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House of Commons Hansard #14 of the 37th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was missiles.

Topics

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11:40 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I have brief questions for the hon. member who has just entered the debate.

The first relates to his reference to seven out of ten Canadians who support Canada's participation in missile defence. I wonder if I could ask him to shed some further light on this statistic. It was used the day before yesterday in debate by his defence critic, the former leader of his party. He undertook to table in the House the polls on the basis of which that assertion is made. He has still not done so two days later. I wonder if that could be clarified.

Second, I want to ask the hon. member whether he has any concern at all about the fact that there are repeated statements by President Bush himself, by Donald Rumsfeld, the U.S. secretary of defence, by the U.S. space command director, by Rumsfeld's deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, all of which clearly indicate that their multi-layered plans include the weaponization of space.

Does the member have a concern that the government keeps pretending that this is not the case? Would he not see there being more integrity in the position if the government said, “We know that weaponization of space is part of the plan, is the objective--”

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11:45 a.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mr. Bélair)

Excuse me. I have to give an opportunity to the hon. member for Surrey Central to answer the question.

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11:45 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Gurmant Grewal Canadian Alliance Surrey Central, BC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, about the poll showing that almost seven out of ten Canadians support Canada's participation in a missile defence system, I referred to that in my comments. It was the Pollara survey. It was done very recently, in November 2003, by Pollara. Therefore, that is clear.

The second point was about deterrence. This is the discussion that we hear. The hon. member referred to some comments. It is important that we develop a strong deterrent. We know that Taep'o-dong 1 and Taep'o-dong 2 missiles have already been tested by North Korea. This has already been done. We are already aware that China has ICBM technology, allegedly stolen from the U.S. It becomes quite evident that deterrence is logical. It is reasonable and real. We also know about the terrorist organizations. They may have nuclear bombs and all kinds of stuff.

The only solution that we can develop is strong deterrence. We can effect counterterrorism because we have the rogue states. One way to control rogue states is to have this program.

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11:45 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the obvious place for me to pick up is with the two questions that I put to the previous member, both of which were avoided or evaded in his answers.

On the issue of citing a poll that says seven out of ten Canadians support Canada's participation in Bush's missile defence, there was an undertaking by the member's foreign affairs critic that this poll would be tabled. It has not been done. We all know, first of all, that something that is as absolutely fundamentally important as this issue should surely not hinge on polls.

Secondly, the citing of polling information requires a full understanding of what the questions were and therefore what it was that Canadians expressed themselves on. So far there has been an extreme reluctance by the official opposition to table the poll, which the member for Okanagan--Coquihalla said he had in his possession and would table. I again would ask that the House be respected and the commitment that was made be actually carried out.

I want to go further today in the brief time available to me, because I intend to split my time with the hard-working member for Windsor West. I want to pursue two brief issues.

One of those issues is the steadfast refusal of the Liberal government in office and of the official opposition, the Conservative opposition, to acknowledge the extensive evidence, the overwhelming preponderance of evidence, that what we are here agreeing to become part of, to participate in, is indeed one stage in an intended process to lead to a militarization and a weaponization of space.

I want to further ensure that there is on the public record not the sugar-coating and, I would have to say, just misrepresentation about what is contained in the letter from our Canadian defence minister to the U.S. defence secretary.

I just want to make sure that Canadians understand what that letter actually says. It actually makes it clear, and I will quote: “the objective of including Canada as a participant in the current U.S. missile defence program...”. It goes on to make it clear that this is intended to, and I quote: “help pave the way for increased government-to-government and industry-to-industry cooperation on missile defence...”.

I do not know what purpose is served by the government sticking its head in the sand. Actually I do not believe it did stick its head in the sand; I want to take that back. Because if I thought it was sticking its head in the sand, then I would think that maybe it is not actually willing to look at the evidence. But I do not believe for a moment that it has not seen the evidence. That is why it is very difficult not to come to the conclusion that there is wilful misrepresentation of the facts taking place.

