Atomic Politics

Canadian Federal Parties Respond on Nuclear Weapons

The federal political parties were asked 3 questions on nuclear weapons during the 2006 Canadian election. The questions, sent by the Canadian Network to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, and their responses are included below.

Background

There are now 27,000 nuclear weapons in the world, of which 4400 are capable of being used in under 30 minutes. The highest court in the world, the International Court of Justice, has confirmed that the elimination of these weapons is a legal obligation falling on all states. We Canadians provide moral and financial support to a defence policy in which we agree to participate actively in nuclear holocaust. A nuclear exchange, whether started by accident, arrogance, insanity or sheer brutality, would threaten our human and natural environment with total destruction. We would anticipate Canadian cities with firestorms raging for miles, people being crushed, blinded, burnt. Human and economic chaos would result.

Q1. Given the near certainty of nuclear destruction unless disarmament of nuclear weapons occurs soon, should Canada make the banning of nuclear weapons a priority of its foreign policy?

Q2. Do you agree that the Government of Canada should urgently host an international meeting to discuss the legal, technical and political elements required for a nuclear weapons-free world?

Q3. Should Canada disavow its support for NATO’s nuclear option of maintaining nuclear weapons indefinitely?

Liberal Response

Q1. Canada is concerned about the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction. Proliferation is creating a more dangerous and complex security environment, both at home and abroad. Canada’s principal approach to address the missile threat is prevention, through non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament (NACD) measures.

We are fully committed to promoting and strengthening NACD treaties, mechanisms, and norms. In particular, we are:

  • working to strengthen the Hague Code of Conduct on ballistic missiles;
  • promoting increased understanding of and adherence to the principles of the Missile Technology Control Regime;
  • working to strengthen international safeguards and verification;
  • pressing to make the UN Conference on Disarmament more effective;
  • urging the re-launching of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty;
  • promoting entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty; and,
  • pushing all 187 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty members to recommit themselves to the implementation of the Treaty.

In addition, Canada has dedicated up to $1 billion over 10 years to the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. Prevention is our first line of defence against missiles and weapons of mass destruction.

Q2. The Liberal Party is firmly opposed to the weaponization of space and recognizes that the best time to prevent an arms race in outer space is before one begins.

While an existing international treaty explicitly forbids the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in space, there is currently no multilateral agreement banning the deployment of a broader range of weapons.

A Liberal government will build on the international reputation earned through Canada’s prominent initiatives on such issues as disarmament and the landmines convention and will lead an international campaign at the United Nations to establish a treaty banning all weapons in space.

Q3. NATO is a cornerstone of Canada’s relations with Europe. Canada benefits significantly from the diplomatic weight, technical expertise and military capabilities of NATO.

Canada has been a member of NATO since it was founded in 1949. The dividends of Canada’s investment in NATO include access to strategic information, exercises with allied forces and an equal voice in high-level decisions affecting Euro-Atlantic security and stability.

Canada’s pursuit of a global system of security has meant a particularly strong attachment to the European continent. Throughout two World Wars and then through NATO, Canada has played an active part in the maintenance of peace and order in Europe. Our goal is to ensure the consistent application of Canadian policy toward nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all international fora, including the United Nations (UN), the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), meetings of the States Parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and other treaty organizations, through liaison within Foreign Affairs Canada and with other government departments and agencies.

Our work contributes to strengthening Canada’s national security by formulating, advocating and negotiating effective non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament policies, strategies and agreements. In so doing, we ensure that nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation is fully integrated into the development and conduct of Canadian national security policy.

Conservative Response

Thank you for your email. I appreciate you taking the time to contact me and I welcome the opportunity to address the issues you have brought forward.

Q1. The first priority for any government should be the safety and security of its citizens. Getting all nations to ban nuclear weapons is a goal worthwhile pursuing. It must be done multilaterally since leaving rogue nations like North Korea or Iran as the only ones with nuclear weapons would imperil the rest of the world.

Q2. Any dsicussions which would advance this goal would be helpful.

Q3. The NATO option reflects my comments in Question #1. The goal of a multilateral worldwide, all-inclusive ban is laudable, but must include undemocratic rogue states like Iran, which has vowed to use nuclear attacks.

Thank you again for contacting me.

