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Canada's New (Conservative) Foreign Policy

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Edward Campbell

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Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail, is a generally "friendly" assessment of the Conservative government's foreign policy:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/how-harper-transformed-canadas-foreign-policy/article16626348/#dashboard/follows/
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How Harper transformed Canada’s foreign policy

JOHN IBBITSON
Contributed to The Globe and Mail

Published Friday, Jan. 31 2014

Under the Harper government, Canada has experienced the most radical shift in foreign policy since the Second World War.

What was elitist is now populist; what was multilateral is far more bilateral; what was co-operative has become assertive; what was – you name it: global security, global governance, conflict resolution – is now trade before all.

This approach for Canada is so transformative that you could call it The Big Break – a rupture from everything that had come before.

From Louis St. Laurent to Paul Martin, Canadian foreign policy had embraced and advanced collective security, alliances with other democracies and the international rule of law, all while shouldering our share of the burden of international responsibilities and cooperating with, while keeping a wary eye on, the American superpower to the south.

But by the time Stephen Harper came to power in 2006, cuts to the defence budget had forced Canada to mostly withdraw from its peacekeeping and NATO responsibilities. And, the shocks of Sept. 11, 2001, had left Ottawa struggling to cope with an enraged United States and a Middle East on fire. Canada’s foreign policy had become increasingly incoherent.

Mr. Harper was determined that his approach would reflect the values and concerns of the Conservative coalition: The West plus rural and suburban Ontario, which include ridings with large populations of immigrants from Asia and the Pacific.

    That meant, for example, taking a tough stand against the communist regime in China, while counting on businesses to continue chasing deals.

    It meant improving the capability of Canada’s military and fostering patriotic pride by taking a new interest in the Arctic.

    It meant participating fully only in those multilateral forums that could advance Canada’s interests.

    And it meant putting economic diplomacy ahead of other concerns – in the Harper era, trade trumps everything.

But this makes it sound as though the Conservatives had thought out their foreign policy in advance. In reality, they stumbled and bumbled and reacted and back-tracked.

The “principled” stand on China came a cropper, as business opportunities dried up and the Prime Minister began to realize that he had managed to offend an emerging economic superpower.

Even an upgraded military couldn’t bring peace to the chaos of Kandahar. The economic downturn forced procurement budget cuts that made a mockery of the Arctic strategy.

Ambivalence and contradiction cost Canada a seat on the United Nations Security Council. And despite the commitment to trade, the Harper government refused to get involved in the Trans Pacific Partnership talks.

Roland Paris, of the University of Ottawa, recently rejected a claim by former diplomat Colin Robertson that the Harper government’s foreign policy was ideologically based.

“I think ideologically based almost gives too much credit to what is, essentially, a fairly incoherent foreign policy,” he retorted. True enough, at least in the early years.

But as the government gained experience, it adapted its principles to fit a fluid reality. The Conservatives learned.

Mr. Harper has worked to restore relations with China to the point that Paul Evans, of the University of British Columbia, writes in his forthcoming book, Engaging China, that by 2012, “the high policy of engagement was back where the Martin government had left it in 2005.”

The army is steadily withdrawing from Afghanistan, the Conservatives have avoided several subsequent potential quagmires, and a new defence strategy blueprint is expected to refocus the Canadian military from expeditionary adventures to national defence, with special attention paid to the Far North.

Canada signed a landmark agreement with the European Union and finally won a seat at the Trans Pacific Partnership talks. Signature new trading agreements could be the most important legacy of this government’s majority mandate.

As he became more experienced on the world stage, Mr. Harper got a better sense of which multilateral forums advanced Canadian interests – the G20, G8 and the Arctic Council, for example – and which were mostly talking shops – such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth and le Francophonie.

Foreign Affairs has been steadily reoriented toward economic diplomacy, with the Canadian Internal Development Agency folded back into the department to allow aid to follow trade.

Sum it all up and what do you have? A Big Break. A new determination to make Canada’s foreign policy more conservative in word and deed. It’s quite a change.

Some people hope that this break is really only a bump; that after the next election a new and different government will restore a more balanced, multi-lateral approach to Canada in the world.

Perhaps. But for another party to form the government, it will have to take into account the rise of the West, the power of the suburbs and the new waves of immigrants.

And if this faction actually likes this new approach to foreign policy, then the new government will have to take that reality into account as well.

Should this come to pass, The Big Break will no longer be seen as a break at all. We’ll have a new term for it. We’ll call it bipartisan.

Adapted from an address by John Ibbitson, a Globe and Mail writer on leave at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, where he is a senior fellow this year. Watch the speech.


I agree, broadly, with John Ibbitson.

He suggests that "The army is steadily withdrawing from Afghanistan, the Conservatives have avoided several subsequent potential quagmires, and a new defence strategy blueprint is expected to refocus the Canadian military from expeditionary adventures to national defence, with special attention paid to the Far North." I'm not so sure I agree; that may be Prime Minister Harper's aim but but his overarching aim ~ a trade/economic agenda for Canada ~ may require Canada to join with allies to protect and advance our trade relations in the world. That's the business that Eugene Lang, coauthor (with Janice Stein) of The Unexpected War: Canada in Kandahar (cited by Mr Ibbitson about 5:30 into the video) describes as helping allies in order to secure our markets.

I think that Prime Minister Harper wants to give defence and the military less emphasis (and less money, too!) but he will, I fear, have to use it just as soon as his budget cuts have done real damage.
 

Colin Parkinson

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Defense of Canada has always been preached, but never really funded in our history. For the most part we are an expeditionary force who comes home to rest, refit and train for the next expedition, depending on our big friends to back up our nominal forces to protect the homefront.
 

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Colin P said:
Defense of Canada has always been preached, but never really funded in our history. For the most part we are an expeditionary force who comes home to rest,(...2...3...4... wait for it!) refit and train for the next expedition, depending on our big friends to back up our nominal forces to protect the homefront.

FTFY.

We send out expeditionary forces that we train and equip out of an operational budget set for the expedition.  The next expedition may require different equipment and tactics.

The non-operational, out of action army may train for the last war, or perhaps the war that never will be, but the engaged army has to train for the need.

