Canadians would not be surprised if they heard that Paul Martin was out of the country, attending Johnny Carsonâe(TM)s funeral, had cut a trip short to be there, and had somehow managed to get photographed with Hollywood stars, looking sadder and more distraught than they were.

With Martin traveling, Liberal fortunes took a good turn. Stephen Harper was all alone to explain how gay marriage led to polygamy. You know the logic: once the sanctity of marriage is interfered with, anything could happen. His reasoning is right up there with some of my favourite cause and effect from the Social Credit era in Alberta, such as drinking water leads to drinking alcoholic beverages so serve no beer, wine or cocktails where you serve food.

With Martin at home, Liberals fortunes are about to go the other way. Richard Cléroux, freelance broadcaster and journalist in Ottawa, has been reporting that Paul Martin wants to do missile defence. He is just trying to figure out how to justify the $12 billion in military spending our signature will cost. The pitch being floated is that Canada supports defence of North America, and missile defence is defence, therefore we support it. Got It?

Martin is prepared to announce that we’re going along with George W. on this venture to equip the U.S. with an enhanced first strike capacity, but he has a condition. We’re in so long as there are no weapons in space; when that happens we’re out. He must be hoping no one will notice that by then the arms race will have accelerated and the damage will be done.

The public relations experts advising Martin have apparently not been doing focus groups in Quebec. There, fully 80 per cent are against Star Wars schemes, with Liberal supporters over-represented in the opposition. When Martin stands up for missile defence, the critics will destroy his position, since his logic is no better than that used by Harper when talking on gay marriage. Then, guess what? The Bloc wins 80 seats in the next election, and the Liberals lose government to the Conservative Reform Alliance Party.

Yes, there are only 75 seats in Quebec. But the write-in vote will elect at least three Bloc members in ridings elsewhere than Quebec where they do not have an official candidate.

The only story to come out of the Bush visit to Canada was the Texan pushing missile defence, when we were told it was too touchy, and he would not risk offending anyone, by looking to be telling Canadians what to do. Not that anyone would ever suspect such a thing from a U.S. president, especially one from Texas.

The juicy parts about the visit were only revealed this week by the Washington Post, and picked up in a wire story from Canadian Press. Bush called the Martin team out. Are you afraid to tell Canadians you want to defend them, he said when told at a private briefing about the political problems Martin had with singing in the front row on the issue.

So Martin, instead of voicing concerns about the substance of the issue, is strumming along in tune with the American song leaders, pleading only for more time, so he can change public opinion on this one, and take his rightful place in the chorus, up front.

You have to believe Canadians would be happier watching him overplay the sad fan at the memorial service for Johnny Carson. Instead we will be listening to him try and sell us on wasting billions of dollars of real money in the vain attempt to buy security of access to the U.S. market for things they need, such as oil and gas, or they would not be buying from Canada in the first place.

If he pushes this one far enough, Martin will be organizing his own political funeral, and that of his party also.

Duncan Cameron

Duncan Cameron

Born in Victoria B.C. in 1944, Duncan now lives in Vancouver. Following graduation from the University of Alberta he joined the Department of Finance (Ottawa) in 1966 and was financial advisor to the...