The facts speak for themselves when we read the letter that went from the minister of defence to Rumsfeld. If the letter itself was not cause for concern, what became an even greater cause for concern was the hypocrisy and the duplicity of the letter saying one thing, utterly devoid of a single reference to Canadian opposition to the weaponization or militarization of space, while the press release that the minister put out in a kind of afterthought and a footnote said, for the home crowd, “By the way, this is really what it seemed like, we are kind of opposed to weaponization of space but we are not putting it in the letter”.

This has simply underscored the concerns of Canadians on this point. In case there is any possibility that anybody on the government side or the official opposition side, who absolutely share the same point of view here, is not in command of the research materials that are available, let me just say that there is no shortage of direct statements by George Bush, by Donald Rumsfeld, and by Paul Wolfowitz and others that make it clear that weaponization of space is part of what this is about.

It was not just Lloyd Axworthy, the former foreign affairs minister, it was not just the highly respected Order of Canada recipient, Nobel laureate John Polanyi, who appeared before the defence committee to say this is like climbing onto a conveyor belt to the weaponization of space. It is the very people in the U.S. administration who are making these decisions and who have not just acknowledged that, but have laid it out as part of their plan.

Let me just briefly quote from one such statement. Rumsfeld's deputy Paul Wolfowitz confirmed the Bush administration's ambitions to see weapons in space become part of its multi-layered concept of missile defence. Here is the quote:

...while we have demonstrated that hit-to-kill works, as we look ahead we need to think about areas that would provide higher leverage. Nowhere is that more true than in space. Space offers attractive options not only for missile defence but for a broad range of interrelated civil and military missions. It truly is the ultimate high ground.

We are exploring concepts and technologies for space-based intercepts.

I mentioned in debate the day before yesterday that my leader, who is doing tremendous work on this issue, and I had a day and a half in Washington last week. I noticed that the former defence minister stood up and said he did not know why the NDP is not willing to acknowledge that actually it was not George Bush who first signed on to the next stage of missile defence research; it was the Clinton administration in 1999.

That is absolutely true. I have to say that I think it is one of the most worrisome things about what is going on here. There are courageous, far-sighted and peace-loving members of the Democratic Party who are in Congress and the Senate who support the position that Clinton took in 1999. There are also a great many who very much regret that this was done. Do members know why? Because the Bush administration has seized this fact of the limited agreement in 1999, providing for research around sea based and land based missile defence; it has been seized with glee, not surprisingly, by the Bush administration to say, “Let us get right back on track with our original plan, the Bush I plan, which did include weaponization of space”.

What was very alarming was to hear the descriptions from U.S. Congress member after member with whom we met, as well as representatives of the NGOs, that it is like the case of the emperor who has no clothes. It is like a situation where everybody now knows that the notion of land based and sea based missile defence has not been properly tested. The limited testing that has been done has found it wanting. Most sophisticated scientists agree that it is not a system that would work, can work or will work. But we need to get through that stage, to put aside the normal testing requirements, which is what the Bush administration has done. It has abandoned the normal testing requirements so that it can ramp up and accelerate its commitment to go to the next layer of space based militarization. That is what is being acknowledged.

What disallows this government and the Conservative opposition from acknowledging this? Actually, Conservative opposition is more and more an oxymoron in this House, because we do not have a Conservative opposition to the Liberal government anymore. We have a conservative Liberal administration and a Conservative opposition that actually applauds and embraces most of the new and not so liberal conservative plans coming from the new Liberal government. That is what we have going on. But what is it that prevents them from acknowledging that this has more to do with the financial interests of the military-industrial complex? It has more to do with a militaristic approach to dominance of the world than it has to do with any defence from realistic threats.

Who is it that our government and the U.S. government are so convinced will launch sophisticated, highly expensive missiles on Canada for which this system will be the appropriate defence? Who is the threat? Who is the enemy? Who is causing us to become implicated in a system that could potentially, as estimated by a good many experts, cost as much in the end as $1 trillion to escalate the arm's race, to make the world a less safe and secure place, and result in the weaponization of space, which both of those parties pretend to oppose?

If they actually do oppose weaponization of space, why do they not at least have the honesty, decency and integrity to say that they acknowledge it is about the weaponization of space, that there is evidence of it and that they agree to go to the table because they think it is terrifying and that they had better be there to fight against the implementation of the U.S. plans to weaponize space? That would be a position of some integrity.

