Michael Byers, National Post, 28 November 2014
“The Conservative Party, though professing to be supportive of Canadian participation in missile defense, has used this issue to further its political ambitions.”
So wrote the late American ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci in February 2005, in a cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Ottawa to the State Department. Today, Cellucci’s analysis illuminates why missile defence could soon become an issue in Canada again.
“Rather than make the case why Canada should support missile defense,” Cellucci continued, “the official Opposition consistently has sought to exploit the Liberals’ internal divisions on the issue.”
Cellucci was ahead of most Canadian political observers who, at the time, did not doubt opposition leader Stephen Harper’s sincerity as he criticized the Liberals’ “knee-jerk resistance to the United States on national missile defence.”
But if observers have learned anything in the last decade, it is that Harper’s actions are always strategic. By pushing missile defence, he was able to split the “hawks” from the “doves” in the Liberal party.