Canada’s rejection of missile defence is a historic shift in its relationship with the United States and could have deep unforeseen consequences, analysts warn.
This week’s announcement is more significant than Canada’s refusal to join fighting in Iraq or Vietnam because, some say, this time the country has rejected a domestic defence plan.
One military analyst in Washington says Canada has turned its back on a 67-year-old agreement signed by then-prime minister Mackenzie King and president Franklin Roosevelt to jointly defend North America.
“This is a significant policy change, and it will clearly have consequences,” says a briefing paper released Friday by Dwight Mason.
Oh, you can bet this will have consenquences. My uncle who lives near my parents in British Columbia has been complaining for awhile about the logging policy (pdf) we have towards Canada, and now you can be sure it will get much worse. Wtf are they thinking?
The first impact, he suggested, will come next year when the Norad agreement comes up for renewal, but it could also have economic consequences as yet unknown.
“The decision to opt out of missile defence is an abandonment of some Canadian sovereignty,” he writes.
“This brings the basic partnership policy underlying the U.S.-Canadian defence relationship into question. These developments will have long-term consequences that will take time to be revealed fully.”
One immediate consequence could affect Prime Minister Paul Martin’s role on the international stage.
If he had any hope the United States would help him create his cherished G-20 group of world leaders, those hopes may have been extinguished permanently.
One U.S. official emitted a deep, extended laugh when asked for an assessment of the prime minister and said Canada no longer qualifies as a trusted ally.
While wary of speaking on the record, the Americans are particularly annoyed with Martin over what they perceive as weak leadership.
They say he expressed support for missile defence, then did nothing to refute misconceptions about it, and finally pulled out when public opinion mushroomed against it.
But Canada’s refusal to sign on to the missile plan could further marginalize its concerns and interests when trade-related issues like softwood lumber appear before U.S. Congress, said one Calgary observer.
“This is one more issue that goes into the balance scale, one more reason to say, ‘Screw Canada,’ ” said David Bercuson, director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.
My favorite bit from the PM was that we must seek permission to shoot a missle if it will go into Canadian airspace. Is this guy something or what? This didn’t go over to well tho:
The United States will decide when to fire missiles over Canadian airspace whether Canada likes it or not, says America’s ambassador. The blunt warning from Paul Cellucci came minutes after Prime Minister Paul Martin announced yesterday that he will not sign on to the controversial U.S. missile defence program.
“We will deploy. We will defend North America,” Cellucci said.
“We simply cannot understand why Canada would, in effect, give up its sovereignty — its seat at the table — to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming toward Canada.”
The warning was no slip of the tongue — Cellucci repeated several times that Canada’s decision had handed over some of its sovereignty to the U.S.
What makes this even more humerous is that they announce this at the same time we have a successful test:
An experimental naval interceptor shot down a short-range ballistic missile target during a test over the Pacific Ocean, missile defence officials said.
The kill on Thursday was the fifth in six tries for the interceptor, called a Standard Missile-3, said Rick Lehner, a spokesman for the Pentagon’s Missile Defence Agency.
During the test, a target ballistic missile, similar to a Scud, was launched from the island of Kauai at 4pm.
The USS Lake Erie, a cruiser equipped with the Aegis radar system and stationed 160km offshore, tracked the ballistic missile and then fired the interceptor to shoot it down. Two minutes later, the missiles collided.
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