Canada's best hope of remaining a viable independent
country is to revitalize its Armed Forces and be an
indispensable partner to the U.S. military and NATO, says a
leading American expert on Canadian issues.
Military capacity, not culture, is the true measure of
sovereignty for nation-states, said Thomas Barnes, a professor
of Canadian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
"If culture were the true measure of sovereignty, Quebec
and 13 U.S. states would have become independent decades ago,"
In a presentation to the annual conference of the
Association for Canadian Studies in the United States, which
opened Friday at the University of Ottawa, Mr. Barnes said
Canada spends a lot of energy defending its cultural
sovereignty, about which it feels much anxiety, especially
with respect to the United States. While he does not dismiss
these concerns, he said it blinds Canadians to the importance
of creating and maintaining sufficient military capacity to
play the full role of a nation-state.
Canadian identity, confidence and, by extension,
sovereignty were always buoyed by Canada's military exploits
in the Boer War, the two world wars and in Korea, he
maintained. Yet in every case, Canadians soldiers were part of
a larger integrated fighting force. Mr. Barnes said
interoperability with the U.S. military will not erode
Canada's sovereignty, it will enhance it.
"Collaboration within such a system does not diminish
sovereignty provided each nation-state can contribute
something valuable to that capacity," he said. "If it cannot,
(then) its sovereignty is jeopardized."
Without sufficient military might, Canada will become
increasingly irrelevant in significant international matters,