Appearing before a Foreign Affairs committee today, Frank McKenna, Canada's next ambassador to the United States, claimed that Canada has already agreed to participate in the American missile defence program. According to McKenna, since Canada agreed to allow Norad to participate in the program, we've given missile defence our tacit approval.
Way to go, Frank! Way to bring a long-simmering issue up to the front burner. You know who I bet was glad to hear what you had to say? Paul Martin. I bet he was just overjoyed. Another chance to show his knack for balancing domestic popular sentiment against his incisive understanding of the needs and desires of foreign allies.
Ho ho ho I am a kidder.
The missile defense program is a bad idea. Everybody knows it's a bad idea. The damn thing doesn't even work. Opinion in Canada is massively opposed to it. But the Bush administration is pushing for it hard, to the point where Bush bitch-slapped Stephen Harper for not seeming sufficiently enthusiastic about the idea.
Martin really has no choice, given the way Canadians feel on the issue, but to disengage from the program as much as he can. It'll take some finesse to do it, though, and given Martin's apparent spinelessness it is quite possible that he'll go the other route and quietly allow Canada to be roped into the missile defence program bit by bit.
Which makes it interesting to speculate about why McKenna came out at this point saying that we're already hip-deep in the program. One is not normally made an ambassador because of one's complete pig-ignorance of the political ramifications of one's statements.
There's already been a furor in Parliament today, thanks to McKenna. This is national news, and big news. The spotlight is now on missile defence. And it's a big, bright spotlight, picking out every move the government makes.
Which will make it awfully hard for Paul Martin to do any finessing for the next little while.