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Ballistic Missile Spin Meistering (BM-BS) PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Wednesday, 06 October 2004 07:16

Ballistic Missile Spin Meistering (BM-BS)

This piece or "journalism" from the National Post's Liberal mouth piece in place, Robert Fife, is so painfully obvious that it has to be generated by a frantic Liberal government trying to push forward an unpopular agenda in the face of a minority government.  Blogger Pogge does a very nice critique of the math involved.  Also noted is Ernie Regehr's (Executive Director Project Ploughshares) response that points out that they referred to Bill Graham, the Defence Minister, as "the Foreign Affairs Minister."  Could that be becuase this is a hasty recylcing of the story first presented in February when Bill had that old position?  Robert Fife shouldn't have just rehashed his old notes o­n the computer without updating them, most of us wouldn't have made it through school without knowing that. -- Space & Technology Editor

October 06, 2004

Ballistic Missile BS

The head and subhead o­n this story  in yesterday's National Post read as follows:

Majority of Canadians back missile shield
Solid majority want Canada in post-9/11 military structure

Is there a new, new, new, new math that I'm not aware of? Because when I was in school, no o­ne was teaching that 44% of anything constituted a majority.
A narrow majority of 49% -- compared to 44% in favour -- would reject Canada's participation in missile defence if it wasn't for their concern that Canada could be cut out of U.S. decisions o­n continental security.

And how does Canada's involvement in those decisions o­n continental security come into it?
Canadians will o­nly embrace missile defence if it is linked to the overall security of North America. Asked if they would support Canada's involvement in missile defence if it meant being part of Northcom, 48% said yes while 44% were opposed.

Ah. So these days 48% is considered a majority. And by the way, when did we start contemplating a role in Northcom? This is a U.S. military command whose responsibility goes way beyond missile defence. It's jurisdiction is the entire North American continent and it consolidates "the U.S. military's homeland defense and civil support operations into o­ne organization". When it was first announced two years ago it seems to me that any talk of the Canadian military being involved was regarded as a threat to our sovereignty. A lot has changed in two years, eh?

Deeper in the article you'll find this:

But the greatest concern to Canadian policy-makers is the likelihood Canada's role in Northcom and even the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) could be compromised.

Now if that doesn't imply that Canada already has a role in Northcom, I don't know what does. And we don't. I repeat, it's currently strictly a U.S. military command. We certainly have a role in NORAD. And the mechanism for sharing information between NORAD and Northcom has already been put in place, although since U.S. General Ralph Eberhart currently commands both it's essentially a mechanism for allowing him to talk to himself. But I digress.

You can read the whole National Post story if you like but you won't find the actual questions that were posed in the poll. It's impossible to tell if they were accidentally or purposely designed to blur the distinction between NORAD and Northcom, or if the current nature of Northcom was spelled out. But as I said, Canadian participation in Northcom is a whole new ball game and I'm having a hard time taking both the poll and the story at face value. I think we're being spun. Or set up. All the more reason to encourage an open, public debate o­n this so we know exactly what we would be getting in to. Unfortunately, the Liberals seem to be working hard to avoid that debate.

I did note this, also towards the end of the National Post story:

Despite the potential political problems, the government is aware that Canadian firms would lose out o­n $10-billion of lucrative high-technology contracts and the jobs that would flow from working o­n the land-, sea- and space-based anti-missile system if Canada refused to participate.

When in doubt, follow the money.

I'll say it again. If all of the issues, including the fact that BMD doesn't work and that participation in Northcom may have implications beyond missile defence, are presented to us and the majority of Canadians decide to go down that road, I won't like it but I'll accept it. That's democracy. But the government is actively avoiding putting the issues in front of us and Pollara, a Liberal polling firm, and the National Post seem to be spinning like crazy here.

Posted by pogge at 11:07 AM

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Majority of Canadians back missile shield
Solid majority want Canada in post-9/11 military structure

 
Robert Fife
CanWest News Service

 
CREDIT: Getty Images
A missile in Boeing's ground-based mid-course defence system is lowered into a silo at Fort Greely, Alaska. A poll found Canadians are deeply ambivalent about U.S. missile defence technology.
 
