Canada: International relations and foreign policy 2017-2019

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Jeremy Kinsman: Canada Amid Chaos– Quo Vadis?
Amid a level of existential churn in Western democracies unseen since the Second World War, Canada—whose commitment to multilateralism, human rights and democracy has been a defining national characteristic—can turn crisis to opportunity by leading the global fight against authoritarianism. That begins with an investment in our relationship with the United States that looks beyond Donald Trump.
(Policy Magazine) As the absence of international leadership became top of mind, Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations Tweeted: “The Merkel era is close to ending, leaving the West and the post-WW2 international order without a leader. The U.S. of @realDonaldTrump has abdicated. The U.K. is distracted. Canada lacks means. Macron is too weak. Bodes poorly for stability, prosperity, freedom.”
His observation about Canada is revealing—that we are seen as a leader; but that we lack the means. In this critical year ahead, Canada needs to acquire the means we need to defend our interests; democracy, human rights, and multilateralism.
Canada has so far escaped disruption by powerful forces of disaffection. But, as John Manley recently said, “Canada has never been so alone in the world.”
Our contextual status quo is gone. We need to work hard to put substance into our ambitious goals of political and economic diversification toward the EU, and with China, Japan, India, and Asia. Yet, our primary outward challenge is our relationship with the U.S. It is complicated by the stark Trudeau-Trump comparison: Trudeau had campaigned on a message of free trade, and getting Canada back in the forefront of liberal internationalism. Trump campaigned opposing free trade and on pulling the U.S. away from liberal internationalism.
How do we reconcile our defining commitment to cooperative multilateralism with our economy’s dependence on access to the U.S. market, given that the superpower neighbour with which we lived in an easy-going extended family setting has gone rogue internationally, and eschewed old friendships? Unilateral U.S. threats to Canada’s economic security and the repeated assaults against truth make it unlikely anyone now in high office in Ottawa will trust this U.S. president again.

Canada’s review of Huawei won’t be derailed by threats, Goodale says
(CBC) Ottawa is studying the security implications of allowing the Chinese company to help develop the next generation of mobile infrastructure in Canada, which promises to be 10 to 20 times faster than current wireless connections and is designed to serve medical devices, self-driving cars and other connected technology. Unlike some of its allies, however, Canada has not announced a ban on Huawei equipment.

11 January
Canada’s ties to Venezuela hanging by a thread as clash escalates
Maduro gives Canada an ultimatum – now Canada is braced for the expulsion of its diplomats
(CBC) The dispute began with a letter sent by the Lima Group of 13 nations (12 in Latin America and the Caribbean, plus Canada) declaring Maduro’s election undemocratic and illegitimate, and appealing to him not to take office today.
Maduro rejected that appeal and went on television to issue an ultimatum to what he called “the Lima Cartel”: retract that letter within 48 hours or his government will take “crude, urgent and energetic measures.” He also claimed that Venezuela was experiencing a coup attempt backed by its foreign enemies.

7-8 January
Canadian officials meet with detainee Michael Spavor in China
Interview with Jeremy Kinsman, who pulls no punches (Video)
‘Nothing held back’ as Canadian delegation raises detainee issue in China
Former ambassador criticized fact Kovrig and Spavor cases weren’t on the official agenda
The Canadian delegation in Shanghai has begun to push for the release of detainees Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, but the senator heading the trip says he doesn’t know if any progress has been made.
“The gist of the message is that the executive branch of Canada has asked for their immediate release,” Sen. Joseph Day said after a Monday meeting with Chinese officials.
His comments come as the delegation’s trip faces criticism for not putting the plight of Michael Kovrig, a former Canadian diplomat and an adviser with the International Crisis Group, and entrepreneur Michael Spavor on the official agenda. … David Mulroney, ambassador from 2009 to 2012, had said he was astounded and concerned to hear that the issue of Kovrig’s and Spavor’s detentions were not specifically on the itinerary for the mission hosted by the Canada-China Legislative Association.
See also Chinese law used to detain Canadians gives Beijing authorities vast national security power

