Whose needs come first? The great 3M N95 mask debate highlights national security needs

n95Nations matter, borders matter. As we struggle to deal with the Wuhan virus pandemic nothing is more true.

Take the controversy over President Donald Trump’s decision to invoke wartime legislation requiring American companies to serve the needs of Americans.

The Trump administration has been under daily pressure by Democrats, governors, the press and the public to ensure Americans dealing with the pandemic have adequate protection.

So the president ordered 3M, the manufacturer of N95 surgical masks, to serve the needs of America first.

At yesterday’s virus briefing, Trump spoke about the decision and remarked that he had made exceptions for previous orders placed by Italy and Spain on humanitarian grounds.

This morning, CBC journalists and politicians discovered that America first does not include Canada. The injunction against shipping N95 masks abroad included Canada.


Listening to CBC commentators one would think that the United States had an obligation to service Canada.


This is the true ethical dilemma, isn’t it?

N95 masks are a limited resource. 3M is an American company. Should an American company service Americans first?

But, but, but… does Canada not have special relationship with America?

Indeed. But does that mean Canada’s needs should come before those of Italy, Spain, France, the UK, Germany or China?

A nation looks after its own first and other second. A father looks after his family first and then his neighbors.

This is why the manufacture of critical goods is a matter of national security.

It’s not a hard concept to understand. You cannot rely on others for your security, but here in Canada that is precisely what we have done.

It needs to end.

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