Mr. Paul E. McRae (Thunder Bay-Atikokan):
I am very pleased to participate in this debate because I feel there is a great degree of urgency in establishing this institute. On a number of occasions I have written to and spoken with members of the Government, the Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) and so on, about the need for a very independent institute to conduct studies in peace and security. I am delighted we have finally arrived at the point where we can get around to establishing this institute. I hope there will be no difficulty and that in the next month or so we will be able to put it together and have it operating certainly by the summer.
I attended a meeting of 500 or 600 people in Toronto a couple of weeks ago at which United States Admiral Carroll was the speaker. He was asked about how much time he felt we had before a war would occur, or if a war would occur. His answer was that yes it would in about eight years and that the basic growth of very, very dangerous weapons and the attitudes of the two superpowers were such that this was a very real possibility.
This is something about which I have been very apprehensive. I find it difficult to accept that the House has spent so little time on this most important of all issues. We have a situation today where there are in excess of 50,000 nuclear weapons, nuclear warheads, that are pretty well distributed. There is a little more on our side than on the Soviet side, but theirs are larger ones. One way or another, there is an area where we have general parity. What I mean by general parity is that each side has the capability of destroying the other side almost completely and then being destroyed themselves. No one side could destroy the other side without they themselves being destroyed as well. That is the situation we are faced with.
There is in existence today something like 5,000 times the explosive power that was used in all of World War II. I simply do not understand those who say that we are not strong enough and need to build more arms. It is completely beyond my comprehension that we need more arms when we already have
5,000 times the fire power that was available in World War II.
We are told by some very eminent scientists on both sides of the Iron Curtain that we need to worry about more than just the explosive effects of these weapons. In total, these weapons have 100,000 times the destructive power of the weapons that destroyed Hiroshima. We have the situation of the explosive power and the nuclear fallout which, if the bomb did not hit Canada, would still kill about 12 million Canadians. More
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International Peace and Security people from my own community of Thunder Bay would die than died in all of Canada during World War I and World War II. However, in addition to this, we are told by these eminent scientists that the effect of these explosions, even if only a small portion of them were used, would be to create a nuclear winter which would probably destroy most of the plant life in the northern hemisphere. Millions and millions of Canadians would then die from the cold and from famine. Civilization as we know it would cease to exist. Yet a retired American admiral, along with his friends, retired American generals and admirals, are saying that this can happen and that it can happen within the next seven or eight years. It can happen because the weaponry that is being built at this particular time can create a situation in which this can happen simply through computer error.
I would remind the House that as we sit here this very moment, a few Pershing II missiles have been installed in West Germany which have a six-minute to eight-minute time span between firing and destroying a target in the Soviet Union. The Soviets tell us that they now have weapons based six to eight minutes from the shore of the United States. We find ourselves in a situation in which a computer error could result in a mistaken firing which could result in return firing and a launch-on warning. This is the situation today and it is only beginning. It will become much worse. Shorter trajectory times and greater accuracy will be built into many weapons and the threat of a pre-emptive or first strike could cause the other side to strike in a crisis. These are the situations which exist today. It is possible that the world could be destroyed within 30 minutes.
It is absolutely essential that Canadians and people all over the world do whatever is possible to make sure that this kind of destruction is prevented. This is the reason why I support the need for this Bill. If we are to be successful as peace makers, then we must have access to good, solid, objective information. We should not have information from only one source like the Pentagon or another source like Soviet publications but we need good, solid information from all sources. There is an organization in Sweden called SIPRI which is set up to provide this kind of information. In the research I have done over the last three or four years, I have found that the information from that source has been very valuable to us in assessing the claims of both sides.
We have a situation where one side is saying the other side is superior and vice versa. Of course, all of the information available to me and the information from other sources like the Scowcroft Commission would point to the fact that there is no superiority, that we are in a situation of general parity and that now is the time to slow things down.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Trudeau) has done a great deal of travelling and has spoken to a great many leaders all over the world. He made a speech in the House on February 9 and came to the conclusion that there are about 10 major ideas which are common to the superpowers. We should begin to work with those common ideas. I will not deal with all of those ideas because I have only 20 minutes in which to speak, but I
will mention two or three of them. One such idea is the agreement that a nuclear war cannot be fought and cannot be won. There is agreement that we must get rid of destabilizing weapons and there is agreement that the other side exists, will continue to exist and that there should not be an attempt to depose the other side. These ideas are very vital and were common threads which ran through all of the discussions the Prime Minister had with all of the world leaders including the leaders of both superpowers.
In order to make these common ideas work, we must know what we are doing. We must have access to good, independent information. It seems to me that there is a very direct relationship between the kind of thing the Prime Minister and others throughout the world have been attempting to do and the kind of thing that we hope to do with this Bill. I am particularly interested in seeing that, through this Bill, we set up an independent organization. To me, an independent organization means one which will not rely only on the Department of National Defence or the Department of External Affairs. An independent organization will not follow only the demands of those two Departments.
