Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Honourable colleagues, today marks the seventieth anniversary of the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty and of the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Established in 1949, it was Canada’s first military alliance in peacetime. We entered into the agreement with the United States, Great Britain and the nations of Western Europe.
Canada played an integral role in the North Atlantic treaty’s development. The Right Honourable Louis St. Laurent was a leading proponent, along with then Secretary of State for External Affairs Lester B. Pearson.
They believed it to be not only a defensive military alliance against the Cold War threat of the Soviet Union but an instrument for the development of political, social and economic cooperation among member states. Now-declassified notes on the various treaty drafts show that Canada held firm to this belief throughout the negotiations, culminating in Article 2 of the treaty. It aptly became known as “the Canadian Article.”
In a speech in the other place during debate on the treaty, Mr. Pearson spoke about the discussions leading to the final text:
In the company of like-minded people we tried to find means by which the free world, of which this nation is a part, can remain free. More important still, we tried to find a way to work with other nations to search out and remove the causes of war. The North Atlantic treaty, the draft of which is before the house, is the present answer to these demands.
A week later, on April 4, Canada signed on to the North Atlantic Treaty, along with 11 other nations. Since then, the alliance has grown to 29 nations and is soon to become 30, we hope. Its priorities have evolved as the threats and challenges have changed around the world.
Canada has continued to play an integral role, participating in every NATO mission since the alliance’s founding.
Honourable senators, for 70 years NATO and its members have worked to promote peace and to safeguard the freedom of its citizens.
To honour this anniversary, I invite you all to a reception this evening from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in room 330 of the Wellington Building. NATO and Canada’s role in NATO is certainly worthy of our commemoration and gratitude.