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11:55 a.m.

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Canadian Alliance Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am somewhat alarmed when I hear comments such as the ones I just heard. Historically we have always had shivers when the United States has talked about its need for isolation and to close its borders against other countries. Usually we are thinking in economic terms and the disaster it would be for Canada if the U.S. were to adopt that kind of isolationist policy again.

It seems to me that the two parties supporting the motion are advocating the same kind of isolationism for Canada in such an important area of our life, and that is the defence of our nation.

I cannot believe that they would say that we should not talk, that we should not meet and that we should have nothing to do with those people. That kind of thinking just isolates us and gives us no influence anywhere at all. I think that isolation should be damned from the beginning and I am prepared to stand with those who do it.

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11:55 a.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Mr. Speaker, I did not really hear a question there but I did hear a complete misrepresentation of what I said.

I actually said that it could be a position that could be defended. Now I would disagree with the position but at least it would be a position with some integrity and consistency and not involve being part of a big lie to say that we acknowledge that all the evidence shows that this is about moving to a multi-tiered, multi-layered system that includes the weaponization of space, which we find truly terrifying and we know Canadians are unalterably opposed to it, but we will go to the table to fight against it. That would be a position of integrity but that is not what we hear.

We have the defence minister who, on the one hand, sends a letter off to say that we want to co-operate and participate in this, and then he sends out a press release in which he says that we are opposed to the weaponization of space, by the way, but we did not say so in the letter. This is not a letter that says we are opposed to the weaponization of space and we want to be at the table to make our views known and fight with our last breath to oppose it from happening.

For the member to stand up and say, in the supposed Conservative opposition, exactly what we hear from the Liberal administration, is terrifying. It is very worrisome that there is no official opposition on this side of Parliament to say that the facts are being misrepresented, that the evidence is overwhelming, and that this is about heading toward the weaponization of space.

Yes, the figure given in debate the night before last on this issue, that only $14 million was dedicated to research around the weaponization of space in last year's budget, is true, but they have refused to acknowledge that we should be very worried that $3.3 billion is now budgeted to proceed with the research on the weaponization of space. This is not just for research. We are talking about moving to an implementation stage.

One of the things that concerns a great many people, who have an eye on what will happen to our children and our grandchildren in North America and around the world, is a defence minister saying that the NDP is being hysterical and scaremongering, and that, for heaven's sake, the plans for the weaponization of space are so far into the future, why would we be worrying about that today in 2004. I think it speaks volumes to the government's lack of vision to focus on a future that--

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February 19th, 2004 / noon

Canadian Alliance

Philip Mayfield Canadian Alliance Cariboo—Chilcotin, BC

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I must object to the member saying there is no official opposition. There is opposition and at this time we happen to be opposing her point of view.

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Noon

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

That is not a point of order, but the comment is registered.

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Noon

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Of course it is not a point of order, Madam Speaker, but I know we all try to find ways to make our points, and I am no different in that regard.

I must say something that is absolutely true. The member can object if he wants but he will have to present some evidence to support his point of view if he wants to win Canadians over to what the official opposition is doing on the issue of the weaponization of space. There is not one iota of opposition being expressed by the so-called official opposition, the Conservative opposition, to the fact that the government is on course to support and participate in a missile defence program that will move to its next stage and involve the weaponization of space. That is, in my view, deeply worrisome and extremely wrong-headed.

However the member cannot pretend that in regard to this issue, and a great many others as well, but we will not veer from the topic in this debate, that no effective opposition is coming from the Conservative so-called official opposition on this course of action on which the government is embarking. It was like a love affair between the Liberal government members and the so-called opposition Conservative members in the debate the other night. We are seeing it here again today.

Let me be fair. There are indeed, thank goodness, some members of that government who have the courage, the vision and the integrity to stand up and say that they oppose what the government is doing. Let me say again that it is a test of whether the new Prime Minister is being a complete hypocrite on the democratic deficit or not, based on a free vote on this issue when the vote takes place. If there were ever a case of where ensuring that members have a free vote over something as fundamental as the future security of the world and the possibility of the further escalation, not just of the arm's race, but of nuclear proliferation, it is surely the vote that--

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12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

Order, please. I would caution the member to use non-inflammatory language when referring to another member of Parliament. You are a longstanding member and you know you need to use respect. I would just ask you to do so.

