The Honourable Paul Hellyer
Something is happening in Canada that most of us are unaware of. We are being set up for a future round of integration with the United States -- both economically and in the realm of defence and foreign policy. We are in the midst of a well-orchestrated propaganda campaign, designed to brainwash us into believing that further integration is our only option.
A number of institutes have been commissioned and are releasing a steady stream of academic papers on the subject.
On the economic front, all are addressing variations on the same theme: What form should the next step in integration take, and how far should it go? None are examining the more fundamental question: Despite being worse off relative to the Americans than we were in 1988 when the Free Trade Treaty was signed, why would an additional dose of the same medicine be good for us?
While we have grown accustomed to this largely one-sided academic approach to trade matters, the U.S. reaction to the tragic events of September 11, and its decision to establish a new Northern Command (NorthCom), has led to a barrage of "expert" comment, designed to alter Canada's defence and foreign policy fundamentally, perhaps irrevocably.
A paper by Dr. J.L. Granatstein, "A Friendly Agreement in Advance: Canada-U.S. Defence Relations Past, Present and Future," released by the C.D. Howe Institute as part of its series of "Border Papers," shocked me beyond belief.
The professor presents a well-documented history of Canada-U.S. defence co-operation from 1940 to the present and demonstrates that the partnership worked well for both countries. It is his assessment of our current choices that alarms me. His interpretation of co-operation means buying the American approach, whether right or wrong.
In Granatstein's opinion, Canada has no choice but to co-operate with the United States on hemispheric defence and the war on terrorism. "Hanging back" would reduce Canada's leverage in negotiations with Washington and imperil its sovereignty if the U.S. acted to protect itself from attack without working with the Canadian government and armed forces.
Canada must, therefore, make a serious political and budgetary commitment to strengthen the Canadian Forces. He goes on to explain that co-operation would include supporting the U.S. National Missile Defence System and joining the U.S. in a war against Iraq if it is foolish enough to defy world opinion and launch an attack on its own.
Granatstein has redefined co-operation to mean capitulation. When he says Canada has no choice, he sounds like Neville Chamberlain and his "peace at any price" prior to the Second World War.
We do have a choice!
We can continue to co-operate in areas where it makes sense to co-operate. We have already done this by tightening up our leaky borders, providing better screening for refugees and allowing U.S. inspectors to examine containers that arrive at Canadian ports.
This is the least we can do for friends and neighbours. But we don't have to assign our troops to American control on a more-or-less permanent basis. And we don't have to automatically engage in any new wars or defence projects which may or may not be in America's best interest, but which are definitely not in our best interest.
Dr. Granatstein's thesis is based on two assumptions that are open to challenge. The first is that U.S. security interests and Canadian security interests are identical. The second is that if we "hold back" in any way from going along with U.S. preferences, they will adopt measures which penalize us in matters of trade.
I do not accept either premise.
We have to ask ourselves, "Who is the common enemy?" When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was formed in 1949, and later when the North American Air (now Aerospace) Defence Command (NORAD) was established, both were designed for protection against the Soviet Union. That threat no longer exists, so both organizations have lost their raison d'etre.
In fact, today, there is no conventional military threat to either the U.S. or Canada.
The U.S., on the other hand, does face a serious and ongoing terrorist threat from young militants who feel deeply aggrieved by U.S. foreign policy. That threat will continue until America's foreign policy is fundamentally reversed -- an unlikely event with Washington's current mindset. Terrorism can best be dealt with by intelligence and police organizations, backed by modest military force.
The fact that the "war on terrorism" is being used as an excuse for an incredible military expansion has to be reviewed critically. Is the National Missile Defence System, which the Bush administration is committed to, really designed for protection against a stray missile from a "Rogue State"? Or is it the first phase of a comprehensive shield that would give the U.S. the option of a nuclear "first strike" against any future enemy without fear of retaliation -- the "mutually assured destruction" -- which was the deterrent that maintained the peace during the cold war?
Even more terrifying is the U.S. plan to put weapons into space. This would be the responsibility of the same commander in chief of NorthCom, who would have the Canadian troops under his control.
So the question we have to answer is whether or not we want to buy into this mindset. Do we want to be part of continual wars in Iraq and elsewhere, the National Missile Defence System, and Weapons in Space -- which, one suspects, are all more clearly related to U.S. commercial interests than they are to the war on terrorism?
For me, the choice is clear. Instead of confirming our colonial status, we should begin to gently distance ourselves from U.S. policies. We should begin to rebuild our own armed forces, which have been sadly depleted.
Sovereignty has a price tag attached. We need to spend a much larger sum to build up the strength of the Canadian Armed Forces and provide them with the equipment they so desperately need.
This does not need to be done at the expense of health care and education. Quite the contrary. As the Canadian Action Party has consistently pointed out, all we need to do is use the Bank of Canada constructively and intelligently -- as we did from 1939 to 1974. Our suggestion of splitting the money-creation function 50/50 between the Bank of Canada and the private banks would provide all the fiscal flexibility necessary to make Canada great again.
We could reduce our dependence on the U.S. -- which never has and never will provide "guaranteed" access to its markets. So we should have no fear and learn to live creatively with reality.
The U.S. puts its own interests -- the interests of its own elite -- ahead of all other considerations.
Canada should become a beacon for others as the first country in the developed world to fight for equal rights for all its citizens, no matter what their status.