Which suggests to me that basic skills, small arms, man-portable gear, comms and B vehicles (including transport ships and aircraft) are more critical to the non-operational army than A vehicles.  The appropriate A vehicles might be bought to purpose and TTPs devised accordingly.  The only thing is that a heavy force is going to take some time to put together before it can join the party.
 

a_majoor

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One of the real hearts of the problem (and there are several hearts) is that we haven't sat down as a nation and debated what *we* actually want our military forces to do, or what we want our national "Grand Strategy" to be. Without that foundation, everything else becomes a sand castle, which can be easily damaged or destroyed by the winds of public opinion or the tides of financial fortunes (remember the Mulrouny Government had an ambitious White Paper that was essentially scrapped within a single year due to mounting budget pressures).

To use a historical analogy, Britain was virtually dragged into the naval arms race in the rely 1900's as Germany began building a "High Seas Fleet" of battleships. The government of the day had actually voted not to build any battleships, but rising public opinion and the fact that the Navy was actually designed around the principle of being larger and more powerful than the next two largest fleets combined forced the government's hand; new ships were laid down. We on the other hand have no overriding principle to govern how our forces are organized or funded, what size is "correct" or what role they should play, so even very modest programs like buying boots or transport trucks can become derailed, with potentially horrific results down the road.

Once we have the debate on the need and role of the Armed Forces, then we can decide which of the many threats we should be oriented against, what the Order of Battle should look like and what resources we will need to carry out the mission(s) selected for us. An ad hock arrangement like Kirkhill suggests is exactly what we are doing right now, but how does that prepare us to confront Chinese Unrestricted Warfare in Asia, Russian adventurism in the "Near Abroad", trans national terrorism, Islamic radicalism at home or abroad, the scramble for resources in our far north, containing the new 30 years war in then Middle East, Mexican instability driven by narcotics gangs etc? Any of these threats might be a danger to Canada of Canadian interests, but most will require specialized skill and tool sets to successfully deal with, which may require far too much time and resources to gain and integrate to deal with a crisis.

On an even more conceptual level, what are we preparing to fight? Naval war to keep the SLOC open for Canadian and Western trade? Fighting COIN or 4GW to ensure stability in regions we deem important? Conventional mid to high intensity war? SoF missions (and defending against enemy SoF operators)?

Until these issues are actually addressed, we will essentially be blundering from crisis to crisis, and hoping that the adaptability, skill and valour of our service members will be enough to carry us through.
 

Journeyman

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Thucydides said:
One of the real hearts of the problem (and there are several hearts) is that we haven't sat down as a nation and debated what *we* actually want our military forces to do.....
....nor are we likely to.....ever.  And that's reaffirmed by your British battleship analogy.

Canada's geopolitical world has two overarching 'realities':
1) we are at arms' length from pretty much every crisis out there (yes, there is a subset of people bringing their homeland problems here, but by and large they're minimal)
2) because of US security concerns, we are under an American security umbrella -- regardless of whether we or they are happy about it; any direct threat to Canada can expect a US response.

Primarily because of those reasons (yes, there's also unthinking anti-Americanism, tree-hugging gone rampant, varying views on security policy), Canadians have had the luxury of not having to care about security/defence policy.  The overwhelming number of Canadians never think about what they want the military to "do."  The majority of that minority who actually are vocal about our military utility are likely tied to the 'glorious peacekeeper' mythology -- regardless if it was true, or if present circumstances allow for its continuance

The CAF will continue to train in peer-on-peer conventional warfighting, confident that this allows us to scale back to 'lesser' COIN/peacekeeping roles. Neither Canadian citizens nor our politicians will give us very much thought -- veterans' issues and expensive equipment purchases will dominate the news -- but we will be expected to step up to the plate whenever the decision is made to 'send us in.'  That...is what we do.

So all that to say, I don't expect any significant changes to the military/foreign policy nexus, regardless of who is sitting on the right side of the House of Commons.
 

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Thucydides said:
On an even more conceptual level, what are we preparing to fight? Naval war to keep the SLOC open for Canadian and Western trade? Fighting COIN or 4GW to ensure stability in regions we deem important? Conventional mid to high intensity war? SoF missions (and defending against enemy SoF operators)?

Until these issues are actually addressed, we will essentially be blundering from crisis to crisis, and hoping that the adaptability, skill and valour of our service members will be enough to carry us through.

In my recent conversations with senior leaders, more listening I should expand, the conversation is pretty much over. Afghanistan is done, we re back to the backbone of soldier skills. The skills we concentrated on prior to Afghanistan. The idea being we ll "spin up" to whatever we re called to next- and we ll be able to provide as long as our basics are strong.

This of course is concentrating on skills that were on the back burner in some respects during both my careers with the forces. I can't speak to the wisdom, but I have been shown what the future looks like- and it's conventional warfare apparently.

It's could be possible that I m being fed just one side of the fight. But they all seem pretty concluded. Of course I'm junior and don't know much outside of own tiny lane currently so it's possible I misunderstand
 

a_majoor

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Container and Journeyman,

You are both correct (and I am well aware that the "new look" is indeed conventional "near peer" force on force combat), so I probably should have emphasized that my questions were somewhat rhetorical, the die is already cast.

The problem is the die has been cast without really considering what is happening out there, so when "our little army in the field" marches out again I am pretty confident that we will not be facing a "near peer" competitor, but will be confronted with something we are neither trained or equipped to deal with. Even the idea of fighting a near peer competitor is a bit much, we have little in the way of modern anti air, ATGM or EW/cyberwar capability, and only a small handful of modern artillery and armoured systems to take on a "near peer" who most certainly has air power, a fleet of armoured vehicles and an artillery park. Add aggressive use of PSYOPS and media to take the battle right to the TV screens, smartphones and monitors of Canadian citizens and it is quite apparent we are going to have a very difficult time with near peers, unconventional opponents and threats.
 

Edward Campbell

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Here, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail are two articles, both by John Ibbitson, about Justin Trudeau's thoughst on foreign policy:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/justin-trudeaus-foreign-policy-is-rooted-in-nostalgia/article18772651/#dashboard/follows/
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Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy is rooted in nostalgia

JOHN IBBITSON
Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, May. 21 2014

Everything that is attractive about the prospect of Justin Trudeau leading this country, and everything about that prospect that is worrying, can be found in the Liberal Leader’s nostalgic approach to Canada in the world.

Until recently, we had little idea of how Mr. Trudeau planned to manage foreign affairs should he win the next election. That’s understandable; Canadians vote federally based on domestic issues: the economy, social policy, the environment. Any new leader will naturally focus first on these concerns.

