Mr. R. N. Thompson (Red Deer):
Mr. Speaker, time hardly permits us to enter into a full scale debate on external affairs and defence policies at this time, even though it is regrettable that we in this house seemingly so studiously avoid discussion of these two topics. I often feel that we who are members of this house do not have sufficient concern for matters within the realm of external affairs, and the question of defence relates to that. I trust that before long we may be able to have a full scale debate on these topics.
Mr. Speaker, I would say to the minister that it is good to have him back. I am sure that his role and his presence in NATO help to restore and re-establish the confidence of Canadians in regard to NATO. He has mentioned that the NATO council will be meeting in this country in the spring. I congratulate him for making this possible, as I am sure that he had a great deal to do with it. However, I remind the house that it would not be too good to have an election campaign during such a meeting, and I wonder whether we might be informed if we could have this election either before or afterward. Perhaps the leader of the official opposition could help on this. If there is any trouble about making a decision, perhaps some of us could consult together and make our leaders' recess meeting more effective than was the meeting to arrange some of our program before Christmas.
We have noted with much interest the remarks made by the minister. I believe they are constructive. To hear him speaking for Canada at large in this way gives us, particularly at this season, some hope that we can have peace in our world. Without going into any of the details of the matters he mentioned I note particularly his confidence, which I think is felt across the country, in what the United Nations has done. I also note his reference to disarmament, and I trust that Canada shall continue to play her important role in trying to lead to some settlement of this question. The objective that we had hoped might be reached before the end of the year has not been attained, nevertheless, as long as we are working constructively toward it and making some progress, there is hope. I was also interested in his remarks with regard to aid being given to Greece. I think this is an aspect of assistance that we in Canada have not yet fully exploited. Prevention is far better than cure, and here is one way in
which we can put the tremendous potential which we have in Canada to some constructive use in avoiding that which I am sure none of us want.
So, Mr. Speaker, we would just say that we are pleased to hear the report of the minister about the progress which has been made. Again, I trust that we in this house will not shirk our own responsibilities in relation to defence, which we think of as being related to NATO; because certainly we cannot continue with the indefiniteness and ambiguity which so many Canadians feel we have toward this very important matter.
Subtopic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS