In this crazy, changing dangerous world, it’s important for Canada to keep its friends close and it’s enemies at bay. The United Kingdom is certainly a friend—though, a sometimes arrogant and patronizing one—so it is encouraging to see Prime Minister David Cameron on such good terms with our own Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“The Canadians played a part of such distinction [in the Battle of the Somme] that thenceforward they were marked out as shock troops.... whenever the Germans found the Canadian Corps coming into the line they prepared for the worst."
David Cameron quoting
As a former British Citizen, I’m pleased to see such a cordial relationship between the two leaders, and I felt great pride as I listened to Mr. Cameron praise Canada’s military and economic achievements in his speech to the Canadian parliament in Ottawa. The last British prime minister to speak before our parliament was Tony Blair, who did so a decade ago.
Since the Boer Wars in the late 1800s, Canadians have fought for the “Empire” in large numbers. At the outbreak of World War I, the Canadian government and Canadian volunteers alike joined Britain’s side. And Canada was again at her side during the darkest days of the Second World War, long before the United States entered that conflict. It is hardly likely that, without Canada, the the battle of the North Atlantic could have been won. And without a major source of weapons and food at a most critical time, for how long could Briton have survived?
Then, when Tony Blair pushed Canada to get involved in the 2003 Iraq invasion and former prime minister Jean Chrétien sensibly resisted, relations became strained, though the two nations fought side by side in the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan, and both have cooperated in providing air power to the NATO-led mission over Libya. Since 2001, moreover, cooperation between Canada and the United Kingdom—on many levels—could hardly be closer in the global war on terror.
Economically, Canadian governments have been more interested in free trade with the United States; however, Canada–UK trade has grown steadily. Briton is Canada’s most important commercial partner in Europe and, in global terms, ranks second only to the United States in trade and investment with Canada. Furthermore, Canada is the third largest investor in the United Kingdom, following the United States and France.
There could very well come a time when the English speaking democracies—or parts thereof—could find enough common need to weld a “special alliance of equals” based on similar culture, mutual defence and free trade.
Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States—possibly India, if she had a mind to join, what a formidable bloc this would be to take on China or any other threat to our mutual security or economic wellbeing.