Except that much of what appears to be domestic policy is actually foreign policy as well. Will the economy be better or worse off if we ratify new trade agreements with European and Asian nations, as the Conservatives advocate? Will meaningful action to fight climate change improve Canada’s tarnished environmental reputation?

Stephen Harper has discarded decades of Liberal and Progressive Conservative foreign-policy conventions. Canada under the Conservatives has reduced its role in multilateral forums, such as the United Nations and the Commonwealth. The Canadian reputation for even-handedness has given way to a stout defence of democracy in the face of possible aggression, whether in Israel or Ukraine. Humanitarian aid has become economic development aid. Trade has become the top priority at Foreign Affairs. And on Mr. Harper’s watch, Canada abandoned its Kyoto commitment to combat climate change.

What does Mr. Trudeau think of all this? We got a pretty good answer to that question when he met the editorial board of Salam Toronto, an Iranian-Canadian newspaper, a few weeks ago. You can watch that half-hour interview here.

The first topic, naturally, was the Harper government’s decision to close the Canadian embassy in Tehran and to expel Iranian diplomats from Canada. Mr. Trudeau strongly disagrees with the move.

“I’m of the school of international relations that says it’s important to talk to each other,” he told the meeting. “It’s especially important to talk to regimes you disagree with.” And he decried the “weakening of Canada’s fairness and openness to the world.”

He went on to outline what he called “the three pillars” of Canadian foreign policy, as he thinks it should be practised. The first he termed “classic diplomacy,” which involves increasing Canada’s engagement in multilateral forums, while trusting diplomats to represent this country’s interests.

For too many years, under the Conservatives, diplomats have been turned into “partisan mouthpieces, and they get all their talking points from Ottawa,” Mr. Trudeau lamented.

The second pillar, for Mr. Trudeau, is trade. Remarkably, he accused the Harper government of “dragging its feet on important trade files,” and then rushing to get them completed in time for the next election.

The third pillar is development, which Mr. Trudeau described as “the responsibility that Canada has to be creating opportunity and security around the world.” He asserted that Canada could play a role in mediating conflict at times and in places when other countries could not, “because of Americans’ imperialistic connections, because of Europeans’ colonial powers.”

“Canadians have been seen as being able to help,” he concluded. “And over the past years we’ve lost that a little bit, and it’s very important for me to get back to it.”

Although he is young and exudes energy and optimism, Mr. Trudeau’s appeal to Canadians is anchored in nostalgia – for a time when Canada was a fairer place, when we were seen and saw ourselves as more equitable, more conscientious, a compassionate society at home and a good neighbour in the world.

But there are problems with Mr. Trudeau’s approach. First, it’s a bit much for any Liberal to call someone else a laggard on trade. Mr. Trudeau’s predecessors opposed free trade with the United States, reluctantly ratified the North American Free Trade Agreement only because it was a done deal, and then fled from any meaningful new agreements in the face of opposition from domestic interests. That was, for example, why Liberal governments backed away from a trade agreement with South Korea, which the Conservatives finally concluded earlier this year.

Second, Mr. Trudeau echoes one of the less pleasant aspects of Liberal foreign policy: a reflexive anti-Americanism coupled with a smug assertion of Canadian moral superiority.

But most important, the foreign policy that Mr. Trudeau wants to return to is based on a Canada that no longer exists acting in a world that no longer exists. If the Liberal leader is going to convince Canadians that he can be trusted to defend Canadian interests and to represent this country before the world as prime minister, then he will need to demonstrate a greater depth of understanding of this reality than he displayed at the Salam Toronto interview.

This last point is such a large one, and so fundamental, that I’ll examine it in a separate column, tomorrow.

John Ibbitson is a CIGI senior fellow, an award-winning writer and leading political journalist in Canada. Currently on a one-year leave from The Globe and Mail, John is researching, writing and speaking on Canadian foreign policy at CIGI while he works on a new book.

----- AND -----

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/justin-trudeau-cant-ignore-domestic-concerns-in-foreign-policy/article18792207/#dashboard/follows/
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Justin Trudeau can’t ignore domestic concerns in foreign policy

JOHN IBBITSON
Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, May. 22 2014

Justin Trudeau wants to undo a decade of Conservative foreign policy and return Canada to its Pearsonian tradition of being a helpful fixer in the world.

The problem is that the country has changed and the world has changed. If Mr. Trudeau simply wants to turn the clock back, he will fail. The question is whether he has the insight to adapt past Liberal principles to current reality. Those closest to him insist the answer is yes.

As I wrote here on Wednesday, the Liberal Leader outlined his thoughts on how he would conduct foreign policy if he were prime minister at a meeting a few weeks ago with members of Salam Toronto, an Iranian-Canadian publication. You can view that video here.

The Liberal Leader would restore Canada’s standing at the United Nations and other multilateral forums. He would devolve greater responsibility and autonomy to diplomats serving overseas. He would maintain and accelerate the Conservatives’ trade agenda. Most important, he would once again offer Canada’s services as a helpful intervener, unhindered by the Europeans’ colonial past or the United States’ imperialist present.

Mr. Trudeau’s agenda will appeal to many who long to move away from the with-us-or-against-us rhetorical excess of Stephen Harper’s foreign policy. But there are problems with the Liberal leader’s approach.

In my previous column I spoke of the hypocrisy of any Liberal accusing the Conservatives of being laggards on trade, and of the latent anti-Americanism implied by Mr. Trudeau’s remarks. But there is a bigger issue. Mr. Trudeau’s nostalgia for the Pearsonian past fails to recognize that Canada and the world are very different places from a generation ago. It’s simply not possible to go back.

For example: Mr. Trudeau wants to increase Canada’s commitment to peacekeeping. But long before Stephen Harper became prime minister, Canada had withdrawn from any meaningful role in that field. In 1991, Canada contributed more forces to peacekeeping operations than any other country. By 2005, the last year of Paul Martin’s prime ministership, we had dropped to 32nd.

The increased focus on terrorism in the wake of Sept. 11, the war in Afghanistan, the Arab Spring and the winter that followed, the obvious failure of the Kyoto Accord to combat global warming, the rise of China, India, Brazil and other emerging economic superpowers, and now increasing Russian belligerence have all conspired to render the Pearsonian legacy of peacekeeping, shop-talking and soft diplomacy incoherent. Mr. Trudeau may not like Stephen Harper’s foreign policy, but it at least fits with the world as it is.

