Hon. L. B. Pearson (Leader of the Opposition):
Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the house join other hon. members in welcoming the minister back from the NATO council meeting. We knew, as it was put in another place, that he would be safe in Paris. We also knew he would be busy.
The minister's statement, as well as the communique of the council meeting, have been received with much interest but, Mr. Speaker, as so often happens in these matters they are perhaps more interesting for what they do not reveal than for what they reveal. The minister said that in his view this was the most harmonious meeting of the NATO council he had attended. There are two ways of ensuring harmony at meetings of this kind. One is to avoid making decisions on important matters; the other is to face important matters and try to come to agreement in respect of them.
It seems to me from what the minister has said that there has been one important decision-certainly one, and no doubt others- that has not been made, and which has been under consideration by the NATO council for a long time now. That is the question of whether or not a tactical nuclear deterrent should become part of the NATO defence
Report on NATO Meeting system. It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that until a decision is made in that regard it is very difficult indeed to make a decision with regard to the build-up-and it is important that they should be built up-of the conventional forces which will relieve NATO's dependence to the maximum possible extent on the use of nuclear weapons.
The minister has mentioned with satisfaction that it was agreed at the NATO council that Canada has fulfilled all her commitments. It seems to me, though this may not be a NATO commitment at the moment in the narrower sense, we cannot discharge the role we have undertaken in the air defence division without equipment to carry out that role. That equipment, it is at present agreed, requires nuclear warheads for the strike reconnaissance role. This is a commitment which seems to me to be an important one and which should be carried out or altered.
The minister also said that the question of consultation was again raised. It is raised, I am sure, at every NATO council meeting. It is going to be studied again. I cannot myself see what additional study can add to the studies that have been made in the past with regard to the necessity for consultation. The machinery for consultation surely is there. It is the will to use that machinery in an emergency that is important. While I share with the minister and others who have spoken in the satisfaction the council must have felt over the way the Cuban crisis was resolved by strength and restraint on the part of the United States, it also exposed, as I am sure the minister will agree, this fundamental weakness in consultation before a crisis takes place.
The minister talked about the necessity for emergency planning, contingency planning he called it, in order to avoid a sudden unilateral decision-and I understand contingency planning has been going on for many months now-as to what the coalition should do in case of certain eventualities in Berlin. Surely we have some right to expect that as a result of this kind of discussion and consultation the alliance has agreed what to do in these circumstances. The minister talked, and quite rightly so, about the interrelationship of all problems that confront NATO, whether they cover the NATO area or otherwise. Cuba has certainly underlined the importance of that.
May I say in conclusion, Mr. Speaker, how glad we are that the NATO council has decided, because of the emergency of an election in the Netherlands, to meet in Ottawa in May. I hope the same sort of emergency here will not require a postponement on this occasion. May I remind the minister that of course the NATO council met in Ottawa before-I think
Report on NATO Meeting it was about ten years ago-when some very important decisions were made. I hope the meeting, if it takes place in Ottawa this May, will be as successful as the one that took place here ten years ago.
Subtopic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS