foreign affairs policy is 10 years old. We are not attuned to today's realities.

Incidentally, I would like to remind the government that the missile defence shield does not appear in its 1994 policy. There is, therefore, no national defence or foreign affairs policy to guide us. Limiting the debate, as is currently being done, is therefore a major problem; so is allowing the government to basically do what it wants because its policy from 1994 no longer applies today.

We know that everything has been shaken up since the September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. We know that everything has changed. The enemy is no longer visible. Our enemies are invisible. No missile defence shield could have prevented the World Trade Center attack. We need to understand this.

We might be better off investing money in measures better suited to this new military context, which is terrorism and the fight against terrorism. Why should the U.S. invest hundreds of billions of dollars and ask Canadians, who have less than they do, to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in missile defence? That is a fundamental question we need to ask ourselves.

The scenario that I envision for Canada is just as valid as any other scenario. What can Canadians say right now? “Why do we not set up interceptors in Canada's far north?” Earlier, I mentioned that an attack would come from over the polar cap. If we want to avoid debris from falling on Canadian territory, why not plan for a counterattack from remote Canadian regions? Incidentally, I think the Minister of Foreign Affairs knows this, but there are certain parts of the far north over which the United States has not given up its claim to sovereignty. It could be tempting for Canada to say, “If you launch anti-missile missiles from Alaska, and the debris falls on Canada, we are prepared to give you access to our territory in the far north. We will set up some interceptors there too. We will not pay for them, because we cannot afford it, but we will give you access to the far north to intercept missiles above the polar ice cap”. That way we would be protecting ourselves because debris would fall over the ice cap. We could say to the United States, “In exchange, we want you to recognize our sovereignty in the far north, something we have been asking for for a long time”. Maybe this is a fair scenario. We need to envision this type of scenario.

In summary, the cost is astronomical. I was looking at the statistics about the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Why invest hundreds of millions of dollars in this? Why not work at helping the disadvantaged instead? Or helping those countries and nations which are a veritable breading ground for terrorism? They are desperate, left out, and they have no wealth. In fact, they are often plundered by bigger powers.

These are questions we must ask ourselves. There is also the issue of reliability. Why invest billions in projects that are not quite ready to roll and not entirely reliable? Why relaunch the arms race? It is one thing to spend billions of dollars on creating a space shield, but doing so will launch an arms race which, in turn, will lead to more spending, all on defence.

Finally, we must ask ourselves what kind of world we want to live in. Do we want to live in a world where we have weapons in space which are intended for defensive purposes but could eventually be used for more offensive ones? Is that the kind of world we want? Do we want to invest huge amounts in weapons? There is a difference between this level of sophistication and the weapons of Cro-Magnon men. The stick they used to club the other guys did not cost much, but modern weapons cost hundreds of billions of dollars. What kind of world do we want to live in?

I think it was good that the Bloc Quebecois put forward a motion today to at least initiate a discussion. I urge the government to consult the House before making a final decision on the space shield. This is important. I find that Parliament is currently handicapped by the vision the Liberal government has of the House of Commons and Parliament as a whole. Opposition members are left in the dark. The other day, in response to a question, the Prime Minister told me I should have attended the Liberal caucus meeting, that they had a great briefing. The fact is that we are not allowed to attend those meetings, and neither are the Canadian Alliance or the Canadians listening.

I think that the step the Bloc Quebecois is taking today is an important one. We are initiating the discussion, and I hope that Liberal members will express their views on this issue; there is no shame in speaking against a project like this one, which is likely to cost billions of dollars and which is not to the benefit of society or the world at large.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I have two questions for my colleague, whom I wish to congratulate on his speech.

First, he raised the issue of the costs of the American decision. Does he not agree that it is the Americans who have decided to do this? It is their money that they will spend. Maybe the member, myself or other members of the House could tell them that they should put that money to better use, but they will spend it anyway. They will make that decision anyway. Should we make our decision based on their decision to do it anyway? In my opinion, that is what is important, and I will come back to it during my speech.

Second, at the end of his speech, the member said that the members of the Bloc were in the dark, that no one explained anything to them. Do the members of the Bloc not know that the Standing Committee on Defence and the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs have been studying these issues for years? Do the members of the Bloc not know that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, which includes members of the Bloc quite knowledgeable about these matters, even made recommendations in this regard in a report tabled recently in the House? They have had no end of opportunities to talk about this over the years.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Foreign Affairs is not reassuring me at all if what he is saying is that whenever the Americans decide to spend money in this area, we automatically do the same. We have heard a lot about Ottawa's grovelling in Washington, especially about the Minister of Justice going there without even consulting with Parliament on the issue of marijuana.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs is confirming to us that this is normal, that we will follow the Americans on this issue because they are going to do it anyway. To me, this is not the proper way to handle international issues. The minister can say what he is saying because we have no policy in foreign affairs. Our policies go back ten years and he can therefore say whatever he wants, and he is often taken to task for this.

