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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Missile defense would have brought down the government 

So now the Conservatives think they can have it both ways -- they want to get credit in pro-US circles for bashing the Liberals announcement on missile defense, and yet they would have happily brought down the Liberal minority government on this issue.
And wouldn't the Conservatives have loved to fight an election on this.
First of all, any motion on missile defense coming for debate in the House, concerning as it does a major aspect of Canadian military and foreign policy, would have to be considered as a confidence issue (unlike the gay marriage bill, which is not being considered this way)-- if a confidence motion doesn't pass, the government falls.
So if Martin had brought a missile defense motion to the House, he would have had great difficulty even getting his own caucus to support it. The NDP and the Bloc would have voted against it for sure, leaving Martin with a motion that could pass only with Conservative support. Then, after great blustering and blather, a sufficient number of Conservatives would have voted against it to bring down the government.
Leaving Harper in the delightful position of fighting an election on the missile defense issue, which something like 70 per cent of Canadians do not support, rather than, say, the gay marriage issue or the new budget, which a majority of Canadians do support.
Most disingenous was this MacKay quote from The Globe and Mail: Canada won't allow U.S. missiles to impugn sovereignty, PM vows: "Conservative MP Peter MacKay said the government should have consulted the House of Commons before informing the Americans that Canada was staying out of the missile defence project." Is there any chance whatsoever that the House would have supported missile defense? Just asking!
Now Martin finds himself attacked by editorial pages across the country, for making a decision that most of the country supports. Poor guy, he can't win, can he?
You know, there was a time when I supported Canada's participation in missile defense, because it was one way to keep the Americans happy and it would never work anyway. But the more the American media talk about weaponization of space, the more I realized that this was the ultimate aim of the program, and nothing would deter the Americans from weaponizing space if they wanted to, regardless of any Canadian protests. So all we could do was simply not join them, thereby denying them the "North American" cover they wanted. Its not much of a gesture, but there it is.

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