J.L. Granatstein: It's all about Canada
What is striking, however, is that the public debate in the U.S., viciously partisan as it always is, ordinarily seems to hinge around great issues, around national interests. Americans know their nation has interests, and they can and do discuss how best to achieve them.
That does not seem to be the case in Canada.
None of our political parties talk of national interests, not even the Bloc Québécois, which purports to advance what it imagines to be Quebec's national interests. (We'll fight them on the Plains of Abraham or in the Elysée!)
No party even thinks of national interests. Programs always take priority, and special interests inevitably prevail. This is not healthy, and Canadians, especially Canadian leaders, need to face up to the reality that Canada's most important long-term needs are not being considered seriously.
And those realities?
We are not a great power and we will not become one. We cannot pretend any longer that we are even a moral superpower. We are a First World nation-state that makes its living by trading with the United States.
We truly cannot play any longer at petulant, childish anti-Americanism, something that seems even more foolish with Mr. Obama in office.
We are protected by Washington now and will be in the future (in the U.S. interest, not because we are such pleasant fellows), and we must stop our strong tendency to yearn for blue beret peacekeeping as the automatic and only role for our military. Simply because the U.S. goes to war does not mean the Americans are wrong. They sometimes are, but they might also be correct, and our government needs to shape our course carefully.
Those who see only American decline may be right, but they are far more likely to be wrong. What needs to be said loudly and clearly is that, if the U.S. falls into the pit, we will be one of the nations dragged down with it. It will take decades to diversify our trade, our economy and our security will be in serious jeopardy, and Canada will be forced to assume vast new financial burdens to re-establish its economic welfare and military security.
We had better pray for Mr. Obama to get America's act together – in our own national interests.