Mrs. Karen Kraft Sloan (York North, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, it is indeed unfortunate to hear people in the House and outside the House, particularly in the media, suggest that when one is standing up for the sovereignty of Canada and speaking out against an acceleration of the arms race one is somehow un-American. I wanted to make that point in this House.
Today's motion concerns giving Norad responsibility for the command of any system developed to defend North America against ballistic missiles. Like the member for Don Valley West, I too support Norad. I give strong support to Norad, its history, its development and the current role it plays in the protection of North America.
However, I cannot support this motion. Before any decision is made to go along with this new ballistic missile defence project, there are many questions that need to be answered and issues that need to be addressed.
A fundamental concern is that today's global situation is very different from the one that brought about the birth of Norad. George W. Bush himself stated two years ago during a speech to the National Defense University's students and faculty:
I want us to think back some thirty years ago to a far different time in a far different world. The United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a hostile rivalry...Our deep differences were expressed in a dangerous military confrontation that resulted in thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at each other on hair-trigger alert. Security of both the United States and the Soviet Union was based on a grim premise: that neither side would fire nuclear weapons at each other, because doing so would mean the end of both nations...Today, the sun comes up on a vastly different world. The Wall is gone and so is the Soviet Union. Today's Russia is not yesterday's Soviet Union.
The guiding principle of the cold war, mutually assured destruction, was to deter the use of nuclear weapons by either side. However, the enemies the United States identifies today as rogue states or states of concern, like North Korea, Iraq, Iran, Libya, et cetera, do not currently possess missiles capable of hitting the United States or Canada.
While Norad was conceived to deal with the strategic bomber threat of the cold war, today's missile defence project puts the United States in a position to initiate a nuclear strike without fear of devastating retaliation. Does missile defence then become a plan that can be perceived by the world as a front for a first strike winnable nuclear war?
There is another question we must address before engaging in such a project. Will missile defence work? Thomas Christie, the Pentagon's top evaluator of weapons, reported that the anti-missile system “has yet to demonstrate significant operational capability”.
Furthermore, it has long been recognized that it is relatively easy to fool an anti-ballistic missile system simply by using decoys that accompany a bomb. Even if the missile were able to hit its intended target, when a bomb loaded with numerous sub-munitions of chemical or biological weapons is destroyed in the atmosphere during its boost phase up to 100 pounds of carcinogenic plutonium rains down upon the population, causing long term havoc and mayhem. There is also the very realistic danger that intercepted nuclear weapons could accidentally explode when intercepted.
I think we can all agree that even if some of the technical problems of the missile defence system were remedied, it will never be perfect, and any success rate against nuclear attack that is not 100% perfect could mean countless deaths.
There is yet another question. How much will this program cost?
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the potential cost of a three-site system of missile defence could be between $158 billion and $238 billion. However, a report compiled by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation and the Economists Allied for Arms Reduction finds that the likely cumulative costs of a “layered” missile defence system would be between $800 billion and $1.2 trillion. One of the authors of this report is economist and Nobel laureate Kenneth Arrow.
When resources of such an unfathomable amount are directed toward a technically questionable method of defence, what does that mean for the ability of governments to provide essential services to citizens? I hear a great sucking sound in the treasury of our nation. It also seems that the billions of dollars forecast to be spent on this system may be more effectively applied to other means of preventing terrorism.
Some have suggested that Canada will be a partner in this project without having to pay its share. It is disingenuous to suggest that those nations that fall under the umbrella of the missile defence system will not be asked to contribute their share.
Clearly the weaponization of space is the next step in the U.S. plan for missile defence and one which Canada and most of the world are fundamentally opposed to. There is a strong movement within the U.S. military establishment to expand the military use of space to include war fighting capabilities.
General Joseph Ashy, former commander in chief of the U.S. space command, made the following comment about the weaponization of space. He stated:
It's politically sensitive but it's going to happen. Some people don't want to hear this, and it sure isn't in vogue, but--absolutely--we're going to fight in space. We're going to fight from space and we're going to fight into space. That's why the U.S. has developed programs in directed energy and hit-to-kill mechanisms. We will engage terrestrial targets someday--ships, airplanes, land targets--from space. We will engage targets in space, from space.
Keith Hall, the air force assistant secretary for space and director of the National Reconnaissance Office, had this to say: “With regard to space dominance, we have it, we like it, and we're going to keep it”.
I have several questions about the potential weaponization of space. For instance, what will happen if America proceeds with its plan to militarize space? How will anti-satellite warfare, space based killer lasers or nuclear explosions affect our daily lives? Does any country have the right to invade space for its own nationalistic purposes?
Another concern is the potential threat to the multilateralism of the International Space Station. The ISS goals include finding solutions to crucial problems in medicine, ecology and other scientific areas and fostering peace through high profile, long term international cooperation in space. Will unilateral exploitation and control of space by a single nation not reverse many years of international cooperation?
There is a great deal of international concern about the armament of space. In November 1999, 138 nations voted at the United Nations for a resolution titled “Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space”, which recognized “the common interest of all mankind in the exploration and uses of outer space for peaceful purposes”. Only the United States and Israel refused to support the resolution.
In closing, I would like to share a quote by M.W. Guzy that I believe sums up the issue of missile defence very well:
We enter the 21st century locked in a mortal arms race with ourselves. Though the needs for more advanced weaponry are at best unclear, we proceed on the premise that “if we build it they will come”.
As a sovereign country, Canada must continue to act in the best interests of Canadians and the world by promoting multilateral agreements and persevering with unwavering support for disarmament.