Our reasons are simple. NORAD was founded in 1958 and renewed in 1968 to meet an apprehended threat of an attack on North America by manned bombers from the U.S.S.R. Defence against the bomber was and continues to be the most important of NORAD's objectives according to General Lane, Deputy Commander of NORAD, who gave evidence before the committee as recently as March 2 last.
1 It is our conviction that the threat of attack by manned bombers is non-existent, again for simple reasons. In the missile age when both superpowers possess the ability to destroy the society of the other, even after an all-out attack by the one, in a response to the original attack, or second strike, there is no possibility of an attack by manned bombers, because to send over bombers to attack would be madness and, indeed, suicide as it would invite the destruction of the country that made such an attack. The minister recognized this in the statement he made to the committee the other day. Let me quote just one sentence from that statement:
The deterrence of an actual attack depends not on air defence capability, but in assured retaliatory capacity.
We agree entirely with that statement.
The contribution that Canada can make should be through detection and identification which may require surveillance and interception. This is an entirely different concept from that of NORAD. Canada should control and survey its own air space. It should co-operate with the United States and give information to the United States. But it is not necessary for this purpose for Canada to be locked into NORAD.
It was suggested by the minister before the committee that the committee report, and, indeed, the committee accepted the suggestion, that if Canada withdrew from
April 17, 1973
NORAD this could seriously harm Canada-United States relations needlessly and antagonize the United States administration. This is dangerous timidity and a denial of Canadian sovereignty as well as being insulting to the United States. Of course if we withdrew from NORAD on the basis that we wanted no truck or trade with the Yankees this would cause difficulty, but if we demonstrate, as we can, that a new framework is needed for Canada-United States co-operation in air defence of North America and that NORAD is outdated, there is no need to assume there would be resentment by the United States.
Lastly, we take issue with the way the decision was made. In fact, the decision has been announced in a casual way by the minister. He did not even see fit to give the reasons for it but merely referred to his evidence before the committee. This is a serious matter. This engagement in a treaty with our neighbour involves in monetary terms alone hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet at this time we have this announcement in a casual way respecting the agreement which is to be perpetuated by an exchange of notes. It is true it is only for a two-year period. In our view, details in respect of international and defence relations are for the executive, but when substantial and durable commitments are made this should be propounded in parliament. If this has not always been so in the past it should be so in the future. The government should submit the renewal of the NORAD treaty by resolution for debate and ratification by this parliament.
Subtopic: NATIONAL DEFENCE