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Where do the parties stand?

Dan Heap — March 1984

Editor’s note: The February issue of The Peace Calendar featured an interview with PC MP Douglas Roche. To provide another perspective we present the following article by the NDP MP for Spadina, Dan Heap.

On February 9 Parliament had a leader’s debate on nuclear disarmament. This is a report on how the parties lined up in terms of opposing nuclear weapons, particularly the cruise.

Prime Minister Trudeau led off by mentioning his recent travels and the conclusions he had reached.

Mr. Trudeau first confirmed Canada’s place in NATO and NORAD: to NORAD, he said, “we contribute an element of priceless value: the airspace over our. vast land.”

Later he suggested three principles, beginning with “Both sides agree that nuclear war cannot be won.” He did not, however, mention the cruise or a nuclear weapon free zone. He continued, saying that following “further consultation with our NATO allies, we will propose a ban on high altitude anti-satellite systems; restrictions on mobility of ICBMs; and improvements in the verifiability of future strategic weapons.”

Again, there was no mention of the cruise or the NWFZ issue. In fact, Mr. Trudeau rarely went beyond any position expressed by U.S. President Reagan, who substitutes the phrase “arms control” for disarmament, by which he means that the U.S. will go on arming till the
Soviets take the lead in disarming.

Mr. Trudeau finished by thanking those who supported his “own personal efforts.” I suppose he had in mind the big Globe and Mail ads which avoided any reference to the cruise and~ vaguely praised Mr. Trudeau for advocating “arms control.”

Mr. Mulroney also endorsed “arms control,” rather than disarmament, and warned that “we cannot – at least in the foreseeable future – hope to escape using nuclear weapons to deter aggression…” He went on to urge that we beef up our conventional weaponry so as “to reduce NATO’s present dependence on the early use of nuclear weapons as a deterrent.”

In concluding, Mr. Mulroney first proposed “that Canada’s foreign policy should rest on a bipartisan search for consensus.” (Maybe he hopes there will be no third parties to force a debate in Parliament over the cruise and the principle of “no first use.”)

He then noted that, “the second cornerstone of our security is the NATO framework” and, “only through the strengthening of the non-nuclear deterrent can we reduce the present reliance on nuclear weapons.”(That is, we must out-gun the Soviets.)

Mr. Broadbent began by thanking “the ordinary people of this country, men, women, children, who began, not last fall or indeed last spring, but some two years ago outside the House of Commons, to put the profoundly important question of nuclear disarmament on the political agenda or’ Canada.” He paid “tribute to all those citizens who make up some five hundred disarmament groups in our country, such as volunteer groups of medical practitioners, unskilled workers, veterans, both men and women…..

Mr. Broadbent also proudly reminded the House and the country that almost two years ago “the New Democratic Party put the same subject matter before the House of Commons, not simply for a debate but for a vote.” He then made the following proposals: That Canada support confidence building measures, such as “Sweden’s nuclear freeze resolution at the United Nations;” that Canada commit itself to a much larger disarmament budget; that Canada refuse “to develop any satellite technology for any military purposes whatsoever” and instead support “the international satellite monitoring agency proposed by the government of France;” that instead of testing the cruise missile, which is not to meet NATO’s request but “to provide a technically operational foundation for buttressing United States strategic deterrent,” the government ought to give notice to the U.S. that we are withdrawing from the signed agreement to test the cruise, “giving them the one year’s notice required,” and in the meantime ought to tell the U.S. that “after the (first) test… there will be no more tests of the cruise missile in Canada.”

Complete transcripts of the speeches can be obtained by telephoning my. office (xxx-xxxx). Read and see for yourself which party unanimously and consistently opposes cruise testing and the first use of nuclear weapons, and supports a nuclear weapon free Canada.