Art EGGLETON

EGGLETON, The Hon. Art, P.C.

Parliamentary Career

October 25, 1993 - April 27, 1997
LIB
  York Centre (Ontario)
  • President of the Treasury Board (November 4, 1993 - January 24, 1996)
  • Minister responsible for Infrastructure (November 4, 1993 - January 24, 1996)
  • Minister for International Trade (January 25, 1996 - June 10, 1997)
June 2, 1997 - October 22, 2000
LIB
  York Centre (Ontario)
  • Minister for International Trade (January 25, 1996 - June 10, 1997)
  • Minister of National Defence (June 11, 1997 - May 25, 2002)
November 27, 2000 - May 23, 2004
LIB
  York Centre (Ontario)
  • Minister of National Defence (June 11, 1997 - May 25, 2002)
March 24, 2005 - May 23, 2004
LIB
  York Centre (Ontario)

Most Recent Speeches (Page 2 of 328)


February 24, 2004

Hon. Art Eggleton

Mr. Speaker, I am voting with the government on this, so I am voting in favour of concurrence, but against the motion.

(The House divided on Motion No. 2, which was negatived on the following division:)

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Criminal Code
Full View Permalink

February 19, 2004

Hon. Art Eggleton (York Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, this is the second time this week we have entered into a debate about ballistic missile defence, so let it not be said that the House has not had adequate opportunity to debate the matter.

In terms of the vote, we will have a vote on this before any decision is made by the government because the Bloc vote will occur next Tuesday. In terms of a free vote, I venture to say there will be more freedom on this side of the House than we will probably see on that side because I know there are people on this side of the House who do not necessarily favour the position that I am favouring, which is that I oppose this Bloc motion. I very much agree with the remarks that have been made by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

We have to bear in mind that in the period since the end of the cold war there has been a proliferation in the world of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. We have seen a dispersal of technology throughout the world and the ability to use that technology to develop chemical, biological or nuclear weapons. We just heard in the last few days about nuclear secrets leaking out of Pakistan. In just the last year or two we have seen the development of longer range two stage missile systems coming out of North Korea, not just for their own use but perhaps for sale to others, as has been their past practice.

If this trend continues it is quite conceivable that over the next few years we could see the launching of a long range ballistic missile against a city in North America, and one carrying a nuclear or some other kind of warhead on it. It could be a deliberate action or it could be an accidental situation. I would think if that were to occur nobody in this room or in this country would object to sending up a defensive missile to destroy the incoming missile before it destroyed the city it was aimed at. I cannot imagine anybody being opposed to that.

That is what we are talking about here today. That is what the issue is all about. We are talking about a defensive missile. A defensive missile does not have a warhead on it. It would be launched from land or sea and would hit the incoming missile at such a high speed in outer space that the missile would be destroyed before it could hit its target, killing a lot of people and damaging a lot of our cities.

There have been tests on this new system, and that has been pointed out. Some have been successful and some have failed, but there is no doubt that the technology is on its way to being perfected. The most recent tests have been more successful, even using decoys, which is a more sophisticated system.

The kind of system we are talking about is not star wars. It does not lead to an arm's race. It is entirely defensive. It does not lead us down the path either of the weaponization of outer space. It is completely a defensive response to an offensive weapon.

I do not believe we will see the Americans go the route of weapons in outer space, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said, certainly for quite a number of years. However, even if they ultimately did, there is no reason that we have to be with them. In fact, we should not be there with them on weaponization of outer space because we oppose it. It is clearly a policy of the government.

There are those who will say that if we go down the path of ballistic missile defence, it is a slippery slope leading to the weaponization of outer space. No, it is not. We 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; we did not go to the other.

Similarly, we can support land and sea based defensive missiles but not weapons in outer space. Nor do we have to go with any substantial capital expenditure. The Americans have not asked us for that kind of assistance. They have already provided the capital costs in their budgeting for this system and, quite frankly, we could not afford it in any event. There could be some costs with respect to administration, such as operational issues or having additional personnel at Norad, but we should not be participating with any substantial capital costs.

People will ask about all the other terrorist threats, such as people bringing in anthrax in a suitcase or countries sending in a cruise missile, which is not a ballistic missile or the same kind of thing.

Yes, those possibilities are there, and yes, action, needs to be taken and has been taken since 9/11 to better protect against them, but that does not make a ballistic missile defence system any less valid. It is one of the possible threats that we could face.