A senior Liberal official, speaking on background, takes exception to this analysis. The Salam Toronto interview, the official said in a conversation Wednesday, is far from a complete description of Mr. Trudeau’s foreign-policy priorities.

Far from harbouring anti-American sentiments, the Liberals maintain that one of Mr. Trudeau’s top priorities is to improve the strained relationship that has developed between Canada and the United States on Mr. Harper’s watch.

While Mr. Trudeau strongly supports construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, he believes the Conservatives have so mishandled the file that a major reset is required, one that he would vigorously pursue.

Mr. Trudeau would also work to improve Chinese-Canadian relations, which he believes have seriously deteriorated on the Conservatives’ watch.

In that sense, Mr. Trudeau’s Salam Toronto remarks almost seemed like a throw-back, a return to outdated Liberal verities that the new leader has in other important respects abandoned.

Mr. Trudeau is one of many who believe that Conservative foreign policy consists of little more than shopping for votes at home. Whether the subject is Israel, Ukraine, or Canada-U.S. relations, Mr. Harper is “very, very much focused on what is going to play well at the ballot box,” Mr. Trudeau maintained. “That’s not my vision for what Canada can mean.”

He is not alone in this view. At a recent forum hosted by the Centre for International Governance Innovation, the distinguished foreign diplomat Christopher Westall maintained that Conservative foreign policy is largely diaspora-driven.

“Diasporas are a huge problem in foreign policy,” he observed. Immigrants’ unwillingness to sever political ties with their homeland “is a problem with diasporas everywhere,” he added. The duty of political leaders is to transcend the “old views” of immigrant communities and craft a responsible, enlightened foreign policy, something Mr. Westall believes the Harper government has conspicuously failed to do.

Mr. Westall is absolutely right. Canadian Tamils influence Conservative foreign policy toward Sri Lanka; Canadian Sikhs influence Conservative foreign policy toward India; Chinese Canadians influence the Harper government’s approach to China; Ukrainian Canadians influence the Harper government’s approach to Ukraine.

But what would you expect? When Canada’s population was mostly of French, English, Irish and Scottish descent, does anyone believe our foreign policy was anything other than diaspora-driven?

Forgive this repetition, but over the past two decades we have imported the equivalent of two Torontos-worth of immigrants, almost all of them from what used to be called the Third World. Any political party that wants to succeed must earn their support. Political parties that lose the immigrant vote lose the election.

The Liberals believe that they can reconnect with Canada’s immigrant community without pandering to parochial concerns. They believe they can improve Canada’s reputation abroad and revitalize the Canadian economy through trade while recognizing the hard realities of today’s global environment.

If so, Mr. Trudeau’s supporters may be surprised to discover that Canada’s foreign policy under his leadership is essentially what it was under the Conservatives, but with softer language and a warmer smile.

Unless, that is, Mr. Trudeau is unable to escape his nostalgia for the Pearsonian past, in which case his foreign policy will make no sense at all.

John Ibbitson is a CIGI senior fellow, an award-winning writer and leading political journalist in Canada. Currently on a one-year leave from The Globe and Mail, John is researching, writing and speaking on Canadian foreign policy at CIGI while he works on a new book.


Two important points:

    1. The world has changed. Foreign Policy has changed with it. Baby blue beret type (Pearsonian) peacekeeping was Canada's policy choice for one and only one reason: it supported the West in the Cold war.
        It had nothing[/i], nada, Sweet Fanny Adams to do with being "helpful fixers," it was initially, designed to help the Brits avoid being punished by an outraged President Dwight Eisenhower over
        the Anglo-French-Israeli invasion of Egypt in 1957. A very deep slit in the West was a distinct possibility because of British arrogance and French greed and the combined stupidity of both governments.
        Our next Canadian led UN intervention was in Congo, just a year later, and its aim was to foil a Russian attempt to move into Central Africa - we never gave a damn about bringing 'peace' to Congo, just about
        keeping the Russians out ... and so it went, mission after mission: support the West, keep the USSR from gaining in the Third World. That's why we did it.

    2. The diasporas who shape Canadian policy - the domestic part of the equation - has also changed.

M. Trudeau needs to think more and talk less and he needs to start thinking fast.
 

Journeyman

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E.R. Campbell said:
What does Mr. Trudeau think of all this? We got a pretty good answer to that question when he met the editorial board of Salam Toronto, an Iranian-Canadian newspaper, a few weeks ago
A front and centre source for clearly laying out his 'policy thinking' to Canadians.  :not-again:


I'm not sure if it speaks worse for Trudeau or for Canadian voters that playing "Where's Waldo" with bedrock political issues is considered the best bet.
 

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Journeyman said:
A front and centre source for clearly laying out his 'policy thinking' to Canadians.  :not-again:


I'm not sure if it speaks worse for Trudeau or for Canadian voters that playing "Where's Waldo" with bedrock political issues is considered the best bet.


I sat through the whole half hour of his interview. It was painful; M. Trudeau is, to be charitable, shallow.  ::)
 

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I believe "out of his depth in a car park puddle" is the appropriate descriptor.
 

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E.R. Campbell said:
I sat through the whole half hour of his interview. It was painful; M. Trudeau is, to be charitable, shallow.  ::)

Yes but how was his hair and how can you resist those eyes.....  :boke:
 

Edward Campbell

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Three things caught my eye ...

The first is a fairly stinging, and somewhat accurate, critique of Canada's new, Conservative foreign policy which is reproduced her under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/harpers-heroic-ukraine-message-does-not-reflect-reality/article18959539/#dashboard/follows/
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Harper’s heroic Ukraine message does not reflect reality

ROLAND PARIS
Special to The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Jun. 03 2014

Roland Paris is founding director of the Centre for International Policy Studies and associate professor in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. He tweets at @rolandparis.

As Prime Minister Stephen Harper heads to Europe for the G7 summit and anniversary of D-Day, the gap between Canada’s outspoken rhetoric and its diminishing capabilities in international affairs is clearer than ever.

