2/25/2005

The unmitigated gall, part 2...

From the CBC:
Prime Minister Paul Martin said Canada must be consulted before the U.S. decides to fire on missiles that enter Canadian airspace, despite Ottawa's refusal to participate in America's missile defence program.
"I don't think that anyone expected that there would be any other finger on a button than the Americans," Martin said Friday, a day after his decision not to join the program. "But in terms of Canadian airspace, yes we would expect to be consulted. This is our airspace. We're a sovereign nation. And you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission," Martin said.
Martin also rejected claims by U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci that Canada has given up its sovereignty by saying no to the missile plan. Cellucci had said the U.S. was surprised by Martin's decision, saying "we simply cannot understand why Canada would, in effect, give up its sovereignty, its seat at the table, to decide what to do about missiles that might be headed towards Canada."
"We did not give up sovereignty," Martin responded. "We affirmed sovereignty."
Martin repeated that the nearly $13 billion allocated for the military in Wednesday's budget proves Canada is committed to taking its share of responsibility for national and international security. "I think the other important thing is the other affirmation of sovereignty is the very large defence budget, which is designed to protect our coast, borders and Arctic sovereignty and also make sure we can play a role in the world. That is also an affirmation of our sovereignty," he said.
When he first took office, Martin suggested he supported joining the plan, saying he believed Canada should be at the table when it comes to any discussion of the defence of North America.
"I think our sovereignty depends on us being at the table when discussions are taking place about the defence of North America," Martin said in 2003, before becoming the Liberal leader.

And this comment from Matt Yglesias in The American Prospect:
“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 towards Canada.”
That's quite the odd thing for Celluci to be saying. Now the reality is that if the United States manages to construct a working ballistic missile shield, and if some rogue state then manages to develop ballistic missiles capable of hitting the United States, and then if that state chooses to fire a missile at the United States, and -- finally -- if that missile is routed such that it passes through Canadian airspace, we're going to fire our anti-missile missile at the hostile missile and the government of Canada isn't going to stop us. That, however, is an awfully long string of "ifs." Basically, it's not going to happen. The point didn't need to be addressed at all, much less in such a bombastic, over-the-top, inflammatory way.
Canadians are, for understandable reasons, very sensitive about the idea that they've lost their sovereignty to the 800-pound gorilla to the south. No prime minister wants it to look like he's getting pushed around by the United States. Making it look like the United States is trying to bully Canada or preparing to trample all over it makes it politically impossible for the government to work with Washington on areas of common interest and, in practice, makes it harder for us to push Canada around. In some ways, it's not the biggest deal in the world, but years after September 11 we still haven't secured real Canadian cooperation on some vital questions of border control largely because the Bush administration keeps provoking giant blow-ups over peripheral issues. Doing things like, you know, arguing that Canada is no longer a sovereign state. Chalk up another win for the erstwhile "grown ups."

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