Mr. Gerard Laprise (Abitibi):
Mr. Speaker, I would like first to thank the Minister of National Defence (Mr. Richardson) for sending us copies of his statement in the two official languages an hour before the House convened. I think all ministers who have statements to make when the House resumes its sitting should take such an initiative.
Mr. Speaker, the minister just announced what everybody was expecting, that is the two-year renewal of the Canada-U.S. agreement on NORAD.
I was somewhat surprised by the position taken by the members of the NDP as expressed by their spokesman who would have liked to see an end to this agreement with the United States. Up to now the danger of an attack would have apparently come from the U.S.S.R. and it is in that direction that Canadian control and defence measures were oriented.
I might compare this means of surveillance and defence with the measures taken by someone who had a beautiful house containing valuable jewels, paintings and ornaments, and protected by three watchdogs to keep off burglars. As long as the watchdogs were there, the enemy would not be tempted to break in, but the moment they were gone, you could expect to be robbed.
This is somewhat like the attitude that must be taken to NORAD. There are powers that might like to come and cause trouble in our country. But as long as we have a lookout system, they are reluctant to put their schemes into action.
So far, we have two main blocks: the American block, on the free block, and the Soviet block. But there is now a third block in the making, that of Communist China, which is becoming a major military power, which will
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soon be as strong as, if not stronger than, the other two. We have just heard that China's military budget has doubled in only seven years and that over 10 per cent of this budget goes towards the purchase and development of military materiel. That is worth thinking about. I should like to repeat something that was said by Mr. Camilien Houde, the former mayor of Montreal, that armaments were not made to be put on Christmas trees.
The committee was also informed that Russia is now building up a fleet of 180 heavy missile-bearing bombers capable of flying anywhere in North America and returning to base without refuelling.
I therefore think it is important to have a highly developed warning system and we know that the United States are at present developing an even better system than the one we have now.
Given those facts, Canada would be wise to renew this agreement for a two-year period, which would give us sufficient time to get acquainted with improvements which the United States intend to make to their warning, control and defence system and to review our financial participation of $150 million to that system, which is about 12 per cent of the total budget of NORAD. I think that it is not excessive and it would be much more costly if Canada alone assured its defence.
Therefore, the members of the Social Credit party approve the renewal of this agreement for two years. By that time, we will be in a position to see what our southern allies could provide for the protection of Canada, so that we may avoid the fate of France which during two world wars was used as a battlefield for Europe. Indeed, Canada should not be used as a stepping-stone by any country which would decide to attack the United States.
Subtopic: NATIONAL DEFENCE