Washington is presently Ottawa's head office. It is Washington that makes the decisions. Besides, even if relations are tense between the Prime Minister and Washington, his ministers are going there to say, “We are preparing a bill. What do you think about it?” The bill has not been tabled here yet. We have not talked about it yet.

Regarding the study on foreign affairs that the minister is talking about, I would remind him that he has said himself that he was against the weaponization of space. The missile defence shield project could lead to the weaponization of space.

I am telling the minister of Foreign Affairs that his position is inconsistent. He said that he was against the weaponization of space. He has been saying for two years that he was against the missile defence shield and all of a sudden he completely changes policy.

I think that the inconsistency is on the Minister of Foreign Affairs' side.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:30 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Myron Thompson Canadian Alliance Wild Rose, AB

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the speech of the hon. member but I found it to be full of a lot of speculation, such as this country can, this country cannot, this country will, this country will not. I do not know what crystal ball he has been looking into that can ascertain abilities and capabilities and what the future will bring in that regard.

We are quite certain that the United States will go through with this. Does the member not think we should be at the table to find out what the entire mission is about? Can he come up with some concrete reasons as to why we should or should not be at the table? We know it will be expensive if we participate to some degree. We know all that. It is foolish to make a decision on speculation. We had better get to the meat of it by meeting with the people involved.

I would like to know exactly what the member is thinking. He talked about debating in the House but he knows very well that when it came to the case of Iraq, the determination as to whether we went to Iraq was announced during question period by the Prime Minister of Canada, with no debate, with no vote, with nothing. I really question the judgment of the Prime Minister when it appears that the rest of us have no integrity to make a wise decision. Does the member not agree that this should be debated thoroughly and voted on by the House?

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Mr. Speaker, the point about speculation may be true. But the lack of debate and the lack of participation by Parliament are the reason for this kind of speculation. There may not be many members in this House who have a good understanding of the issue.

Why would members of Parliament as a whole not debate this issue thoroughly instead of leaving it in the hands of the Prime Minister and his office? I think that this is the main problem and I also think that the member should applaud the Bloc Quebecois for taking the initiative of using one of its allotted days to allow not only opposition members but also government members to speak to this issue.

I really think that we can no longer leave such fundamental decisions as our participation in the war in Iraq or our eventual participation in the space shield, in the hands of the Prime Minister's Office. Therefore, the member should applaud the Bloc Quebecois for taking the initiative of bringing the issue of the space shield forward for debate today.

SupplyGovernment Orders

10:35 a.m.

Toronto Centre—Rosedale Ontario

Liberal

Bill Graham LiberalMinister of Foreign Affairs

Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the member for London—Fanshawe.

I congratulate my colleague from Saint-Jean on his speech, to which I listened very carefully.

I was pleased to hear that my friend, while he introduced talk of star wars, also recognized that this was not the same debate we had back in the 1980s when Canada was considering the strategic defence initiative, or what was then called star wars, being proposed by the United States. For many reasons that system of missile defence was abandoned. Let us be clear that present plans do not in any way resurrect them.

What is now at issue is a much more limited missile defence system and a vastly changed world of new threats in international relationships in which we live and to which we must make appropriate adjustments.

One key change is that missile defence is now going from theory to reality, as the hon. member for Wild Rose, who just asked a question, said. The Bush administration has made it a top priority in terms of security, devoting significant efforts and substantial funds to this project. The President stated that, in fall 2004, the United States will implement various missile defence systems to protect the continental U.S. and possibly Canadian territory along the U.S. border.

This will include ground-based and sea-based interceptors, increasing our existing capabilities. In addition, the U.S. recently concluded an agreement with the U.K. to improve the early-warning radar system in Fylingdales, and it is also in talks with Denmark to improve the one in Greenland. These two sites will help the U.S. ensure complete radar coverage of North America.

In preparation for program implementation, the U.S. withdrew from the anti-ballistic missile treaty in June. Then, Presidents Bush and Putin signed a treaty committing their countries to significantly reduce their nuclear arsenals and to consult each other on missile defence. The U.S. is making every effort, too, to assure China that the aim of missile defence is not to weaken China's strategy on nuclear deterrence. These developments have had a significant impact on the geopolitical landscape.

Obviously, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and of the weapons delivery system is an increasingly serious problem. Although Canada does not consider itself in as much danger from ballistic missiles as the U.S., it is essential not to assess missile defence solely in terms of our perception of the current situation. The missile defence system seeks to provide security for the future, to confront future threats using deterrence; it is very difficult to predict the kinds of danger that future generations will face.

