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MARTIN'S DEFENCE POLICY DILEMMA PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Thursday, 22 July 2004 08:14

A decision locking Canada into missile defence could come any day ­ so this may be your last chance to make your voice heard. Let Paul  Martin know that he does not have a mandate to support George W.  Bush's missile defence scheme. Go to www.ceasefire.ca and send your  letter to Paul Martin, today.


  July 22, 2004                                  www.ceasefire.ca

  Dear friends,

       I want to share with you this article we prepared for the Hill
  Times, an influential newspaper that reaches all of the Members of
  Parliament and the entire political machinery here in Ottawa.

       I also want to let you know that we have launched a new letter to
  Paul Martin o­n www.ceasefire.ca telling him that Canadians were right
  to keep Canada out of Iraq, and they are right to keep Canada out of
  Star Wars, too. Please visit www.ceasefire.ca to send your letter
  right away. It?s free ­ and it?s effective.

      

             Thank you,
             Steven Staples
             Polaris Institute and founder of ceasefire.ca


  =================================================================
 
  MARTIN'S DEFENCE POLICY DILEMMA
  Truth is, Paul Martin and Stephen Harper agree o­n most defence and
  foreign policy issues.

  THE HILLTIMES
  JULY 19, 2004
  Steven Staples

  The election of a Liberal minority government and the defeat of
  Canada's hawkish Defence Minister, David Pratt, has left many defence
  policies and billions of dollars in new military spending in
  question.

  Some pundits are predicting a left-leaning political agenda for the
  foreseeable future because of the new influence of the New Democrats
  and the Bloc Quebecois o­n the Liberals. The smaller parties want tough
  conditions set o­n any military spending increases and fervently oppose
  joining the Bush administration's missile defence system.

  Will the NDP and the Bloc turn the Liberals into doves o­n defence
  policy? Maybe - but maybe not.

  Last week a confident-looking U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci told CBC,
  "There seems to be Liberal support and Conservative support for making
  sure defence spending is a priority. That seems to me to be a pretty
  good majority in the Parliament."

  The average Canadian voter could hardly imagine such a pact between
  Liberals and Conservatives after the hard-fought election. But despite
  the finger-pointing and pounding o­n podiums during the campaign, the
  truth is that Paul Martin and Stephen Harper agree o­n many defence and
  foreign policy issues.

  Both men are willing to trade more U.S.-friendly security policies and
  military spending for better relations with the Bush administration.
  For example, the achievement of "interoperability," so that Canadian
  forces can fight alongside U.S. forces in the War o­n Terrorism at home
  and abroad, will continue to drive National Defence decisions.

  Martin and Harper equally support Canada's maintaining an expensive
  and overextended "multi-purpose, combat capable" defence policy rather
  than focusing the Canadian Forces o­n a few core capabilities, such as
  United Nations peacekeeping or territorial surveillance. Neither wants
  to make the tough call that peacekeepers don't need submarines,
  anti-submarine warfare helicopters, or laser-guided bombs affixed to
  CF-18s.

  o­n military spending, the Conservatives' campaign promise of
  $7 billion more over five years appears much higher than the
  Liberals' commitment of $3 billion over the same period. But voters
  may have forgotten that just before calling the election Paul Martin
  announced a $7 billion plan to purchase a long list of military
  aircraft, tanks and warships.

  The o­nly apparent differences between the two parties' priorities are
  that Liberals prefer tanks with wheels instead of tracks, and the
  Conservatives think the new warships should carry more helicopters.

  The first challenge for Paul Martin's government will be missile
  defence. Ipsos-Reid found in March than seven out of ten Canadians
  oppose Canada joining the U.S. missile shield. Martin wisely delayed
  making a decision until after the election, fearing that it would cost
  him votes.

  With the election behind him, Martin reportedly wasted no time
  contacting the U.S. Ambassador to assure the Americans that he would
  soon be attending to the missile defence issue, indicating that a
  decision is imminent.

  Paul Martin has the procedural luxury of not having to put missile
  defence to a vote, because he could agree to participate by amending
  NORAD with a simple exchange of letters or a memorandum of
  understanding.

  But the question is, would he be prepared to start off his minority
  government with such a politically contentious move as joining George
  W. Bush's missile defence scheme?

  To avoid the mistakes of previous minority governments, Martin needs
  to govern with some humility. He needs to develop a workable political
  relationship with Jack Layton and Gilles Duceppe, and risks poisoning
  the well with an abrupt missile defence decision.

  Even more, he needs to heal wounds within his own party. Many Liberal
  missile defence sceptics were re-elected, so the situation demands he
  take their concerns seriously.

  Many worry that Paul Martin has learned no lessons from his fortuitous
  last-minute rescue from the jaws of electoral defeat. Martin did not
  campaign o­n missile defence and there is no mention of it in his
  platform. He has therefore no legitimate mandate to join the American
  missile shield.

  To make such a controversial and divisive decision in the dead of
  summer would be sheer hubris.

  Apart from replacing the Sea Kings, o­n which all parties were in
  agreement, major defence decisions should be delayed until there is a
  proper debate o­n Canada's role in the world, how the Canadian Forces
  can best help fulfill it, and whether or not missile defence is
  compatible with Canadian values.

  The internal security-related policy review currently under way o­n the
  Hill needs to be unearthed from its bunker, and the government should
  include the views of the public in an open process.

  This would be good news for Canadians in uniform. An American-style
  military posture was rejected by voters, so a more clearly defined
  defence policy that is in keeping with traditional Canadian values of
  peacekeeping and diplomacy will o­nly enhance public support of the
  Canadian Forces.

  Steven Staples is the Director of the Polaris Institute's Project o­n
  the Corporate-Security State.

  This is version of the article that appeared in the Hill
  Times o­n July 19, 2004.
 
 
Last Updated on Thursday, 22 July 2004 08:14
 

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