Canada’s decision on Thursday to opt out of missile defense was met with a sharp U.S. response.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice abruptly announced she was cancelling her planned trip to Canada next month, and U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci hysterically warned that by not signing on to the continental missile shield, Canada was “in effect giving up its sovereignty and would be ‘outside the room’ when the United States made a decision on whether shoot down an incoming missile.” Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin snapped back, “This is our airspace, we’re a sovereign nation and you don’t intrude on a sovereign nation’s airspace without seeking permission.”
Clearly, heads of state have a responsibility to discuss and debate policy differences. But does Canada really deserve such a caustic response given the clear — sometimes overwhelming — Canadian opposition to involvement in the missile shield as evidenced by virtually every public opinion poll? For such vocal proponents of democracy, the White House sure can get bent out of shape when a government takes the same position as the majority of its electorate.