Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin has declined to participate in the 'Star Wars' missile defense system originally introduced by Ronald Reagan and championed by President Bush. In fact, Martin does not even want the United States to intrude on Canadian airspace while conducting tests of the system.
Martin told the CBC 'In terms of Canadian airspace, yes we would expect to be consulted. This is our airspace. We're a sovereign nation. And you don't intrude on a sovereign nation's airspace without seeking permission.'
Martin also responded to an apparent comment by the American Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci which said Canada was 'giving up its sovereignty' by refusing to participate in the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) program. 'We did not give up sovereignty,' Martin responded. 'We affirmed sovereignty.'
Thus far, most major tests of the SDI technology have not been successful. The cost of conducting research is still part of the Bush Administration's proposed budget for 2006.
Martin indicated that Canada had other budgetary priorities when it came to defense. 'I think the other important thing is the other affirmation of sovereignty is the very large defense budget, which is designed to protect our coast, borders and Arctic sovereignty and also make sure we can play a role in the world. That is also an affirmation of our sovereignty,' Martin said.
George W. Bush has had declining popularity in Canada because of his stance on environmental issues and due to the American-led invasion of Iraq.
Martin stressed that Canada would still participate in the defense of North America alongside the United States. 'We will continue to work in partnership with our southern neighbors on the common defense of North America,' Martin told the Washington Post. 'However, ballistic missile defense is not where we will concentrate our efforts.'
For the foreseeable future, President Bush will have to look elsewhere for assistance with his 'Star Wars' programs.