By Nicole Kobie
In nature, each animal has a certain niche. They all do their part. If they all started acting like one another, it’d get ugly. Imagine a beaver, pressured and intimidated by an eagle, trying to fly. Thunk… splat. Everything has its place in the world, and the conflicts and disputes that erupt from these differences can have positive results.
Carry the analogy over to the world of politics. Canadians shouldn’t always jump on the American bandwagon. We’ve got a place in the world order, and Uncle Sam’s wagon just isn’t it. Simply because our economy would fall apart without American trade doesn’t mean we should blindly follow their lead. It’s not our southern neighbour’s fault-it’s our own.
Why are we sending 750 soldiers to Afghanistan in green camo? Because we’re scared to say no. If we wanted to offer real support to the American war effort, we’d send troops in desert fatigues. Instead, we send a handful of ill-prepared men and women so we can say we care.
The Canadian opposition to treatment of prisoners of war in Guantanamo Bay was a good start. Too bad we didn’t stick to our guns. Canada, as a nation and a government, used to be a player in the international ring. We used to stand up for what we believed in, whether it coincided with American policy or not.
Consider the 1955 United Nations member blockade. Both the USSR and the US would veto any country trying to gain membership. That kept dozens of countries out, which really doesn’t work for a supposedly global organization. Only through Canadian diplomacy did this blockade get smashed. Had we followed the US lead the UN could have fallen apart.
Even the American-friendly Prime Minister Brian Mulroney challenged Reagan and Thatcher by imposing sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa in 1985. Other commonwealth states followed. In other words, Canada actually led the world in something.
We’ve opposed the U.S. many other times as well. Pearson spoke out against the Vietnam War, and we recognized and worked with both China and Cuba when the U.S. wouldn’t. We’ve also worked together with our southern neighbours, in the UN, NATO, NAFTA and countless other foreign policy affairs. When they’re right, we should support them. When they’re wrong, we should be the ones telling them.
Conflict over issues like these, between friendly nations, can lead to change. Blindly following the U.S. isn’t going to take us anywhere we should be. Beavers weren’t meant to fly, but we can do some important work on the ground.