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12:05 p.m.

NDP

Alexa McDonough NDP Halifax, NS

Madam Speaker, I want to honour your intervention but I must tell you, and I say this in all sincerity, that I do not know how one expresses the behaviour that the government is exhibiting when the facts are one thing and what the Liberals are saying about the facts is something fundamentally different, other than to call it a misrepresentation of the truth or playing fast and loose with the truth. Maybe I need some help from the Speaker in finding the right language to describe that despicable behaviour.

I am not addressing an individual member when I say that they are playing fast and loose with the truth. I am saying that the government, the Minister of National Defence, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the former minister of defence are all playing fast and loose with the truth when they say that this is only about a discussion around a kitchen table, for heaven's sake, about whether we might participate in something in the future, when there is a letter that shows otherwise. The letter is the proof that they are playing fast and loose with the truth.

They say that this has nothing to do with the weaponization of space but evidence has been presented to them in this debate. I do not believe for a minute that have only received this information from the NDP over the last couple of days. They must have the evidence, and if they do not, that would be the most terrifying thing of all.

What do we call that other than being less than fully truthful? Maybe the Speaker could give some guidance on how one describes what is happening here that will in fact be within the rules of Parliament of civility in debate.

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12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

Resuming debate. The member for Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier.

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12:05 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The member for Halifax and myself are splitting time. I have not been allocated my time.

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12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

I have just verified that unfortunately the previous member did not split her time. Therefore, we will move forward to the next speaker who is the hon. member for Charlesbourg--Jacques-Cartier.

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12:05 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, she specifically said that at the beginning of her statement. There is no doubt about it. Hansard will show that.

I have left a committee meeting to participate in this debate and there was specific mention to that at the very start of her speech. We proceeded to questions and answers after 10 minutes. If you check the time, I am sure that is what happened. Since there was no halting of the answer, it is not part of debate. Only 10 minutes of debate has transpired so far.

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12:05 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

I have checked with the clerks of the House and that is not their interpretation, but to ease the member's mind we will continue debate, going to the member for Charlesbourg--Jacques-Cartier, and if in fact we find that there has been an error the member will be allowed to speak at a later point.

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12:10 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I speak today on the motion by the hon. member for Saint-Jean, a member of the Bloc Quebecois, who has been doing excellent work on this file, on which I congratulate him.

This is an issue that worries many Quebeckers, all over Quebec. In my riding office, I have received many calls and e-mails. In the riding of Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier last week I launched a local campaign against the missile defence program the federal government wants to get involved in. People are calling me; they are talking to me; they are seeking a way to show their disagreement with the Bush government's missile defence shield that the Canadian federal government wants to join. For this reason I launched this campaign and it is already bearing fruit because I have received a number of postcards and petitions, which I will be presenting in the House later.

There are many good reasons to oppose the missile defence program. There are political, philosophical, economic and moral reasons. I will be discussing the following reason: the missile defence shield, as designed by the Bush government, is based on a faulty reading of the international geopolitical situation.

There is no conflict today between the countries of the West, or North America, and any other state, whether it be a superpower, a small or large power, or a rogue state. There is none. The conflict of today is between the open societies of the West—mainly, although there are others—and the angry men and women who are rising up against us, many of them from weakened, overthrown or broken states. They often come from the third world and from the Arab or Muslim world. I will come back to this later.

The defenders of the missile defence shield idea think that states, even rogue states, are so crazy and their leaders so out of touch with reality that they would be prepared to attack the United States or North America, even if such an attack would automatically and inevitably lead to their destruction. The idea that any leader, even of a so-called rogue state, could be crazy enough not to be dissuaded by such a threat of destruction, is in itself a completely crazy idea.

Who in this House would think that these leaders—whether of North Korea or other countries that have been mentioned in our debates—have stayed in power so long because they are suicidal fanatics? Is there anyone in this House who thinks, for example, that the family in power in North Korea has been leading that country for more than 50 years, because it has an instinct for survival? Of course it does.

