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MacKay rules out joining missile defence 

[PoliticsWatch updated 6:15 p.m. October 16, 2006]

OTTAWA  —  Canada's foreign affairs minister said Monday North Korea's recent test of a nuclear weapon has not prompted the Conservative government to consider joining the U.S.-led ballistic missile defence system. 
  
Asked by PoliticsWatch after question period if the North Korean test has prompted the government to consider joining missile defence, Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay said, "No. There's no move in that direction, whatsoever." 

"It's not on our agenda."

On October 9. North Korea conducted an underground nuclear explosion in the vicinity of P'unggye. 

Earlier Monday, the office of U.S. National Intelligence Director John Negroponte revealed for the first time that air sample tests confirm North Korea tested a nuclear weapon. 

The international community, including Canada, has been strongly condemning North Korea's test. 

Last week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a statement calling the test an "irresponsible and dangerous act. "

The test has also prompted missile defence supporters in Canada to call on the government to join the U.S. land-based missile defence program. 

Last year, then prime minister Paul Martin pulled out of talks with the U.S. on joining the program after pressure from his caucus and Liberals in Quebec.  

But over the weekend, CanWest News obtained a submission Frank McKenna, Canada's former ambassador to Washington, made to the Liberal party's renewal commission in which he calls for the party to reconsider opting out of missile defence. 

"The recent announcement that North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon may lead the UN's Security Council to take strong action and will force countries in the region to look acutely at their own defences," McKenna wrote. "At a minimum, it should lead to renewed debate in Canada on this very issue."

However, McKenna's recommendation fell on deaf ears in Ottawa with his fellow Liberals and the NDP. 

Interim Liberal leader Bill Graham said after question period that "there is nothing new particularly in the efficacy of the program that would suggest that Canada should get involved with it at this time."

And NDP Leader Jack Layton said McKenna's comments coupled with a recent Senate report recommending Canada join missile defence is the "beginning of a bit of a campaign beginning to emerge to try to put missile defence back on the Canadian agenda."

"The Senate has no accountability, Mr. McKenna has no accountability, but evidently there is a feeling that perhaps they may be able to (have) influence whether it's the Liberal party or the Conservative party."
 

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> North Korea a threat to Canada- Bush 

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