Canada/US relations.

I’m not sure if this is the correct forum for this, I don’t think it’s a General issue, it may be mundane and pointless, but this seems like the best place to post this.

I’m a Canadian. I’ve never been a citizen anywhere else, but during my 44 years of existence, I’d estimate I’ve spent at least 3 to 5 years on US soil either working or visiting.

The recent conflict in Iraq, and specifically Canada’s position on it has been the source of many discussions and arguments at work and after hours.

In every case, I never fail to run into someone who maintains that we, as a nation should have wholeheartedly endorsed the US position on this conflict and sent in troops to take part in the same way the UK did.

These people firmly believe that our failure to do so has somehow pissed-off our American friends.

I don’t believe this is correct.

I have gone out of my way to try and explain to these folks that our mistake was not so much in refusing to participate, but rather in our “sitting on the fence” response.

To make my point, I’ve used the following analogy:

If you invite me to a BBQ on the weekend, there are only two valid responses:

“Yes I’ll be there”, or “No, sorry I can’t make it.”

Either response should be acceptable.

But if I respond with:

“Yeah, I’ll be there, but only if my Astrologer thinks it’s a good idea.”

Well…you get the idea…It’s doubtful I’ll be invited to any future parties, right?

Anyway, my question to y’all is:

Am I right? Would we have been better off just stating a firm NO instead of our wishy washy response of waiting for the UN to tell us what to do?



I would tend to go along with what you say. I also recognize that you have a problem in Canada that required you to fence sit between the U.S. and French positions.

What puzzles me is a Canadian using y’all! :wink:

Well, since over 70% of Canadians thought we should have supported the U.S., I think a better statement would be to say that Canadians and Americans both have a problem with the Canadian government.

When the “war on terror” started, Bush stated that whoever isn’t with him, is against him. So no, there was no way that a clear cut “No” could have improved the standing of Canada.


Optihut said

Are you sure about this? Other countries got away with a straight no (ie Germany, Turkey).

I’m glad the PM didn’t get Canada into the Iraq War, but I don’t like the way he went about it. I wish he would have said a flat “No” instead of his wishy-washy reply. But, I’ve never been a fan of Chretien.

And I don’t think it would be the end of Canado-American relations. I doubt they would even have noticed. They might have been a little pissed off at first, but they would get over it, the rest of our history of going along with the states would kick into their memories. This would just be an instant where we stood up for what we believe (or half of us believe, I don’t know the exact numbers).

Politically, I believe we’ve had a few cold shoulders from the present US adminitration, not that I totally blame them. However, this will blow over as soon as both Administrations are gone within the next few years.

I have yet to hear of any real movement in the US population to treat us as they do the French.

And Yeah Sam I’d like a Cite on that 70% number too. Last time I checked ol’ Jean was fenc sitting because that was exactly where the public oppinion was. I’ve never known him to take any bold stands politically and that certainly would have been one.

Well, Tony Blair joined the US effort against the wishes of the majority of UK subjects (they’re not citizens, right?), IIRC. A good leader will do what he or she thinks is best for the nation and not what the polls say. I personally have no problem with the Canadians saying “no thanks” to joining in on the war in Iraq. I think there were good arguments to be made on both sides of that issue, and ultimately people have to make up their own minds. War is serious business, and no country should participate if they think it is the wrong course of action. The tricky part is deciding if the partucular leader is being a good strong leader, or just a wiley politician trying to take advantage of a certain situation. While I think a strong case could be made for the French and Russians falling in the latter category, I’d be hard pressed to say the same about the Canadians.

I;d allso like to add that calls for boycotts against non-cooperating countries is, I think, childish at best. And besides being intellectually lazy, it’s really not even effectve-- our global economy is so interconnected it’s hard to say what product was pruduced in what country.

Sam: I’d like to see the cite, too. I don’t think the number in even the US was as high as 70%.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. When a large part of the population is almost literally screaming “Don’t do it, and here’s why not”, they do have to get some serious consideration from a good leader.

But, to the OP, yeah, it’ll blow over, as kingpengvin says.