2018

28 December
Trump may ban U.S. companies from buying Huawei tech: report
(CTV) U.S. President Donald Trump may issue an executive order in the new year that would bar American companies from using equipment made by Chinese telecommunications companies Huawei and ZTE due to spying concerns, according to a report from Reuters, a U.K.-based news agency.
Such an executive order would follow similar moves by countries like Australia and New Zealand, which have banned Chinese companies like Huawei from participating in the development of their next-generation 5G mobile networks. Other countries are currently mulling similar actions
Canada — which arrested Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou on Dec. 1 at the behest of U.S. authorities over the alleged violation of Iran sanctions — is facing increasing pressure from its allies to make a similar move.
“We are right to be concerned,” cybersecurity expert Brian O’Higgins told CTV News. “If a government is motivated to do something, they will put bugs in equipment… Even if you have access to the source code and can pour over it for many weeks or months, if something is carefully hidden, it’s unlikely anyone will find it.”

20 December
Canada and the World, Ep. 20: The Huawei dilemma
A new podcast series from OpenCanada.org and the Balsillie School of International Affairs.
As China retaliates for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver with the detention of at least two Canadians, this podcast tackles the bigger questions around Canada-Chinese relations and the relationship between trade and security interests. Should we allow Huawei into the 5G technology space in Canada? Would Huawei be used by the Chinese state for espionage purposes? Could oversight prevent such a risk? Why is 5G technology so important? Beyond the specifics, broader questions remain: What is the right balance between free trade and security interests, and what can we expect for the future of Chinese-Canadian relations?

6-12 December
Trump’s willingness to intervene in Huawei CFO’s detention puts Canada in tough spot
(Canadian Press/Globe & Mail) The U.S. president raised new questions about Canada’s role in the growing tensions between two superpowers when he told Reuters in an interview that he could step into the case against Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou if it would help him forge a trade deal with China.
Michael Kovrig: Canadian ex-diplomat ‘held in China’
(BBC) A Canadian, reported to be a former diplomat, has been detained in China and his current employer says it is working for his prompt release.
The International Crisis Group said it was “aware of reports” of Michael Kovrig’s detention.
Prime Minister Trudeau said Canada is in direct contact with Chinese authorities concerning the case.
The news comes days after Canada arrested a top executive of the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
Mr Trudeau said the case is being taken “very seriously”. Canada’s foreign affairs ministry gave no further details about the incident or its talks with China.
Tensions between Canada and China have been high over the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder, on Saturday 1 December.
Federal public safety minister Ralph Goodale told journalists in Ottawa that the government is “deeply concerned by the situation”.
Canada is caught in the middle of a China-U.S. tech war
(Globe & Mail) The case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou – arrested in Vancouver on charges that her company contravened U.S. sanctions on Iran – is attracting global attention, and it has thrust Ottawa into a high-stakes policy challenge between China and the United States.
Her case has direct implications for the impending decision about Huawei’s role in Canada’s 5G system, as well as implications for our broader bilateral relationship with China. Beijing is currently weighing the precise steps it will take against Canada for making the arrest, which came at the request of the U.S.
But the bigger strategic picture is what is most alarming. Behind the arrest is a U.S.-China conflict that is not just a trade war, but a technology war in which Canada is caught in the middle – and that war’s headlong geopolitical competition is hurtling toward a crisis.
Huawei and Canada: What we know about the company, the arrest and China’s reaction
So far, the Trudeau government has refused to join most of its partner nations in the Five Eyes intelligence network in banning Huawei’s equipment from 5G mobile networks. Canadian telecom giants estimate it will cost them at least $1-billion if Canada follows the lead of close allies in barring Huawei from their next generation networks, industry sources told The Globe.

