Mr. J. M. Forrestall (Dartmouth-Halifax East):
Mr. Speaker, first of all, may I express our appreciation to the minister for having made his statement available to us a good hour before the House met this afternoon. I also want to welcome the statement and to indicate to the minister that it is at least the minimum position acceptable to us in respect of sharing of responsibility for North American defence.
The importance of maintenance by Canadians of the sovereignty of our northern air space requires this minimum position. Our role should continue to be that of surveillance, detection and identification. Whatever the outcome of the present testing by the United States of such technological advancements as over the horizon, back scatter radar, AWACS and the improved manned interceptor programming, Canada will have to go it alone or go via this route. In other words, one way or another we must ensure that the means of maintenance of our own sovereignty are within our own control. We feel strongly that such planning can only be done, and we hope it will be done during this two-year period, not in the context of the NORAD agreement alone but also in light of our over-all bilateral defence arrangements with the United States. We
hope the contingency plans in respect of what Canada does at the end of the present two-year agreement will take that into consideration.
It is my hope that the standing committee will exercise its investigative prerogatives and call before it witnesses and all the agreements, protocols, notes and memoranda that exist-I imagine there are some three or four dozen- for the purpose of coming up with an integrated role for Canada in the defence of the North American continent which will achieve the purpose of serving our own national interests as well as the interests of our collective responsibilities. We recognize that our responsibility is not only to ourselves but also to our neighbours. We welcome this announcement and express the hope that the long-term implications of NORAD and continental defence concepts can be taken under very active consideration not only by the minister's department but by the standing committee in the months that lie ahead.
Subtopic: NATIONAL DEFENCE