Much of the trip will focus on Russia’s destabilizing actions in Ukraine. First, Mr. Harper will join other leaders in Warsaw to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the end of communist rule in Poland. He and other NATO leaders will likely use the occasion to reaffirm the alliance’s commitment to Poland’s defence. Then he will travel to Brussels for the meeting of the G7, whose member nations will also undoubtedly reiterate their unified opposition to Russia’s behaviour.

However, the prime minister may choose to convey a slightly different message. His government has repeatedly suggested that Canada is leading the Western response to the Ukraine crisis. In the words of Foreign Minister John Baird: “No other government has stood up more forcefully and aggressively against the Russian aggression in Ukraine.”

In fact, the main difference between Canada and its allies has been mainly one of rhetoric, not one of substance.

Ottawa’s language has been unusually strong, including Mr. Harper’s comparison of Russia to Nazi Germany. But Canada’s actions – including targeted sanctions against a limited number of the Kremlin’s supporters, political and economic support for the Kiev government, modest deployment of military assets as part of NATO’s “reassurance package” in Eastern Europe, and the contribution of observers for Ukraine’s election – have been comparable to actions by many other allies.

Mr. Harper, however, seems to have concluded that there are domestic political benefits in portraying himself and Canada as leading the Western response to the Ukraine crisis. This message might convince some at home, but it is unlikely to pass muster with our allies, who are well aware of what Canada is – and is not – doing.

They know, for example, that Canadian defence spending fell to one per cent of gross domestic product in 2013. Among the other 27 members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, only five countries spent a smaller percentage of GDP on defence than Canada. One of them was Luxembourg.

A similar pattern also holds for Canada’s non-NATO partners. Australia, for example, currently spends 1.6 per cent of GDP on defense and recently announced that this figure will increase to 1.8 per cent by mid-2015.

Although Canada’s contributions to the Afghan and Libyan missions were greatly appreciated, our allies also know that Canada was reducing, not increasing, its commitment to NATO immediately before the Ukraine crisis. Ottawa abruptly ended its participation in the alliance’s joint ground and airborne radar systems, for instance. One of NATO’s first acts during the Ukraine crisis was to deploy these radar planes to Eastern Europe – without Canadian crew members.

Given all this – and the fact that Canada’s actions on the Ukraine crisis have been similar to those of our allies – the Harper government’s contention that it is leading this response is not only implausible, but also condescending towards our allies. After all, it suggests that they lack Canada’s moral clarity and political resolve.

While most countries speak simultaneously to domestic audiences and foreign actors, the Harper government seems to be very focused on the home game. If doing so weakens Canada’s position internationally, this is a price that the Conservatives seem willing to pay. Canada seems to have largely lost interest in long, steady, patient work of cultivating and maintaining relationships.

Indeed, the Harper government seems to regard diplomacy itself as morally questionable. They have suggested that Canadians have a choice between either Mr. Harper’s foreign policy or the abandonment of their principles.

Of course, this is poppycock. Skilled diplomacy – the ability to persuade others to do what you want them to do – is a prerequisite for upholding moral principles and Canadian interests. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, for instance, succeeded in galvanizing international opposition to apartheid – a moral stance, if there ever was one – because he took diplomacy seriously. He nurtured a broad array of international relationships and worked through the Commonwealth and other institutions to mobilize a coalition.

By contrast, Canada’s recent neglect of diplomacy may be reducing our ability to get things done – even with our closest ally, the United States. The Harper government has not hidden its exasperation with the Obama administration, including on the Keystone XL pipeline. But should they be surprised? You can only lecture people so many times before they reach for the mute button.

Taking credit for leading the West’s response to Russia fits this pattern. If it ends up irritating allies who have done just as much as Canada, and who believe themselves to be no less moral, then so be it. The Harper government seems determined to sustain a narrative that portrays Canada – and, specifically, Mr. Harper – as a brave outlier in international relations, leading the West in the face of Russian aggression.

It is a heroic image. But like other romantic tales, it is largely fictional.


There are several points where I agree with prof Paris' analysis:

    1. Canada is, as the saying goes, "all hat and no cattle" when it comes to sharing the West's defence burden. Our defence spending is only half what our national self respect should demand;

    2. Our stance on Ukraine is mostly aimed at a domestic political audience - so is much, too much, of our foreign policy; and

    3. Our diplomacy is weak, BUT this is not because Prime Minister Harper dislikes diplomacy. It is because our foreign affairs staff is weak.

The weakness in our foreign ministry is not Prime Minister Harper's fault. It goes all the way back to circa 1970s when Pierre Trudeau set out, consciously, to remake then then Department of External Affairs into something acceptable to him ... and what was there, the foreign service of Hume Wrong, Lester Pearson, Norman Robertson and Arnold Heeney was everything Trudeau seemed to despise: Oxford educated Canadian Anglos, committed internationalists, personal friends of many American and British public servants and accustomed to working with them in the corridors of power, often shutting out elected people. DFAIT, as it is now, has never recovered from the 1970s. Harper mistrusts it, as did Paul Martin, Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney because they (the foreign service staff) were, and still are, ineffective, not because they were Liberal partisans or full of conservative ideas.

There are some, a few, principles to our foreign policy but they are not always evident. The Conservatives want to emphasize trade and commerce but they have important constituencies that oppose free trade.

 

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The other two items are also from the Globe and Mail:

    1. The first is a report on the latest variation of "Buy American" which will do damge to Canada's interests; and

    2. The second is a commentary on an old/new idea from Prof Nouriel Roubini.

I agree with Prof Roubini and Michael Babad's commentary. That, not Keystone XL, is why Prime Minister Harper is so impatient with president Obama: Obama is bought and paid for by the protectionists, led by Sen Harry Reid. Please listen to Michael Babad, it's only 2 minutes but he's spot on.


Edit to add:

Here is a link to the piece by Prof Roubini which I find both persuasive and frightening.

Caveat lector: I don't like populists; I didn't like the old, old CCF, I didn't like John Diefenbaker or Preston Manning. I may not have though much of Mike Pearson's politics but I thought he was closer to the Canadian political centre, the holy grail, than was 'Dief the Chief.' Maybe some will call me an elitist, maybe I am: I don't like the idea of recalling elected officials or of electing judges and i don't like putting social or cultural judgments in front of coherent policies.

The one policy principle to which Prime Minister Harper has tried to adhere is: trade, freer trade, global free trade.

