Mr. T. C. Douglas (Burnaby-Coquitlam):
Mr. Speaker, we in this group would like to join all members of the house in saying how glad we are that the Secretary of State for External Affairs has returned safely from his visit to the NATO conference, and to say how interested we were in the statement he has just made. I was somewhat surprised when the minister said there were no complaints regarding the lack of consultation during the Cuban crisis, because I am sure that most people in Canada and throughout the western world were disturbed that unilateral action was taken without consulting the other members of NATO. When we realize that in a world situation such as ours no conflict could be limited to one area but would, in all probability, spread throughout the world, it seems to us imperative that there be consultation. It also seems idle to talk about improving the techniques of consultation. The techniques have been well established, and surely they are there. What is lacking is the will to use those techniques. When one considers the very serious situation in Berlin, which may flare up at any time, it seems to us imperative that there be some definite understanding that the fullest possible consultation will be held before any action is taken by any of the powers.
I should like to express our agreement with the statement of the minister regarding seizing the initiative at this time. It seems to us in this group that this is an excellent opportunity for the western powers to seize the initiative, not in a military sense but in a diplomatic sense, to promote the chances of extending disarmament and mutual understanding. This might be an excellent time to advance once again the idea of military disengagement in central Europe, and to do in Berlin and in central Europe what has already been done in Austria; that it might be possible to get both the east and the west to withdraw from certain areas and thus lessen the possibilities of tension.
Mr. Speaker, I would have been pleased if the minister had been able to tell us more
about this question of making NATO a nuclear power. The minister made some reference to the desirability of medium range missiles and the problems of control. I would have hoped that the Canadian government would have made some fairly positive statement in this regard. Before the minister left to attend the conference I asked him whether he could give an assurance that Canada would resist any attempt to make NATO a nuclear power, because I agree with the minister's statement that the deterrent on both sides is now so massive that the likelihood of a nuclear war has diminished. Canada can probably play its most effective role by supplying conventional weapons, and in our opinion we would lessen our moral authority by agreeing to NATO becoming a nuclear power.
Mr. Speaker, I think the statement made by the minister and the statements made by the leaders of the other political parties simply help us to point out the need for a debate on external affairs, or for a meeting of the external affairs committee, or for the setting up of a defence committee, so we can have an opportunity to debate and discuss some of the very important problems facing the human race and having to do with the survival of mankind.
On the orders of the day:
Subtopic: EXTERNAL AFFAIRS