Canada's next ambassador to U.S. instigates outrage over missile defense

February 22, 2005

OTTAWA - Frank McKenna, Canada's next Ambassador to the U.S., announced Canada's partnership in the U.S.A.'s continental missile shield program. "We are part of it now," he said at a press conference in Ottawa.

Prime Minister Paul Martin has said there is no deadline, that Canada has not made a decision and will not until the matter has been debated, and Defense Minister Bill Graham agrees: "Canada's position is not a done deal."

Opposition parties expressed a range of responses on this hotly contested topic. Bloc Québécois MP Michel Gauthier charged "They don't want to tell the population that we've got our arm in the wringer of the washing machine and it's sucking us in."

Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party and a long-time proponent of the missile shield program, was angered by the Liberal Party's failure to live up to its promise to bring the issue up in parliament before any decisionmaking. "How could this prime minister secretly make this decision, so clearly breaking every commitment he's made to this house and to Canadians?"

The Canadian public is adamantly opposed to the missile defense, as they have shown in several polls. Martin's own party is on record opposing the installation of U.S. missiles in space or Canadian territory, so there were outcries from within the Liberal Party as well as from the opposition.

Recent tests of the missile defense have failed, on February 14, 2005 and December 15, 2004. The next most recent test was more than two years earlier.