But there is a large wing of the Conservative Party of Canada that is populist, protectionist and racist. They are an imitation of, although they may have preceded, one wing of the US Tea Party movement. They have too big a voice in Canadian foreign policy.

Sadly the Liberals, the only viable choice for an alternative to the CPC, the only useful 'government in waiting' are worse on too many policy fronts - including trade, defence and foreign affairs, as far as we can see from what little M. Trudeau has said about anything.
 

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Our PM Harper was actually described as the role model for the new Aussie PM Tony Abbott, according to the CBC National on Abbott's arrival in Ottawa today. The same report also mentioned how former Australian PM John Howard was in turn the role model for Harper when he was the leader of the opposition.

Toronto Star

Australian PM Tony Abbott on first visit to Canada

Tony Abbott and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper may be far apart geographically, but ideologically they’re practically joined at the hip.

OTTAWA—Geographically, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Prime Minister Stephen Harper are about as far apart as two people can get. Ideologically and politically, though, they’re practically joined at the hip.

Abbott arrived in Canada on Sunday for a two-day visit to Ottawa, a stopover on his trip to the United States — a mission to let North American investors know Australia “is open for business.”

In a statement last week announcing the visit, Harper said the two countries “enjoy a special friendship, underpinned by strong social, political and historical ties.”

The two men were expected to discuss not only trade, but regional and international issues of interest. Australia, like Canada, is in the process of enacting a number of austerity measures aimed at eventually balancing the country’s federal budget.

Many of the cuts being made down under, however, appear to more closely mirror those made by Canada’s former Liberal government under Jean Chretien in the mid-1990s.

The Abbott government’s most recent budget saw billions of dollars in health care and education expenses transferred to state governments over several years, sparking a renewed debate over federal-state relations.

(...EDITED)
 

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Perhaps this has something to do with the Philippines being one of the larger contributors of immigrants and temporary foreign workers to Canada in recent years?

Please note the other countries highlighted below chosen as "countries of focus" for Canada's global aid program.

Interaksyon (Philippine News site)

Canada picks Philippines as a 'Country of Focus' for its global aid program
By: Pots de Leon, InterAksyon.com
June 29, 2014 12:08 AM

MANILA - The Canadian government has designated the Philippines as a "Country of Focus" of its international development assistance program, a move seen to boost its support for the country’s poverty eradication campaign, among others.

The move drew swift praise from Manila’s Department of Foreign Affairs, which said in a statement the Philippines’ selection as Country of Focus will enhance already satisfactory bilateral relations. 


The DFA noted Canada’s quick and generous response in the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in November 2013; and its sustained involvement in peace and development programs in Mindanao.

In a statement, the Canadian Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development said that the Philippines as Country of Focus would receive Canada's yearly development assistance fund – along with Burma, Mongolia, Burkina Faso, Benin, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Jordan were chosen based on "their real needs, their capacity to benefit from aid, and their alignment with Canadian foreign policy priorities".

According to Canadian Minister of International Development and La Francophonie Christian Paradis, his government has also increased the proportion of Canada's bilateral assistance from 80 to 90 percent to ensure the greatest results for those countries in need.

(...EDITED)
 

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See the second edit here, please or here for an opinion piece about Prime Minister Harper's foreign policy judgment, with which, I'm sure, Paul Heinbecker et al will disagree.
 

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I think John Ibbitson is being a tad optimistic in this column, which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Ac when he suggests that the Liberals hove, somehow, cozied up to the Conservative foreign policy:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/little-daylight-between-harper-and-trudeaus-foreign-policy/article19722084/#dashboard/follows/
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Little daylight between Harper and Trudeau’s foreign policy

JOHN IBBITSON
The Globe and Mail

Published Wednesday, Jul. 23 2014

Our turbulent times reveal how emphatically, and how permanently, the Harper government has transformed Canada’s foreign policy.

Though Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has called for a ratcheting-down of hardline Conservative rhetoric and a return to Canada’s role as an honest broker in the world, when push comes to shove, Liberals and Conservatives are shoving together.

As I wrote earlier this year, the Conservative government has rejected the old bipartisan consensus that Canada should play the role of helpful fixer, of referee, of peacekeeper in foreign affairs.

Tory rhetoric has been hardnosed and Tory actions emphatic in support of Canadian (or at least Conservative) values. That approach cost Canada a seat at the United Nations Security Council and generated warnings from critics at home that this country was squandering its hard-won reputation as a valuable intermediary in times and in regions of conflict.

One of those critics is Mr. Trudeau. “I’m of the school of international relations that says it’s important to talk to each other,” he said earlier this year. “It’s especially important to talk to regimes you disagree with.” And he decried the “weakening of Canada’s fairness and openness to the world.”

That may be Liberal rhetoric, but that is not how Liberals have reacted to recent events in Gaza and Ukraine.

No country acted as promptly or emphatically as Canada in support of democratic protests against the Yanukovych government in Kiev, and in blaming Russia for the violence that followed his ouster.

After the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, Stephen Harper wasted no time holding Russian President Vladimir Putin responsible for the tragedy. We can expect a new and tougher round of sanctions. This time Europe may join Canada and the United States in punishing the regime in Moscow for stoking the rebellion in eastern Ukraine.

But although there is solidarity between Canada and its allies in responding to events in Ukraine, the Conservatives’ unqualified support for Israel has left the Harper government offside during the latest crisis in Gaza.

Earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama said: “We have serious concerns about the rising number of Palestinian civilian deaths and the loss of Israeli lives.” The administration is trying to balance Israel’s right to defend itself with concern over the death toll inside Gaza.

But the Canadian government is having none of it.

“Prime Minister Harper confirmed Canada remains steadfastly in support of Israel’s right to defend itself as long as the terrorist attacks by Hamas continue,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a recent statement. Ready doesn’t get any readier than that.

And how have the Liberals responded to recent events? There is not a sliver of daylight between the Liberal and Conservative approaches.

Liberals take a “very strong line in support of Ukraine, and it’s really important for me personally as a Ukrainian-Canadian,” MP Chrystia Freeland told The Globe and Mail. “For us as a party, we think Canada is stronger in supporting Ukraine if we don’t play politics with this issue.”

But surely on Gaza the Liberals and the Conservatives differ. Surely Mr. Trudeau would echo Mr. Obama in warning about the escalating loss of life. As it turns out, not so much.

