So Canada has decided to opt out of the missle defence shield that American wants to implement up in the sky sometime soon.
I know, I know -- you're dismayed, confused, disappointed.
Okay, maybe you haven't heard this news yet, and wouldn't exactly feel disturbed one way or the other now that you have heard it.
I'm with you.
It's does have at least the potential of being interesting, though, if only because it strikes at the heart of certain Canadian insecurities and contradictions, of who we are and where we want to go.
I think what happened is, Paul Martin, Canada's Prime Minister, bowed to political pressure from within his own party, other parties and Canada itself. Before he was prime minister, he was for the shield; now, looking at another re-election, possibly sometime soon, he's against it.
The thing is, let's say there's a missle launched from some bad and evil and petty country, and that missle is targeted at Dubya's bedroom window, and to reach said window, it has to fly its merry course over Canada's airspace.
If Canada isn't in on this super-duper shield thingee, theoretically, Dubya would have to pick up his bedside phone and ask Prime Minister Martin for permission to shoot down that pesky missle, and Paul would have to think about it, consult some people, get back to Dubya first thing in the morning, sleep tight now.
Does that sound likely?
We know that the States would want to down that missle whether Canada is with the program or not. End of story.
The larger issue is one of Canadian soverignty, and indepence, and not-relying-on-all-those-crazy-Yanks-down-south.
Canadians have a really weird relationship to Americans. We watch all of their movies and TV, and read their authors, and play their music, and shop over the border whenever we can, and lose our freakin' minds when Conan O'Brien does a week of shows in Canada featuring only Canadian guests, but we still like to assume that we're better, superior, more enlightened than our next door neighbours, even though a heck of a lot of Canadians don't actually know any Americans personally.
I think Canada is a fundamentally different breed of country than America, if only because we've grown up in the shadow of a superpower, but we're not a superpower, and so we've had to figure out, and are still endlessly figuring out: What are we, then, if we ain't the big kid on the block? (Hopefully not a New Kid on the Block, because that band broke up a long time ago, and they were pretty lame to begin with.)
I'm not saying that Canadians opposed to the shield are wrong; they're morally right in their own minds, and you can never cavalierly dismiss someone's morals. Hell, I'm inclined to oppose the shield too, if only for patriotic reasons.
Are these reasons pragmatic or practical, though?
That's more difficult.
We live in a tough, unforgiving age. In other words, bad stuff, really bad stuff, can happen quick, soon, now.
America is going to do what they want to do whether we like it or not.
The question is, how do we respond? How do we stand up for ourselves? How do we chart an independent course while being, essentially, dependent on the States for our security and well-being? After living in Japan (thousands of years old, with their own freakin' language) and Cambodia (thousands of years old, also with their own freakin' language), I've finally realized how young Canada is, how fundamentally immature and developing this great country is, this cultural mosaic of every language and shade known under the sun.
We've still got a long way to go, though. Got a lot of questions to answer. A lot of uncharted waters to navigate through.
I don't have any answers, but the questions keep coming, and how we respond to those questions in a mature, realistic fashion is what will allow the ongoing Canadian experiment to reach the next level, and the next, and the one after that.