Survey of Major Security and Defence Issues

Report of National Security and Defence Committee—Debate Continued
Debates of the Senate (Hansard)
1st Session, 37th Parliament,
Volume 139, Issue 107
Tuesday, April 23, 2002
By Senator Douglas Roche

Debates of the Senate (Hansard) 1st Session, 37th Parliament, Volume 139, Issue 107 Tuesday, April 23, 2002 Survey of Major Security and Defence Issues Report of National Security and Defence Committee—Debate Continued On the Order:

Resuming debate on the consideration of the fifth report (final) of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence entitled: Canadian Security and Military Preparedness, deposited with the Clerk of the Senate on February 28, 2002.—(Honourable Senator Lapointe).
Hon. Douglas Roche: Honourable senators, the Canadian flag over my home in Edmonton is at half-mast today in honour of four Canadian soldiers accidentally killed by a U.S. bomb. My heart goes out to the families and friends of Sgt. Marc D. Leger, Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, Pte. Richard A. Green and Pte. Nathan Smith. My prayers are with the eight other Canadian soldiers who were injured. They were doing their job. They deserve our gratitude and respect.

There is no doubt that Canada must work to rid the world of terrorism, but we must ask ourselves the following questions: Has the Government of Canada made the right decision in sending Canadian Armed Forces into combat in Afghanistan? Why are Canadian Forces not assigned to stabilization operations rather than combat? Are we getting ourselves into a never-ending war by our desire to show the United States that we support their war on terrorism? Is the Canadian military being integrated into U.S. defence operations? These are questions that cry out for answers, but there has not been a full debate in Parliament to search out the answers.

At least the tabling of the report entitled ``Canadian Security and Military Preparedness,'' issued by the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence, affords us an opportunity to explore Canadian security with a view to strengthening it in a post-September 11 world. The Senate committee should go on with its work, but to be truly effective, it needs to address the root causes of terrorism and political violence as well as concentrate on the proper ways to control it.

The response of the U.S. to terrorism, which Canada quickly joined, has been deeply flawed. Bombing and other forms of violence have made the situation worse. Unless core issues of marginalization and disempowerment in regions of conflict are addressed, an expanded cycle of violence lies ahead.

That is why a better response is needed in this chamber of sober second thought. Let us look at the Senate report with appreciation but also with the desire to strengthen the committee's important work.

There are, certainly, aspects of the report that I applaud. It calls for a probe into the alarming level of criminal activity at Canadian ports of entry. We should support suggestions that there be more information and intelligence sharing, joint police exercises and better technology. All of these suggestions address the new threats posed by globalization. Canada cannot afford the repercussions in trade if countries are afraid to ship goods through ports infiltrated by criminal elements.

The report ought to have been a catalyst for re-ordering Canada's security priorities and preparing its military for the new security environment, but it offers too little and resurrects a logic more in tune with the militarization and narrow focus of the Cold War than with the reality of globalization today. Much of the report rehashes language and ideas that should have fallen into disuse along with the Berlin Wall.

The report states that ``...a credible foreign policy is dependent upon a robust defence capability...'' and that ``Canada requires conventional war fighting capabilities to respond to all types of threats...'' At page 89, the report ends by stating:

In the real world, an ongoing military premium must be maintain peace.
Let us talk about the real world, honourable senators. For several decades, even before the end of the Cold War, the world has been undergoing dramatic changes in the way it operates. These changes have been quite contradictory. On the one hand, worldwide connectivity has widened markets, expanded trade and finance, and facilitated transportation. On the other hand, this global circuitry, along with a relaxing of border controls, has widened the gap between the rich and poor, fuelled civil conflict and fanaticism, and enhanced the predatory power of illicit arms, drug merchants and money launderers. That is the dark underbelly of globalization.

The only thing that is certain in this era is that nothing is purely domestic or international any more. The world cannot be neatly divided between East and West, North and South, or between those who are ``with the terrorists'' and those who are not. It cannot be tamed through buying more guns and building higher walls.

No study of security against terrorists is complete without examining how non-military forms of intervention can be more effective in dealing with the root causes of terrorism. The Senate committee report is silent on this, when it should have been calling for greater investment in democracy building, election monitoring, civilian peace monitoring, violence containment, security sector reform and restorative justice.

