It's quite likely that with such a strong dollar, the focus will be on upgrading equipment, increasing productivity and developping the domestic markets. Many critics will argue for new things to spend money on but IMHO you can never go wrong by reducing debt. I find it is a waste of money to spend on interest payments.
BTW, in Bush's speech in Halifax today, he called for Canada to join the missile defence programme.
U.S. President George Bush thanked Canadians for their kindness after the Sept. 11 attacks, before dropping a political bombshell by asking Canada to join in the controversial U.S. ballistic missile defence system.
The BMD system wasn't supposed to be on the agenda during the visit, but it did pop up in talks between Bush and Prime Minister Paul Martin in Ottawa Tuesday.
In a speech at Halifax's Pier 21 Wednesday, Bush said Canada and the U.S. are already working together "to keep our people safe."
"I hope we'll also move forward on ballistic missile defence cooperation, to protect the next generation of Canadians and Americans from the threats we know will arise," Bush said.
To help build his argument for the system, Bush turned to the Canadian history books by referring to former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.
"To remain on the defensive is the surest way to bring the war to Canada," Bush said, quoting the wartime prime minister.
"The prime minister went on to say we must go out and meet the enemy before he reaches our shores. We must defeat him before he attacks us. Before our cities are laid to waste.
"Mackenzie King was correct then, and we must always remember the wisdom of his words today," Bush added.
But his suggestion that Canada adopt a more aggressive foreign policy didn't sit well with Martin.
Speaking in Halifax shortly after Bush delivered his speech, reporters pressed Martin on the issue.
"Whatever decision we make will be in Canada's interest," Martin told reporters at a press conference shortly after the president's speech.
Martin explained his stance is based on two main beliefs. One is Canadian sovereignty, he said. "And second, we are fundamentally opposed to the weaponization of space."
The issue arose in the House of Commons Tuesday afternoon, and is unlikely to fade away this week.
During question period, NDP Leader Jack Layton twice tried to give his first hand take on the U.S. plans for BMD, and was shouted down by jeering MPs.
Layton prefaced his question by saying he talked to either Bush or State Secretary Colin Powell about the issue, and a dinner in Gatineau Tuesday night.
House Speaker Peter Milliken eventually asked him to drop the preamble and get straight to the question. The NDP is now claiming that breached Layton's parliamentary privilege.
Eventually Layton was able to say that Powell had told him the U.S. missile defence program will involve weapons in space to shoot down incoming missiles.
"With the evidence now absolutely clear that this is weapons in space, will the prime minister simply say no and say no now," he said.
Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew replied to his question, with the same line Martin used earlier in the day:
"Our government has always been very clear," Pettigrew replied. "And we say absolute no to the militarization of space."
First major foreign policy speech
Bush's speech, the first major foreign policy outline since the U.S. election in November, charted the three major goals of his second term:
- Defend security and spread freedom by using effective multilateral institutions
- Fight global terrorism with every action and resource
- Promote freedom, hope and democracy in the Middle East
Turning to the sticky issue of Iraq, Bush said he and Martin have found common ground.
"Sometimes even the closest of friends disagree," Bush said, referring to Canada's decision not to contribute troops to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
"Yet, as your prime minister made clear in Washington earlier this year, there is no disagreement on what has to be done in going forward," he added, listing elections, humanitarian aid and reconstruction assistance as top goals.
Referring to the United Nations, the U.S. President said he is willing to work for a more effective multilateral approach. But he said he will still go on his own if he feels that is what is needed.
"The objective of the UN and other institutions must be collective security, not endless debate," Bush said.
"For the sake of peace, when those bodies promise serious consequences, serious consequences must follow."
Bush said there "is only one way to deal with enemies who plot in secret and set out to murder the innocent and the unsuspecting. We must take the fight to them."