Canada in 2011: International relations/Foreign policy
Derrick O’Keefe: Michael Ignatieff: Intellectual hypocrisy
As Canada’s Liberal leader, the intellectual- turned-politician became an uncritical supporter of Israeli aggression.
Under Stephen Harper’s Conservatives, Canada has developed a reputation as the most pro-Israel government in the western world.
(Al Jazeera) Three years ago, Canada refused to utter a word of criticism about Israeli war crimes committed during Operation Cast Lead against Gaza. Before that, back in 2006, the first year of the Harper government, Canada insisted that Israel’s attacks on Lebanon were “a measured response” – even after a Canadian family and a Canadian UN peacekeeper were among the victims killed by the intensive Israeli bombing.
So it was no surprise that when, in November, a Canadian boat with the Freedom Waves Flotilla to Gaza was hijacked in international waters by Israel’s navy, there was not a word of concern uttered by the Harper government for the Canadians detained in an Israeli jail. That same month, Defence Minister Peter MacKay met with his counterpart Ehud Barak to announce new military co-operation between Israel and Canada. The Harper government also obliged with some saber rattling and the announcement of new, strengthened sanctions against Iran.
Although Canada never deserved its reputation as a “fair broker” in the Middle East, there has been a marked shift in recent years culminating in loud, explicit support for Israel’s wars of aggression and its occupation. But Canada’s ignominious status as enabler of Israeli occupation on the world stage has also been facilitated by rampant political cowardice among opposition politicians. In many cases they know better, but remain silent for fear of bearing the brunt of an organised and well-funded lobby that defends Israeli policies.
John Baird crafts Canadian foreign policy with a hard edge
After five years of minority government, when a focus on short-term politics meant leaving relations with some parts of the world untended, Mr. Baird now has the task of broadening Conservative foreign policy and planning for the longer term. But it’s not a mandate to please all. The image of Canada seeking to play honest broker and likable conciliator on the world stage is being changed by a deliberate edge to Conservative foreign policy. There’s a willingness to send the military, a high priority on economics and less qualms about raising hackles.
Canada won’t vie for seat on UN Security Council: Baird
(CTV) The Harper government will not mount another campaign for a seat on the United Nations Security Council after Canada’s historic defeat last year, says Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird.
“It’s not something I envisage,” Baird told The Canadian Press when asked whether he planned another bid for a two-year, temporary term on the powerful council in the coming years.
While Baird said, “you never want to stand for something and not be elected,” the often-combative rookie foreign minister was defiant and cutting in his reasoning for the decision.
“Listen, I mean, we don’t go along to get along. That’s just not a phrase,” said Baird, using the oft-repeated mantra that has morphed into the mantra for his first six months as Canada’s top diplomat.
Baird first used it at least eight times during his maiden speech to the UN General Assembly in September.
Many Loose Ends in Canada-EU Trade Deal
Opposition to the “comprehensive” trade deal keeps eyes on investment protection, public services, local procurement, and intellectual property.
Formal negotiations on a proposed Canada-EU free-trade agreement are now over. With the end of a ninth round of talks in Ottawa this past October, provincial, territorial, and EU member-state governments have been cut out of the picture (temporarily) so federal and European Commission officials can tie up loose ends in trouble areas. The Harper government claims an agreement with the EU is still possible for early 2012, but European legislators have been told the summer is more likely. There are technical and political reasons for the delay. The eurozone crisis is likely not one of them, however, and may actually increase the resolve of otherwise blasé EU member states to seal this deal with Canada.
Canada, Mexico ask to join pan-Pacific trade talks
(Reuters) – Canada and Mexico want to join talks to forge a free trade area in the Asia-Pacific region, giving a significant boost to the U.S.-led initiative to foster economic growth by tearing down trade barriers.
North American leaders cancel planned meeting after Mexican minister’s death
The abrupt cancellation of a meeting between leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico this weekend is opening up an opportunity for a one-on-one meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. President Barack Obama. A meeting could re-energize what otherwise may be a lacklustre few days for Canada in Hawaii.
