Date: 03/04/2006 （2006年3月4日） Web posted at: 3:00 p.m. EDT
Since the Conservative Party formed a new minority government, Canada's stance on the United States' ballistic missile defence system has become vague. Thus, this is emerging as a big issue now even though softwood lumber disputes still eclipse it. Former Prime Minister Paul Martin was expected to support the missile project. But, due to the fragility of the minority government and opposition from backbench Liberal MPs, he made clear it Canada would not participate in the project and rejected the U.S.'s offer. Suddenly, it is very likely Canada will participate in the missile defence under Harper. In fact, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor raised the possibility of Canada's future participation to the missile defence at his first public speech on Feb. 24, saying the Conservatives will consider the issue if the U.S. government invites it. Yet, U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins recently told the Toronto Star, there was no plan to ask Canada to join the project. Still, it is a high priority for the Americans with our government. We are expected to be invited again soon because the United States would like the missile defense program to operate under auspices of North America Aerospace Defence Command. Is participating in the missile defence the right decision for Canada? It is a fact that not many Canadian are enthusiastic about participating in the project because they are doubtful about the U.S. administration. When Martin said Canada would not join the missile defence, 54 per cent supported his decision, and 36 per cent disagreed with him, according to the Toronto Star. The U.S. has spent more than $100 billion on the project since 1983, but with nothing concrete to show the public. Indeed, some scientists doubt the feasibility of the project because the laws of physics work against it. Also, even though once George W. Bush stated the U.S. would not seek a financial contribution to the project and it would not cost as much as the U.S. spent, some people point out that it is possible for Canada to spend $10 billion on the project annually. It would be more useful if the same money could go to other national issues such as health care and education. Harper has been citing tax cuts during his campaign and O'Connor has just addressed military spending, adding 13,000 new full-time troops. There is no way the government will find the money without the additional costs eventually being born by Canadian citizens. Moreover, if the project is completed, the U.S. will gain power and facilitate its gunboat diplomacy. As China and India have been rapidly growing, the U.S. sees them as obstacles to the U.S economy. With its missile defence system, the U.S. will demonstrate more power, and other countries will likely increase defence spending to gain their own military power. This vicious circle has existed since the World War II, driving many countries to develop military regimes. Canada's national budget for military has been increasing steadily and defence spending is expected to reach $5.2 billion in 2010. It is almost 11 times as much as the defense spending last year and if it continues to increase, some additional costs to the citizens will be inevitable. Since 9/11 has occurred, international threats are more visible and all countries are sensitive to defending themselves. Many seem to be overreacting. If the new minority government decides to join the project, Canada could be financially crippled. The success of the project is not assured so that the money spent for the project might be totally wasted. The disadvantages are obvious, the missile defence will not benefit this country even a little, and Canada should not participate in it.