Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise on behalf of the constituents of Surrey Central to participate in the debate on the Canadian Alliance motion which reads:
That this House affirm its strong support for Norad as a viable defence organization to counter threats to North America, including the threat of ballistic missile attack; and support giving Norad responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles.
Seven years into the U.S. missile defence program the Liberal government until quite recently had no position on the issue. The Prime Minister and the foreign affairs minister have opposed the plan in the past. Then they simply dismissed it, saying that Canada had not been asked to participate.
Now the Liberal leadership contenders, cabinet ministers and the caucus members seem divided on the issue. The frontrunner for the Liberal leadership race, the member for LaSalle—Émard, soon to have his coronation as the next prime minister of Canada, has been waffling on this issue, as usual, as he has in the case of Kyoto, the Iraq war, SARS, mad cow disease and so on.
The U.S. ambassador and a top Canadian general have warned that Norad could be at risk if Canada does not cooperate on this issue.
Throughout the cold war Canada played an important role in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, commonly called NATO, and in the North American Aerospace Defense Command, called Norad. In particular, Canada has been a close partner of the United States in defending North America's and western Europe's airspace from Soviet aggression.
At various times during the cold war, the U.S. considered building an anti-ballistic missile system, called ABM, to defend against Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles. In 1972 the anti-ballistic missile treaty was signed by the U.S.S.R. and the United States banning ABM systems, with the exception of one site to protect the capitals or ICBM field.
Russia currently maintains an ABM site around Moscow. In the mid-1970s the U.S. dismantled its ABM sites in Grand Forks, North Dakota because it was believed the system would not be entirely effective.
In the early 1980s President Ronald Reagan appealed to the American people for support to build a space based ICBM interceptor system using high intensity lasers and particle beams, called the strategic defence initiative, SDI. The system seemed far-fetched, but billions of dollars were poured into the program and some significant technological advances were achieved.
Although Reagan's idea never materialized, there continued to be billions of dollars allocated to missile defence each year within the U.S. defence budget. Even as the cold war wound down and the Soviet Union collapsed, money earmarked for missile defence was reduced but not eliminated. President Bush Sr. and President Clinton also continued to provide funding for missile defence.
The result of the research and investment in the last 20 years will soon materialize into a missile defence system for the United States and perhaps the allies of the United States.
The Bush administration plans on having an anti-missile system up and running by the end of September 2004. Construction is already underway in Alaska. Construction crews are busy at work at a former military base a mere 400 kilometres from Dawson City, Yukon. They are carving holes 25 metres deep for missile silos and erecting about a dozen state of the art military command and support facilities. It will be the home of a vanguard force of rocket propelled interceptors for defending the United States against ballistic missile attack.
If Canada chooses not to go along with the U.S. on BMD, it will likely mean the end of Norad, or at least the effective Norad currently in place. Norad has been a longstanding component of Canada's aerospace defence and a key area of U.S.-Canada defence cooperation. While Norad's role has changed since the end of the cold war, its importance for Canada has remained.
The deputy commander of Norad has always been a Canadian, allowing significant influence and expertise within the realm of air defence for North America. The former deputy commander, Lieutenant General George Macdonald, believes that the proliferation of nuclear and missile technology will present a threat to Canadian security in the coming years. He has asked some important questions that have a direct bearing on whether or not Canada should join the BMD effort. He has asked, can the world's remaining superpower risk the possibility of being held hostage to a ballistic missile threat, and more important, can Canada disassociate itself from this possibility?
As it currently stands, Norad can only provide limited defences against threats coming through North American airspace. Norad can only defend against air breathing or jet powered threats. The United States and some Canadians would like to incorporate BMD through Norad because it possesses a great deal of the infrastructure that would be needed to track and monitor threats.
The problem for Canada is that if it refuses to participate in BMD, it will likely mean the end of Norad. The U.S. already has a backup system to Norad called U.S. Spacecom. If Norad were to end, Canadian military personnel would lose access to information that would be virtually impossible for Canada to obtain without it.
One of Norad's key functions is integrated tactical warning attack assessment, ITWAA. If Canada was not a partner in BMD, Canadian personnel at Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs could not participate in ITWAA, which they currently do. There would also be ripple effects that would be felt throughout the U.S.-Canadian cooperation on defence.
An American general has warned that if Canada does not participate in BMD, then it should not anticipate being protected under BMD either. That seems to be fair. However, due to the close proximity of most major Canadian cities to the United States, it is likely that many populated parts of Canada would be protected regardless of Canada's participation.
Free riding on American investment and expense would not help diplomatic or military relations between the two countries. We know the downside of the diplomatic relationship between Canada and the United States.
Norad's dissolution would cause Canada's standing in the western alliance to be damaged as well. Canada has participated in security matters in Europe and elsewhere frequently with the United States. The United States, along with the British, often assists Canada in lift and supply capabilities.
As the Canadian military is stretched thinner and thinner, the United States may be somewhat less enthusiastic about helping Canada participate in interventions or peacekeeping missions around the world. Indeed, despite what the government might say, Canada has been far more active in NATO missions than in the UN missions.
