Monday, October 18, 2004

Canadian Parliment to vote on MDS

The Canadian government will hold a symbolic vote regarding whether or not they should be part of the US Missile Defence Shield:

Prime Minister Paul Martin's Liberals have yielded to opposition pressure and will hold a Commons vote on the controversial U.S.-led missile defence program.

The promise to let MPs have their say is said to be the newest concession from a Liberal regime quickly gaining a reputation for its willingness to trade on the issue of Ottawa's central powers.

But the vote itself won't commit the Liberals to any decision on participating in the U.S. scheme. It will be more symbolic of the co-operation the minority government is trying to build with opposition parties in the Commons.

Liberals were believed to be wary of a Commons vote because it would expose deep divisions toward Americans within the minority caucus and present an opportunity for more MPs to vent anti-Americanisms that could damage relations with the U.S.

Only a few weeks ago, Defence Minister Bill Graham indicated that a vote was unlikely because the federal government retained sole authority for national defence and treaties with other countries. Moreover, the Martin government pointedly failed to promise a missile-defence vote in the throne speech at the beginning of the month.

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