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No 'show stoppers' in talks on U.S. missile defence PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Thursday, 19 February 2004 01:10
One thing that is not picked up by the cameras; I noted that when Sheila Copps used the word "Star Wars" Defence Minister David Pratt looked over at Jay Hill from the Alliance sitting o­n the other side of the house and they shared a little smirk together....

Doug Roche and I sat in o­n most of the debate. The house was nearly empty,
and o­nly a few observers were scattered throughout the gallery for the first
hour. No surprises in the debate, other than it was interesting that three
Liberal MPs questioned their own ministers: Bonnie Brown; John Harvard and
Sheila Copps. Alexa did well and held off attacks by the Liberals and the
Republicans, er Alliance, er.... Paul Martin showed up with a small
entourage and sat in o­n the debate for a few minutes, but didn't make a
speech.

Steve


Liberals, Conservatives slam Layton for `fearmongering' o­n missile defence
shield
CanWest News Service; Ottawa Citizen
Tue 17 Feb 2004
Mike Blanchfield


OTTAWA - Canada's possible participation in the proposed U.S. missile
defence shield made for strange political bedfellows o­n Parliament Hill
Tuesday night _ Liberals and Conservatives ganged up o­n New Democrats for
``fearmongering'' that the plan would lead to weapons in outer space.

``Let's not exaggerate the position and let's not exaggerate the dangers of
where we're going,'' Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham said during a
special debate in the House of Commons.

Weapons in space, said Graham, ``would be a disastrous mistake'' and ``not
something that we will be a part of.''

Conservative MP Jay Hill said his party agreed with the government's
opposition to weapons in space and its approach to negotiating a role for
Canada in the Pentagon's proposed ballistic missile defence system.

The Bush Administration wants to deploy a shield to protect North America
from nuclear and biological missile attacks from rogue regimes such as North
Korea. The plan is to deploy a bullet-to-bullet system of land- and
sea-based interceptor rockets that would shoot down incoming missiles.

NDP Leader Jack Layton has repeatedly stated the Liberal government is going
down a slippery slope by negotiating a role for Canada because it would lead
to weapons in outer space, a concept first envisioned 20 years ago by former
U.S. president Ronald Reagan in his Star Wars program.

Layton, who does not have a seat in Parliament and was not able to
participate in Tuesday's debate, has repeatedly referred to President George
Bush's system as Star Wars or Son of Star Wars. Layton has said the plan
could end up costing Canada billions of dollars to participate.

However, Canada has not been asked to contribute any funds, nor is it being
asked to host any of the interceptor missiles o­n its soil. The Liberals and
Conservatives were quick to accuse Layton of propagating ``myths'' about the
shield.

``New Democrat leader Jack Layton has chosen this issue to gain considerable
political mileage,'' said Hill. ``Unfortunately, he has done so by engaging
in fearmongering and sensationalism ...

``It is counterproductive, misleading and irresponsible to use such
sensationalist misnomers like Star Wars and Son of Star Wars to describe the
missile defence shield.''

Rising to respond to the Conservatives' initial salvo in the debate, Graham
joked: ``I was somewhat concerned when my honourable friend started out by
saying he was in agreement with what I said.''

New Democrat Alex McDonough accused the Liberals and Conservatives of
attempting to ``demonize'' her party.

``I am very proud of the work my leader Jack Layton has been doing o­n this
issue,'' she said.

``I think a great many Canadians are extremely grateful for the fact that
they have a voice in this Parliament, at least with o­ne political party ...
to voice their opposition to any further engagement by this government in
the complete sheer lunacy of the Bush national missile defence program.''

Defence Minister David Pratt and U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
exchanged letters of understanding to negotiate a way for Canada to
participate in the program.

Canada maintains its participation is contingent o­n receiving assurances the
shield will not be used as a stepping stone by the Pentagon to place weapons
in outer space.

McDonough challenged Pratt about a number of Pentagon policy documents
widely available o­n the Internet that speak of putting weapons in space in
the coming decades.

Pratt dismissed the reports as simple policy papers o­n which Bush has
expressed no interest in spending money.

The U.S. has said it will go ahead with the shield with or without Canada's
participation, a decision that could jeopardize Canada's continued
participation in the joint North American air defence command, Norad.

---------------------

This story appeared in about 16 newspapers across canada today - Steve


No 'show stoppers' in talks o­n U.S. missile defence
Wed 18 Feb 2004
Beth Gorham
Canadian Press


WASHINGTON (CP) -- The top Canadian at Norad says there have been no "show
stoppers" in talks o­n joining the U.S. missile defence plan and critics who
say it will lead to weapons in space are wrong.

"I wouldn't characterize it as a done deal (but) we have not seen any
show-stoppers," Lt.-Gen. Rick Findley said in an interview Tuesday.

"I don't see a change in Canadian attitude towards missile defence. In
general, I think they're supportive of the concept and wish to participate,"
said Findley, deputy commander-in-chief of the two-country air attack
warning network.

Critics contend the multibillion-dollar plan that aims to shoot down o­ne or
two missiles fired by some rogue state or launched by mistake will lead to
weapons in space like the Star Wars plan envisioned back when Ronald Reagan
was in the White House.

"That is not correct," said Findley, who noted the defence system relies o­n
ground-based radar and interceptor missiles in California and Alaska and,
down the road, missiles aboard U.S. warships in the Pacific. None would fly
over Canadian airspace.

"The reality is we're a long, long, long way from taking that (space)
concept into action and if that ever occurs, Canada would have to
re-evaluate its position."

"It's not a relevant argument at the present time... And I don't think it
would happen. It doesn't make any sense from an economic perspective and it
doesn't help your relations with other nations."

Far from being a "menace" that would accelerate the arms race, Findley said
missile defence forms a natural partnership with Norad's decades-long
mandate to warn about imminent airborne threats.

Defence Minister David Pratt initially said Canada would have to decide
whether to join the contentious project by October, when Americans plan to
have the first handful of missiles and their accompanying radar sites
operational.

With an election looming, New Democrats have vowed to make it a major issue.
NDP Leader Jack Layton met in Washington last week with U.S. legislators
concerned about weapons in space.

Pratt now insists Washington has been "flexible" in talks with Ottawa and
has imposed no deadlines for Canada to join.

Pratt o­n Monday rejected suggestions that Canada's participation is a
foregone conclusion with military plans to join tests with the United States
this summer.

The Defence Department has issued $700,000 in contracts to test Canadian
radar technology that could have anti-missile applications at U.S.-run
trials.

Still, Canadians will need to know "relatively soon" in order to catch up o­n
training for the initial phase of the project, said Findley.

 

______________
Steven Staples
Director,
Project o­n the Corporate-Security State
Polaris Institute
312 Cooper Street
Ottawa, o­ntario  K2P 0G7
CANADA
t. 613 237-1717 x107
c. 613 290-2695
f. 613 237-3359
e. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
www.polarisinstitute.org

Last Updated on Thursday, 19 February 2004 01:10
 

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