At first, the Liberals urged all sides to pursue a ceasefire. The Conservatives also support a ceasefire.

But as the crisis worsened, the Liberals toughened their stand – in favour of Israel.

“Israel has the right to defend itself and its people,” the Liberal Party website declares. “Hamas is a terrorist organization and must cease its rocket attacks immediately.”

Liberal MP Marc Garneau echoed the stance. “Israel has no choice but to defend itself,” he said in an interview with Postmedia. “… We would do the same thing here in our country.”

For genuine opposition to the Conservative line in Kiev and Gaza, you have to turn to the NDP. Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar has protested that Canada is “not actually playing a constructive role,” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “No one is going to call us to help negotiate things behind the scenes because of our stated position.”

And when MH17 crashed, Mr. Dewar criticized Mr. Harper’s swift condemnation of Russia as ultimately responsible for the attack. “I think the tone was inappropriate,” he maintained.

But if the polls are to be believed, only Mr. Trudeau or Mr. Harper are likely to be prime minister after the next federal election. And on the basis of the Liberal response to events in Gaza and Ukraine, it appears the Liberals may be more moderate in word, but follow the Conservative line in deed, when it comes to foreign affairs.

Canada has become a more conservative place under Stephen Harper, in the world as well as at home. At least as far as foreign policy is concerned, nothing is likely to change, no matter who is in charge.

John Ibbitson is a CIGI senior fellow, an award-winning writer and leading political journalist in Canada. Currently on a one-year leave from The Globe and Mail, John is researching, writing and speaking on Canadian foreign policy at CIGI while he works on a new book.

Along with other CIGI experts, Mr. Ibbitson will be contributing at
www.cigionline.org/blogs, where this post was originally published.


It's no secret, I hope, that I support Prime Minister Harper's foreign policy, for the most part, more than I support most CPC policies.

I agree with John Ibbitson that M. Trudeau, himself, has taken positions that are not too far away from Prime Minister Harper's, but that's a long way from suggesting that the Liberal platform will be in any way responsible on foreign policy issues. The Liberals have not had a coherent foreign policy since Lester Pearson brought M. Trudeau's father into the government about 50 years ago. Even when there was a strong leader (e.g. Prime Ministers Trudeau and Chrétien) there were deep divisions within the party and, now and again (see e.g. Mitchell Sharp and John Manley), open revolts in cabinet.


----------

Edit to add:


And the Ottawa Citizen suggests that Thomas Mulcair is shifting the NDP's policy away from knee-jerk support for the Palestinians towards a more balanced view. Some NDP supporters will find this change to the "party line" hard to swallow.
 

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This story, reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Act from the Globe and Mail, illustrates another aspect of the Harper/Baird foreign policy approach:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/globe-politics-insider/conservatives-opt-for-twitter-diplomacy-in-the-gaza-conflict/article19735604/#dashboard/follows/
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Conservatives opt for Twitter diplomacy in the Gaza conflict

SUBSCRIBERS ONLY

Campbell Clark
The Globe and Mail

Published Thursday, Jul. 24 2014

Canada has never done diplomacy like this before. Vivian Bercovici, the Canadian ambassador in Tel Aviv, is online and unequivocally in sync with Israel’s government, at a time when it is locked in a conflict in Gaza.

The narrative that she’s written on Twitter, in bursts of 140 characters or fewer, has garnered notice. It’s not traditional diplomacy. It echoes Israel’s government. And it’s very different from the things her fellow ambassadors from pro-Israel allies, such as Australia or the U.S., are tweeting.

This is new, even though the Israel-Hamas conflict isn’t. Canadian diplomats took to social media slowly, mostly in the past year. And Ms. Bercovici isn’t a career diplomat: She’s a political appointee recruited six months ago precisely because she’s sympatico with the pro-Israel views of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. She tweets like it, too.

The online Times of Israel noticed her pro-Israel tweets, and suggested in an article this week that they cross, “or at least skirt,” the line between diplomacy and advocacy. Roland Paris, University of Ottawa research chair in international security, suggested his Twitter followers check out her feed for a glimpse of the Harper government’s Mideast policies. “Looks like communications channel of Israeli [government],” he tweeted.

A lot of Ms. Bercovici’s Twitter stream is tweets of Israeli government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. An aide to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, Rick Roth, noted, as tweeters do, that retweeting doesn’t necessarily mean an endorsement; she’s reflecting Israel back to Canadian followers. And many of Ms. Bercovici’s tweets have been about events in Israel, notably about the disruptions caused by Hamas rockets fired into Israel.

Ms. Bercovici’s tweets aren’t pre-approved in Ottawa, but they are expected to be roughly in line with Canadian policy. And Mr. Baird’s office has no complaints.

Her following is modest. But her tweets are part of Canada’s social media presence in Israel, and about Israel. And it’s very different from other nations’ tweets, in substance and tone.

“‘Activists’ disseminating lies & hatred: ask yourselves y u r silent when Israeli civilians targeted by #hamas rockets #IsraelUnderAttack,” Ms. Bercovici tweeted last Friday.

On the same day, Australia’s ambassador to Israel, Dave Sharma, tweeted this: “Concerned by #Gaza escalation; urge all effort to minimise civilian casualties. Condemn Hamas for repeatedly refusing to agree to ceasefire.”

One tweet doesn’t stand for either ambassador’s overall message, but they illustrate some of the difference. Ms. Bercovici’s tone is more advocate’s argument than standard diplomatic style. Some of the substance is different, too.

The point of Ms. Bercovici’s July 18 tweet – underlining Hamas’s barrage of rockets aimed at civilians in Israel – was also made by other Western ambassadors on Twitter, who condemned the rockets and expressed support for Israel’s right to defend itself.

But the Canadian ambassador hasn’t picked up a theme that her colleagues, such as Mr. Sharma and U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro, have repeated: calling on both sides to minimize civilian casualties.

“That’s a key point that has been missing in almost all of Canada’s official communications on this crisis,” said Mr. Paris. The Canadian government seems to be working against calls for restraint to avoid civilian casualties, he said, “characterizing expressions of concern as moral equivalence” between Israel and Hamas.

But Ms. Bercovici’s tweets are in line with Canadian government policy, Mr. Paris noted. Canadian policy and Israeli policy are now in lockstep. In a conflict where part of the battle is over the narrative, Canada is probably doing what Mr. Netanyahu’s government would like it to do, he said. It’s probably only marginally effective, he believes.