Currently, there have not been any direct attacks on what I will call the West, for a lack of a better word, by a nation, a government or any entity claiming statehood, but rather very indirect attacks, often by terrorists and on easy civilian targets.

The proponents of the missile defence system seem to have forgotten that the main characteristic of these leaders of so-called rogue states is their survival instinct. They want to survive and, naturally, they want their regime to survive.

I was quite surprised to see that those in favour of the missile defence shield have not asked themselves the following question. If these leaders wanted to attack North America one day, why not do it now, before the shield is built and everything is in place? If they wanted to, they would do it before.

What is deterring these leaders or states, be they rogue states or not, is the knowledge that if they attack North America, the United States or Canada, with one or more missiles, their regime will not survive. That is what is stopping them. The thing they want most in the world is to stay in power and to continue to rule over their society.

Consequently, saying that a rogue state might attack us to justify this insane multi-billion dollar investment is not a valid explanation of or justification for the missile defence program.

I challenge everyone who spoke in the House in support of the missile program to answer the question I asked earlier: If anyone wanted to launch a missile attack on us, why not just do it now, before the shield is in place.

The real threat is not from any state or regime. The primary threat for North America, the West, is groups or individuals who are disappointed or angry, often with regard to their own country's leaders.

In my opinion, this is especially true in the Middle East. The Middle East is a real powder keg and is producing masses of unemployed youth who have no future and often, unfortunately, no democratic outlet. They live in repressive regimes. These men and women, these angry and frustrated individuals, will never launch ballistic missiles on the United States, Canada or North America. But they may blow up a suitcase containing a weapon of mass destruction, in the middle of one of our major cities.

This terrifying possibility is becoming all too real with the rapid development of new technologies, like the Internet, that permit the ready dissemination of information on the manufacture of dangerous and easily produced weapons.

That is the threat we should be worrying about. The billions of dollars invested in this shield, the facilities throughout northern Canada, Greenland and North America, cannot stop individuals who have nothing to lose by launching another 9/11 attack, by hijacking a plane and dropping a nuclear bomb, dirty or otherwise, on Manhattan, Toronto or Montreal, or even using biological warfare.

The shield would never protect us against that kind of threat, which is, I think, far more pressing than that of missiles launched from another country.

So, what should we do? What should we do instead of—how should I put it—throwing billions of dollars out of the window? The best way to deal with these threats, with these unemployed youths who have no prospects, who have been so far disappointed by democracy and development in their countries, is to support these countries.

We should insist in very specific terms, using a carrot and a stick if need be, on democratization and true respect for human rights, the rule of the law and true equality between men and women.

We need to help these closed and totalitarian societies set in place democratic governments that are untainted by corruption, governments that would meet the needs of ordinary citizens instead of serving the interests of a small group of leaders who usually benefit from totalitarian regimes.

It is about helping societies cope with the new economic world order, which is led, among other things, by globalization.

It is about providing tangible assistance to these societies in restructuring their economies so that economic development benefits their entire populations, not just a few friends of the regime.

It is about opening respectful and understanding dialogue with these societies, particularly Arab countries where unfortunately we do not have enough ties with their leaders.

Far too often, we in the West have accepted the dictatorships in that region. Far too often, we have accepted totalitarian societies because it has served our economic interests. Far too often, we in the West have turned a blind eye to human rights abuse for the sake of oil, for instance.

Far too often, we have turned a blind eye to the development of totalitarian ideologies that are conducive to terrorist potentials, because this affected trade.

I will conclude by saying that a foreign policy based on our values—democracy, human rights, women's rights, peace, the rule of law—would allow us to eliminate the threat posed by these angry people.

We who live in a free and wealthy society owe it to those who do not have the fortune to live in a society like ours. In doing what I have suggested, instead of investing billions of dollars in an antimissile defence shield, we would be helping these societies and these countries and helping ourselves.

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12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Julian Reed Liberal Halton, ON

Madam Speaker, I heard my hon. friend deliver a persuasive argument that totalitarian regimes are not likely to attack North America because of their self-interest, the interest in staying in power and keeping their people in subjugation and so on. That in itself would be a persuasive argument, if that were the only thing that we might be concerned about. However, what we are living in now, and I hope it comes to an end in my lifetime, is this age of active terrorism.

