Friday, February 25, 2005

National Sovereignty and Missile Defense

Mr. Paul Cellucci, the American ambassador to Canada, is a well-meaning and thoughtful man. He thinks that Canada should participate in the missile defense shield, promoted by US President George W. Bush. The issue, according to Mr. Cellucci, is national sovereignty. Canada can either willingly participate or the US will call the shots. He made these comments expressing his disappointment after the Liberal government of Paul Martin decided not to participate in the missile defense shield.

The problem with what Mr. Cellucci says is that he is actually illustrated the limited degee to which the current US administration takes Canadian sovereignty into account. Put bluntly: Mr. Cellucci offers the Canadian government the following choices: either willingly sign on to what we have decided to do viz national defense or we will make decisions for you. I have to admit I don’t see the sovereignty that is supposedly at stake here. From my perspective, it seems to me that Mr. Cellucci is saying to the Canadian government “willingly do what we want or we will make decisions for you.” So … the Canadian government has the following choices: do what the US government wants of its own accord or have the US government do what it wants re Canada anyway.

For a country to be truly sovereign it must be able to control its own destiny. Mr. Cellucci is saying to the Canadian government “you have no choices re the missile defense shield. Your only choice is whether you willingly participate or not.” For Mr. Cellucci to make a statement about Canadian sovereignty, he should have said something very different. He should have said “Canada is, of course, an independent country. The US government is disappointed with this decision and we plan to continue dialogue on this issue in an effort to convince Canadians to change their views.” Alas … he didn’t say this.
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