Ms. Bercovici’s tweeting won’t shake the world. Her Twitter followers number fewer than 2,000. It appears slightly more than 100 are in Israel – most are in Canada. That doesn’t account for reach through retweets and mentions, but her critics seem more active than her supporters, accusing her of being a propagandist and of taking a one-sided view of the conflict’s victims.

But in Ottawa, the government is happy. Mr. Roth said her job is to represent the Canadian position, “which she’s done very well.”


A few points:

    Notwithstanding the views of e.g. the Laurentian elites Ms. Bercovici is "in line with Canadian government policy" and she is representing the established foreign policy of Canada - that's what ambassadors do, isn't it?

    Why resort to Twitter? This is, I think, a John Baird innovation; he wants diplomats abroad to 'represent' the government to Canadians at home; and

    There is a touch of Goebbels in all this. He famously said "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it;" I'm certainly not suggesting that diplomats are lying but the idea is that they can repeat an
    unpopular view so often that, eventually, some people will change their minds.
 

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This 'column,' which is reproduced under the Fair Dealing provisions of the Copyright Ac from the Globe and Mail, could have gone in any number of threads but I think it belongs here as a statement of Canada's foreign policy values:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/our-duty-is-to-stand-firm-in-the-face-of-russian-aggression/article19767742/?click=sf_globe#dashboard/alerts
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Our duty is to stand firm in the face of Russian aggression

STEPHEN HARPER
Contributed to The Globe and Mail 
Harper-New.jpg


Last updated Saturday, Jul. 26 2014

Stephen Harper is the Prime Minister of Canada

The world is saddened and rightfully outraged by images of the charred remnants of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, and by the loss of almost 300 people from 11 countries, strewn across fields in eastern Ukraine. While the grim work of identifying victims’ remains and tracking down the perpetrators of this appalling crime is just beginning, the world can be certain of one thing: There can be no weakening of our resolve to punish the Putin regime for threatening the peace and security of eastern and central Europe.

Although we may refer to militants in eastern Ukraine as “pro-Russian separatists,” we are not confused by who, and what, they really are: an extension of the Russian state. They derive their material, political and logistical support from the Putin regime, and their criminal aggression and recklessness reflect the values of their Russian benefactors. Some have suggested that these agents of the Putin regime may have shot the plane down by accident. We do not, and may never, know. But accident or no accident, the blood is on the hands of the men who took such a risk and of the government that encouraged them to do so. Even if they did not intend to kill hundreds of innocent civilians, there is no denying their intent to continue waging a war on behalf of a regime that remains in violation of international law for its illegal occupation of Crimea.

Russia’s aggressive militarism and expansionism are a threat to more than just Ukraine; they are a threat to Europe, to the rule of law and to the values that bind Western nations. Canada will not stand idly by in the face of this threat.

That is why we have taken a strong stand, imposing a broad range of sanctions against those entities and individuals responsible for the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, Canada has imposed sanctions on nearly 150 individuals and entities. Earlier this week we broadened our approach, announcing economic sanctions against key sectors of the Russian economy.

It is why Canada has pledged more than $220-million in loan and loan guarantees which, once the appropriate conditions have been met to ensure that the funds are being used for their intended purposes, will help Ukraine to stabilize its economy and promote economic and social development. It is why we are providing training for the Ukrainian military, as well as Canadian military personnel and equipment to NATO’s reassurance package in eastern and central Europe.

It is also why, last spring, G7 leaders decided to suspend preparations for the 2014 G8 Summit scheduled to take place in Sochi and convened instead as the G7 in Brussels. Through its actions, Russia under President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated that it does not share the values of this community of nations, dedicated as we are to democracy, international security, and the rule of law. Given this, it is difficult to foresee any circumstance under which Mr. Putin’s Russia could be readmitted to the family of G7 nations.

Along with the sanctions imposed by our American and European allies, the measures undertaken by the international community are having an impact on the Russian economy. Investments are dropping and capital is leaving the country.

The steps Canada has taken have not been made without careful consideration of their potential impact on Canadian business interests abroad and at home. Like our allies, we will put our national interests first, but we will not allow business interests alone to dictate our foreign policy. With Mr. Putin’s Russia increasingly autocratic at home and dangerously aggressive abroad, now is not the time to ease the diplomatic and economic pressure on the regime. Sustained, strong and co-ordinated action among like-minded countries is the best way to ensure that our actions have the maximum impact on the Putin regime.

Mr. Putin claims to abide by notions of stability, the rule of law and the peaceful settlement of international disputes, and yet we have seen reports this week of more Russian troops being moved to the border with Ukraine, while weapons and other supplies continue to flow freely over the border with his approval. It is time Mr. Putin matched his words with actions. He must reverse his course in Ukraine. He must withdraw his troops from the Ukrainian border, stop the flow of weapons and militants into Ukraine, and use his influence to persuade the militants, currently operating with the support of his regime, to lay down their weapons and cease the violence. He must also work to ensure that those investigating the shooting down of MH17 are not impeded in any way in their efforts to uncover the truth behind the deliberate or reckless targeting of innocent civilians.

The choice is Mr. Putin’s. He can take these actions to recommit Russia to peace, democracy, and the rule of law or he can persist with the politics of intimidation and aggression, in which case Canada – and its allies – must take further, more punitive steps to isolate Russia from the rest of the world’s democratic states. The values and principles we cherish as Canadians, and for which so many generations have fought and died, demand it.


I trust that, by now, Army.ca members know that I am a Conservative Party of Canada member and supporter and that I, especially, support Canada's current, Conservative, foreign policy.

With specific regard to Russia, Mr Harper says, and I agree that, "Russia under President Vladimir Putin has demonstrated that it does not share the values of this community of nations, dedicated as we are to democracy, international security, and the rule of law."

On a broader front, with regard to Israel, for example, I agree that "there is no denying their [Hamas] intent to continue waging a war on behalf of a regime that remains in violation of international law," and so "the values and principles we cherish as Canadians" require us o support Israel even as we mourn the unfortunate deaths of civilians.

I wish Canadian policy required us, in all our dealings, including with e.g. China, to give "careful consideration of [our actions'] potential impact on Canadian business interests abroad and at home;" instead the government listens to a small but vocal minority of racist, socially conservative Sinophobes.
 
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