Canada: International relations and foreign policy 2017

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Video: 150 years of Canadian foreign policy

CBC AT THE G20 Trudeau attends summit marked by widening Trump-Merkel rift
Prime minister can’t afford to be as blunt as German chancellor, given Canada-U.S. economic connections
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived today in Hamburg for the G20 Summit, having already staked out firm positions on free trade, migration and climate change that are at odds with U.S. President Donald Trump.
All three issues top an ambitious agenda set by the summit’s host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

4 July
Trudeau: Trump, Brexit mean new chances for Canada, Ireland
(ABC News) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday that his country and Ireland should seize the opportunity to be open and progressive as their big neighbors, the U.S. and Britain, turn inward.
Trudeau said there are “tremendous opportunities for countries like Canada and Ireland at a time where perhaps our significant allies and trading partners … are turning inward or at least turning in a different direction.”
He said the two nations should “make the pitch that Canada and Ireland are places that are exciting and open to the world in a positive, progressive way.”
Trudeau spoke after meeting Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Dublin. Both leaders face tricky times with their neighbors — the U.S. under President Donald Trump and the U.K. as it leaves the European Union.
The two politicians are among a crop of young, centrist Western leaders seen by some as a counterweight to the populism that fueled Trump’s election victory and Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
Varadkar said “more and more people will want to come to Ireland” because of Brexit. Dublin hopes to lure financial institutions from London after Britain quits the bloc.
Varadkar wore colorful maple leaf socks for Tuesday’s meeting, in a salute to Trudeau’s fondness for bold, statement ankle-wear.
Trudeau travels to Scotland Wednesday to meet Queen Elizabeth II, and is due to attend a summit of G-20 leaders in Hamburg, Germany on Friday and Saturday.
Irish leader shows off socks with maple leaves, Mounties to Justin Trudeau

25 June
From boring to hip: Canada’s changing international reputation

Jeremy Kinsman‘s comprehensive and eminently readable review of Canadian foreign policy,
“Our Diplomatic Identity: A Canadian Balance of Reason and Passion”
(Policy Magazine August 2017 issue) History doesn’t move forward in a straight line. In a more competitive and dangerous world where populist nationalism stalks even the US, the hundred-year duality of bilateral and multilateral imperatives is more relevant than ever for Canadian diplomacy — and identity.
There can be no let-up in efforts to champion and advance Canadian interests—our “business”—while diplomacy leans in to improve conditions for global security, well-being, and governance—our enduring “passion.”

13 June
Liberal government continued selling off diplomatic buildings amid ‘Canada is back’ rhetoric
(National Post) The sale of properties abroad was a major project for the last Conservative government. GAC says the Harper government’s downsizing (or “rightsizing,” as they called it) initiative for official residences abroad is “now complete.”
But while the Liberals have promised a major increase in defence spending — 70 per cent over 10 years, also announced last week — the foreign service is getting the status quo, and cost-cutting initiatives begun under the Conservatives have continued under this government.
Spending for GAC continues to hover around $6 billion annually, with planning documents predicting no major changes. Within that budget, some resources have been reallocated to multilateral initiatives, such as the government’s goal to seek a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
A good chunk of the proceeds from selling foreign properties appears to have gone towards maintaining or repairing others.

6 June
Freeland questions U.S. leadership, says Canada must set own course
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Ottawa will forge its own path on the world stage because Canada can no longer rely on Washington for global leadership.
(Globe & Mail) In a major speech setting the stage for Wednesday’s release of a new multibillion-dollar blueprint for the Canadian Armed Forces, Ms. Freeland rejected Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy and its dismissal of free trade, global warming and the value of Western alliances in countering Russian adventurism and the Islamic State.
John Ibbitson: Trudeau decides it’s just not worth appeasing Trump in foreign-policy shift
The Trudeau doctrine will rest on three pillars. The first is military: Ms. Freeland promised major new investments following the release Wednesday of the government’s defence policy review. We’ve heard such promises before. Doctrines are cheap, but it takes money to buy whisky, or warships.
Second, the minister vowed Canada would spare no effort to preserve and strengthen the Western alliance, citing the deployment of Canadian troops to Latvia currently under way. “There can be no clearer sign that NATO and Article Five [which declares an attack on one NATO member to be an attack on all] are at the heart of Canada’s national security policy,” Ms. Freeland stated – a not-so-veiled reference to Mr. Trump’s refusal to endorse Article Five when he harangued the NATO leaders in Brussels two weeks ago.
Third, Canada will aggressively pursue new trade agreements, Ms. Freeland vowed, not needing to state that Mr. Trump has withdrawn from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is threatening to scrap NAFTA and generally has thrown the entire global trading order into disarray.

