I'm fascinated right now by the silence of Canada's "Conservatives" on a couple of issues recently.
Supposedly, Conservatives (or at least their current incarnation) are preservers of individual freedoms - whether it is the right own property, firearms or religious freedoms. On matters of economics, they are shrill in their support of privatization of everything in sight, and god forbid that any of us would dare question the idea of NAFTA!
Yet, their silence is deafening when it comes to the US's recent decision to ignore (again) another ruling against them in the dispute over softwood lumber trade.
Stephen Harper is conspicuous by his absence in this matter. Once again, the United States is thumbing its nose at the very treaties it has made itself signatory to. The Liberal party response to this slap in the face has been disappointing and insipid - one would think that any party that is planning to become "the next government" would be standing up and telling Canadians just how they would handle this insult.
Then, in a matter of a few days of each other, we find the arm of US law enforcement reaching into Canada to arrest Marc Emery, and a motion put before a US court in the Maher Arar case that suggests that a traveller passing through the US is in a legal black hole, not even eligible for food, much less humane treatment.
Both of these have serious implications for Canadians. It is deeply troubling that the US DEA has offices set up in Canada, and appears to be demanding that the Canadian law enforcement officials enforce US laws - when it is far from clear that a crime has been committed on US soil.
In the Arar case, we should be deeply worried - for it suggests that nobody - from any nation - can safely travel through the United States.
In both cases, the very rights and liberties of Canadians are under attack by a foreign threat. Where is the Conservative Party? Their silence is deafening, and should be seen as deeply worrisome by all Canadians.
Yes, it would mean that the Conservatives would actually have to be critical of the United States - but for a party that philosphically is supposed to be a bastion of individual freedoms and rights, it is blindingly stupid not to be taking a clear stand on these issues.
How would a Conservative government deal with a hostile, overreaching government in a supposedly allied power? What would they do to guarantee the rights of Canadian citizens in travelling or doing business in that country? How would the Conservatives protect Canada's national interests in trade?
In their silence, the right wing in this country suggests to me that they would simply sell Canada to the hawks in Washington and be done with it. I'm less than thrilled with Paul Martin's response to these issues so far, but at least he has made a response. As opposed to the utter silence of the Conservatives.
The conservatives seem to be more worried about the voting history of Governer-General designate Michaelle Jean - in a nation where we have secret ballot for a good reason or two.
Of course, the explanation could be as simple as the Conservatives have never thought of the US as anything other than their best friend, and are incapable of recognizing that the US acts only in its immediate interests - regardless of its allies and neighbors...