Canadian General at NORAD sent fighter jets on Presidential orders to shoot down flight 93. This seems more in line with not only witness reports but
the statement by Donald Rumsfeld that the plane was shot down.
Reversing all previous statements, The Washington Envoy to Canada, Paul Cellucci told his Canadian audience that a Canadian general at NORAD
scrambled military jets under orders from Bush to shoot down flight 93
Missile rejection perplexes U.S.
By COLIN PERKEL AND BETH GORHAM
(CP) - Canada's apparent decision to stay out of a North American missile-defence system has dumbfounded Americans as an unnecessary giveaway of
sovereignty, Washington's envoy to Ottawa said Wednesday.
"We don't get it," Paul Cellucci said in Toronto. "If there's a missile incoming, and it's heading toward Canada, you are going to leave it up
to the United States to determine what to do about that missile. We don't think that is in Canada's sovereign interest."
Despite strong pressure from the U.S. to sign on, Prime Minister Paul Martin was expected to pull the plug on Canada's participation in the missile
program on Thursday.
However, reaction from American officials suggested the decision had already been made.
Regardless, said Cellucci, Washington would press ahead with its plans.
"We will deploy. We will protect North America," he said.
"We think Canada would want to be in the room deciding what to do about an incoming missile that might be heading toward Canada."
In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Canada had yet to inform the U.S. of its decision.
He refused to speculate on the effect a negative decision would have on relations between the two neighbours or whether it would cause a rift.
"We have a very solid basis of co-operation in many areas and we'll see how that sees us through," said Boucher.
A senior Canadian official who requested anonymity said Wednesday that Canada's decision was relayed at this week's NATO summit in Brussels attended
by Martin and President George W. Bush.
But Canada's interest in Norad, the joint Canada-U.S. air defence command, remains paramount, said the official.
"The key for Canada is preserving the Norad relationship. It's such an important command that losing it would not be in Canada's best
Boucher noted Canada and the U.S. amended an agreement last August to allow Norad to track any incoming rogue missiles.
Washington had hoped Canada would would go further and participate in building the continental defence shield, an elaborate system that some worry
could lead to weapons in space and an international arms race.
Cellucci compared the situation to one that occurred during the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S. He noted that it was a Canadian general at Norad
who scrambled military jets under orders from Bush to shoot down a hijacked commercial aircraft headed for Washington.
Had that plane been flying over Canada, it would have fallen to the prime minister to make the decision to shoot it down, Cellucci said.
That's why Americans were "perplexed" as to why Canadians would want to leave it up to the Americans to decide what action to take in the event a
missile was aimed at Canada.
David Biette, director of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington, agreed with Cellucci's
assessment that Canada is giving up sovereignty.
"I fear that it risks marginalizing Canada and Canada is ceding sovereignty by not being there when the decisions are being made," said Biette.
"It's making people unhappy in this administration that Canada is happy to take a free ride."
However, like Cellucci, Biette said he didn't think the issue would ultimately hurt Canada-U.S. relations.
Unpopular with most Canadians, the multibillion-dollar program to shoot down incoming missiles has been a political nightmare for Martin's minority
There's been intense pressure from Bush, who unexpectedly raised the issue during his visit to Canada last December and reportedly was blunt with
Martin in a private meeting.
Some U.S. analysts were shaking their heads at the intrigue and confusion stirred this week by Frank McKenna, who takes over as ambassador to the
United States next week.
McKenna told a Commons committee Tuesday that Canada is effectively already part of the missile-defence program, given Norad's increased
"We're part of it now and the question is what more do we need?" he asked. "What does 'sign on' mean?"
Behind closed doors Wednesday, Martin indicated Canada hadn't joined the missile program and suggested McKenna erred by saying otherwise.
"Did Frank express himself badly? Perhaps," is the way one Liberal described the prime minister's message at Wednesday's caucus meeting. Another
Liberal confirmed the account.
Liberal MPs have also been sent speaking notes from party brass, urging them to get out and toe the government line on missile defence.
"Canada is obviously not participating in BMD," said a copy of Tuesday's Liberal Research Bureau message obtained by The Canadian Press.
"The government has not taken that decision yet and the ambassador never intended to leave the opposite impression."
U.S. defence analyst Dwight Mason said Canada's refusal to get more involved would be "unfortunate in a symbolic sense."
"It's the first time since 1938 that Canada would have refused to participate in continental defence. It's a turning point. But the impact would be
much greater if Canada pulled back from where it is now."