While the 21 members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum are expected to outline a series of steps to move forward with a trade agenda, the real meat of the meetings will be served on the sides at negotiations for the formation of a new economic bloc.
Doors to the Trans Pacific Partnership remain closed to Canada, and Japan’s recent addition to the countries involved in the TPP is likely to have Canadian officials asking pointed questions over the next two days of APEC.
Membership in the TPP is coveted because the deal is being led by the U.S., and because it links together hotly-sought after markets in the Asian Pacific region.
APEC Hawaii Summit: Canada Remains Offside On New Asia-Pacific Trade Deal
(Canadian Press via HuffPost) “APEC has tried to find ways to bridge the interests of a country like Canada, which is fully advanced with countries, whose economies are much less advanced,” said Joseph Caron, who served as Canada`s senior APEC official in 1998, as well as ambassador to China and Japan in the 2000s.
“What you have is collaboration on development of a common language on the things like customs procedures or security of goods transportation, all the nuts and bolts that have to be bolted together.”
Asia-Pacific trade, U.S.-Canada irritants on agenda as Harper heads to Hawaii
(Ottawa Citizen) The back-to-back summits in Honolulu over the weekend come at a key time for the Harper government on multiple fronts. The Conservatives are looking to promote their free-trade agenda with an Asia-Pacific region quickly growing in economic clout, but the government also wants to debunk what some observers say is a bad Canadian reputation for failing to complete trade deals.
Israel intercepts Canadian ship bound for Gaza
(AFP via National Post) The Canadian boat has 12 people on board, five of them journalists, and has a cargo of $30,000 (22,000 euros) worth of medical aid and letters of solidarity, organisers said.
At G20, Harper leaves behind ghosts of his former isolationism
Given the extreme interconnectedness of world finance and Canada’s reliance on trade, the prime minister has had to become a devout multilateralist. Intriguing, for a man who only a decade ago put his name to a letter urging a provincial premier to “build firewalls” around Alberta.
Canada takes weak stand against UNESCO
After the vote, the United States quickly announced it would cut off its funding to the organization. On Tuesday, Canada almost followed suit — it has cut off “voluntary” payments, but will continue to make its “non-voluntary” payments. That oughtta teach ‘em.
Canada silent, US, EU oppose Israeli East Jerusalem colony plans
(CJPME) Canada’s Foreign Affairs website acknowledges that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and constitute “a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.”
John Baird bares teeth in offering Canada’s defence of Israel at UN
Canada used its United Nations speaking slot Monday to lambaste opponents of Israel as no better than the appeasers who allowed fascism and communism to flourish before the Second World War. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird delivered Canada’s views to the General Assembly in a speech that put meat on the bones of the Harper government’s unflinching support of Israel.
Canada took the wrong side
By Paul Heinbecker,
(The Ottawa Citizen) Our government’s opposition to the Palestinians’ application to join the UN may be such a blunder; it will in any case likely burden Canadian foreign policy for years to come.
The government has characterized the position it is taking on the Palestinian application as principled and democratic. But many others see it as merely supporting the stance of a very hard-line Netanyahu government, beholden to intransigent and fundamentalist parties.
Canada seeks Buy American exemption
Previous NAFTA deal set to expire Sept. 30
(CBC) Minister of International Trade Ed Fast, citing concerns over a potential “trade barrier initiative,” has launched a round of consultations with Washington to negotiate an extension for a Canadian exemption before a Sept. 30 deadline.
Obama’s proposed $447-billion US American Jobs Act is intended to give a much-needed jolt to a stalled U.S. economy, but in an interview with Evan Solomon on CBC’s Power & Politics Wednesday, Fast characterized the bill as misguided.
“We believe that protectionism is counterproductive, especially during these difficult economic times around the world,” the minister said, adding that 75 per cent of Canada’s trade is with the U.S.
