Statement on Parliamentary Committee Report on Nuclear Weapons

December 10, 1998
Statement by Senator Douglas Roche, O.C.
Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament andChairman, Middle Powers Initiative

The Report of the Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee on Canada'spolicies on nuclear weapons is a landmark document and deserves the supportof all Canadians.

After two years' study, the Committee has exposed the fallacy thatnuclear weapons provide security and urges the Government of Canada to "playa leading role in finally ending the nuclear threat overhanging humanity."

The Report's leading recommendations would, if implemented, putCanada squarely in the body of mounting world opinion that the time has cometo move away from the Cold War doctrine of nuclear deterrence.

Specifically, the Committee included in its 15 recommendations:

These steps, which reflect the major statements in recent years of theInternational Court of Justice, the Canberra Commission, leading worldmilitary and civilian figures, and the seven-nation New Agenda Coalition,are realistic. They will be supported by the 92 percent of Canadians, asrevealed in a 1998 Angus Reid poll, who want Canada to take a leadershiprole in promoting an international ban on nuclear weapons.

It is unfortunate that the Reform Party, which forms the Official Oppositionin the House of Commons, has filed a Minority Report, which in itself, ismystifying. The Reform Party, which has never mentioned nuclear weapons inits policy papers, did not specifically disagree with any of the Committee'srecommendations but did dissent "from the broad conclusions of the Report."

In dissociating itself from the broad conclusions of the Report thatnuclear weapons must eventually be eliminated through comprehensivenegotiations, the Reform Party ignores the reality that theNon-Proliferation Treaty, signed by 187 nations, imposes a binding legalobligation on all parties to negotiate the complete elimination of nuclearweapons.

The Reform Party's dissent has separated the Party from the specificruling of the International Court of Justice, which unanimously declaredthat such comprehensive negotiations must be concluded, and from the body ofCanadian public opinion.

The four other parties in the House of Commons, the Liberals, theBloc Quebecois, the New Democratic Party and the Progressive ConservativeParty, which received approximately 80 percent of the popular vote in the1997 general election, have contributed to the advancement of globalsecurity and should be congratulated.

Chairman Bill Graham, M.P., has provided distinguished leadership insteering the Committee, which has now provided a valuable compass for thebuilding of a nuclear weapons-free security architecture for the 21stcentury.