I’m too much happy to have at this time a minority gouvernement here in Canada. A minority gouvernement is less stable and must be careful to always have some support from others political parties, because they can force a new election mostly at any time. This puts the gouvernement in a more delicate position on many subjects.

President Bush’s visit here a month ago made possible the resolution of the “problem” about beef exports. (The problem is that since the discovery of one case of mad cow in Alberta, the border is closed to canadian beef and this puts many producer here in big trouble.) The president promised that the issue will be solved fast.

But does the United-States’ president “solves” problems without asking anything in return? I suspect that some kind of exchange happened : the beef “problem” is solved and in counterpart our prime minister will do “all it can” to make Canada part of the US ballistic missile defence. This theory is based on two facts: to date, Paul Martin never said publicly what was his position on the subject, he simply said he won’t help any plan of installing weapons in space; and two new cases of mad cow where found since this announcement without any change on the border reopening date for beef. Two cases! Since when the Bush administration has become so tolerant?

Let’s return to the ballistic missile defence system: in a whole, canadians are opposed to the project — a costly projects for protecting us against hypothetical threats and that could lead us in another cold war. The most important question remaining is: “But do we have the choice?” What many fear here is economical retaliations the US could impose on us if we do not participate. Closing the border a little more would cause severe damage to our economy that depends much on exchanges with the United States.

So, what is so special in all this? This wouldn’t be the first time it happens, right?

Paul Martin cannot announce tomorrow that he will participate in the ballistic missile defence. Many people in his own party are clearly opposed to this project, many ministers are openly against it and to add even more his government is in a minority position in the house of commons which means the government can’t stand very long without the support of the other political parties.

In the current situation, saying “yes” to this would probably cause the gouvernement to collapse. If the gouvernement collapse, we get another election, ruining the chances of Paul Martin to be elected again since the population would be against his newly taken position. A new election on this subject also bring the possibility of another minority gouvernement that would be even more against it than the current one.

So it all fall back to this: if the gouvernement says yes to the US missile defence, it could get a “no” from it’s citizens in an election some months later. It means that, this time, our prime minister will need support of the canadians if he want to be part of this US project. Not bad for a democraty!

And is doing Washington in all this? They can’t do anything, except relaxing some restrictions at the border to show that they can be nice if they want to. But is this going to catch? I don’t think so.

In my opinion the question we should ask ourself now is: “What will the consequences be for each choice and can we deal with them?”

  • © 2003–2019 Michel Fortin.