Sincerely,
Stockwell Day

Bloc Québécois Response

Vous trouverez, ci-joint, les réponses au questionnaire que vous nous avez fait parvenir dans le cadre du déclenchement des élections fédérales 2005-2006.

Nous espérons que les réponses fournies vous permettront de mieux comprendre notre action politique.

Nous vous prions d’agréer, Monsieur Delong, l’expression de nos sentiments distingués.

Dominic Labrie
Cabinet du chef du Bloc Québécois
3750, Crémazie Est, bureau 307
Montréal (Québec)
H2A 1B6

Q1. Oui

Q2. Le Canada devrait faire en sorte qu’une telle rencontre se tienne.

Q3. La question est un peu prématurée.

Il faut être conscient que les temps sont durs pour les opposants à l’armement nucléaire. Les tensions internationales sont exacerbées, des pays qui étaient jusqu’alors exempts d’armes nucléaires développent maintenant des programmes d’armement.

Depuis le développement de la doctrine des frappes préventives par les États-Unis, l’Iran est le deuxième pays (après la Corée du Nord) à développer un programme nucléaire. La conception agressive des relations internationales ne semble pas fonctionner.

Le président de l’AIEA et prix Nobel de la paix 2005, Mohammed El Baradei, écrivait au printemps 2003 que « la seule façon de lutter efficacement contre la prolifération des armes nucléaires était de s’attaquer aux causes de l’insécurité qui pousse certains États à s’armer ». Nous sommes d’accord avec lui.

Les menaces, lorsqu’elles ne sont pas accompagnées de propositions concrètes pour renforcer l’ordre international et le respect du droit, risquent de créer plus de tension et d’insécurité internationales.

La Charte des Nations Unies est un vaste traité de non-agression. Elle interdit les actes d’agression et même les menaces d’agression. Un engagement renouvelé de la communauté internationale à le faire respecter nous semble la voie la plus porteuse pour apaiser les tensions qui poussent les États à s’armer dont parlait Mohammed El Baradei.

Le renforcement des institutions multilatérales et du droit international est un pré requis au désarmement nucléaire. C’est là que le Bloc compte mettre ses énergies.

NDP Response

Attached please find the response of the New Democratic Party to your 2006 Election Survey. It is the policy of our party to respond to surveys on behalf of all New Democratic candidates.

Please note that our election platform has yet to be released. We invite you to consult our platform after it is released for more information on the issues you raise in your questionnaire.

Thank you for your interest in the views of the New Democratic Party on the critical issues facing Canadians.

We appreciate your efforts to help voters make an informed decision on voting day.

Sincerely,
Jack Layton
Leader of Canada’s NDP

Q1. Yes. Here is what Alexa McDonough (Halifax),the NDP’s Peace Advocate had to say on August 9th, Peacekeepers Day:

“…It is also a critical moment for Canada to recommit to the urgently needed goal of putting peace-building and nuclear disarmament back atop the global agenda. To do so, the Prime Minister must get beyond his empty rhetoric of `giving the world more of the Canada the world needs,’ and actually engage other nations and civil society in a concerted campaign needed to halt and reverse the resurgence of nuclear weapons development and proliferation that we are witnessing today.

Canadians are deeply worried by the failure of May’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference in New York to achieve consensus on preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear states; on keeping nuclear materials out of the hands of non-state groups; and on persuading nuclear-weapon states to honour their disarmament obligations.

However, there are grounds for optimism in the tireless efforts of Canada’s NGO community—together with parliamentarians from all levels, as well as their international counterparts—to get the peace and disarmament agendas back on track, making them the national and international priorities they deserve to be.

As the 60th anniversaries of the end of World War II and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings come to a close, I am confident Canadians will continue to play a critical role in helping rid our world of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction—a fitting tribute to the sacrifices of our peacekeepers throughout the years.”

Q2. Yes.

Q3. Yes.

Green Party

While the Green Party did not respond directly, policies from their 2006 Election Platform are included here. Green Party MPs would work to:

Rescind all uranium-mining permits and prohibit the export of fissionable nuclear material.

Redirect National Research Council and Industry Canada research and development programs towards renewable, alternative, and soft energy technologies that will reduce fossil fuel consumption and phase out nuclear power.

Declare Canada a military nuclear-free zone and abstain from participating in the development or usage of space-based weapons.16