I would agree entirely with Members of the Opposition and particularly with the Right Hon. Member for Yellowhead (Mr. Clark) who said that from Clause 28 of the Bill, the word "shall" should be removed. I think the Prime Minister as well agreed with that. If not, the Department of External Affairs and the Department of National Defence could very well ask this organization to respond in a certain way or to do a certain study. That is a legitimate request, but certainly the obligation to do such a study will not, in my opinion, give the organization the kind of independence it needs. I think that the word "may" is probably more applicable to the situation.
I would disagree with the Hon. Member from the NDP who suggested that that clause should be removed entirely. I believe that the word "may" at least indicates that the Department cannot force certain things on this organization. If the clause were not included in the Bill at all, there might be some assumption that the organization could be forced by the Department to do things. I think it would be just as well to leave Clause 28 in place and replace the word "shall" with the word "may". I think that would give to the organization the kind of independence it needs.
I spent some time looking at what they are doing at the Swedish peace institute in Stockholm. I looked at the structure of that institute and I believe that this is a model at which we should all take a good look. That institute has established itself in a number of basic areas and, in my opinion, a number of things about the structure of that organization give it a great deal of independence and the kind of independence we would like to have here in Canada.
First, that institute is funded by the Government and not by the private sector. I would not object to private-sector funding for various peace institutes, but I think the institute to which the Bill refers must be funded by the Government partly because there is a need for credibility when dealing with both sides. If we are to study Soviet-American relations, we must be
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credible to both those groups. We must have an organization with that kind of credibility. If we are dealing with the Soviets, we will not be credible if the foundation is a legitimate one but is funded by large corporations from the private sector. It is important that we do it this way. It does not mean that other organizations, peace groups and study groups should not be funded by the private sector. This is one area where it is important that the funding come this way.
I may be running into some problems with the Opposition on this, but the Swedish Institute has an international board. It includes people from Sweden and also has an international component. I disagree with the Hon. Member for New West-minster-Coquitlam (Miss Jewett) who spoke about keeping this institute Canadian. I have had a great deal to do with the peace movement over the last few years, the last three years in particular. One of the dangers is the tendency to become pure, just to worry about what Canadians are doing, making sure that we are pure, not doing anything wrong and in no way contributing to nuclear armament, not worrying about what is going on outside.
I have had a great deal of concern about the testing of the Cruise. If this testing does not take place in Canada, it will take place somewhere else. It does not make much difference where it has been tested if a war should occur. It is important in terms of how we feel about ourselves.
It is nice to advocate that Canada be a nuclear free zone. We can feel good about that. However, if there is a nuclear war, we will be in the centre of it. It will come to us. If we declare that we are nuclear free, that does not mean we will not have to worry about the war.
I feel that Canadians are becoming a little bit too concerned about appearing pure rather than being concerned about preventing a war between the superpowers. Therefore, it would be a mistake if the board were to be entirely Canadian. It requires an international flavour. I believe that the structure of the board should include Canadians and a number of people from other countries. That is tremendously important. If we are serious about preventing nuclear war, we must have an organization with global concerns. We cannot solve the problem just by being pure. We have to be concerned about the two superpowers and how they can be brought together.
While we have talked about the structure of this organization, we have not talked about its role. Earlier I referred to the 10 points which the Prime Minister presented as areas where we could get agreement. Canadians have to focus on the nature of the two superpowers.
We are very close to the United States and know a great deal about it. Many of us worry about the present U.S. Government. We feel the worries would go away if the Democrats were in power. At least that is my feeling. Basically we understand the situation. We understand some of what has to be done to bring the two superpowers together. We do not have a good understanding about the Soviet Union. We do not understand them. Their ideologies are different from ours. We
International Peace and Security tend not to want to know very much about them, what they are like and what their Government stands for. We have a situation where it is impossible to destroy that Government. It is not possible to do very much to change that Government. We have to understand their Government and the people there.
I hope the institute is set up fairly soon because the situation between the two powers is critical. Basically they are not speaking to each other. There are some talks going on in Stockholm. They are going on not too badly, partly because the superpowers are surrounded by other powers, including ourselves. They are not really confronting each other in areas where they should be talking.
If we develop these studies, particularly in the area of understanding the superpowers, we can use this information to bring other middle powers together and develop a negotiating team which could work between the two superpowers to reduce the tension. This could be done along the lines suggested by the Prime Minister, beginning in areas of common interest, concern and agreement. There are the 10 points, and others could be added to the list. If we could learn how to deal with them, if we could have ideas through third power groups, possibly we could bring some kind of sanity to the two superpowers.
If we do not do this in the next few years, then Admiral Carroll and other knowledgeable people on the subject will be correct that a nuclear war, which has never occurred in the history of mankind, will take place and we will be destroyed. The stakes are so great that this is absolutely essential. Even though it is a small step, we should take it, pass this Bill and set up a good independent organization.
Topic: GOVERNMENT ORDERS
Subtopic: CANADIAN INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY