"NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND NUCLEAR ARMS CONTROL: CANADA AND THE WESTERN ALLIANCE IN 1987"
The Honourable Perrin Beatty, P.C., M.P. Minister of Defence
Chairman: Nona Macdonald President
Welcome again, Mr. Minister, to our podium. Last year you spoke to us as Solicitor General of Canada, and today, as Minister of Defence you will bring us up to date on this most important concern.
Perrin Beatty is Toronto-born and, as an alumnus of Upper Canada College, he is one of the many distinguished graduates to celebrate his school's Army Cadet Corps centenary this year. In 1971 he received his BA. degree from the University of Western Ontario, where he first became involved in the Progressive Conservatives as Secretary-Treasurer of the Ontario PC Students' Association.
He moved briefly into provincial politics as special assistant to Ontario's Minister of Health, The Honourable Bert Lawrence, but was elected to the House of Commons in 1972. Seven years later marked his first Cabinet appointment as Minister of State for the Treasury Board. After that obviously, cabinet posts came easily: in 1974, he became Minister of National Revenue and Minister responsible for Canada Post Corporation, followed by the Solicitor Generalship and now Defence.
Between these posts, he maintained leadership positions with Conservatives during the Liberal Party governance and after its defeat in 1983.
Included in his areas of responsibilities have been: Communications, the Canadian Constitution, Revenue Canada, and Federal Provincial Relations. And now he chairs the Commonwealth Delegated Legislation Committee as well as heading National Defence.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Member of Parliament for WellingtonDufferin-Simcoe, The Honourable Perrin Beatty, Minister of National Defence:
Honourable Perrin Beatty:
It is just about a year ago that I had the pleasure of addressing The Empire Club. l was at that time serving as the Solicitor General. As you know, I've had a hard time holding a job and I assumed the defence portfolio last summer.
In the past few months, I have consulted widely, both at home and abroad with our allies. We have been looking at a range of major defence policy issues that must be dealt with in the forthcoming defence White Paper. I am delighted to have the opportunity to discuss with this distinguished group one of the more difficult of these-nuclear policy.
Nuclear arms and nuclear arms control are always high on the public agenda, but they have been attracting even wider attention of late, particularly in the aftermath of the meeting between President Reagan and General Secretary Gorbachev in Reykjavik. They are among the most fundamental issues of our time, for they tap the wellsprings of our hopes and fears for the very survival of civilised life on this planet.
An article in The Economist magazine last year called this the era of "The Long Nuclear Peace." Indeed, nuclear deterrence, in part, has helped over the past forty-two years to preserve peace among the nuclear weapons states and between the Alliances to which they belong. Nevertheless, the destructive power of nuclear weapons that makes them effective as a deterrent is so awesome that we cannot help but feel uneasy about a peace that is so reliant upon them. I feel I have an obligation to state clearly where I stand on the questions of nuclear weapons and arms control.
Let me start by situating the defence of Canada in the context of the collective arrangements by which we and our allies have sought to assure our mutual security. Canada has freely chosen to combine with other like-minded democracies in collective security arrangements in the unshakable belief that it is through collective defence undertakings that our protection is best assured. Just over a year ago, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney said to the Consultative Group on Disarmament and Arms Control:
We are a member of the Western Alliance and we are members out of choice, not circumstances. It is an Alliance which requires military commitment and political solidarity, yet it is also an Alliance which relies on consultation and consensus.
Successive governments of Canada have recognized that our security is enhanced when the defence challenge is shared with our partners: this is as true today as in the past.
Deterring aggression, or intimidation through threat of aggression, requires forces with sufficiently credible capabilities to dissuade a potential enemy. The massive Warsaw Pact conventional and nuclear capabilities in Europe poses a real threat to the Democratic values enjoyed by our European partners. Canada shares with its allies in the West a commitment to these values. Preserving them cannot be taken for granted. They must be actively defended.
Canada would not survive as the sort of country we all wish it to be, if democracy among our traditional allies were lost. A threat to the other Western democracies threatens us here in Canada as well.
We are not in NATO and in Europe today simply out of a spirit of altruism. We are there because our interests as a nation require us to be there and because the loss of a free Europe would be a grave blow to our ability to maintain our democratic freedoms here in Canada. There can be no doubt that the defence of Western Europe continues to be critical to the defence of the Canada we wish to preserve.
The direct threat to Canadian territory is posed currently by Soviet long-range nuclear missile, bomber and submarine forces based in the Soviet Union. Since our geography uniquely situates us between the two nuclear superpowers, we could not remain unaffected by Soviet aggression against the United States. Opting out is not possible, nor would it be consistent with our proud history, our beliefs and our responsibilities as a democratic and sovereign nation.
Bearing in mind our geographic location, I do not believe that a neutral cordon around Canada would make us safer or improve the global situation by the example it would set. Even if we could afford it, the cost for Canada of going it alone would be very much greater, with no assurance that we would be any more secure. Arguably, we could end up being much less so. In any case, how could we hope to enforce Canadian neutrality or even verify that it was being respected?
To opt out would be to give up the collective development of all security measures, which include arms control, in the North Atlantic Alliance. A disarmed or neutral Canada would not have become part of the process of security and cooperation building in Europe begun with the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. We could not then have contributed to the success of the Stockholm Conference, nor have a seat at the table of the current Vienna meeting continuing the Helsinki Process. We could not have become participants in European conventional arms control negotiations, and could not be part of allied consultations on nuclear arms control.
Would the declaration of Canada as a nuclear weapons-free zone make Canadians safer? Unfortunately, such a unilateral act does not provide the security its advocates suggest. A nation of nuclear-free zones is not a nuclear weapons-safe nation. Such a declaration would not by itself eliminate a single nuclear weapon or reduce the differences that divide East and West. Indeed, as the Toronto Sun observed, "it serves more to comfort our enemies and confound our allies." I do not believe that any worthy aim would be achieved by divorcing Canada from weapons and policies that, despite our action, would continue to provide security to Canadians. Along with all our NATO partners, we have rejected this course as illusory.
Many of you have noted editorials in Toronto newspapers in recent months on this subject. The Toronto Star for example stated:
"As long as we remain members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATo) and the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD), which shelter us and our allies under the American nuclear umbrella, it's surely hypocritical to say we want neither truck nor trade with nuclear business at home."
A related notion proposes the demilitarisation of the Arctic. The fact to bear in mind here, however, is that North America is already threatened by Arctic-based forces from the other side of the Pole. The greatest single concentration of naval and naval air forces in the world, as well as missile forces, is located on the Kola Peninsula, almost entirely within the Arctic Circle. Would the Soviet Union eliminate this bastion?
In an ideal world, nations would not resort to arms to settle disputes. In the real world, however, the best we can do for the time being is to work to limit militarisation while we pursue those goals that will bring demilitarisation closer.
While many Canadians reject out of hand neutrality or nonalignment, unilateral disarmament, or arbitrarily defined nuclear weapons-free zones, they are troubled by our reliance on nuclear deterrence to prevent war or the threat of war.
This, of course, is an enormously complex issue that is made more so by a veritable alphabet soup of acronyms. It is all too easy to get one's ARMS mixed up with CBMS. We talk about "ALCAMS, cuCKAMS, and SLICKAMS"; (ALCMs, and GLCMs and SUMS); there is sALT and START, and most unsettling of all, something known as MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction). These are not the words or language of everyday life for most of us. However, to the extent that nuclear arms and strategic concepts seem mysterious, they engender even more confusion, suspicion and fear.
As you know, Canada has no nuclear weapons and no nuclear roles. Nevertheless, along with our allies, we rely on nuclear weapons to deter war.
The NATO strategy seeks; by maintaining credible forces, to prevent the outbreak of war. Our goal is to convince a potential opponent that the cost of attack simply outweighs any benefits; to convince any aggressor that it simply isn't worth it.
For this posture to be convincing, NATO must maintain effective, modern and survivable forces at all levels. This means that NAro needs a spectrum of capabilities running from conventional, through theatre nuclear to strategic nuclear forces. The goal is to permit flexible options so as to be able to meet aggression, at any level, with the minimum force necessary. Further, NAro must demonstrate its capability and preparedness to use its forces, if necessary, should deterrence fail. NATo's nuclear arsenal thus serves a fundamental political purpose in signalling that aggression would not be tolerated; it would provoke retaliation and unacceptable consequences.
The weapons by themselves are not the major source of tensions, but they can exacerbate them if the strategic balance is disturbed. To offer an adequate defence, NATO does not need to match the other side weapon for weapon. That is why we and our NATo partners are interested in only the minimum forces necessary to deter and defend. It is often forgotten that the United States has long limited the numbers of its own strategic weapons and that rough parity in such weapons now prevails between the us. and the Soviet Union.
Let's look at the facts: NAro's nuclear stockpile in Europe has been going down for years. In 1979, when the famous twotrack decision was taken, 1,000 warheads were removed. A further 572 warheads are being removed as 572 groundlaunched cruise and Pershing u missiles are deployed. In 1983, NATo Ministers, meeting at Montebello, Quebec, decided to reduce, unilaterally, NAro's nuclear stockpile in Europe by a further 1,400. Of course, the residual stockpile must be effective to credibly deter and so improvements and refinements are a necessary part of the process.
There is no doubt, however, that, within our Alliance, there.. is broad support for maintaining NATo's nuclear capability to offset the Warsaw Pact's superiority in conventional forces and to ensure that the Soviet Union will see no possible advantage in resorting to nuclear weapons in support of aggression.
There are three key ways to reduce the possibility of NATO being drawn into war: First, by improving defences; second, by negotiating balanced arms-reduction agreements; and third, by a combination of the two. Canada contributes both to the effectiveness of the deterrent and to efforts to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons in several ways.
As a contribution to NATO's conventional deterrent, we maintain small but effective land and air forces in Europe and are committed to sending additional forces in times of crisis.
Our maritime forces also make an essential contribution to the Alliance. The present Government has already taken steps to replace the oldest of the current destroyers and to upgrade others. Further, for decades, Canada has contributed facilities for the operational training of Allied land and air forces across our country just as other more densely populated NATO nations do. This is a commitment both to our allies and to Canadian security.
The testing of the unarmed cruise missile over Canadian territory is another contribution; NATo and, therefore Canadian, Security is strengthened by ensuring that all the deterrent forces on which we rely are able to perform the tasks they could be assigned.
Canada's policy of granting access to Canadian ports by Allied naval vessels, some of which may be equipped to carry nuclear munitions, is criticised by those who would ban nuclear weapons from our waters. These ships, while not Canadian, contribute to the defence of Canada within the Alliance.
Since navies must be ready for action at all times, they must load and carry stores and ammunition for all contingencies. Port visits are frequently made on the occasion of exercises during which Allied ships practise combined operations to the mutual benefit of all. They are a normal and necessary ingredient of Canada's membership in an Alliance and of acceptance of the protection offered by collective defence. So far, my remarks have dealt with the need for Canadians to do our part to deter aggression, but a comprehensive security policy should not rely exclusively on deterrence. Balanced, verifiable and equitable arms control agreements-agreements that enhance security through stability-are a fundamental objective of Canadian policy. Far from seeing defence and arms control as contradicting one another, we believe they should go hand in hand.
You will be familiar with many of the far-reaching proposals discussed at the Reykjavik Summit; the elimination of longrange missiles from Europe, the reduction by fifty percent in strategic offensive forces within five years, and the elimination of all offensive ballistic missiles within ten years. It is highly significant that matters of this import have found their way to the negotiating table.
The implications for NATo and Canada, if such measures are agreed upon and implemented, are enormous. Along with our allies, we would be expected to carry a share of any increase in conventional forces. Any increased reliance on conventional forces to ensure stability would have to be handled carefully. If conventional forces were to carry a greater burden of deterrence, they would cost more than at present, and oblige us to make sacrifices in other areas of domestic expenditure. Conventional arms control negotiations in Europe would take on even greater importance, while at the same time becoming even more difficult because of the conventional imbalance that currently favours the East, and of the East's reluctance to forgo that advantage.
A fifty-percent reduction in strategic offensive arms could make our NORAD forces much more important in relative terms, if such reductions led to increased reliance on bombers and cruise missiles rather than ballistic missiles. It all depends on where the cuts are made. Certainly, we would favour cuts that not only reduce the numbers but, just as important, cuts that reduce the destructive potential of weapons, and enhance strategic stability. If all remaining offensive ballistic missiles were eliminated, then clearly it would put the burden on bombers and cruise missiles, with obvious implications for North American air defence. As this complex transition unfolds, our partnership in NATO provides us with the opportunity to make our views known to the negotiators.
Reductions in nuclear weapons alone are not sufficient to enhance our security. The debate continues to centre on whether it is weapons or people and their political systems that cause conflicts. The truth is it is probably both to some extent. Competition in arms may indeed fuel mistrust, and temporary advantage may encourage adventurism. However, the peaceful resolution of conflicts, and the fostering of mechanisms to bridge the differences that give rise to mistrust and conflict, are absolutely essential if we are to build a better and safer world. If conflicts are to be resolved in non-military ways, then each of us bears a responsibility for encouraging the processes of conflict resolution and peacemaking.
As a responsible citizenry, we must face up to the fact that, in this imperfect world, wars continue to occur and nuclear weapons exist on both sides of the East/West divide. The knowledge of how to make nuclear arms cannot be erased, even if existing stockpiles could be eliminated. Our peace with freedom cannot be taken for granted, but must be vigorously defended. Accordingly, it seems to me that both conventional and nuclear weapons, to deter and defend, are going to be here for some time. Further, nuclear weapons, on which we have relied for more than forty years will continue for the foreseeable future to play a role in maintaining our security.
If it were enough to simply wish for a more peaceful or freer world or if we could believe that all other countries would be prepared to treat Canada as we treat them, there would be no need for Canada to maintain the armed forces or to belong to defensive alliances. Unfortunately, life in 1987 is not so simple. We live in a complex and dangerous world in which those who cannot or who will not defend themselves soon lose their freedoms.
However, to say that we must live in the world as it is and not as we would like it to be is not to suggest that we must be forever shackled by old ideas or old ways of doing things. Far from it. The very nature of the weaponry upon which peace has depended for the past forty years demands that we have both the courage and the vision to look for new solutions, even while we maintain our resolve to defend our nation and our way of life.
While peace at the expense of freedom is hollow, indeed we must also strive for the peace that will allow our children and children throughout the world to exercise their right to be free.
As long as I am Minister of National Defence, that will be my goal: to carry our share of the collective defence burden and to be a strong and resolute ally in the struggle to protect democracy, and to encourage the search for new solutions that can give our children a safer world.
Presentation by Mr. Beatty to Captain Daniel O'Dwyer, commanding officer of The Upper Canada Rifles, Army Cadet Corps.
As I mentioned earlier in my remarks, I was delighted today to see a contingent here from my old Alma Mater, Upper Canada College. Captain O'Dwyer, I've a presentation to make to you as the representative of the battalion on behalf of the Commander-in-Chief of the Canadian Armed Forces, Her Excellency, Governor General Jeanne Sauve, its patron. I shall read the letter from her:
"On October 22nd, 1986, your Corps celebrated the 100th anniversary of its formation. The contribution which your Corps has made to the development of youth from the Toronto area over the past one hundred years is most commendable and awards which the Corps has received are achievements of which you can be proud. On this occasion, it is a pleasure to extend my personal, heartfelt congratulations on past achievements. My best wishes for future endeavours go to the officers, staff, sponsoring committee, the parents who support you so well, and last, but not least, all of your cadets who are the future and hope of this country. Our good wishes go with you for this."
On behalf of the officers and cadets of the Upper Canada College Rifles, I would like to thank you for this most gracious acknowledgment of our service. Please convey to Madam Sauve our deepest appreciation.
Although the Corps now represents only a small proportion of the student population of ucc, I know that I and the other cadets who have participated in its activities have derived great benefit from its fine traditions laid down well over a century ago.
For us, the ucc Rifles continues to play a major part in personal development and hopefully will do so for yet another century. We are proud to be able to number ourselves among those who have gone before, especially you, sir.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by M.Gen. Reginald Lewis, C.D., O.C., past President of The Empire Club of Canada.