Canada lifts sanctions against Libya – but assets remain frozen
(Globe & Mail) Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada is lifting the unilateral sanctions it imposed against the country because dictator Moammar Gadhafi is no longer in power.
“Canada is taking this first step to remove our unilateral sanctions that were put in place against the Gadhafi regime in order to assist the Libyan people transition justly, safely and securely towards a democracy,” Mr. Harper said. The sanctions prevented Canadian companies doing any business with the Gadhafi government. Suncor Energy and SNC Lavalin are among several Canadian companies with operations in the oil-rich country. The estimated $2-billion in Libyan assets held by Canadian institutions remains frozen because it is part of broader United Nations sanctions still in effect.
Kyle Matthews: Obama is upstaging Canada on the human rights front
(Ottawa Citizen) The Will to Intervene Project, an initiative spearheaded by the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies at Concordia University, issued an in-depth study in 2009 that laid out in meticulous detail what measures Canada and the U.S. could implement to improve their capacities to prevent and swiftly interdict mass atrocity crimes. The U.S. government has now acted on three of the recommendations advanced in that study, while the Canadian government has yet to implement a single one. President Obama’s directive states plainly that the prevention of mass atrocities is a concern of national security interest, and this is true for Canada too.
ALLAN GOTLIEB and COLIN ROBERTSON: We must restore our diplomatic core
(Globe & Mail) Mr. Harper seems to foresee a highly active foreign policy, and a very independent one. “We also have a purpose,” he said. “And that purpose is no longer just to go along and get along with everyone else’s agenda.”
Implicit in Mr. Harper’s statements is a recognition that Canada’s national interests are at the core of our foreign policy and have never been more demanding than they are today. To do so requires rebuilding our diplomatic resources to the stature they had in the postwar era when it was widely acknowledged that the impact of Canada’s contributions far exceeded its size.
The negotiation of a new accord with the United States to reverse the hardening of our border, the need to protect the access of our energy exports to American markets, the need to create new markets for our oil sands, the negotiation of a free-trade deal with the European Union and India, the strengthening of our relations with China, the protection of our interests in the Arctic – all are of the highest importance for our national interest and all deserving of the most talented of our human resources.
Cam Sylvester: In Africa, It’s Sickening to See Tories Play Refugee Politics
Here at the bleeding edge of the Somali crisis, I can’t shake the face of Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.
(The Tyee) Walking past the hundreds of stately Somali refugees lined up outside the gates of the UN High Commission for Refugees here in Nairobi — men in tidy shirts and slacks, women in baby blue, fuchsia or copper chadors — the pasty face of Jason Kenney floats into my mind.
CP: India courting Canada for nuclear joint venture
(RCI) The Canadian Press news agency is reporting that India is looking for Canadian partners to sell nuclear reactors in new markets, like Africa. The effort comes in the wake of a landmark agreement signed between India and Canada last year on civilian nuclear cooperation. Once it’s ratified by Parliament, the deal will allow the export of Canadian uranium to India. The Canadian Nuclear Association says Indian officials and business executives have been visiting Canada in a search of partnerships. (Toronto Star)
Perplexing silence hangs over proposed Canada, E.U. trade pact
When Canada’s premiers gather in Vancouver next week, it’s hard to imagine that the subject of trade talks with the European Union won’t come up. The potential ramifications of any deal for the provinces are enormous.
And yet there has been little discussion in Canada about the proposed Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), which is perplexing given the far-reaching implications for this country of any pact with the EU. We’re talking about a trade deal that in many ways is as big as the North American free-trade agreement and, in several instances, poses potential problems for Canadians as serious and disturbing as any in the 1994 accord with the Americans. … It all seems odd. During the NAFTA talks, Canada had an on-going national debate about the merits of that trade deal. And yet, for a trade pact that some argue is even bigger in scale, there is a deafening silence across the land. Canadians have virtually no idea of what is being negotiated on their behalf. They should. The stakes are enormous.