As we have found out to our horror, the terrorists who are active in the world are well financed. They have lots of money and lots of capability to do just about whatever they want to unless they are defended against. While I can agree with my friend that these regimes are more interested in self-preservation than risking physical annihilation, I would argue that there are other areas of concern.

As I said, they are well financed, access to technology does not seem to be a problem, and so on. The defence from missiles and that supposed threat which we hope never ever happens is a real one. Canada, being a close neighbour to the United States, should be at the table and should be working through Norad to have our voice in that debate.

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12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his question, and I thank him also for finally agreeing with me.

When we talk about terrorism, we are not talking about state terrorism. These angry groups and individuals are not acting on behalf of a particular state. They are members of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Jihad or other groups. The real danger is not that these groups will fire a missile from a particular state. Like the hon. member said, the real threat is that one of these groups with good financial means and technological expertise will bring a suitcase or drive a car full of explosives in the centre of a North American city.

This is the kind of threat we have to fend off. This is the real threat. The hon. member himself pointed it out, and he agrees with my premise. No antimissile defence could counter the threat of these angry groups and individuals. First, we must combat terrorism fiercely, of course, but we must also see to it that these young people who have no future, and no democracy, who live in totalitarian regimes—because that suits us and our economic interests—can live in democracies. Then they will have legitimate and acceptable means to express their feelings. These young men and women often live in repressive societies. By helping them, we will eliminate the threat against us.

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12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Claude Bachand Bloc Saint-Jean, QC

Madam Speaker, I want to congratulate my colleague on his speech, because I think he went right to the heart of the issue when he talked about poverty and the breeding ground for terrorism. I want to ask him about the democratic deficit in the debate we are having.

Last week, the government House leader introduced a bill and a series of measures and said that we had to democratize the debates in the House of Commons. He said that, in Parliament, members should be more proactive and there should be more transparency.

In the debate that we are having regarding a major change to the foreign affairs and national defence policy, does he not find it surprising that we have to ask for opposition days with a votable motion to take a closer look at this issue, which so far has been the sole responsibility of a few officials at the foreign affairs and national defence departments?

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12:30 p.m.

Bloc

Richard Marceau Bloc Charlesbourg—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Madam Speaker, indeed, I find it unfortunate that this debate had to be requested by the opposition. The government may boast about having had a take note debate on Tuesday, but no vote took place. The government should wake up. We want a vote. We are certainly prepared to debate this issue, but at some point these discussions must lead to a concrete measure, namely a vote.

Based on the position that I explained, it would be logical to be much more determined in our will to see all the countries of the world embrace democracy and to see them respect human rights. There is no moral relativism in this.

We must insist on the respect of human rights, on gender equality, on democracy and on the rule of law. We must show how democracy works. In a debate as important as this one on the geopolitical realignment of Canada's role, we must absolutely be exemplary in our democratic process by having debates in the House that lead to free votes.

I see that the former government House leader is smiling ironically, but I know that he is a great democrat. In any case, I hope he is an admirer of Churchill. We have few things in common, but at least we have that. Churchill was a great democrat who was never afraid to speak up, including against his own party—and he belonged to two different ones. In the thirties, when he was campaigning against Neville Chamberlain and his predecessor because the governments of his own party were in favour of appeasement, Churchill was opposed to that option and he spoke against it.

So, I hope that the former government House leader, who is an admirer of this great politician of the 20th century, will be able to promote the idea of a free vote, so that his colleagues around him will have the right to say, “I too am opposed to the antimissile defence shield, regardless of what the Minister of Foreign Affairs thinks, regardless of what the current Prime Minister—who is in the process of bringing his policy in line with that of the United States—thinks, because the overwhelming majority of Quebeckers do not want this shield”.

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12:30 p.m.

The Acting Speaker (Mrs. Hinton)

We will resume debate in a moment. I have some clarification for the member for Halifax. As the House knows, the Chair changed during her speech. I consulted with the clerks and they have said that three minutes into her speech she indicated that she would be splitting her time. Unfortunately, they missed that, but it has been corrected.

