Thursday, February 24, 2005

20 Questions

First of all, I think we made the right call on Star Wars, for the reasons previously discussed. But the PM’s handling of this has been a little awkward, to put it mildly. Now that we finally know Canada won’t be a part of missile defense, a few questions need answering. The first three are either asked or hinted at by Paul Wells.

20 Questions for Paul Martin

1. Did you try to telephone George W. Bush with the news?
2. Is the president taking your calls?
3. Was this handled better than Chretien’s decision to not send troops to Iraq which your advisors heavily criticized? If so, how?
4. As Stephen Harper asked in question period today, what exactly are we saying no to?
5. Can you specify what aspect of BMD led you to reject it?
6. Were there any conditions under which you would have joined BMD?
7. Paul Cellucci says that Canada has given up its “sovereignty” and will no longer have a say on missiles coming towards Canada. Is this true?
8. When did the government arrive at this decision?
9. Earlier this week, government MPs said the House would be informed when a decision was made. However, Codi Rice and Cellucci were called two days ago with our decision. Phrasing this in the form of a question: What the hell?
10. I hate to use the f-word, but you’ve previously been very much in favour of BMD. I know on same sex marriage you were previously “divided” but on this one you were squarely in favour. Is this a flip-flop? If so, please explain the reasons for flip-floping.
11. Bill Graham, the Minister of Defense, has said there would be grave consequences if Canada didn't join missile defense. Do you still feel these consequences will happen and, if so, what will they entail?
12. Has Bill Graham changed his position on missile defense too?
13. Did Frank McKenna’s announcement on Tuesday that we’ve joined BMD have anything to do with the timing of the announcement?
14. Speaking of which, now that we’ve said “no”, what did Frank McKenna mean?
15. Why didn’t you wait a week to see what the Liberal Party’s grass-roots had to say about the issue at their policy convention next week?
16. In the throne speech amendment, you agreed to hold a vote on missile defense. Why isn’t this vote being held?
17. How did you let Jack Layton lead the national debate on this issue?
18. I take it George Bush likely won’t be cheering on the L-20 idea, right?
19. It’s worth asking again: What exactly did we say “no” to?
20. Mr. Martin, how did you solve the Mexican peso crisis? (courtesy of Neil Finkelstein)


  • I'm not sure that your question 10 is a fair one. Suggesting that politicians shouldn't change their minds is asking them to be either omniscient or unquestioningly dogmatic regarding their positions. Now the first option is impossible and I think the second is distasteful. I prefer a "flip-flopper" over someone who adheres to a stance despite good reason to give it up. Also considering that the majority of Canadians (or so it seems from various informal polls I've seen in places like the Globe and Mail) doesn't support the idea that Canada should get involved in star wars, I think that Martin changing is position is the right thing to do as our representative. That said, I think Martin is a jerk for other reasons.

    -Socialist Swine

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 5:34 p.m.  

  • Cal Grit:

    Regarding Celluci's claim that Canada had given up its soveriegnty now that we were out of the loop on the plan.. thats a disingenuous statement. One of Joe Clarks former policy advisers (I forget her name at the moment) wrote in a Feb 9 Op-ed in the Toronto Star that leaked parts of the US-UK agreement on BMD showed that the UK would get no say on when US interceptors were launched from their soil to intercept a missile threat.

    So.. Britain.. led by the closest ally of the US right now.. Tony Blair, couldnt get a say in this.. and appears to have lost soveriegnty in signing this agreement..... so what makes anyone here think Canada would have done better or that we're worse off by not agreeing to this?

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 6:43 p.m.  

  • Britain's contribution to the Iraq war doesn't seem to have bought Blair much influence either.

    Bush's formula seems to be:

    If yer with me, I maybe won't piss on your lawn... otherwise, I'll be dumping a pile in yer living room.

    By Blogger Mark Francis, at 7:18 p.m.  

  • 1. CG: excellent excellent post. Keep up the good work.

    2. CPSS re. q. 10: CG asked for an explanation in lieu of a denunciation. Martin may well be right for changing his position (though I don't think so personally), but *even if* he is right his execution of that decision is horrible. crap. Canadians deserve better. Either the issue is as important as he said it was, or it isn't. If it isn't, say why. If it is, do the things alluded to in CG's list.

    3. Scott re. Blair: I think we can assume a quid pro quo whereby if the US has the luxury of enough time to dial up Tony before the missle hits or is out of range, they will. But I don't think that assumption of an adequate window can be presumed so as to be read into policy or an operating procedure.

    By Blogger matt, at 10:39 p.m.  

  • Matt: the agreement would have mentioned that... Joe Clark's former adviser did not indicate that it said that (just so you know.. she opposed Canada joining the BMD.. and I believe Mr Clark did as well.. proving not all Tories are loony)

    By the way Matt.. is the user commentary from Canadians at this particular American consevative site representative about how conservative Canadians view their country?

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 10:47 p.m.  

  • Question 7 isn’t really fair. Paul Celluci says a lot of thing, most of them stupid. Accusing us of sacrificing our sovereignty is even more shrill than Celluci usually sounds. No Canadian Prime Minister should be expected to suffer the indignity of being enticed into a public debate with that pompous arse.

    By Blogger Psychols, at 11:12 p.m.  

  • matt,

    You have a point, an explanation for the change of heart would be nice. However, the answer seems pretty clear, the majority of Canadians don't like the idea of Star Wars. Also the Liberals need to keep themselves distinct from the CPC and BMD is one of the areas that isn't particularly consequential where they can do that. Also imagine the stink that would be raised by Layton and Duceppe if Martin didn't say no to Star Wars. Though perhaps he should have had an open vote on it. However, isn't defense decisions under the jurisdiction of the PMO? I'm not entirely sure, I must admit sometimes I'm mystified by some of the nuances of the bureaucracy of Ottawa.

