February 17, 2004 (37th Parliament, 3rd Session)

LIB

Pat O'Brien

Liberal

Mr. Pat O'Brien

Madam Chair, let me reiterate for my colleague that in June of 2000, as everyone will recall, we were moving to a rather important event called a federal election. The Alliance Party at that time was categorical that we should have already announced, definitively, our full participation with the United States in this ballistic missile defence system. That was the position of his party at that time. That was not the position of my party or the Government of Canada at that time.
The position of the Liberal Party was that this was something that was very important, that we ought to engage in negotiations with the United States and that we ought to see what the pros and cons of potential Canadian participation would be. The two positions were quite different.
We have not adopted the position of the former Alliance Party because if we had done that, we would have announced it three or four years ago. The fact is that we are in intensive negotiations to weigh the pros and cons of whether Canada will make a decision to participate.
I do not know where my colleague comes up with the eight year figure. This system was announced by President Clinton. It was in its infancy in 1998 or 1999. This is not a series of negotiations that has been going on for eight years. Maybe he and I could talk later and I could find out where he gets this misconception.
As one individual Canadian and one individual member of Parliament I believe that we ought to move toward participation in this missile defence system with the United States. After all, we are a full partner in Norad.
Where he and I differ is that I want all the facts in front of me. I want to have, as the Prime Minister has said, a fulsome debate in the House and in the country. I want to involve Canadians before I simply salute and tell the Americans that we will come on board. We need a national debate and the debate tonight is part of that national debate. That is a major point of difference between his party and mine, with all due respect.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Ballistic Missile Defence
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