Following the money

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Canadian business groups plan push to fight missile defence decision

Canadian businesses losing contracts, jobs, research opportunities and investments because of Ottawa's decision not to join the U.S. missile defence plan say they'll press the federal government to reverse course.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce plans a big push with all political parties because of the economic fallout, president Nancy Hughes Anthony said Friday.

"Some of our members equated it to the Avro Arrow decision, where they could see a brain drain that went south of the border with respect to engineers and people in the aerospace industry," she said.

"Certainly many of our members who are in the defence and aerospace industry and high tech . . . are very concerned that even Canadian subsidiaries in American companies will not be eligible to participate."

If you're looking for anything in Ms. Hughes Anthony's argument about missile defence being a good policy, about it functioning as it's supposed to or about it being the appropriate response to any realistic threat assessment, you won't find it.
"It's another irritant that's very hard for the American side to understand," said Hughes Anthony, who met with State Department officials and U.S. business leaders.

"Not supporting the Bush administration is a strategic choice that in my mind just sours the atmosphere."

"We need the assistance of the Bush administration to get a number of things resolved in the next number of years," she said, including major trade problems over softwood lumber, beef and wheat.

"It may not be the end of the world but it certainly gives the impression that we're not part of the North American security team."

Rubbish. We're cooperating with the U.S. on all manner of security issues. Just not on this one. [Update: Actually we've cooperated in some respects on this one, too. See last year's legislation regarding NORAD. We're just not officially "signing on."]
She also assured them that Canadian business leaders reject any notion of limiting energy supplies to the United States out of frustration over trade issues.

But she acknowledged that many in Canada are particularly upset their victories in softwood legal battles at a NAFTA panel and the World Trade Organization haven't made a dent in U.S. policy on punishing penalties on Canadian products.

"There are some in our country who suggest that U.S. interest in our energy resources must be accompanied by a greater U.S. willingness to live up to its trade obligations under NAFTA and the WTO."

"We reject this linkage," she said. "Nevertheless, we do feel strongly that we only hurt our collective good if both countries do not play by the rules and treat each other in a fair, respectful and equitable manner."

So she's quite willing to link national security with trade issues but she rejects linking one trade issue with another? Can you say self-serving?

Many of us who are critical of the missile defence program have characterized it as a big corporate boondoggle designed mainly to shovel American tax dollars into the hands of corporations. Apparently the only criticism the Canadian Chamber of Commerce can come up with regarding Martin's recent decision is that its members won't get to line up at the trough alongside their American counterparts.

Isn't it nice to know that the Canadian Chamber of Commerce thinks its members' bottom lines should trump even the will of the Canadian people?

There are some decisions where the balance of trade shouldn't be the only or even the most important concern.

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I just don't understand how the argument that national defense decisions sould be made on the basis of buisness considerations can be considered serious analysis. But I guess I'm old fashioned.

The underlying assumption is that the Bushies do not hand out contracts based on merrit, but do so to reward friends and countries that tow the line.

Please note as well that the story provides no evidence of the "lost contracts" or "lost jobs" hypothesized by "Canadian businesses."

Neither does the official press release from the CCC provide such evidence:

As for the trough pogge mentions, Canadian companies like CAE Systems and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, have already travelled the well-beaten path to the feast provided by American taxpayers, with BMD-related and other defence contracts as well.

The one useful thing about this press release is that it shows us the range of technologies to be used for BMD and--thus--its huge scope.

I can't say, I am surprised by this. The Martinites have been sending signals that the new NORAD agreement may change their stance on BMD. Since that will not be happening until after the next election (the deadline is May 2006) when a Liberal majority can ram the change of position through, they can still claim to be on the side of the angels (and fool NDP voters once again). It is standard Liberal Party operating procedure.

BTW, I saw the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce interviewed on Newsworld. He said U.S. business doesn't care whether we joined BMD or not. They do business with us because they can make money.

Oxymoron: Principled Capitalist

Well, almost an oxymoron, if you insist on counting greed as a guiding principle.

What Stephen said cannot be overstated. Not only is the Chamber's argument fatuous and self serving as Pogge rightly points out, but it's blatantly wrong. The same logic was used to scare Canadians into supporting Iraq. And, of course, trade numbers only continued to tick upwards. Contractual business decisions are about money -- not politics.

Excellent summation.
The National Post, which can always be counted on for fair and reasonable comment on how we're failing to please the United States, had the following headline on the 7th: "85% of CEOs say shield refusal bad for business: 52% say Canada is freeloading."

'52% say Canada is freeloading'

They build it, we don't want it, so we're freeloading.

Bit like the irritating neighbour, whom, having added a gaudy, disfunctioning addition to his home, argues that he's done you a favour by raising property values.

Dean, did the Post mention what kind of sample they used for CEO survey? I remember them being heckled about a year ago for once using a sample size of 8 - all loitering at the Economic Club of Toronto? - to support a front page poll. That's journalism at its finest.

Alas, no comments in the article about the poll sample. But there was this line:

"The online poll, conducted between March 2 and 4, is accurate to within 8.1 percentage points 19 times out of 20, if it were to be conducted among the general public.

The poll, however, is considered more accurate because of the smaller population of business leaders."

Two things - 8.1 % is pretty inaccurate, as far as polls go. Second - online? That raises all sorts of questions.

If you're looking for free (albeit a week late) access to the Toronto Star, Post and a whole pile of other papers, your public library may subscribe to a database service like eLibrary or EBSCO. They have fulltext articles, all searchable.

Second - online? That raises all sorts of questions.

That's an understatement.

8.1% implies that 151-153 people were polled.


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This page contains a single entry by pogge published on March 12, 2005 6:44 PM.

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