Canada on track to clinch EU free-trade deal, Tories say
(Globe & Mail) Canadians officials are declining to release details on what this country is offering the EU in terms of greater access to Canada’s markets, saying public release right now would harm Ottawa’s negotiating position.
Mr. Fast however hinted that Canada is prepared to offer the Europeans significant concessions, calling both sides’ offers on goods and government purchasing “ambitious” in scope.
He tried to assure Canadians however that Ottawa will come away from the table with gains, rather than losses, for employees and businesses in Canada.
Baird off to Turkey to find political solution to Libyan crisis
(Vancouver Sun) As part of Canada’s “enhanced engagement strategy” in Libya, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will for the first time Friday meet with allies dedicated to mapping out the political future of the embattled North African country.
Baird announced Wednesday that he’s headed to Istanbul for the fourth meeting of the Contact Group on Libya — a body that includes foreign ministers from Western and Arab countries, Libyan rebel leaders as well as representatives from the United Nations, NATO and various non-governmental organizations.
Five years in Afghanistan: fighting a war within a larger war
(Globe & Mail) Canadian troops formally end five years of combat and counterinsurgency in the dust-blown badlands of southern Afghanistan on Tuesday, heading home in the midst of a guerrilla war of steadily intensifying violence.
They do not leave with any illusions that they have done more than create some breathing space for the Afghan government to assert itself. Nor do they venture any predictions beyond saying that they may have weakened, perhaps only fleetingly, the resilient Taliban insurgency. That realism is perhaps their strongest legacy for the allies who will continue the fight. See also: Brian Stewart: Canada in Kandahar, wrong place, wrong time
Joseph K. Ingram: Aid policy shift may put Canada ahead
(Embassy) Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new government has indicated that Canada would not increase its bilateral assistance to the current governments in Egypt and Tunisia. Instead, it plans to channel more of its foreign aid to them through multilateral institutions such as the European Development Bank, the World Bank and regional development banks
The issue of heightened value-for-money has become key as all OECD donors are under pressure from taxpayers to spend less but get more results from the billions that are spent annually on foreign aid. Canada distributed about $5.1 billion in foreign aid in 2009–10, of which about $1.2 billion went to multilateral organizations. [See The Canadian Development Report 2011 - Transnational Issues, Multilateral Solutions? The Future of Development Cooperation (CDR 2011) provides a retrospective assessment of the successes and failures of multilateral development cooperation over the past 65 years.]
Baird secretly meets with Libyan rebels
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird completed his first major overseas trip Monday, travelling secretly to Libya to meet with the rebels who have been fighting to oust longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Baird also met with humanitarian aid groups working in the country.
While Baird described the clandestine trip as a “fact-finding mission,” he also made a statement about the role Canada will play on the international stage and his role as foreign minister.
That message was that Canada will be a central player in international diplomacy.
Canada backs anti-Gadhafi rebels, pledges aid for Libyan rape victims
Canada has recognized the council of Libyan rebels as the “legitimate representative” of the Libyan people, joining an international move to legitimize the nascent organization as a government-in-waiting in Libya.
John Ibbitson: The Harper Doctrine: Conservative foreign policy in black and white
The Harper Doctrine is so categorical, and so starkly at odds with NDP and Liberal values, that foreign policy could increasingly become a polarizing element in Canadian politics. But at least Canada has a foreign policy again. No one is asking where Canada has gone any more.
(Globe & Mail) Under the Harper Doctrine, Canada doesn’t just support the state of Israel. It supports Israel four-square, without reservation. … The army has been re-equipped, the air force is being re-equipped, the navy will be re-equipped, despite plans to rein in the dramatically enlarged defence budget. And this government doesn’t hesitate to send that military overseas in the service of Canadian and allied interests.
The Harper Doctrine permits real money to be spent on foreign aid, but that aid must mirror core Conservative values – so no funding for abortion or for aid groups seen as soft on Israel.
Canadian foreign policy needs to be more independent: Harper
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper injected some swagger in a speech to party faithful Friday night, vowing his majority government would walk a ruggedly independent line in foreign policy while working at home to erase NDP electoral gains in Quebec.