15 May

A foreign policy report card for Justin Trudeau, one year on
From improved relations with the U.S. to the “black eye” the Saudi arms deal represents, we take a comprehensive look at the Trudeau government’s foreign policy challenges and successes over the past 12 months. (Open Canada 19 October 2016)

What does Canada get out of restoring diplomatic ties with Iran?
It would be refreshing if Canada were more candid about the tawdry nature of these relations
By Michael Petrou, fellow at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
(CBC) Since coming to power, the Liberals have been careful to remain critical of Iran’s human rights violations, and have reiterated Canada’s opposition to its support for listed terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.
But Canada has also suggested engaging with Iran may change its behaviour, including on human rights and Iran’s habit of jailing and abusing Canadian citizens and residents.

9 May
Canadian officials make 1st visit to Tehran since embassy closed in 2012
Arrival of Global Affairs officials signals further thaw in relationship
(CBC) Canadian government officials are on the ground in Tehran this week for the first time since the Harper government closed the Canadian Embassy there nearly five years ago.
The visit by Global Affairs officials comes just days ahead of a crucial presidential election in Iran, a country Canadian diplomats abandoned in 2012 partly due to security concerns.
A government source confirmed to CBC News the officials are in Tehran advocating for Canadians entangled in Iran’s legal system, as well as for the improvement of Iran’s overall human rights record.

7 May
Diplomacy and religion: An awkward mix
(The Economist) Last month Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s defence minister (and a Sikh), was dispatched on a diplomatic mission to India. Before his visit the chief minister of Punjab, home to most of India’s Sikhs, accused Mr Sajjan of favouring an independent state for Sikhs. The accusations made the visit harder for him than it would have been for a non-Sikh. Diversity is important to Canada’s self-image. But it can cause diplomatic complications

chrystia-freeland-with-gg-and-pm Chrystia Freeland poses with Canada’s Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau after being sworn-in as Canada’s foreign affairs minister during a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa, Jan. 10, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

22 February
‘We look like amateur hour’: ex-diplomats, opposition decry Stéphane Dion’s dual appointment
One ex-Canadian ambassador to the EU says it’s ‘more than a full-time job,’ on its own. The government declined to respond to criticisms.
(The Hill Times) Former Canadian diplomats and the official opposition Conservatives are critical of the government’s decision to appoint former foreign minister Stéphane Dion as ambassador to both the European Union and Germany.
“We look like amateur hour,” Jeremy Kinsman wrote in an email to The Hill Times last week. Mr. Kinsman was in the foreign service for 40 years, and served as Canada’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom and as ambassador to the EU.
Former diplomat Colin Robertson said “it will be impossible to do justice to both EU and Germany with one ambassador, no matter how skilled and competent.”
In a statement announcing the appointment Jan. 31, the Prime Minister’s Office referred to Mr. Dion as becoming the “senior Canadian diplomat in Europe.”
Mr. Dion in Europe will work on “ensuring coherence across the activities of Canadian missions and providing strategic guidance to the prime minister,” read the PMO statement. He will spend his time in both Brussels, the EU nerve centre, and Berlin.
Mr. Kinsman said he can “assure you” being ambassador to the EU “is more than a full-time job,” one which is “being superbly done by a professional now.” And he said Germany is such a “decentralized” country that any ambassador there has to do a lot of travelling around the country, and should be living there full time. [He] also said that in the era of United States President Donald Trump, who has openly celebrated Brexit, “the EU is now on the defensive, under pressure.”
So, he said, the “‘other North American’ country proposes to downgrade its representation to a part-time ambassador. How does that look? To the Europeans in worried touch with me, it has come across like ‘a lead balloon,’” he said.
Mr. Dion’s appointment has yet to be confirmed by the EU and Germany. Typically, when a new ambassador is announced, an agrément has already been reached between the host country and the sending country. In this case, Mr. Trudeau publicly proposed Mr. Dion as ambassador to both places before securing the okay from officials there, which is a minor diplomatic faux pas.
14 February
Dion’s dual appointment: Diplomatic mistake or a show of support for Europe?
Stéphane Dion’s ambassadorship to both the EU and Germany has received criticism from some commentators this month, but the appointment might be more strategic than first thought, argues Jonathan Scott.
(Open Canada) An ambassadorship by the same person simultaneously to two major jurisdictions is very rare, if not unprecedented, and comes with the risk of a split mission. What sort of symbol does it send about the geopolitical balance in Europe when the Canadian ambassador to the EU is also the ambassador to Germany?
… this dual appointment could be a signal that Canada supports a united Europe and wants to demonstrate this commitment by placing its EU ambassador concurrently as the ambassador to the de facto head of the European project.
… [ Sara Drake, the head of EU law at Cardiff University] wonders if Trudeau, who is seen as something of a poster child for modern liberalism in Europe, is making an intentional statement with this dual ambassadorship, by using it to signal a clear alliance with Merkel. With Britain on the way out, Merkel is now the de facto head of the European project and the leader most committed to its success.

