Volume 96, Issue 68
Thursday, January 30, 2003

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Canada needs to grow up and leave Never Land

By Tom Podsiadlo
Gazette Writer

Against the backdrop of a potential war with Iraq, one of Canada's pre-eminent historians, J.L. Granatstein, had a controversial message for Canadians: Canada is a fading power and must grow up and confront its responsibilities on the international stage.

"The U.S will no longer tolerate threats to its national security," Granatstein said, adding Canadians must not argue with the U.S. when the security of the North American continent is at stake.

His speech, entitled "The Peter Pan Syndrome: Why is Canada the Nation that Never Grows Up?" took place at 4 p.m. yesterday in the 3M Centre.

Canadians and Americans share the same values of democracy, pluralism and secularity, Granatstein explained, adding Canadians must stand with the U.S. against an increasingly inhospitable international system which is challenging these values.

Granatstein warned that, due to a lack of defense spending and increasingly obsolete military equipment, Canadian leaders are abandoning the country's sovereignty by delegating major defense decisions to the U.S., who tend to make decisions without taking Canada's point of view into account.

According to Granatstein, Canadians are increasingly becoming complainers that fail to pull their weight in the defense of North America.

"The U.S may end up calling the shots on issues, such as joint homeland security, unless Canada's military receives more funding," Granatstein said, adding increasing anti-Americanism in Canada may also cause political tension in the future.

Granatstein concluded that Canada must infuse its foreign policy with "realpolitik" and not succumb to the temptation of moralizing foreign policy against the backdrop of mortal dangers, such as religiously-inspired terrorism. He said Canadians continue to see themselves as morally superior, while delegating their military and security responsibilities to the United States.

"[Canadians like to see] themselves as a moral superpower living alongside morally inferior pigmy," Granatstein said.

Robert Croskery, a first-year PhD student, said he disagreed with Granatstein's assessment of Canada's responsibilities.

"Canada's national interests do not necessarily correspond to those of the Americans," he said, adding Canada has an obligation to the war on terrorism, but not to fight for U.S oil interests in the Middle East.

While introducing Granatstein, Western President Paul Davenport highlighted the historian's diverse nature as a researcher, public activist, and director and CEO of Canada's War Museum.

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2002 THE GAZETTE