Friday, February 25, 2005

National Post Canadian rejection of missile defence historic, unpredictable shift: analysts

National Post

Canadian rejection of missile defence historic, unpredictable shift: analysts

Alexander Panetta
Canadian Press
One U.S. official emitted a deep, extended laugh when asked for an assessment of the prime minister and said Canada no longer qualifies as a trusted ally.

While wary of speaking on the record, the Americans are particularly annoyed with Martin over what they perceive as weak leadership.

They say he expressed support for missile defence, then did nothing to refute misconceptions about it, and finally pulled out when public opinion mushroomed against it.

Most analysts believe the Canada-U.S. trade relationship will continue unhindered because the countries rely heavily on each other's goods and services.

But Canada's refusal to sign on to the missile plan could further marginalize its concerns and interests when trade-related issues like softwood lumber appear before U.S. Congress, said one Calgary observer.

"This is one more issue that goes into the balance scale, one more reason to say, 'Screw Canada,' " said David Bercuson, director of the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

Thursday's decision has already prompted some debate.

Martin declared the United States must seek permission before firing any missile over Canadian airspace.

He was responding to warnings that Canada has abdicated sovereignty by refusing to take part in the U.S. project.

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