Given these new circumstances, our government is re-assessing its position on missile defence. The Bloc finds it troubling that this re-assessment is being done in light of current events. I want to assure the Bloc and all Canadians that we are always prepared to re-assess our situation in terms of current geopolitical realities and not in terms of the theories behind our policies. We have been involved in discussions with the U.S. about its plans. However, these plans are now taking shape. While considering a possible role for Canada with regard to these plans, I want to assure the House that, whatever we decide, it will be based solely on our assessment of the best interests of Canada and Canadians.

The paramount issue we are considering here today is the future safety and security of Canadians. We share the same continent with the United States. Unfortunately, it is true to say that we live in a more dangerous world of weapons proliferation among states, and today, more dangerously, non-state actors.

We cannot afford to take for granted what will or will not be affected by attacks on our shared continent. An attack on Seattle will inevitably be an attack on Vancouver, as will an attack on Buffalo be one on Toronto, or in fact, on Toronto be one on Buffalo and on Vancouver be one on Seattle. I reiterate that this may possibly come not only from states but non-state actors.

We must keep in mind that any participation we might undertake in missile defence would only be one aspect of a comprehensive Canadian approach to ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Through continued diplomatic engagement we will enforce our efforts to dissuade those who would proliferate missiles and missile technology. We are not abandoning, as seems to be suggested by the opposition, our other forms of defence of the continent and our other diplomatic initiatives to make this a safer world.

These efforts are complemented by the multilateral arms control measures we continually supported. Canada is a founding member of the missile technology control regime which was established in 1987 to counter missile proliferation by controlling the trade in missile equipment and related materials. Our country was also instrumental in developing the Hague code of conduct which establishes the only existing standards regarding ballistic missiles and related activities.

Another important Canadian priority pertains to our longstanding opposition to the weaponization of space, which was alluded to by the member for Saint-Jean. Here we must be careful to distinguish the weaponization of space from the continuing use of space for military purposes, such as navigation, mapping, communications, surveillance, arms control verification, and intelligence gathering, which is currently conducted today by many countries.

However, let me reiterate to the House that Canada remains firmly opposed to the installation of weapons in space. The member for Saint-Jean said that I had changed my position on this issue. I have not changed my position on this issue. The U.S. missile defence system, to be in place by 2004, does not include the installation of weapons in space. We are watching developments in the U.S. very closely. We regularly voice our concerns and any discussions we have on BMD will in fact enable us to voice those concerns more clearly and more cogently.

Another fundamental consideration for Canadians must be our interest in the future of Norad, the North American aerospace defense command, which since 1958 has served us well for the joint defence of this continent. Our personnel work side by side there in detecting and tracking missiles, and responding to air threats. There is a great deal of overlap in the Norad mission and missile defence, and many assets are used for both missions. If missile defence were to become an exclusively American project and remain outside of Norad, the role and relevance of this important partnership, so crucial for our participation in the defence of North America, would come into question.

Over the decades Norad has provided us with essential intelligence gathering and surveillance of our territory. As we look to the future, Canada must continue to play an integral part in the defence of North America, and we can best achieve this if we are able to ensure the role of Norad, where we will continue to have an important voice.

Exploring our options with respect to missile defence is fully in keeping with Canada's long history of cooperation with the United States on our shared border and on continental security. In addition to Norad, we are partners with the United States on the smart border initiative, a 30-point plan for an open and secure border. Our two countries are also working together on the bi-national planning group for emergency preparedness against terrorist attacks and natural disasters. In light of this ongoing cooperation, it only makes sense to explore whether missile defence might be another layer of security partnership in our mutual interests.

The best way to ensure that Canadian interests are being served is to remain engaged in dialogue with the United States on all issues of our shared continental security. The Americans have made their intentions clear. That is why the government believes it is our responsibility to pursue talks with the United States in order to ensure the security of Canadians and the future of Norad. Many questions remain about our possible role in the development of a missile defence system, but these questions can be answered only by engaging our American allies in formal discussions in the interests of all Canadians.

By entering these discussions we will be able to address our concerns about the future of Norad, about the weaponization of space, and any cost that might be associated. We say to the House and to Canadians that we must discuss these issues. If we do not achieve our negotiating goals we will not have to enter into an agreement, but if we do not discuss these issues we know one thing, we will be surrendering our voice, in fact our sovereignty, and ceding to the United States the role of unilaterally determining the shape of the defence of North America, and that for generations to come.

This would run counter to our traditions established since Ogdensburg in 1940, when we firmly established the fact that Canada was a partner with the United States in the defence of North America. It would run counter to our interests. It would put the safety of future generations who will face dangers, today unknown, exclusively in the hands of a friendly power, another power, our friendly neighbour, but one with whom we wish to share our defence, not be dependent upon.

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10:45 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, it seems to me that the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and I have some sympathy for the position that he finds himself in, seems to be deliberately blind to the long term goals of the United States government when it comes to the weaponization of space.