The Harper Doctrine aggressively asserts Canadian sovereignty in the far north, even as it seeks closer integration with the United States on security and trade.
Canada alters development policy
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is shifting his country’s support away from direct grants to funding multilateral banks to issue loans to address infrastructure, poverty and other development challenges. Harper sees this process as more effective in encouraging countries receiving loans to make development sustainable. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (6/9)
In apparent reversal on Mideast, Baird backs Obama’s 1967-border proposal
Canada wants Israel to use its 1967 borders as the starting point for negotiations with Palestinians seeking independence, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Wednesday, just days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper is said to have prevented such language from being included in a G8 statement on the matter.
On Mideast peace and Arab Spring, Harper stands apart
At a summit that other G8 leaders framed as an effort to seize a moment of opportunity for democracy and peace in the Arab world, Stephen Harper was not swept up: He blocked statements aimed at prodding Israel into peace talks, and was cool to calls to deliver aid to Arab nations that have ousted dictators.
Mr. Harper’s opposition prevented a call for Mideast peace talks based on Israel’s 1967 borders, plus negotiated land swaps – which U.S. President Barack Obama had been pushing – from being included in the G8 declaration. And while the summit pledged a multibillion dollar package of assistance to Egypt and Tunisia to back their transition to democracy, Mr. Harper did not pledge Canadian aid.
On Israel, Harper stands alone at G8 summit
(Globe & Mail) … the Western world’s leaders do plan to use the Deauville, France, G8 summit to present a united front on the conflicts and revolutions of the Middle East. But one of the rare sources of friction has turned out to be the renegade Middle East views of Stephen Harper. … Alone among G8 leaders, the Canadian Prime Minister refuses to embrace the U.S. President’s plan to begin peace negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis on the basis of a return to Israel’s de facto borders as they existed before its 1967 war with neighbouring Arab countries – a precondition, accepted by Arabs and by many previous Israeli leaders and Canadian governments, that would be necessary to get Palestinians back to the table.
Le Canada est le seul pays du G7 à ne pas appliquer efficacement ses lois anticorruption auprès des entreprises canadiennes actives à l’étranger, selon Transparency International. Read more
Canada worst G7 country at preventing bribery: Report
(National Post) Transparency International, an anti-corruption group, released the report, which says Canada has failed to adhere to the Organisation for Economic Development’s Anti-Bribery Convention — in effect since 1999.
The accord was meant to prevent corporate interests from using bribes to influence government officials in business dealings.
Twenty-one of the 37 countries being monitored fall into the category of “little or no enforcement.”
(Canadian Press) .. The report states that “the principal cause of lagging enforcement is lack of political commitment by government leaders.”; Canada, which accounts for 2.5 per cent of global exports, is by far the largest exporter among the 21 countries Transparency International cites for failing to live up to their signatures under a 1997 OECD anti-bribery convention.
The [OECD] issued its own report card in March that found “Canada’s regime for enforcement of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act remains problematic in important areas.”
(Transparency International) The TI Progress Report on Enforcement of the OECD Convention, covering 37 countries, shows that there are still only seven countries with active enforcement, nine with moderate enforcement, and 21 with little or no enforcement.
Will Canada tacitly endorse or actively oppose a corrupt bully?
One of the world’s most corrupt governments, led by Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh, has orchestrated the forced retirement of the esteemed leader of one of the most effective anti-poverty organizations on earth, Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank.
And the Government of Canada will do . . . what?
With any luck, we’re about to find out as Hasina is reported to now be making a much-postponed visit to this country.
The new cabinet
Embassy takes a preliminary look at the new Cabinet and what it means to the country’s international relations:
… While notorious in the House for his partisanship and willingness to do battle, all indications are that Mr. Baird is actually a skilled manager and networker. Unlike Mr. Cannon, he is generally seen as accessible and will be a welcome change for diplomats and foreign delegations frustrated by his predecessor’s reticence. He has also travelled extensively in his various roles and can be expected to undertake more bilateral visits and be more fulsome in his interactions.
