Hon. Art Eggleton (York Centre, Lib.)
Madam Chair, in the period since the end of the Cold War we have seen a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. We have seen a diffusion of technology going throughout the world that has been used in those cases to develop chemical, biological and perhaps even nuclear weapons.
We have heard just in the last few days about nuclear secrets coming out of Pakistan. Just in the last year or two, we have seen the development of two-stage missile systems, medium to long range missile systems out of North Korea, not necessarily for their own use but perhaps for sales to others.
If this trend continues, then it is quite conceivable that somewhere in future years we could see a launching of an intercontinental ballistic missile against a city in North America with a nuclear or some other kind of warhead on it.
I would think that if that kind of circumstance were to occur, I would not see that anybody would object if we could send up a missile to destroy that incoming missile before it hit its target.
That is all we are talking about. We are talking about a defensive missile system. It has no warhead on it, but it goes up into space and at a very high speed hits the incoming missile and destroys that missile before it can hit its target and kill literally thousands upon thousands of people.
I do not see why anybody would be against having that kind of system. That kind of system is not star wars. It does not lead to an arms race. It is a completely defensive system. It does not lead us down the path to weaponization of outer space.
I do not believe that we are going to see the Americans go that route any time soon, but even if ultimately they did, there is no reason that we have to be there with them. In fact, we should not be there with them. We oppose the weaponization of outer space.
There are those who say “but if we get into this path of ballistic missile defence it is a slippery slope”. No, it is not. We quite clearly indicated in the war on terrorism that we would go to Afghanistan with our American allies, but we did not go to Iraq. We made a decision that we felt was in our national interest. We went to one and we did not go to the other.
We can make those kinds of distinctions and those kinds of decisions on any other matter, including this whole question of how far to go on these defensive weapons. Weaponization of outer space is something that this country opposes and should continue to oppose.
Nor do we have to go with any substantial capital costs. The Americans have already provided for the capital costs for this system. Quite frankly, we could not afford it in any event. There could be some costs with respect to administration, with respect to operational issues of having additional personnel at Norad, for example, but we would not be participating in any substantial capital costs.
If this sounds like the system is a fait accompli, that is because it is. It is not something that has been invented by the Bush administration. In fact, it is the subject of a piece of legislation that passed through the United States Congress in 1999: the national missile defence act. It was signed into existence by the former president, Bill Clinton. The current president has said that they will deploy missiles starting this fall.
Starting this fall: so I think there is a need to get on with this in discussion with our American allies, because if they are going to make decisions that affect the safety and the security of the people of North America, then I think it is in our national interest to be at the table.
Being at the table involves, to my mind, Norad. Norad is the agency between Canada and the United States that we have had for over 50 years and that has successfully monitored anything coming into the airspace of North America. It detects missiles coming in. It can detect any object from outer space. It detects aircraft. Originally it was designed to detect strategic bombers coming in over the Pole from the Soviet Union as it existed in those days, but today it plays a very important role in detecting anything happening in our airspace.
It was very vital on September 11, 2001. Norad quickly moved to deal with the issues involved and to have planes come into Canada at that particular point in time, as many of them did. They controlled the airspace. There was a Canadian in the command position at the time of the disaster of 9/11, so Canada played a very key role in that.
Norad can detect anything coming in and it can send jet fighters up to deal with anything, except that it does not have missiles. Missiles are the one missing part of a defensive system. If we do have an incoming offensive missile, Norad is the logical entity to be dealing with sending up a defensive missile to destroy it.
I think we need to work that out in the Norad context. If we do not, then the Americans will be making these decisions on their own and we will be left outside the door. It will marginalize Norad. We cannot afford to have that happen. We need to be there. We need to be part of the decision making process. That is certainly in the interests of the people of our country. I hope that is the decision we will ultimately make: to be a partner. That is in our interest.
Subtopic: Ballistic Missile Defence