I’m not realistically expecting Sam to provide a cite, are you?

Yes, Sam’s records on cites is very good. I’ll expect him to either provide a cite or retract his statement.

Yes, a good leader does take into account the polls, but only as one factor. There’s a difference between listening to vewpoints then making an informed decison and changing your position eveyr time the polling info flip-flops.

If 80 or 90% are screaming “don’t do it”, you better have some pretty good intel to go ahead and wage war. Nothing rips apart a nation like an unpopular war. I lived thru the Vietnam fiasco, and would not want to repeat it.

Canada is not necessarily wrong for not joining in on the invasion of Iraq (not war…invasion!). Canada’s problem comes from its inability to commit to a position and act on that commitment.
Immediately in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, Jean Chretien, on behalf of the Canadian people, came forward and pledged support to the U.S. in their endeavors to find the people who committed these acts. Canada then went on, in one of the finest examples of political “me-tooism” that I’ve ever seen, to take all sorts of precautions against terrorism when there was never an indication that any Canadian site was ever a target.
A few months later, when things started to heat up, he turned about and said that perhaps the U.S. deserved what had happened to it for being so wealthy in the eyes of the world.
When it came time to support the U.S. in Afghanistan, Canada took the bold move of sending its navy to the desert.
Canada held back from Iraq, but did commit one carrier, with a Sea King helicoptor on board that proved its combat worthiness by crashing itself into its own carrier while trying to land. The carrier returned home.
Once the invasion was declared a success, Canada stepped forward to say that it is ready and willing to take a hand in guiding the redevelopment of Iraq, and urged the U.S. to allow the United Nations to take a big hand. In short, saying “we didn’t join the fight, but we’ll be right there to take a piece of the pie!”

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was not necessarily justified at the time…nor was it necessarily wrong. That’s another argument. However, like most countries, Canada should have given a definite yea or nay on the matter and then stuck by the consequences of that decision, good or bad.

Oh well…what can you expect from a country of semi-socialists?

“Wrong”? How can we be wrong? For not supporting an invasion un-sanctioned by a coalition of the worlds governing bodies? By not joining a “coalition of the willing” that actually only encompased less than 20% of the countries OF THE WORLD? By not piling onto a slaughter? How is this “wrong”?

We did not jump onto the US bandwagon, and I am grateful for it. Rest assured more than 30% of Canadians opposed the invasion of Iraq. Just ask any of the tens of thousands of protesters that took to the streets across Canada every weekend for the duration of the war.

And for the record, Canada did say “No” to joining the war in Iraq. We said we would abide by the decision of the UN. And the UN said No. How complicated is that? We never sent troops, we never promised troops, heck we even got chastised for questioning if fleeing Iraqi officials potentially caught by Canadian forces outside of Iraq would be handed to the US.

I bet the “high” Canadian dollar is making more waves in Washington these days than any contributions we didn’t make to the invasion.

• At the time of 9-11 there was no indication that Canada was NOT on OBL’s short list. In fact in a subsequent dispatch Canada was specifically mentioned.
• The PM’s comments focused on the apparent gap in wealth between the 3rd and 1st world and how it could lead to resentment. IMHO he was not completely correct.
• Canada sent a contingent of light infantry and Special Forces (JTF-2) to Afghanistan. Given the effective size of our military (60,000) not a bad job. The Canadian snipers so impressed the US that they were awarded bronze stars.
• Canada dispatched a frigate to the Iraq to “help with terrorist intercept”. The Sea King helicopter (+30 years old) failed during a landing.

The issue was sufficiently divisive that there was no way the sitting PM could make a definite answer given his party’s view on multilateralism and UN legitimacy and his potential vulnerability to inside forces trying to unseat him. Personally I would’ve preferred a straight answer.

It’s also worth noting that immediately following September 11, Canada, along with all the other NATO countries, unanimously agreed to invoke the mutual defence clause of the NATO treaty: an attack on one NATO member, the US, is considered an attack on all. Canada participated in the Afghanistan war on that basis, as well as related war on terrorism ops. On that basis, Canada continues to maintain a naval presence in the Gulf - the frigate with the Sea King problem was one of several ships committed to that theatre, which has been Canada’s largest naval deployment since WWII.