However, one key question is the degree to which the Mr. Harper will retain control of the file. Mr. Cannon was largely seen as a spokesman for the prime minister. Mr. Baird is generally seen as having a longer leash, but the exact length is unclear.
Cannon bids farewell, diplomats consider the future
Envoys say majority bodes well, and having a new foreign minister won’t hurt.
(Embassy) In an informal post-election survey, the foreign diplomatic corps in Ottawa was as surprised by his defeat as they were by Liberals’ decimation as a political force. And, perhaps ironically, there was more than a little relief that in the same election the Conservatives finally secured a majority, Mr. Cannon was not re-elected.
CIDA: a broken agency that needs to be overhauled
(Globe & Mail) A recent report undertaken for the Canadian International Council called for the organization to be liberated and reinvented. “CIDA suffers from a range of institutional problems that constrain its ability to deliver aid effectively, flexibly, and in a focused manner,” the report concludes.
And yet, in spite of this abysmal situation, during last week’s election debate, the only reference to foreign aid was a criticism by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff of the government’s decision to reject a $7-million funding request from KAIROS, a church-backed aid group. Where was the larger debate about the broken delivery system? The proposals for reform? The cries for transparency for an organization that receives $5-billion a year?
Jeffrey Simpson: Where in the world is Canada’s foreign policy debate?
(Globe & Mail) … In part, there is no debate about foreign affairs because Canadians are much less interested in the world than we believe ourselves to be. Remember that foreign policy was also absent from the last campaign’s debates, unmentioned by both the parties and the news media.
The worst Canadian foreign-policy setback in decades – a humiliating failure to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council – has scarcely been mentioned. That embarrassing flop was entirely the consequence of the Harper government’s maladroit foreign policy across the range of issues of interest to UN members – that is, the world. Yet Canadians seemed to shrug off the defeat at the time, cocooned in an outdated self-image of moral superiority, and have all but forgotten the failure.
The government is freezing foreign aid. It is slowing down the increase in the defence budget. It is about to make major naval purchases. It proposes to buy a new fighter jet, the F-35, whose expense has already been shown to be higher than the government suggests by the Government Accountability Office of the U.S. government and the Parliamentary Budget Office.
There are negotiations for a new perimeter agreement with the United States. We supposedly have a pro-Latin American engagement policy, but an internal document from Foreign Affairs reveals it to be hollow in substance, while we impose visas on people from every country in Latin America, including our supposed friends in Mexico.
Extent of Canadian involvement in Libya flying under the radar
By Carl Meyer
(Embassy) Canada is now among the top players in the international military intervention in Libya—a fact many defence officials and military scholars say has gone under-reported.
Canada has in place 15 aircraft, one warship, more than 500 military personnel, special forces, and a NATO commander. The military is also engaging ground targets. While this is not as large as commitments made by the United States, France, Britain and Italy, it is more comprehensive than the next 12 countries, and if the US follows through with its promise to pull out many of its fighter jets in the coming days, defence experts argue the weight of the mission will start to be shifted even more toward Canada.
Foreign Assistance Reform Network urges practical steps to modernize Canada’s role in the world
At a time when our country is grappling with a significant deficit and Canadians are being asked to tighten their belts, the Foreign Assistance Reform Network (FARN), led by Engineers Without Borders, is asking all political parties to join us in endorsing a plan to modernize Canada’s approach to foreign assistance – maximizing the impact of every dollar spent and ensuring Canada’s efforts to reduce global poverty are as effective as possible. This plan is about how Canadian taxpayer money can be spent for greater impact, rather than how much money is spent.
Official development assistance accounts for roughly $4.5 billion in taxpayer money. Yet at a time when all parties claim to be focused on responsible spending, Canadians have yet to see any concrete, specific plans to ensure their aid dollars are being spent in the most effective, efficient way possible.
