Sunday, February 27, 2005

Whither our sovereignty?

Last week, the Prime Minister took one more giant step towards relinquishing Canada's sovereignty. In a diplomatic blunder motivated by party politics, he refused to provide the only thing that we were being asked to commit to Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), and that was moral support.

If or when BMD can be made to work is not our problem, and the United States never asked for it to be. For some people’s “brilliant” scientists to solemnly declare that an effective BMD is impossible, is to deny all of the "impossible" scientific advancements that have been made over the past century, and which are now taken for granted.

Canadian attitudes towards BMD stem from several factors, including an irrational hatred of President Bush and anything associated with him. Canadians’ sense of moral superiority is badly misplaced. Our abrogation of international responsibilities over the past forty years doesn’t make us morally superior to anyone.

Government has allowed our opinion to be highjacked by an agenda of misinformation and hysteria. Despite his many faults, Pierre Trudeau was pragmatic enough to withstand the lunatic fringe and approve cruise missile testing in Canada. The legions of professional protestors outside CFB Cold Lake did not prevent our fighter force from getting excellent training. We were also good allies in a project that was part of the ultimate dismantling of Communism.

Polls suggest strong opposition to BMD in Canada. Let’s ask the question another way. "Would you support a system that you will never see; that you will never pay for; and that someday may save your life?" I'm betting that the results would be different.

Simply standing up and saying no is an exercise in self-delusion, not sovereignty. Geography, history, economics and security tie us irrevocably to the United States. They will always be able to do more to protect us than we can do to protect them. Their willingness to do that should engender some respect on our part, and a willingness to do our share. When we do not, the United States has no choice but to do what they feel is right for their citizens and, no matter how silly we act, we will always derive collateral benefit.

If the Prime Minister thinks that he will be consulted before the U.S. takes action against a hostile object in Canadian aerospace, he is completely delusional. Given the warning times involved, the only notice that Ottawa would ever get is one that tells us what has already happened. Consultation takes place in the planning and training stages where protocols are developed and refined by staffs from both countries. That chair has just been pulled away.

Speaking of delusional, Pierre Pettigrew thinks that it would be a good idea if Canadian companies were given contracts related to BMD. I think that the Honourable Foreign Affairs Minister has been spending too much time underground in Flin Flon.

We should also be aware of what is happening to our fighter force. For fifty years, we have had Canadian fighters patrolling our airspace, or sitting on alert to react to Soviet incursions or other air traffic situations. The focus changed on 9/11 from looking outward to also looking inward. Our ability to look anywhere has steadily eroded.

We will soon be down to 80 operational CF-18s, the number that we can afford to upgrade. We are also critically short of fighter pilots, many having left in disillusionment. Flying time has been cut back to the point where we no longer train at low level and intensity of training has been reduced to preserve safety. Preserving safety under these circumstances also makes us ineffective. No matter how fast we can spin the earth, the new simulators we’re buying will never fly and nothing in the new budget addresses the erosion of our aerospace sovereignty.

Most people probably don't know that 433 Squadron in Bagotville will shut down this summer to make one larger 425 Squadron. It won't be long before some bean counter or other non-warrior sees a source of further personnel cuts. Heck, if you've got 400 people, surely you can make it work with 375, or 350, or............ The same thing will happen in Cold Lake next summer, with the shutdown of 416 Squadron. That will leave Canada with two, count 'em, two operational fighter squadrons. Billy Bishop weeps!

These shutdowns will free up a handful of positions to help start a new air warfare college. What's the point of having a college about air warfare if you have no Air FORCE to apply it? I'm sure that the office equipment, pens and paper in Winnipeg will strike fear in the hearts of our enemies and respect in the hearts of our allies.

When the last vestige of our sovereignty disappears, the same people who rejoice at how truly lovable we have become will react in horror when someone else fills our sovereignty deficit. Let's just hope that it continues to be the United States.


Blogger Jay said...

"Speaking of delusional, Pierre Pettigrew thinks that it would be a good idea if Canadian companies were given contracts related to BMD."

You mean "we're not willing to support it in any way shape or form but we still want to make a buck off it"?

Sounds like france's attitude about Iraq.

12:15 PM  
Blogger struthers said...

Well stated Laurie, this was the first that I have heard that the government is closing 2 Squadrons.

Pathetic and an embassesment to the world from a Canadian perspective.

Kep hammering away at them !

Check 6


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