Blogs > Liberty and Power > Paul Celluci and the US's Foot-in-Mouth Disease

Jan 11, 2005 4:40 pm

Paul Celluci and the US's Foot-in-Mouth Disease

It is difficult to understand why the U.S. is so heavy handed in foreign relationships which would yield so readily to diplomacy...or just plain silence. I am thinking specifically of the recent announcement to the Canadian press by Paul Cellucci - the American Ambassador to Canada --- on the controversial missile defense plan. Celluci stated,"We've been told that it will be dealt with over the next couple of months," thus clearly implying that the States had struck a deal with Canadian P.M. Paul Martin. Celluci even provided a timeline. Canada would join the U.S. ballistic-missile defense system for North America by the end of March.

The statement has been poorly received. For one thing, why is a foreign ambassador announcing to the press what Canadian military policy will be? Especially when the Canadian PM continues to declare to all-and-sundry within hearing range that no decision has been reached? Martin rushed to inform reporters,"No such assurances were given."

It is a particularly sticky issue as Martin promised in his Oct. 5 Throne Speech to open Parliament to debate on the issue before signing on with the States. No such debate has occurred.

Canadian politics is a complex balancing act with at least four players who must constantly watch each other for reactions. The Liberals under Martin are in power but they constitute a minority government, which must look to Quebec for support or risk losing office. The Conservatives generally back the anti-missile defense system but they are bristling at not being consulted...indeed, at not even being shown the terms of an agreement into which Canada has -- perhaps -- already entered. The New Democratic Party (more left than the liberals) is adamantly opposed to the program as is the Bloc Quebecois and most of Quebec itself.

Nevertheless, sneaking the anti-missile program past Parliament at the last minute would probably have worked since the Conservatives would not have blocked it, and they're the only ones with sufficient numbers to act as a brick wall if they joined with other factions. But the prospect of easy, sneaky passage has been rendered more difficult by Celluci's statements. First, everyone is irritated at the US announcing Canadian foreign policy. Second, everyone is suspicious of Martin and his motives. Third, even politicians who agree with the plan are enraged at being kept in ignorance about it.

What on earth was Celluci thinking of? If there is/was a covert deal sliding through, then he's doing the best he can to jeopardize it.

For more commentary, please see McBlog.

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tex mac - 1/11/2005

If there is/was a covert deal sliding through, then he's doing the best he can to jeopardize it.

Well, good. It isn't the first time, though.

Remember Bush sandbagging Martin the same way when he made his last Royal visit?

Bush said on Tuesday he and Martin had "talked about the future of NORAD and how that organization can best meet emerging threats and safeguard our continent against attack from ballistic missiles."

That comment ignited a minor media storm and exposed Martin to attack from political opponents, especially the left-wing New Democratic Party.