OTTAWA - A slim majority of Canadians believe it is in the country's strategic interest to embrace the development of the U.S. ballistic missile defence shield for North America, although they have deep reservations about the plan, particularly in Quebec and British Columbia.
A Pollara poll, obtained by CanWest News Service, also shows Canadians accept the Liberal government's assertions that failure to join the contentious missile project could jeopardize Canada's role in the new U.S. Northern Command military structure, known as Northcom.
A solid majority of 60% want Canada to be a full partner in Northcom, which was established after the 9/11 attacks to protect the continent from global terrorist threats including nuclear or biological strikes from rogue states. A small minority of 30% are opposed to Northcom, according to the Sept. 27-30 poll of 1,688 Canadians.

However, the poll found Canadians are deeply ambivalent about the U.S. missile defence technology that would use ground-based interceptor rockets to shoot down incoming warheads.
A narrow majority of 49% -- compared to 44% in favour -- would reject Canada's participation in missile defence if it wasn't for their concern that Canada could be cut out of U.S. decisions o­n continental security.

Canadians will o­nly embrace missile defence if it is linked to the overall security of North America. Asked if they would support Canada's involvement in missile defence if it meant being part of Northcom, 48% said yes while 44% were opposed.
"It does show absolutely that there is majority, although the slimmest majority you ever saw, for missile defence o­nce it is tied into Northcom," said Pollara chairman Michael Marzolini, the Liberal party's former chief pollster .

"They are saying we have to be part of it ... [but] this is a borderline issue. This is almost 50-50 and this mirrors almost every major issue, like free trade or the war in Iraq, that really causes us to look at our relationship with the United States."
The debate over missile defence has polarized the country, with support high in Atlantic Canada (56%) and the Prairie provinces (56%) while o­ntario is virtually split at 49% in favour and 46% opposed.

"Only in Quebec and to a lesser extent in B.C. is there more opposition than support," said Mr. Marzolini, who notes 53% of Quebecers and 50% of British Columbians are opposed. Just 39% of Quebecers and 46% in B.C. support the ballistic missile program.
Bill Graham, the Foreign Affairs Minister, has signalled Ottawa is prepared join the U.S. project, although a final decision has not been made because negotiations with the Pentagon are still underway.

Faced with a minority Parliament, the government does not plan to submit any missile defence treaty to the House for a vote, where it would face strong opposition from the NDP, Bloc Quebecois and segments of the 135-member Liberal caucus.
The Pollara poll indicates missile defence poses internal problems for Paul Martin, the Prime Minister, since o­nly 49% of Liberals support Canadian participation compared with 46% of those opposed. o­nly among Conservatives is there widespread support (64%) for the U.S. missile system.

"Clearly the government is trying to do this without a lot of debate o­n it. It's o­ne of those issues that is still going to be marginal in support," Mr. Marzolini said.
Despite the potential political problems, the government is aware that Canadian firms would lose out o­n $10-billion of lucrative high-technology contracts and the jobs that would flow from working o­n the land-, sea- and space-based anti-missile system if Canada refused to participate.
But the greatest concern to Canadian policy-makers is the likelihood Canada's role in Northcom and even the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) could be compromised.
Washington's European allies, as well as Russia and China, have opposed the anti-missile system, fearing it could lead to the militarization of space. Canada has said it would not join if the United States put weapons in outer space.

The U.S. system will be based around a global network of missile interceptors, which would require upgrading existing U.S. early warning radar stations in Canada, Britain and Greenland. Canada has not been asked to place missile interceptors o­n Canadian soil.
Critics say the defence shield is technically unsound and the billions of dollars to be spent o­n the project should be redirected to combating the pressing threat of nuclear terrorism.
The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus three percentage points 19 times out of 20
? National Post 2004

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Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:13 AM
Subject: Response to National Post article
 

This is the response by Ernie Regehr to the piece in today's National Post o­n Canadian opinion about BMD.
Sarah Estabrooks
Program Associate
Project Ploughshares

Re Robert Fife, "Majority of Canadians back missile shield" (Oct 5/04)

This story includes several errors, the headline is not borne out in the text, and it never discloses the actual polling questions o­n which it's various conclusions are based. What little hard information there is suggests results that are contradicted by the headline. It reports that when the question of support for ballistic missile defence (BMD)is considered o­n its own, 49% of Canadians are opposed and 44% in favour.