I would feel more assured if, for instance, the Minister of Foreign affairs said that one of the things that the government would seek, in these talks with the United States, is an American agreement to pursue along with Canada a treaty against the weaponization of space. I have not heard the Minister of Foreign Affairs say that or perhaps even suggest that it be a condition of eventual Canadian participation in any national missile defence, and that it not be the lead up to the weaponization of space.

I have a document called “Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources For a New Century”. It lists the goals that are now guiding the Pentagon and the White House.

Incidentally, there is nothing in the summary that even mentions anything having to do with multilateral negotiations, the United Nations or anything like that. It does, however, talk about:

Develop and deploy global missile defenses to defend the American homeland and American allies, and to provide a secure basis for U.S. power projection around the world.Control the new “international commons” of space and “cyberspace”, and pave the way for the creation of a new military service--U.S. Space Forces--with the mission of space control.

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10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, I do not deny that there are concerns about all of these issues that have been raised, but I go back to my original premise. How will we address these concerns if we are not at the table to discuss them with our American colleagues?

There is no suggestion that any discussions that we would have or enter into today would conclude with an agreement which would result in the weaponization of space. It is very clear that the system that is proposed is far away from anything to do with the weaponization of space.

There is speculation in the United States and I am sure there is speculation in Russia, the U.K. and France, and all sorts of think tanks that have been talking about weaponization of space. They have been talking about it for 50 years. Jules Verne foresaw it 150 years ago.

I saw a transcript of a U.S. senate hearing the other day where a general was speaking about the possibility at looking at the weaponization of space. The U.S. senator asked him about the cost and he replied that it was astronomical. He had no idea. He was asked if it was technologically feasible. He replied that he had no idea about that. He was then asked if he knew that it was contrary to the United States policy to not weaponize space. He answered that he had not given much thought to that, either.

Of course there will be a lot of speculation about this and people will talk about it. Our point is that we will be a more effective voice as a partner at the table to bring forward our objections than if we rest here and do not engage our American partners on these issues.

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10:50 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Leon Benoit Canadian Alliance Lakeland, AB

Mr. Speaker, the minister just said that Canada is in a much better position if it is involved in the debate on missile defence rather than standing back. Yet, the government has chosen to do exactly that, to stand away and avoid the issue.

We have had no debate in the House of Commons on this issue until the Bloc brought it forward and, of course, it will be debated again because the official opposition will bring it forth. But the minister just said that if Canada is fully engaged or involved in this we will be in a much better position.

Why is it that three years after the Canadian Alliance, the official opposition, took a position on this, the government does not know what it will do? It has not been engaged in the proper process with our greatest friend and ally to the south. Why is that, when the minister said that we would be in a much better position had we done that?

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10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Bill Graham Liberal Toronto Centre—Rosedale, ON

Mr. Speaker, opposition members always say that this has not been engaged in Parliament, that they know nothing, and that they are kept in the dark. The hon. member knows full well that very competent members of his party have sat on the defence and the foreign affairs committees. In my personal recollection, this matter has been discussed for the last five years.

When I was chairman of the foreign affairs committee, we spent a great deal of time considering this issue. The foreign affairs committee came out with a report recently which discussed Canada-U.S. relations. This is a matter on which interested members of the House have had an opportunity to participate in and be fully informed on for many years. The government took the position that it was not appropriate in the light of earlier circumstances to engage a discussion on this issue. In my view, that was the right decision to take, but conditions change.

One of the most important conditions is that the United States was able to resolve with Russia the issue of its position on this matter. There was a time when we might have considered making the world a more dangerous place than before and we registered our opposition to it. That important consideration has changed. With changed circumstances, the government can change. The government is able to defend the interests of Canadians in the light of changed geopolitical circumstances. That is what we must do and that is what we are here to do.

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10:50 a.m.

Liberal

Pat O'Brien Liberal London—Fanshawe, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join this important debate on national missile defence. I recall that some three years ago I chaired the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defence and Veterans Affairs. At that time the committee held a series of hearings on the possibility of Canada participating in national missile defence.

Indeed, our colleague, the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, was the chairman of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. We held at least one joint session with his committee on national missile defence. At that time, I was about 95% convinced that Canada should join with the United States, our defence partner, in NMD. Today I am 100% convinced that this is the proper course of action for our country in our own national self-interest.

I want to be clear that we made the correct decision on the war in Iraq, and so do the majority of my constituents who have provided me with that input. We owe no apology to the United States.

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10:55 a.m.

NDP

Bill Blaikie NDP Winnipeg—Transcona, MB

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I just heard a cellphone ring. Could members please be reminded that the House is no place for cellphones.

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10:55 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

There is an agreement among parties not to have cellphones in the House. I would ask members to please follow the rules.