Wednesday, December 15, 2010

 

GOLD, MYRRH AND PERIMETER SECURITY

Though national polls are at best nebulous; the 40th session of Parliament is adjourned for the holidays. This time without sight of any ill-conceived notion of a third "Prorogation" in as many years.

Not because 2010 was without stumbling blocks and potentially disastrous issues for the Harper minority government. It's just that Canadians have been blessed with such weak and ineffective politicians opposite that the usual couple of days of "stonewalling" in Question Period have been generally sufficient to survive any threats of a ruling party disaster. To wit:

In the aftermath of "Prorogation Part II" a year ago, ostensibly because Mr. Harper wanted to focus on the Government's judicious response to the world's economic crisis: The nation was ridiculed for spending more than a billion dollars on the Toronto G-8 and G-20 Summit meetings. We became engaged in a doubtful and evermore expensive deal to purchase new generation F-35 stealth fighter jets "sans" bidding process. For the first time in 60 years, we lost a bid to seat a Canadian on the Security Council of the United-Nations. We were unceremoniously kicked-out of a secretive Afghan war re-supply airbase located in the United Arab Emirates, while at the same time abandoning a firm commitment to leave Afghanistan in 2011...And the ever widening circle of patronage appointments from the Senate on down continued unabated. To say nothing of the accusations of patronage pay-offs levelled against contractors involved with the multi-million dollar renovations of Ottawa's Parliament Hill edifices; and the fiasco involving the demise of the former Minister for the Status of Women, Helena Guergis; along with her husband, the former Tory Caucus Chair, Rahim Jaffer.

This week's release of the latest Canadian-Press / Harris Decima public opinion poll which pegs the Conservatives (31%) and the Liberals (29%) in a statistical dead-heat of decided voters undoubtedly portends more of the same in the new year. Polls earlier this fall had been somewhat kinder to the Tories, leading some pundits and observers to predict a potential February Federal Budget..."that no opposition party can support" would force an election at just about the same time the right leaning "Sun News" TV channel hits the airwaves. Of course the reality is that none of the three party heads: Mr. Harper; Michael Ignatieff nor Jack Layton can afford any chance on another minority election result in 2011, without major ramifications to their leadership of the respective national parties. Another minority government for Mr. Harper would be his 4th unsuccessful bid to claim electoral majority...and a loss for Mr. Ignatieff would surely spell the end of his leadership aspirations for the "natural governing" party of the last century.

Alas, looming larger perhaps than any potential "election budget" is the widespread speculation there will be no public debate over: "Beyond The Border: A Shared Vision For Perimeter Security And Competitiveness" - the omnibus continental security agreement which Prime Minister Harper and President Barack Obama will announce when the two meet in Washington next month. At this Christmas' eve it seems that the battle for the hearts and minds of Canadians has already been engaged with five former Canadian Ambassadors to the United States; Derek Burney, Raymond Chretien, Michael Kergin, Frank McKenna and Michael Wilson (1999-2009) publicly supporting the beneficial trade values of the deal which hasn't yet been announced. No one doubts the well meaning intentions of these five senior Statesmen. Canada's economy is fully dependant on the $2-Billion per day in trade between our two countries - The world's largest trading relationship - and the ramifications of America's intense paranoia over border security and the threat of terrorism. But; regardless of the content of the secretively negotiated deal between Mr. Harper's Government and the Obama Administration, it would be foolish of us to assume that henceforth the 26 million Canadians who enter the United States each year will have an easier time getting in. In return for assisting our American neighbours build concentric circles of security around the contiguous 48 states, the best we may be able to hope for is that we may be spared an Arizona/Mexico-style perimeter fence along our shared border.

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