Hon. Sheila Copps
Madam Chair, of course what is being proposed will cost billions of dollars. Although we are being told it will not cost Canada anything for now, we can be sure that as soon as we sign on with the United States, money will be required.
Take Iraq for example. How much has this cost in lives and massive destruction? In the past year, 250,000 people in the world have been killed in such wars. If there is something we can be proud of in the past year with respect to the former government's mandate, it is the fact that we were able to make an independent choice regarding the war in Iraq.
I do not think that if we had joined the U.S. we would have had this freedom of choice with respect to the war in Iraq. It is impossible to claim to want both an integrated military force and freedom of choice. My colleague, the member for Toronto Centre—Rosedale, said earlier that if we decide to withdraw at any given time, it will be our choice.
Look at what happened when 10 or 20 soldiers participated in a pilot project shortly before the war in Iraq. There were barely 20 soldiers, but we could not pull them out because once the plan was implemented, once the system was in motion, it was too late.
That is why I am confident—I know the Minister of Foreign Affairs and I know he is very sensitive about international issues—that the debate that is beginning today will generate discussions, not only within Canada, but also within the Liberal Party, and we will find out what hon. members and the public really think about this critical decision for the country. I am certain this debate is a first step toward such discussions.
Subtopic: Ballistic Missile Defence