3 February
Andrew Cohen: Why Stéphane Dion should not be our ambassador to EU and Germany
(Globe & Mail) The problem is less the man than the office – an odd, sticky, half-baked confection more about politics than policy.
This appointment is a folly on every level. It will offend the Germans, dilute Canada’s representation in Berlin and Brussels and alienate our better-qualified diplomats in Ottawa. In Donald Trump’s world, we need a professional, not a dilettante.
But the Prime Minister had a personnel problem. Having decided that Mr. Dion would not play well with Rex Tillerson, the U.S. Secretary of State, Justin Trudeau abruptly dropped him from cabinet last month. … Obviously, Mr. Trudeau wanted him out.
So he conjured up a super-ambassadorship to Berlin and Brussels, a mix of Bratwurst and Boudin Blanc. Senior mandarins at Global Affairs Canada went along. Many come from other departments having never served abroad and lacking a practical understanding of the nature and value of diplomacy.
It’s a good bet the Europeans were surprised to learn all this in the terse announcement from the PMO “proposing” Mr. Dion’s appointment. This suggests Ottawa does not yet have agrément from either party; if that is the case, the premature announcement is a breach of diplomatic politesse.
The Germans are a formal, decorous people surely dismayed that Canada is sending a civil but discredited partisan to a newly diminished post. Germany is the most powerful and influential country in Europe; it’s why we built a dazzling embassy in central Berlin, as well as an official residence as showplace. We have always sent our best representatives, including Charles Ritchie, Klaus Goldschlag, Paul Heinbecker, Marie Bernard-Meunier, Peter Boehm. All were seasoned professionals who spoke German.
The relationship has always been large and complex, demanding a full-time ambassador. In 2017, as Britain prepares to leave the EU, Russia threatens Ukraine and the Baltics, and Mr. Trump savages Germany’s open immigration, Angela Merkel is fighting for re-election.
Chancellor Merkel is the heroine of Europe. More than ever, she needs Canada’s help. Our reply is a mercurial professor who does not speak German, who has no temperament for diplomacy, and who will not live full time in Berlin.
11 January
What Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s new foreign minister, brings to the Global Affairs file
The former journalist, who found success with CETA as trade minister and is barred from Russia, replaced Stéphane Dion this week. Here are five things to know about her.
(Open Canada) Other moves were made in the shuffle that suggest the government is re-positioning itself on key international files: in a high-level appointment, John McCallum has been named Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, leaving his post as immigration minister (he will be replaced by Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s first Somali-Canadian MP), and François-Philippe Champagne, a champion of liberal economic policy, will replace Freeland as trade minister. On Thursday, it was announced that Transport Minister Marc Garneau will take over from Freeland as chair the Cabinet Committee on Canada-United States Relations.
The ministerial changes, made 14 months after Justin Trudeau’s government took office, are widely seen as a reaction to the election of Donald Trump in the United States and the uncertainty that comes with it.
5. Her progressive worldview is an antidote to protectionism and elitism.
Freeland’s credentials as a progressive are unassailable. She has years of experience exploring issues related to international business and economics; her book Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else (2012) is an international bestseller. Her subsequent 2013 TED Talk on global income inequality, in which she explores how globalization and advancements in technology are contributing to the stratification of society, has been viewed almost two million times.
Freeland made the case for what she called “inclusive prosperity” in an interview with OpenCanada in 2015: “We are all going to benefit when our economy can grow together…in the long run, it’s not going to be good for anyone, including the 0.1 percent, if we have a society where the chasm between those at the very top and everyone else is too great. That is a recipe for gated communities and a polarized society.”
Canadians will have to wait and see how Freeland will incorporate this mindset into her dealings on the international stage as foreign minister — but it’s one that will be welcomed in many circles, at a time when protectionist sentiments and close-mindedness are on the rise.
Robert Greenhill: On paying its global share, Canada’s not back—it’s far back
Data shows that, despite the change in government, Canada’s support for international assistance remains well below historical and international benchmarks. The human cost of this shortfall was equivalent to half a million lives in 2016 alone.
Quality and innovation are critical aspects of international assistance. However, quantity is also key.
At a time of unparalleled need, with regions in turmoil and more displaced people since the end of WWII, Canada’s international assistance as a share of national income is close to an all-time low (Exhibit 3).
The inconvenient truth of Canada’s fiscal turnaround is that the cost of cuts was borne disproportionately by the most vulnerable of the planet. Cuts to international assistance, as a share of national income, were more than three times deeper than cuts to domestic programs.
Twice in 20 years, Canada’s books were balanced on the backs of the poorest in the world. The first set of deep cuts took place in the mid 1990s. This was followed by a slow recuperation of less than half the cuts from 2002 to 2010, thanks to commitments made by prime minister Jean Chrétien at the Monterrey Conference on Financing for Development.
Then, from 2010 to 2014 there was a second round of deep cuts. Whereas the first round occurred in a time of fiscal and political crisis, this second round took place solely so that the government could balance its books before the 2015 federal election. Spending on international assistance at the end of Harper’s government was cut well below its average commitment.

5 January
In a fast-changing global environment, Stephen Harper has carved a muscular new identity for Canada: military aid over peacekeeping, unilateralism over teamwork, free trade over foreign aid. Drawing on his many years as a Globe and Mail correspondent, Mark MacKinnon dissects how that shift has reshaped our role – and reputation – on the world stage

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