Canada’s anti-bribery efforts need work: OECD
(CBC) Canada needs to do a better job of investigating and prosecuting the bribery of foreign public officials by Canadian companies.
“Canada’s regime for enforcement of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act [CFPOA] remains problematic [emphasis added] in important areas.” The OECD noted Canada has completed the prosecution of only one company since it enacted its foreign bribery law 12 years ago.
Canadian to lead NATO’s Libya mission
Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard of Canada will take over command of the NATO mission in Libya, Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Friday.
Bouchard has been designated to lead NATO’s military campaign in Libya, MacKay told a briefing in Ottawa, noting the full scope of the NATO mission is still evolving.
John Ivison: Embracing unhinged Gaddafi was Canada’s shame
Canadians shaking their heads in disbelief that such a monster is still in power should be aware of our own role in keeping him there
Jeffrey Simpson: Why did Ottawa drag its feet on Mubarak?
It’s too bad … that the Harper government, once again seeing the Middle East through the exclusive prism of Israel’s interest, remained throughout so hesitant, cautious and, frankly, on the wrong side of history in commenting on Egyptian developments.
Treaty negotiator bounced for being ‘too tough, aggressive’
Cluster munitions expert Earl Turcotte to leave Foreign Affairs
Canada’s lead weapons treaty negotiator has been removed from his post after American negotiators complained he was “too tough and aggressive” on behalf of Canada in disarmament talks.
The Citizen has learned that veteran Foreign Affairs arms treaty expert Earl Turcotte has also run afoul of his bosses after apparently objecting to key elements in long-awaited legislation that will see Canada ratify the international Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Canada’s post-2011 role: Help Afghan women
Why should Canada bother helping Afghan women and girls when Canadian combat troops withdraw next year? What right does the West have to force its aggressive, feminist values on the Afghan people?
Canada’s hired guns in Afghanistan slammed in U.S. report
(CTV) Both the Defence and Foreign Affairs departments have employed 11 security contractors in Kabul and Kandahar since 2006, but have kept quiet about the details.
Now documents tabled in Parliament at the request of the New Democrats provide the first comprehensive picture of the use of private contractors, which have been accused of adding to the chaos in Afghanistan.
Thomas Axworthy: Liberty and order are not natural allies
(Citizen Special) Democratic forces are sweeping the Arab world with autocratic leaders toppled in Tunisia, under siege in Egypt, and pressed to reform in Yemen. But as the political tectonic plates shift and major passions are unleashed, Canada sits on the sidelines, worried only about transporting Canadians home to safety. It didn’t have to be this way.
In break with U.S., Ottawa backs gradual handover in Egypt
The Harper government has endorsed the go-slow transition plan set out by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime, signalling that Mideast stability and peace with Israel are its paramount concerns while other Western nations push for faster change.
The Rise of Democracy in the Arab World
by David Kilgour Chair, Latin America and Caribbean policy, Canadian International Council.
As more and more Arab countries turn their backs on autocracy, Canada can be a key player in encouraging democratic governments to take hold.
There are several initiatives Canada could take to encourage democracy in the Arab world. One is to improve our own governance, for instance by improving the dignity of low-income Canadians.
As well, in future dealings with despots, our government should be clearer about Canadian values, including independent media, pluralism, an impartial judiciary, and transparent, accountable, and responsive governance. We should no longer permit persons connected to authoritarian regimes – such as Belhassen Trabelsi, the brother-in-law of ousted Tunisian president Ben Ali – to become permanent residents of Canada.
We should deliver aid to countries with corrupt governance only through civil society organizations in the receiving country or through international NGOs. Building good governance institutions, including human-rights organizations, should be a major focus. CIDA is currently disbursing $20 million to Egypt and $1.3 million to Tunisia every year. With the strong likelihood of severe food shortages arising almost immediately in both countries, CIDA should announce a special food relief and deliver it quickly.