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 11:32 p.m.  

  • Um, I really do not know what to say CG, you dumbfound me again with your ignorance of PM's leadership style. Let me go through some or all of your points

    1) No, he needed to consult cabinet first on when the right time would be to contact W, then Herle had to commission a poll to confirm.
    2)Yes, he loves Paul and his new 13 Billion for defence, soften up the Pres a bit
    3) Everything Paul does is better than Chretien, the Canadian public just has not realized this yet
    4) We are saying no to saying yes
    5) PM rejects the premise of that question
    6) If the PM could ever win a majority government
    7) Cellucci should be on the Saprano's
    8) Five minutes after Herle did the uptenth poll
    9) What the hell is Parliament, next thing you know you will be saying there is a democratic deficit
    10) One flip-flop and now that is what Paul is being called, name one other time Paul martin has flip-flopped
    11) The sky will fall (even before it was going to anyway because of same-sex marriage), and the Liberal convention will be even more boring
    12) BG switches sides all the time
    13) No, Paul makes his own independent decisions
    14) It was the start of Frank's glorious run to the Liberal leadership
    15) Because Paul does not believe in policy from the grassroots
    16) Democratic deficit?? DO NOT START THAT AGAIN
    17) Jack is a leader, a charismatic ladies man, and Paul is old and can not lead all the time
    18) No
    19) We said no to saying yes
    20) Paul is omnipresent, he knows all, sees all, and solves all. You should be aware CG that he is NOT happy with you. So you better smartin up.

    By Blogger iloveLaP, at 1:31 a.m.  

  • Hey, CG:

    The ones I have answers for:
    9. It's bad enough to say no. You don't additionally SURPRISE them by saying no. When the official announcement was made, it was made in the house. That was going to prompt questions to the US, and the US deserved a couple of days to get the answers ready.
    15. There was no real question of where the party stood, and the PM is still more acountable to voters than he is to the party.
    16. The House of Commons does not debate whether or not to not do something, because not agreeing to not do something does not imply that something will be done.

    Everyone seems obsessed about knowing WHY we're doing this. I can't recall a time when federal politicians were likely to give their true motivations for anything, much less the federal government.

    So for those of us that agree, let's just accept that we're not going to get a straight answer, and be grateful that the right decision was made.

    For those of you that disagree, keep trying to goad the government into saying what it really thinks, so that you can charge them with being anti-american.

    By Blogger Gauntlet, at 10:39 a.m.  

  • SS; I agree that there's nothing wrong with changing one's opinion. However, it would be nice to have some reasoning behind the change. Obviously there must have been something which caused Martin's change of opinion.

    As for the Cellucci stuff, yeah, he's a dolt. However, Pettigrew and Martin seemed to contradict each other yesterday regarding the US shooting down missiles over Canada. It's still unclear as to whether or not we'd get a say in this.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:33 p.m.  

  • Hey Cal Grit, Paul sure became a Canadian Nationalist in a hurry! Check out these comments today:

    "But in terms of Canadian airspace, yes we would expect to be consulted. This is our airspace. We're a sovereign nation. And you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission," Martin said.

    Martin also rejected claims by U.S. ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci that Canada has given up its sovereignty by saying no to the missile plan

    "We did not give up sovereignty," Martin responded. "We affirmed sovereignty...I think the other important thing is the other affirmation of sovereignty is the very large defence budget, which is designed to protect our coast, borders and Arctic sovereignty and also make sure we can play a role in the world. That is also an affirmation of our sovereignty," he said.

    I realize Paul may be pulling out the nationalist Captain Canada card here to curry favour among those Canadians who helped convince him to back down.. but I at least like his public stance.. and espescially for directly answering Celluci.

    By Blogger Scott Tribe, at 12:55 p.m.  

  • CG,

    Agreed, an explanation would have been nice. However, it seems that the safe bet is that almost everyone outside of Alberta doesn't particularly like the idea of a BMD system. As such Martin would be alienating a lot of Canadians if he agreed to involve Canada in Star Wars.

    Another likely reason is that Martin'll probably need the NDP and the Bloc to counter the CPC sometime in the near future. Given that both the BQ and the NDP are quite vocal about their opposition to BMD, saying no to Star Wars probably wins Martin at least one favor from Duceppe and Layton.

    Those are just my guesses though.

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 1:23 p.m.  

  • Martin will need the BQ/NDP against the CPC? Martin has more seats than the CPC; his main fear has to be any collusion between the BQ/CPC which could defeat him. i.e. stuff to do with the fiscal imbalance or healthcare, which touch Quebec.

    And the sovereignty discourse is moot: I have a hunch that international law would protect the US should they decide to shoot down a missile in Canadian airspace, and moreover that noone would care even if it didn't (unless, of course, they tok out Edmonton by mistake or something - but that's different than an airspace violation).

    Not to mention that Martin has a knack for making Cellucci sound like he wears the pants in the current prime minister - outgoing ambassador relationship.

    By Blogger matt, at 1:51 p.m.  

  • Matt,

    That's what I meant, if Martin doesn't keep the NDP and the BQ happy, they can go over with the CPC to force the dissolution of Parliament.

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 6:19 p.m.  

  • Though, I grant it is unlikely that the NDP will get too friendly with the CPC. That said, the BQ and the CPC can force no confidence if the NDP and LPC don't have all their MPs in on a vote.

    By Blogger Socialist Swine, at 6:22 p.m.  

  • #20. The book In An Uncertain World would tend to have one thinking that the US did quite abit more than Martin ever did.

    Robert E. Rubin seems to make mention of a $20 billion loan from the US to Mexico to help lead them through the crisis.


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