Although the United States may not retaliate against Canada overtly for not participating in BMD, as Joel Sokolsky points out, “Americans would no longer go out of their way to include Canada” in some aspects of defence.
The costs to Canada for participating in Norad are low in respect of the benefits in intelligence and interoperability that are gained by joining Norad.
If Canada were to go along with BMD, Canada's defence spending would most likely have to increase, but there is a possibility that the United States would fund 100% of the program. The most likely scenario would involve Canada shouldering 10% of the cost. This would be a relatively small price over a number of years when considering the technological and intelligence payoff that would result.
Canadian policy makers struggle with this question. Who would ever target Canada with a nuclear weapon? From our experience in the cold war, we know that the Soviet Union definitely targeted Canada and the Russian Federation still does, although probably far less than what the USSR probably did.
There is also the possibility that nuclear weapons could be used against Canada as a warning to Americans, our neighbours, to show the capability to strike North America exists.
For states that have just developed ballistic capabilities, like North Korea, it is extremely likely that their missiles are very inaccurate. Thus, the possibility of a warhead going astray and impacting British Columbia or Alberta is quite possible.
Similarly, many question the accuracy of Chinese ICBMs. Despite the technology that was allegedly stolen from the United States, some people still doubt that the Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles are accurate. It is also quite possible that Chinese missiles are targeted at western Canada as well because it is the closest ally of the United States.
If a Russian missile were accidentally launched or launched without authorization, there is also the possibility of the warhead falling short of the United States and detonating over Canada. The trajectory of Russian missiles is directly over Canada because it is the shortest route, similar to the way American missiles would be launched at Russia in case that happens.
Do not forget that British Columbia and Yukon is between Alaska and mainland United States of America.
Even if no missiles were targeted at Canada, or even if the threat to Canada were non-existent, a nuclear explosion on the mainland of the United States would have profound impacts in Canada, environmentally, economically, politically, as well as militarily. The cost of losing a city and thousands of lives would likely far outweigh the cost of building any missile defence system.
National missile defence is a limited system, designed to deal with small numbers of incoming ballistic missiles. While missile tests have not been completely successful, there have been a number of successful results showing substantial progress in the reliability of the system.
NMD is not a solitary system. It involves space based interceptors using exo-atmospheric kill vehicles . Theatre missiled defence through THAAD, Theatre High Altitude Air Defence, Boost Phase Interceptors, BPIs, and more local systems such as Patriot missile batteries like the new PAC-3 were amazingly successful in the recent war against Iraq.
A new arms race will not result. First, in economic terms, no other state can afford to engage in an arms race with the United States. Second, Russia has accepted the United States withdrawal from the ABM treaty and still desires to go ahead with the START treaties.
Other allies such as Japan, Britain, South Korea and others have expressed support for national missile defence. It is incumbent upon us to take it seriously.
Should Canada not sign on to NMD, we risk losing Norad, as I said. Although American military planners have expressed the desire to run NMD from Norad headquarters, the system could also be deployed through the U.S. space command. The U.S. does not need Canada but it does want Canada on board.
Canada gains nothing by not signing on to NMD. However we risk losing military contracts and military ties to the United States through Norad, an important bilateral defence institution that has survived the end of the cold war, even September 11 and a number of other strategic changes in world affairs.
Not participating in NMD would further deepen the rift in Canada-U.S. relations which has been complicated by softwood lumber, the Iraq war issue, wheat tariffs, anti-Americanism from Liberal MPs and the protectionist tendencies of some U.S. congressmen.
We have to give it serious thought. The loss of Norad would have a severe impact on Canada's military capabilities and intelligence gathering capabilities. The United States could easily go ahead with BMD without Canada and without Norad. In such a scenario Canada would gain nothing economically, diplomatically or politically except perhaps for a thanks from Moscow and China that would continue in fact with motivation to aim their missiles at Canadian targets.
At the end of World War II Canada had the fourth most powerful military in the world. Under successive Liberal governments, Canada's military strength has deteriorated to the point where today we have surrendered the country's defence to the United States. While this has brought about significant cost savings, freeing up money for the $1 billion gun registry and the like, there are two important consequences.
First, Canada's lack of military weight renders it a peripheral player in international affairs. Unlike in the 1950s or early 1960s, we are now no longer a player on the world stage.
Second, our dependence on the United States of America for Canada's military defence must be taken into consideration when making diplomatic calculations. This is the price we must pay for scrimping on our military budget.
A recent SES/Sun media poll found that 61% of Canadians supported Canada playing a role in the ballistic missile defence system. Certainly all Canadians will be thankful if the capabilities that are developing today successfully avert an attack tomorrow.
For tomorrow's safety, the government has to act today. The Canadian Alliance's thoughtful motion is just that time reaction
I would like to acknowledge the contribution of a Torontonian law student studying at Michigan State University who is an intern in my office and who has contributed in this research. His name is Jonathan, and he has done a good job in researching this topic. I would like to encourage this youth who has been participating in voluntary work in our Parliament.