The problem President Bush ran into when seeking support to attack Iraq was that he was not able to make a credible argument that Iraq had somehow attacked the U.S. That meant that the mutual defence clause of the NATO treaty was not invoked, and the UN process followed instead.

I would suggest that until you learn the difference between a destroyer and an aircraft carrier, you should refrain from offering “analysis” on military issues.

IIRC most Canadian provinces and territories were about 65% against the war. With the exception of Alberta (around 65-75% for the war) and Quebec (70-80% against the war). Sorry no cite, I’m going from memory. But the majority of Canada was against it and Jeany Boy made the right call for his country.
As for Canada and US relations I think the Mad Cow and SARS scares are becoming major problems. With the Iraq war, and 9/11 things are getting sketchy between the nations. I’ve even heard people having fears of US invasion. While they seem unfounded now who knows what the future may bring.

It appears that Canadian support for a unilateral attack on Iraq hovered somewhere around 20% to 30% in the pre-war stages. After the start of the war, support rose, especially after the unwelcome verbal spanking the Canadian Gov’t received from US Ambassador Paul Celucci. There was much predictable Canadian hand-wringing about offending delicate American sensibilities in the weeks that followed. Then, things got worse with transparent and craven toadying to American officials and business elites by various Canadian business and political leaders fearful of American retribution. All of this served to polarize debate up here and crystallized opinion somewhere around the 40%-50% in support of the war. Some of the preceding may be strictly my own interpretation but I do know that I’ve never seen support for the war quoted as ridiculousy high as 70%.

Some cites (apologies to those who don’t like PDF files):

Leger Poll, 3 Feb 2003 (PDF) – Canadian support for war with UN blessing: 46%, Canadian support for war without UN blessing: 10%

EKOS Poll, 21 Feb 2003 (PDF) – Canadian support for war with UN blessing: 63%, Canadian support for war without UN blessing: 25%

EKOS Poll, 21 Mar 2003 (PDF) – Canadians who support the Cdn Gov’t position: 71%, Canadians who support the US Gov’t position: 35%
EKOS Poll, 13 Apr 2003 (PDF) – Canadians who support the Cdn Gov’t position: 62%, Canadians who support the US Gov’t position: 44%

Leger Poll, 12 May 2003 (PDF) – Canadians who believe the war was justified: 46%, Canadians who believe the war was not justified: 41%

As you can see, the polls indicate rising Canadian support for the invasion of Iraq but nowhere near 70%.

Wow this post was wrong.

Canada made a stance and stuck to it. I don’t think the Canadian Government sat on the fence for this issue. We gambled and said, "we’ll fully support it IF you get the UN’s blessing . Unfortunately this was said long before France took its veto stance, so we were stuck with our decision. I’m confident that Chretien believed at the time that this war would happen and that like GWI and Afganistan and that UN would sanction it.

I think that before France took that veto stance (meaning that another UN resolution would have been impossible) Canada made the right decision morally; ecconomically, however, we could have done better. But in the wake of this war, I’m sure we would have been forgetten, like Bush’s thank-you speach after 9/11.

I dissagree with the OP too. There was no simple yes or no answer to this question. To say yes meant we’d be another dog on Bush’s leash. To say no validates Saddam. Were you comparing the UN to an astrologer? I consider myself one of the biggest supporters of this war, but frankly Bush did a pathetic job selling it. Then again, I’m just a semi-sociallist so what would I know.

As to the opening question: Yes, an open "no’ with an admission of the canadian poeple as to their lack of resolve would have been preferable to their whiny wishy wash.

The efeminate denial of a need for strong action against the unbridled torture and murder of the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein has led me to dislike the canadian government.

And moreso, the comments of ordinary canadians on boards such as Straight Dope have led me to think less of the balanced thoughts of the canadian peole.

Go smoke your politically correct pipes, sweethearts.

“effeminate”? You’re suffering from testosterone poisoning.