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February 22, 2005
Profiles In Canadian Courage

Canada has always been a good friend to the US, and at times have been among the most stalwart of our allies. I for one will never forget the intrepidity and bravery of the Canadian embassy workers in Teheran that rescued six Americans who escaped the Islamist kidnappers in the 1979 hostage crisis. Those Canadians risked death at the hands of the madding Khomeini radicals by smuggling the Americans out of Iran by giving them falsified passports.

Unfortunately, today's version of Canadians seem less than up to the intestinal fortitude of the past generation. Canadian leadership almost qualifies as an oxymoron as the current government plays word games regarding their common-defense policy with the US, trying to play aloof while acknowledging their support for missile defense:

The man chosen by Prime Minister Paul Martin to be Canada's next ambassador to the U.S. has sparked a political firestorm, saying participation in the controversial continental missile defence system is a done deal.

It was a day of surprising frankness and dizzying denials Tuesday as Frank McKenna clarified the government's long-standing ambiguity on participation in the missile shield.

McKenna, the former New Brunswick premier, said Canada is already effectively on board and he's not sure what else the U.S. wants.

The answer came almost immediately from an American official: "Outright political support."

And that's the one thing Martin's minority Liberals appear terrified of providing.

So let me get this straight. The government has provided all the technical support necessary for the missile-defense system to work. The Americans acknowledge it. Even the Canadian government acknowledges it. The only action they haven't yet taken is to sign a memorandum acknowledging what everyone already knows.

And they're shaking in their boots about signing a piece of paper that says nothing more than that.

1979 seems like a lifetime ago, doesn't it?

UPDATE: Fresh on the heels of that story comes a new development. The Canadian government has even less courage than previously thought; now it has decided to withdraw its cooperation, in what even the Canada Press calls a "retreat":

Prime Minister Paul Martin will deliver a firm 'no' to Canadian participation in the U.S. missile-defence plan and break a lengthy silence that fomented confusion on both sides of the border.

The announcement will come in the House of Commons and end a streak of obfuscation where Martin refused to state Canada's position, a report suggests. The end of that silence - scheduled for Thursday - will also come as an about-face for a prime minister who had repeatedly stated his support for missile defence when he was a Liberal leadership candidate barely a year ago.

In an era where the Islamist state of Iran has decided to build ICBMs that can reach London, forgoing cooperation on missile defense not only leaves the US in the lurch but places Canadian citizens at the tender mercies of the Islamists radicals -- as well as in the direct missile path of a polar shot at America.

The US had warned Canada that a refusal would set back diplomatic efforts at strengthening the North American alliance, and Paul Martin had encouraged us to believe that he would support the missile-defense umbrella. However, Martin's promises could not withstand the ankle-biting within his own party. He has apparently caved in, and we are left wondering exactly how worthwhile any of the rest of Martin's promises are.

At the very least, the Canadians appear very confused and somewhat clueless today. Martin may want to send out a couple of memos explaining what he imagines Canadian policy to be, as his ministers all seem to have different notions of it.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 22, 2005 8:40 PM

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» The American view of Canadian cluelessness from Angry in the Great White North
There are a growing number of Canadians who are utterly fed up with the direction the country has taken for the last 40 years. Don't dismiss us all -- they are a growing number here who are aware of the problems and are trying to effect change. [Read More]

Tracked on February 22, 2005 11:46 PM

» truth hurts from Dust my Broom
As an expat I've been listening to this kind of speak now for the past five years and it never fails to hurt. It is not the words so much, it is the inability to defend my own country. ... [Read More]

Tracked on February 23, 2005 7:58 AM

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