In May 2003, when Mary Lou Finlay questioned Pratt on the CBC radio program As It Happens
, and when she suggested that Canada’s participation would undermine decades of our work for nuclear disarmament and set off a potentially deadly new arms race, Pratt said:
That’s just Cold War thinking… we have to adapt to a new strategic environment.
In a January 2004 interview, Pratt claimed that the planned American National Missile Defense (nmd) program was only a modest program intended to intercept enemy icbms using ground-based technology, and if we don’t take part Canada will have no say in what the Americans do. Later in the month, Pratt attempted to calm Canadian fears with a remarkable claim that there was no need to worry, the American NMD program would not result in another arms race.
On January 15, 2004, Pratt exchanged letters with his U.S. counterparts to set the stage for final negotiations about Canada’s participation. The letter makes it clear that negotiations between the two countries are already well advanced. An agreement is expected “in the coming months.”
Pratt’s letter to Donald Rumsfeld is not lacking in clarity as to intent. Canada intends
to negotiate in the coming months a Missile Defence Framework Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States with the objective of including Canada as a participant in the current U.S. missile defence program… including increased government-to-government and industry-to-industry co-operation on missile defence that we should seek to foster between our countries.
Sounds a bit like we had already made up our minds, doesn’t it?
The introduction of the letter, though, is once again bizarre in the extreme, and sounds remarkably similar to a George W. Bush speech.
In light of the growing threat involving the proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, we should [co-operate] in missile defence, as an appropriate response to these new threats and as a useful complement to our non-proliferation efforts.
A first year political science student could handily demolish Pratt in a debate based on this paragraph. As we will see, the American bmd plans are escalating
the production of weapons of mass destruction, including the quality and quantity of ballistic missiles to deliver nuclear weapons, and ensuring
a growing proliferation of such weapons and delivery systems. In other words, another terribly costly, incredibly foolish, and horribly dangerous arms race.
If Pratt doesn’t understand this, once again there can be only three possibilities. Either he was very poorly briefed, which I do not believe for a moment, or he is not very bright, or, he too was not being frank with Canadians.
According to Donald Rumsfeld
In light of the threat involving the proliferation of ballistic missiles, I agree that we should seek to expand our cooperation in the area of missile defense.
David Pratt made it clear that Canada intends “…to ensure the closest possible involvement in the U.S. program.” Well, it can’t really be much clearer than that, can it? According to an unnamed senior Canadian official, “It is inching towards the inevitable” with the announcement expected by most to come after the federal election.
So, what does all of this say about our current federal political leadership, when our prime minister, our minister of foreign affairs, and our two former defence ministers, and almost all of the Liberal cabinet and most of the caucus, plus the leader of the Conservative Party and virtually all of his caucus, are all in favour of dramatically reversing long-standing, widely respected Canadian policies by rushing to climb on board the American Star Wars plans, while blatantly ignoring or denying the inevitable dangerous consequences?
Privately, Bill Graham acknowledges that the reasoning of Canadian opponents of the NMD plans has “integrity,” but the government will be making its decision based on “other factors.” What other factors? We shall see shortly.
In Ottawa’s direct public communications with Washington there’s not a word about our opposition to the weaponization of space. We do say, however, that we recognize that the U.S. nmd system will evolve over time, and that our bilateral co-operation in this area should also evolve.
Excerpted from Rushing to Armageddon by Mel Hurtig. Copyright © 2004 by Mel Hurtig. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.