The story and apparently the polling questions then mistakenly link BMD to Northern Command (NORTHCOM). Sixty percent of Canadians are said to "want Canada to be a full partner in NORTHCOM. The question is irrelevant because Canada is not part of NORTHCOM, and won't become part of it because NORTHCOM is a strictly US national command. Canada and the US are linked through NORAD, and NORAD has a missile detection and tracking role that is now to be related to BMD, but Canada has no part in NORTHCOM.

Having established that Canadians, inexplicably, want to be part of NORTHCOM (the actual polling question o­n which this conclusion is based is not reported), the poll then apparently links ballistic missile defence to Canada becoming part of NORTHCOM. Despite the fact that Canada is not and will not be part of the US national command, NORTHCOM, the poll nevertheless concludes that "the slimmest majority you ever saw" of Canadians favours BMD if it brings us into NORTHCOM.

How does any of the above justify a headline that trumpets Canadian backing of BMD?
The story is also in error when it says BMD "would require upgrading existing U.S. early warning radar stations in Canada." There are no ballistic missile warning radars in Canada, nor are there any planned for Canada. The radars of the North Warning System in Northern Canada are there to detect aircraft and have no capacity to identify ballistic missiles.

Finally, the story refers to Bill Graham, the Defence Minister, as "the Foreign Affairs Minister."
Given the absence of any explanation of the polling questions, and given the presence of serious factual errors, there is little in this story that is credible.

Ernie Regehr
Executive Director
Project Ploughshares

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
Canadians want Harmonized US-Canada Security Policy
poll: 7 out of 10 in favour

Robert Fife, Ottawa Bureau Chief
National Post
http://www.pollara.ca/new/LIBRARY/SURVEYS/missiledefence.htm
OTTAWA - Most Canadians want Paul Martin to pursue closer military ties with the United States and harmonize Canada's security policies to protect North America from terrorist threats, says a survey by the Liberal party's pollster.
While Canadians would never entertain a common currency or harmonized social policies, Michael Marzolini, the chairman of POLLARA, said yesterday they do believe it is crucial Canada act in unison with Washington o­n continental security, which includes participating in the North American missile defence shield.
"Many politicians will likely be surprised by this, [almost] seven out of 10 Canadians believe that we should fully participate in the new [missile defence] NORTHCOM military command structure, to look after the security of all North Americans," Mr. Marzolini told a Carleton University seminar o­n Canada-U.S. relations.
"And just as importantly, we are also strongly in favour of harmonizing our security policies with the United States. These are clearly two of the few policies that we approve of."
The survey, conducted in November but o­nly released yesterday, shows 64% of Canadians favour missile defence and 60% want Canada to harmonize its security policies with the United States.
Mr. Martin has already heeded Mr. Marzolini's advice in dealing with the two issues. When he became Prime Minister in December, he approved talks with Washington o­n missile defence and promised closer security co-operation in a meeting with President George W. Bush in Mexico last month.
Mr. Marzolini said Mr. Martin's opponents, such as NDP leader Jack Layton, have failed to appreciate the public desire for greater continental security and military co-operation after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Mr. Layton, and even some Liberal MPs have spoken out against closer U.S. ties or Canada joining the missile defence system, warning Canada could be promoting the militarization of space, but Mr. Marzolini said they are out of step with the vast majority of the public.
"Many of Canada's elected leaders have taken it for granted that Canadians would reject any bid for harmonizing our security, or joining NORTHCOM," he said. "Yet our concerns over security have soared over the past two-and-a-half years and we are prepared to sacrifice some sovereignty for greater security."
However, Mr. Marzolini said 72% of Canadians also feel Canada should pay more attention to the United Nations and 85% want Canada to seek closer co-operation with Europe as a counterweight to Washington.
The survey of 1,374 Canadians found 67% of the population have a positive attitude toward Americans, but 58% disapprove of Mr. Bush -- a stark contrast to what Canadians felt about his Democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton.
"Almost six in 10 Canadians tell us they feel negatively toward George W. Bush," he said. Mr. Marzolini said a key reason for Mr. Bush's low esteem among Canadians is opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
He said there is also a feeling, particularly in British Columbia and Alberta, that Canada has suffered under the Bush administration in the softwood lumber dispute and mad cow sanctions.
The POLLARA poll is considered accurate plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
? National Post 2004
Last Updated on Wednesday, 06 October 2004 07:16
 

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