Skip to comments.Canada: Layton plays the anti-Yankee card
Posted on 01/27/2004 9:13:15 AM PST by knighthawk
NDP leader Jack Layton is a man of great energy and high purpose. To him, Canada is a nation without enemies, a nation whose security is threatened only by climate change, global disparities, abuses of human rights -- and the United States government of George W. Bush. Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) -- or Star Wars, as Layton inaccurately describes it -- threatens Canada's independence, will never work, and will cost Canada millions and millions. Worse, as Layton said in a large newspaper advertisement on Jan. 22, "Star Wars is un-Canadian," undermining "Canada's proud tradition of peacekeeping."
Layton's advertisement listed six "facts," none of which are correct. But this frankly doesn't matter, given that the NDP leader's message was unambiguously clear: The Americans are the biggest threat to Canada. With Paul Martin busy trying to mend fences with Washington, with the new Conservative party on record as favouring better relations with the United States and more money for defence, Layton sees an opening on the anti-American and nationalist left. And he's moving to fill it.
This explains his conversations with Sheila Copps who, when she was a Liberal leadership candidate, made no bones about her anti-American cultural nationalism and her full-throated opposition to Canadian co-operation with the United States on missile defence. Now that Copps is facing an uphill fight for the Liberal nomination in her own Hamilton riding, she might well be persuaded to jump ship and join the anti-American, anti-BMD New Democratic Party.
Another unhappy Liberal is Lloyd Axworthy, the former foreign minister and, with his Liu Centre at the University of British Columbia, the nation's cheerleader for anti-Americanism. His speeches and papers published by his Liu Centre have been vituperative on the subject of BMD and, even if they are no more factually accurate than the Jack Layton "Star Wars" advertisement, they surely suggest deep dissatisfaction with the course the Liberal government's policy appears to be taking. Axworthy still favours "human security" policies for Canada, and a government that tilts to supporting BMD and good relations with the despots in Washington is not one he feels comfortable with. No wonder Jack Layton has been talking to him. Whether Axworthy will run for the NDP, however, must be considered doubtful, given his upcoming brand new job as President of the University of Winnipeg. Whether he would add any strength to the Layton "team" is more doubtful still.
The same might be said in spades of Paul Hellyer, the former Liberal minister, Progressive Conservative leadership candidate, and the present leader of the tiny, obscure Canadian Action Party. The 80-year-old Hellyer has apparently talked of merging his economic nationalist and anti-American rump party with Layton's NDP. That would surely be a major adhesion to the NDP -- if only Layton's party will change its name and policies to suit the octogenarian Hellyer and the 23,000 votes his candidates won in the 2000 general election. With Copps, Axworthy and Hellyer supporting Jack Layton in his anti-Americanism, all those who dislike the Yankees and all their works would be gathered together in one place.
All this verges on the comic today, but it is nonetheless potentially tragic tomorrow. For let us be clear: Anti-Americanism works in Canada. It is and has been very powerful as a political tool. It won in the Reciprocity election of 1911; it almost won in the Free Trade election of 1988; and it prevented Canada from supporting the Iraq War in 2003. Co-operation with the Bush administration on Ballistic Missile Defence is likely to be a hard sell for the Martin government, not least in francophone Quebec.
Moreover, many senior Liberals, including Foreign Affairs Minister Bill Graham and Parliamentary Secretary John Godfrey, have long records of opposing everything and anything the Americans do. The party caucus is full of soft-headed Grit MPs who slagged George Bush and the Americans over Iraq and who fret about Canada co-operating with the United States. Stand up, Carolyn Parrish! Many such Liberals might be persuaded that they could feel more comfortable in the New Anti-American Party than on the Martin team, especially in the few constituencies where the NDP can mount a credible challenge. If Layton plays his Ballistic Missile Defence cards right, if he can cause fissures within the Liberal government and manoeuvre to bring all the anti-Americans into his tent, he just might cause the Grits some serious trouble.
Jack Layton has indicated his intention to use one of his Opposition days in the upcoming session of the House of Commons to raise the BMD question. If the Martin government's ministers let him get away with his misrepresentations about "Star Wars" and Canada's place in it, if they don't smack down the NDP with what we might call the "true" facts about missile defence and North America's vulnerability, they will deserve the trouble they'll bring on their heads.
J.L. Granatstein is the Chair of the Council for Canadian Security in the 21st Century and author of 'Who Killed the Canadian Military?', to be published in February.
I see Paul Hellyer and his Canadian Action Party mentioned- I thought he was a good guy for Fiscal reform. I and 77 others voted for his party last time- out of about 26,000 voters- laughs. The arrogance of the press questioning new entry Belinda Stronach, amuses me. I ask rhetorically- why do not the press try to run the country- they seem to know everything?. Cheers
I remember a British writer (or an Australian?), when asked about this question, retorted that "Sorry, but we foreigners don't give a toss of how you Americans define and use the word." Well that's life, and in "International English" (which follows many British English rules) the word "Yankees" does mean Americans.