In essence, what Egyptians, Tunisians, and others in the Arab world are doing is eschewing the West’s security and stability concerns in favour of their own democratic and development aspirations. Their cries of “Hurriyya” (liberty) have so far not been accompanied by anti-western ones; instead, many Arab democrats appear to be looking to the West for unequivocal support for meaningful democratic change.
Canada has the potential to play a major role in the Middle East if the Harper government now opts to make such support a foreign-policy priority. If nothing else, the government should be inspired to do so by the dignity Egyptian democrats have shown in the face of Mubarak’s thugs in Tahrir Square.
Ransom paid for Canadian diplomats, leaked cable suggests
(Globe & Mail) A leaked U.S. State Department cable suggests that al-Qaeda in Africa was “strengthened” by a ransom that freed two kidnapped Canadian diplomats two years ago.
The rare mention of the ransom, which is contained in a cable released by WikiLeaks, revives a key unanswered question: Who paid?
Canada spent $1 M trying to get UN Security Council seat
(Vancouver Sun) Foreign Affairs officials travelled from the Polynesian island of Tuvalu to the Solomon Islands and dozens of other destinations in an attempt to win backing for membership in the world’s most exclusive club.
Documents introduced in the House of Commons this week list 150 trips taken in support of the bid between January 2008 and last October, when United Nations member countries snubbed Canada and instead cast more ballots for Portugal.
Jeffrey Simpson: Canadians rank Arctic sovereignty as top foreign-policy priority
A majority of Canadians see Arctic sovereignty as the country’s top foreign-policy priority and believe military resources should be shifted to the North from global conflicts, according to a new opinion poll.
The survey also found that Canadians are generally far less receptive to negotiation and compromises on Arctic disputes than Americans.
Has Canada lost its place on world stage?
(Toronto Star) … on a cloudy July day in 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper stepped to a podium on Parliament Hill, where thousands were celebrating the nation’s 140th birthday.
“Canada’s back as a vital player on the global stage,” he declared.
Five years on, many look back on the sometimes divisive positions the government has staked out in the world and wish the country would simply go back to pre-2006 policies.
Others say Harper’s Tories have lost their passion for foreign relations, leaving a neglected and dejected diplomatic corps, short-term thinking on policies that fail to seize opportunities and polarized opinions of Canada in the world.
Negotiate free trade with China – or get left behind
The objective should be to reach a comprehensive economic and trade agreement within five years
JOHN WEEKES AND EDDIE GOLDENBERG
(Globe and Mail) … China’s size and phenomenal growth are common knowledge. Sharing in that growth should be a Canadian priority.
The case for building a closer economic relationship with China for the long-term economic advantage of both partners is overwhelming. Successive Canadian governments have established and maintained excellent relations with China for much of the past half-century. After a rocky period a few years ago, relations are back on an even keel. The establishment 40 years ago of diplomatic ties was a bold and farsighted move on the part of the Canadian government of the day, and the time has arrived for another bold move.
Siddiqui: Harper’s temper tantrums costly for Canada
(Toronto Star) When you question Stephen Harper’s foreign policy, he attacks your patriotism. When he makes a mistake, he won’t acknowledge it. When he’s losing a debate, he recasts it as cultural warfare between good and evil, and lashes out at critics with little or no regard for facts.
All these traits are on full display in his nasty row with the United Arab Emirates.
Joseph Uranowski: Haiti, one year later: The failure of Stephen Harper’s lip-service foreign policy
Bob Rae: Speaking up for our economic interests abroad
The debate between Liberals and Conservatives about the management of differences with the U.A.E. is hardly a matter of national security. What has been said on all sides has been widely covered in media around the world.
But the suggestion that it can somehow be unpatriotic or disloyal to Canada to try and find solutions to a commercial dispute at risk of escalating it further is patently ridiculous. To sit down with another sovereign country and its institutions and hear their point of view is part of national leadership. It’s an example of patriotism– not the reverse. What started Mr. Rae on this angry op-ed? This National Post piece. Cheering against Canada