Resuming debate, the hon. member for Windsor West.

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12:30 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank you for the prompt action on the change. I appreciate it.

I would like to start my comments with an acknowledgement of the member for Halifax and her hard work on this file for the New Democratic Party, for Canadians and also for people abroad throughout the world. This is being debated throughout the world, as Canada considers entering into a national weapon defence and the weaponization of space with the United States.

It is important to note that our party has a former leader who has not only stayed on during a change in our leadership, but who also will be running in the upcoming election. He is doing a great job on files and the work in a very progressive way. We are happy to work within that environment. As well, it leads to a sound ability to put forth arguments on this side of the House which we feel are very necessary to debate.

Being part of a border community and having American relatives who are very much integrated in terms of social, cultural and employment exchanges at the border, we find that having a credible position that is sound, upfront and honest is the best way to negotiate and build our relationships with the United States.

As a member of Parliament, I have had a couple of instances that highlight the duplicity of the government on this matter. I was part of an all-party group that went to Washington. At that time, a Liberal member said to the Washington representatives that we would not join the Americans in the war in Iraq . Rather, we would go to Afghanistan and take care of that so the Americans could go into Iraq. The member said that we were really with the U.S. in spirit, in heart and in physical resources and by putting our people in Afghanistan, that was how we were helping with the U.S. on the war in Iraq.

That message was not well received. It was not open, honest and accountable in terms of the decision in the House of Commons, that we had dragged the government away from going to war.

Second, an Alliance member presented packages to American congressmen and senators. One thing which was said to a Republican congressman was that there were many people in Canada, including the official opposition, who wanted to go to war in Iraq with the Americans. The Republican congressman replied that he had voted against going to war.

That is important when we talk about this issue. The New Democrats have been painted as fearmongers, that we are the only ones speaking about the lack of clarity and, more important, commitment from the government to ensure that weaponization of space is not on the table.

The mere fact that the minister could not put that in his document, in terms of the agreement to go forward, was very disconcerting. We want to have a very clear understanding of what this will mean in our commitment from a research and development side to a personnel side, as well as a financial commitment.

It is dishonest to go to the table and say that we will not bring resources there or that we will not provide funding. That will not be very influential in developing United States-Canada relations.

Quite frankly, if we said to the American public that Canadians wanted to participate in national defence, in missiles and in the weaponization of space, but we were not willing to pay for it, the Americans would say overwhelmingly that Canadians should pay their fair share.

Part of this debate, in which there has been an attempt to sweep it under the carpet, is the mere fact that if we decide to take actions and so-called partnerships, we need to bring something to the table other than just our bodies. We have to come with something else.

I do not think Canadians buy the notion that it will cost us nothing. The reality is it will cost us financial resources. Otherwise we are saying to the U.S. that we want a free lunch. That will not be a very good strategy in building our relationships with those who either support or do not support this in the United States.

It is important to note the concept of the rogue state, that the issue is just between Canada and the United States and isolationism. It is not. It is about the world. Some of the rogue state arguments have been talked about by researchers, scientists as well as think tanks. One of them is the Cato Institute.

In a study done by the Cato Institute, one conclusion was:

Policymakers must examine closely the changing nature of the international security environment before making any decision to deploy a limited land-based NMD. Given the importance of political factors in the international security environment, policymakers must take into account recent changes in so-called rogue states. Looking only at the technical capabilities of those states is insufficient. Positive developments in the nations most likely to develop long-range missiles--North Korea, Iran, and even less-capable Iraq--should give the United States more time to develop and test an NMD system, which would be the most technologically challenging weapon ever built, to address only a narrow range of threats.

That is important because it looks at a narrow range of threats. We have to focus on these types of strategies alone and the cost of resources. We know that billions of dollars are required to ramp up this whole system. It will cost opportunities to work on world peace, poverty and diffusing other threats by ensuring that democracy flourishes in other nations that do not have them.

One of the criticisms that has come out about the New Democratic Party is that we are alone on this issue, that people around the world are not talking about this. I will point to a discussion on the BBC newswire and some of the comments related to the opinions of people on national defence as to whether it will lead to global peace or to an arm's race.

