Canada's decision to stay out of the Iraq conflict, and the impact of this on our American relations, remains front page news. Yesterday there was a "pro-USA" rally in downtown Toronto, featuring Ernie Eves, Stephen Harper, and Mike Harris. It seems that most of the right in this country is angry that we're not "standing by our American friends". However, this seems to be the extent of their rationale for our participation in the Iraq war.
Stephen Harper bases his argument mainly on the pro-USA pillar:
|The Sorry Level of Canadian Debate on Iraq|
Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper said the relationship Canada shares with the U.S. is too valuable to risk, and not supporting them in Iraq jeopardizes that.
"Alliances are a two-way process. Where we are in agreement we should not leave it to the United States to do all the heavy lifting just because it is the world’s only superpower. To do so, I believe, will inevitably undermine one of the most important relationships that we have," Harper said in a speech to the House of Commons.
"In an increasingly globalized and borderless world, the relationship between Canada and the United States is essential to our prosperity, to our democracy and to our future."
Harper said Canada would be two-faced to continue to embrace its relationship with the U.S. when it isn’t willing to support it during the Iraq war.
"My great fear (is a) country that does not embrace its own friends and allies in a dangerous world but thinks it can use them and reject them at will. Such a country will in time endanger its own existence," he saidHis pro-war argument is based much more on currying favour with Americans than it is on a logical argument in favour of the war. Here's what he had to say yesterday:
Mr. Harper thanked the crowd for "opening your hearts" and "saying to our friends in the United States, 'You are our ally, our neighbour and our best friend in the whole wide world.' "
Mr. Harper said Canadians are not neutral in their feelings. "We're for the disarmament of Saddam and the liberation of the people of Iraq."And that's about as far as I've heard any right-wing Canadian politician go.
On Friday, Jeffrey Simpson wrote about this same issue.
The puerile anti-Americans never cut the U.S. any slack, and the servile pro-Americans never question the U.S. at all. One group proclaims "never aye never," the other "ready aye ready."Simpson is right. However, there is a middle ground between the puerile Anti-Americanism of some backbenchers and the servile anti-Canadianism of our right-wing politicians. And that middle ground is trying to make decisions based on the best interests of Canadians. Our government today represents this middle ground.
In fact, Simpson's column today lays down the outline of the reasonable argument against Canada's involvement -- in the form of an open-letter reply to Ambassador Cellucci. It's worth a read. Meanwhile, I'll keep waiting for a reasonable counter-argument, beyond loyalty to "our best friend in the whole wide world".