Madam Speaker, we are debating something that I think and hope we can look to some consensus on. I will confess that it is a tough issue for Green Party members to talk about NATO.
For us, questions about NATO are difficult and complicated because of our deep commitment to peace and the principles of non-violence.
I am part of a global party. It does not come up very often in this place that I am a member of Parliament in Canada, within a family of global Greens. One of those global Greens is Pekka Haavisto, who is Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and a very germane part of the debate tonight. Up until December, a friend of mine, Per Bolund, co-leader of the Green Party of Sweden, was Sweden's deputy prime minister, but the Swedish Greens just left the Swedish coalition, for reasons I need not get into here.
As Greens, we have a profound commitment to peace and non-violence, which means, to say it just as clearly as I can, that I am no fan of NATO. Greens are not, generally, because it is a military. It is a defensive alliance, but it is not without issues for those of us who are committed to non-violence. It has been an issue for us to know that we absolutely, unequivocally believe that Vladimir Putin is solely responsible for Russia's attack on Ukraine and we are on the side of Ukraine and Ukrainians. We are supportive of every action our government has taken, but it is not without difficulty for us.
How do Greens feel about Canada being in NATO? In an ideal world, when the Warsaw Pact ended, NATO would have ended too. That is how we see it. NATO's continued involvement in the world does create tensions that we probably would not have needed if, and this is a big “if” and one of the main things I want to talk about tonight, we had had the former Soviet Union and the United States pursue nuclear disarmament. When Mikhail Gorbachev was championing perestroika and glasnost, he also picked up the phone and called former U.S. President Ronald Reagan. He asked, “Do you want to end nuclear weapons, because I do?” Ronald Reagan said, “I do too.” By the way, the reason I know this is that Mikhail Gorbachev told that story to a small group of people in a room in Rio de Janeiro at Rio+5. I was there because I was part of a committee that Mikhail Gorbachev co-chaired.
However, in the years that followed, the efforts toward nuclear disarmament faltered. I believe that Donald Trump was a puppet of Vladimir Putin and the two of them decided, or at least Putin decided, “Let's not get rid of nuclear weapons. Let's slow down the talks. Let's not have nuclear non-proliferation discussions anymore. Let's not have nuclear disarmament discussions anymore.” It has made the world less safe.
This is in the context of Vladimir Putin and Russia's completely illegal war. I mean, wars are generally illegal. It is hard to know when a war is exactly legal because many of them are founded on lies: the Vietnam War, the Iraq War. We can make up a story about why we need to attack this other country, but there are some wars that we know were morally justified, such as the allied forces confronting fascism in the Second World War. Many of our parents, my parents and many people in this room had family members engaged in that war. As the member for Scarborough—Guildwood just said, it is the young people who suffer in wars. It is the young people who die, but with some wars we can see the moral justification. In this case, supporting Ukraine really matters.
However, I question what Canada should be doing in NATO. I want to share that with all of my colleagues as I conclude my remarks. Spoiler alert, I will agree with the motion that Finland and Sweden should be supported in joining NATO, because that is what they ask for right now. As I said, my colleagues in the global Green Party, global Green parliamentarians, asked for that. We respect the decisions made within countries by our colleagues in the Green Party. There is no question from the Greens that we support that Finland and Sweden should be supported in joining NATO.
However, let me ask this question. The budget of 2022 said clearly that we are going to have a foreign policy review. In that foreign policy review, I hope we will ask this question: Should Canada stay in NATO?
Why is it an advantage for Canada to be a member of NATO?
It may be an advantage, but this century's greatest threat to our safety is not a military one. It is the threat of climate change. Climate change is a greater threat to our future than all the military powers of the world.
Why would we stay in NATO? I believe we should stay in NATO to advocate for nuclear disarmament. We would play an important role in saying to our NATO partners that the world is less safe because of nuclear weapons. If we had succeeded where Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan had hoped to go and where Lester B. Pearson would have hoped to go, and if we had moved to remove nuclear weapons, how much more effective would we be now to help Ukraine?
When President Zelenskyy asked us, in this space, on Zoom, for a no-fly zone, we knew we could not do it because we are NATO partners and Vladimir Putin has threatened the use of nuclear weapons. If we had been a non-aligned, neutral nation, could we have done more? NATO itself is, in a sense, muscle-bound. It has so many armies and it has nuclear weapons. It cannot confront Russia without threatening what we always heard about in the Cold War, the strategy of nuclear weapons and mutually assured destruction. There is no future or hope in that.
In this instance tonight, for the first time that I have ever had a chance to speak in this place about NATO, I would say to all of my colleagues here, let us look at what makes the world safer. The world will be safer when nuclear weapons are eliminated. We have now before us, and it has taken legal effect, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Enough countries around the world, nation-states, have signed on, but none of the nuclear powers have signed on and Canada has not even signed on to be an observer to the conversation.
At the end of this month, June 20-22 in Vienna, will be the first state-party gathering under the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. I know that my colleague here from Edmonton Strathcona and I, as well as a senator from the other place, plan to go to Vienna. We hope our government will be there as a delegation. We hope we sign on.
In the meantime, as we examine this question, Finland and Sweden have been made less secure by Russia's assault on Ukraine. We have to do two things at all times: We have to defend Ukraine and do everything we can to put pressure on Russia to get to a peace talk and to get to a ceasefire; and we have to look beyond the immediate conflict in Ukraine and say, “How do we make the world safer?” We make the world safer when nuclear weapons are abolished.