David Smart of the United States wrote:

The vast majority of responses are strongly opposed to the anti-missile system, and George Bush is being attacked for being out of touch with the times. Do not fear the USA is a democratic country, the majority of the people here share the same feelings as the rest of you, George will be voted out next time round. I am surprised that nobody has mentioned the Maginot Line or even Vietnam. Remember, the people of the USA are not stupid.

There are other examples.

A gentleman from Grand Rapids, Michigan, wrote:

Many of you have hit it on the head. The bottom line is that biological and chemical weapons are as much of a threat as nuclear weapons are. The real losers in this are going to be us, the American people, who will see our economy suffer over the next four years from erroneous government spending such as the missile defence program coupled with massive tax cuts. I didn't think it was possible but I think Bush might be even more clueless than Regan was.

There are comments from other places around the world, such as Germany and Kuwait and from many different individuals.

It is important to note that New Democrats believe in talking about this in an open and accountable way. We believe in looking at the possibilities. Once we start to explore and go down a certain road, it will take us to commitments. Those commitments are going to be financial, social and cultural. Those commitments are wrong with the way the government is handling this file. We need to be open and honest and accountable to all the possibilities to which this will lead us.

It is quite clear from the information coming from the United States that this will be the weaponization of space at the end of the day. That is why we should stay out of this. That is why we need to work on foreign policy that will be multinational and that works on progressive policies which will end these threats from the supposed rogue states. We can only come up with North Korea as an example. Very few others are thumbed as having specific abilities to target.

This is the wrong decision, and I am proud to stand on the side that is fighting this.

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:40 p.m.

Canadian Alliance

Jay Hill Canadian Alliance Prince George—Peace River, BC

Madam Speaker, I listened to the member of Parliament from the New Democratic Party and his comments about the motion before the House today, which basically states that the government should oppose the proposed American anti-missile defence shield and therefore cease all discussions with the Bush administration on possible Canadian participation.

I note he showed his true colours when he made the statement, and I think it is a direct quote from his remarks, that “Bush might be even more clueless than Reagan was”. He went on following that to talk about commitments. I would offer the following thought. What about the commitment of Parliament and all parliamentarians to the protection of Canadians? That is what we are talking about today.

The NDP is trying to confuse this issue by talking about star wars and what may or may not happen in the future. However, what we should be talking about, when we are talking about the missile defence shield, is the protection of North Americans by working in concert with our American allies, because despite the best efforts of the New Democratic Party, they still are, I hope, our allies. They are our best neighbour. Yes, we have a lot of problems with the Americans and different times we have to take strong stands with them on trade issues, but they are our ally and we should not make any mistake about that.

What about the commitment to protect Canadians?

I am in receipt, fresh off the news service, of a news story that the Russians have just completed a new weapon that they put into orbit in the last day or so. They have proved that this vehicle can get around the existing defences, can manoeuvre while it is in orbit and poses a serious threat not only to Americans but obviously to Canadians because of our close proximity to our neighbours.

In light of this new evidence that the member may or may not have seen, would the New Democratic Party want to reconsider its commitment to protect Canadians?

SupplyGovernment Orders

12:45 p.m.

NDP

Brian Masse NDP Windsor West, ON

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to respond to that. First, the comments that I made related to George Bush and Ronald Reagan were not from myself. They were directly from a quote from a citizen of the United States from Grand Rapids, Michigan, so let us be clear about that. The issue we want to highlight is that even in the United States there is no solidarity of this issue. That is very important.

With specific reference to the Soviet Union, it is quite obvious what is happening. When Bush cancelled the anti-ballistic missile treaty and tore it up unilaterally, it sent the Soviet Union into a different level of discussions than it ever had before. Therefore, we see the escalation that will happen from this, and we hear this across the globe, not just from the Soviet Union but from other European nations and countries that are concerned about this escalation.

I want to point out that the member for Hamilton East the other night talked about the fact that we have embedded soldiers from the last war in Iraq. Therefore, once we started to get into this together, because we had Canadian soldiers serving during the last war in Iraq, we started to have this integration. We have to be honest with people.