Hon. James Richardson (Minister of National Defence):
Mr. Speaker, as hon. members know, two major objectives of our defence policy are to protect Canadian sovereignty and, in co-operation with the United States, to make an effective contribution to the defence of North America. These objectives are achieved in part through Canada's participation with the United States in the North American Air Defence Command agreement which is known to all of us as NORAD.
The NORAD agreement was originally signed on May 12, 1958, for a period of ten years. On March 30, 1968, the agreement was renewed with some additional provisions for a further five years. As the end of the five-year renewal period is on the 12th of next month, the Canadian and American governments have been giving consideration to the renewal of the agreement.
The United States government has been actively engaged in the development of modernized air defence systems. Canada has been kept fully informed of the
April 17, 1973
progress being made and has actively co-operated in some aspects of the work being done.
Although development of the new systems is now at an advanced stage, it has not reached the point at which the two governments are able to decide upon the extent to which the systems for the air defence of North America should, at this time, be changed and improved.
As further time is required before decisions can be reached by either country, it has been determined that the best course of action to meet the requirements of both governments is to extend the present NORAD agreement for a further period. It has, therefore, been agreed between Canada and the United States that the NORAD agreement will be extended in its present form for a further period of two years commencing May 12, 1973, and that an appropriate exchange of diplomatic notes will shortly be exchanged for this purpose.
Hon. members already know that the Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence has made a special study of the NORAD agreement and has tabled a report in the House on this subject. I am particularly pleased to be able to point out that the government's decision to renew the NORAD agreement is consistent with the recommendations contained in the report tabled by this committee.
As I have described in some detail the policy of the Canadian government on NORAD before the Standing Committee on External Affairs and National Defence, and as the reasons for the government's decision to renew the agreement for two years are already in the public record as a result of evidence given before this committee, I do not believe it is necessary to elaborate further at this time.
In this statement I do, however, wish to emphasize that the government's decision to renew the NORAD agreement for two years will assist Canada in a meaningful way to achieve the central objectives of our defence policy.
Subtopic: NATIONAL DEFENCE