If it sounds like this system is a fait accompli, in terms of the United States, it is. However it is not something that was invented by the Bush administration. I know the leader of the NDP likes to talk about it in that regard. In fact, it is the subject of legislation, the national missile defence act, that was passed in 1999 and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The current president has said that he will implement it and that he will deploy a limited number of missiles in Alaska and California starting this fall.

I think there is a need to get on with this discussion with our American allies because if they are going to make decisions that affect the safety and security of the people of North America, then it is in the interests of Canada to be at the table. Being at the table, to me, as a former defence minister and one knowledgeable about this entity, involves Norad.

This joint agency between Canada and the United States has existed for over 40 years. It monitors anything that comes into the airspace of North America. It can detect aircraft, any object coming from space and incoming missiles. Originally it was designed to detect strategic bombers coming in over the North Pole from the Soviet Union as it existed in those days, but today it still plays a very important role in detecting anything happening in or over our continental airspace.

On September 11, 2001, Norad was vital. It quickly moved to protect our airspace. In fact, there was a Canadian general in the command position at the time of the disaster. Make no mistake about it, Canada does play a key role in Norad.

Norad can detect anything coming in but it only has jet fighters, like CF-18s, to respond to whatever comes in. Defensive missiles are a missing component of its capabilities.

Finally, we need to work this out in a Norad context. If we do not, then the Americans will be making these decisions on their own and we will be left standing outside the door. It will, I assure members, marginalize Norad. We cannot afford to have this happen. We need to be there. We need to be part of the information sharing, the consulting and the decision making process. This is in the interests of Canadians and it is in the interests of our safety and security.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
Full View Permalink

February 19, 2004

Hon. Art Eggleton

Yes, Mr. Speaker, it is good to define all of those things in the letter. As I said in my remarks, if this is going to be housed in any particular agency it should be Norad, which co-exists with the northern command of the United States. That clearly puts us at the table and puts us quite involved.

But the member is misinterpreting that letter when she suggests that the government has made a final decision. Obviously when the government has all the documentation in front of it, including a possible amended agreement with Norad, it can make a decision when it knows how the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed.

I frankly hope we will proceed with this, for the reasons that I have given. I think they are valid reasons in terms of the safety and security of Canadians. The government is not going to buy this thing and make a final decision until it has gone through these discussions. Obviously it wants to have it in detail.

I think that member would be the first one to criticize if the government came here and did not have all its i's dotted and t's crossed. The government is attempting to do that before the final decision is made and the House has every opportunity to give the kind of feedback that it feels represents what Canadians want or do not want in this case.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
Full View Permalink

February 19, 2004

Hon. Art Eggleton

Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my remarks, I am sure there will be some costs in this, certainly in terms of Norad personnel as part of the administration and operation of Norad's expanded role in all of this.

I do not believe that we should make any substantive capital cost contribution to ballistic missile defence. If that were the case, we could be looking at upwards of a billion dollars. We cannot afford that. I made that quite clear.

The Americans have not asked us for that and we cannot afford it. If we have an extra billion dollars, some of these other areas that the member talks about are where I would see investing it, although I must say in terms of search and rescue that when we got the new helicopters we certainly beefed up our operation there. When it comes to aerial patrols, we must remember that we do have other means now in radar and satellite opportunities.

There is no doubt that we need more money for the support of our defence operations, for the men and women who risk their lives for this country. If we had a billion dollars, I certainly could think of a lot of other areas that I would consider to be of higher priority, but we can still be with the Americans on our ballistic missile defence cooperation.

Topic:   Government Orders
Subtopic:   Supply
Full View Permalink

February 18, 2004

Hon. Art Eggleton (York Centre, Lib.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to respond to yesterday's statement by the member for London—Fanshawe condemning Israel for the construction of a security fence.

We have to remember the realities that have forced Israel to build this protective barrier. Israel has been targeted by an unprecedented campaign of terror that to date involves 136 suicide bombings, resulting in 925 fatalities and more than 6,100 people injured. The Palestinian Authority chooses not to stop this strategy of terror. This context is missing from the member's statement.

Moreover, the member's reference to concentration camps in the West Bank and Gaza is unacceptable. It makes a mockery out of the Holocaust.

Though not a measure of choice, the security fence is a measure of necessity. Where built to date, the presence of the fence has resulted in a 30% drop in suicide attacks.

This is not a land grab. This is a temporary security measure that could be undone once the Palestinian leadership lives up to its responsibilities. Simply put, no terror, no fence.

Topic:   Statements By Members
Subtopic:   Middle East
Full View Permalink