Is the consequence of September 11 to be a never-ending war? That is the question the Senate committee should have focused on. A proper study of security policies in the new age demands the views of experts in far more fields than just the military.

The increased threat of terrorism is just one of the many perils of living in a global village. Treating terrorism as if it were some country to be guarded against — by increasing military spending and the size of the army — will do little to address a challenge that pays little regard to national boundaries. In the global village, someone else's problems sooner or later become our own problems, no matter how high we build the wall.

Such is the case with poverty, which serves as a breeding ground for terrorism. That was the main message of the International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterey, Mexico, last month. However, the Senate committee report is the latest in a long line of Canadian responses to the current security situation mired in the kind of short-range thinking that the Monterey conference was trying to bury.

Since September 11, Canada has lifted its sanctions on Pakistan for its 1998 nuclear tests, tightened its immigration and refugee laws, limited civil rights, sent our largest military force since the Korean War to Afghanistan, not as peacekeepers but as part of the U.S. force and without a UN mandate. The Senate report comes out in favour of NATO expansion and is demanding an immediate $4-billion increase in defence spending.

Many Canadians— I am one of them— oppose such an unwarranted increase in defence spending when there are so many unfulfilled social needs at home, such as more federal money for the federal health care system. Also, there are many valid arguments to oppose the further expansion of NATO, which would bring still more nations into a nuclear weapon-armed Western military alliance. These arguments need to be heard clearly, as I trust they will be in the forthcoming government reviews of Canada's foreign and defence policies. At least the Senate committee got it right when it said that defence policy should flow from foreign policy and that a foreign policy review should precede a defence review.

The report states that Canada must ``play catch-up.'' What are we catching up to? The United States has shown its disdain for international treaties, backing out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S. is now considering not only opposing the Rome Treaty, which set up the International Criminal Court, but removing its signature altogether. This attitude is undercutting efforts both by other countries and civil society groups to strengthen the international rule of law.

It is natural for Canadians to respond with sympathy and shock to the tragedy of our neighbours, but the Canadian response has been consumed by a whirlwind of U.S. decision making that shows no signs of abating. We need to stop for a second and think about where we want to go as a nation. Such has been the spirit behind my efforts in this chamber to study the national missile defence issue. Although I introduced a motion to study NMD well over a year ago, it has been an uphill battle just to have it considered.

In preparing for its report, the committee met with U.S.congressional and administrative leaders, including the Secretary of Defence, and was able to talk openly about missile defence. I searched in vain for balanced views of those who would have warned that a missile defence system would ignite a new nuclear arms race and be the first step in the weaponization of space. Such a balanced view was expressed in the chairman's factual summary of the two-week, non-proliferation treaty conference of the United Nations, which I attended last week. I quote from that report:

Concern was expressed that the decision by the United States to withdraw from the ABM Treaty, and the development of missile defence systems, could lead to a new arms race, including in outer space, and negatively affect strategic stability and international security.
I repeat, honourable senators: That quotation is from a report of the United Nations that was agreed to by all parties at the conference.

We need to understand how this issue and the others I have mentioned fall into the broader security context and see if what is currently unfolding is to our liking and in tune with Canadian values. These values are clear and have been actively promoted for decades. They can still be found on government Web sites: support and trust of the United Nations as the guarantor of international peace and security, multilateralism and working through international consensus; compassion and humanitarianism; the rule of law; and sustainable development to achieve common security. However, this policy, marked by long-term thinking and peace-building, appears to be giving way to one marked by short-sightedness and militarism.

September 11 was a wake-up call for globalization. We need to see terrorism for what it is and adjust our focus accordingly. Canada has come to a juncture and faces a choice: Do we continue with the U.S. down the current path, marked as it is by uncertainty and over which we have little control, or will we take responsibility for our own policies and make them our own? In effect, the choice is one of driving or being driven.

The fact is that Canada has been a pioneer since the mid-1990s in understanding globalization and preparing the international community for it. From Canada's efforts to ban land mines, to creating an international criminal court, to its work on debt forgiveness, our country has demonstrated the skill and knowledge to adapt to this new era.

We need to develop the political will and leadership to lift up the international policy formation process and build a truly global security architecture. However, first we must shed the fortress mentality that has dominated our policies since September 11 and start thinking in terms of cooperation and involvement. We must build bridges, not walls.