21 August
To India, to make sure the shallow politicking is a bipartisan thing
Campbell Clark
Justin Trudeau’s botched trip to India in February was always ill-conceived because it revolved around lazy diplomatic tropes and shallow politicking to domestic audiences – now Andrew Scheer is going to compound the mistake.
The Conservative Leader’s news release blared that Mr. Scheer will go on a nine-day mission this fall to “repair and strengthen Canada-India relations,” and made it pretty clear the main point is to show up Mr. Trudeau for his gaffe-filled February visit.
The first issue is that Mr. Scheer isn’t going anywhere to repair relations with anyone – at least not yet. He’s the Leader of the Opposition, and he doesn’t speak for the government of Canada.
The second is that, at a time when the Liberals have been running around making accusations that the Tories are undermining Canada’s relations and NAFTA negotiations with the United States, it’s unwise to issue a news release announcing the Opposition Leader’s plan to undermine the Prime Minister in India. Yet, Mr. Scheer announced he’s going to meet “senior Indian officials,” intervene in Canada-India relations and fix Mr. Trudeau’s mess.

19 August
In a dog-eat-dog world, Canada needs to rethink foreign policy
Campbell Clark
Canada needs a hard rethink. Its foreign policy drifted into some lazy habits: failing to take a hard-nosed look at Canadian interests, politicking abroad for ethnic diasporas at home, shallow virtue-signalling without real legwork and a short attention span with other countries.
David Mulroney, Canada’s former ambassador to China, wrote that the most obvious sign of “our lack of seriousness” is the way politicians use foreign trips for outreach to “politically important ethnic communities,” leaving foreign leaders unimpressed.
That’s an apt criticism of Mr. Trudeau’s February trip to India, but Mr. Mulroney wrote those words in 2015, criticizing increasing politicization of foreign policy under Stephen Harper. The use of foreign policy to signal domestic virtue has continued.
Now, Canada needs a new look at its interests. Mr. Mulroney said that includes advancing Canadian values — expanding democracy and rights are part of our long-term interests. But it has to keep in mind what’s possible and effective.
For one thing, Canadians have to stop thinking they bestow relations on countries they like, he said. Diplomacy is mainly to deal with difficulties. Big countries, such as China, might be connected to “unsavoury things,” but you can’t talk about the global environment, for example, without China.

13 June
House of Commons votes against restoring ties with Iran
(RCI) The Trudeau government’s surprising decision Tuesday to back a Conservative motion in the House of Commons denouncing Iran puts an end to the Liberals’ quest of normalizing relations with Tehran in the foreseeable future, experts say.
In a reversal of its long-stated goal of improving strained relations with Iran, the Trudeau government voted a motion demanding that Ottawa “immediately cease any and all negotiations or discussions” on restoring diplomatic relations with Tehran.
The strongly worded motion introduced by Alberta Conservative MP Garnett Genuis also condemned Iran “for its ongoing sponsorship of terrorism around the world” and the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for “calling for genocide against the Jewish people.”
It also designated the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a “listed terrorist entity” under the Canadian Criminal Code.

10 May
Stephen Harper Is Entitled To His Opinion On Iran Deal, Justin Trudeau Says
The Liberals said they continue to support the agreement.
(HuffPost) Two different senior Liberals offered similarly low-key reactions after the former prime minister and several other former politicians took out a full-page ad in the New York Times to express full-throated support for the U.S. administration’s brazen and controversial move.
The ad — “Mr. President, You Are Right About Iran,” it declares in large type — puts Harper in line with Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but offside with the current Canadian government and several of America’s European allies.

8 May
Why Trudeau’s reaction to Trump’s Iran decision was muted
This Prime Minister, it is fair to say, wasn’t looking to get mixed up in an international argument over the Middle East.
Mr. Trudeau’s Liberals have always argued the Iran deal is good for the world, but taking a pointed stand on it now means being at odds with Mr. Trump just when NAFTA talks might be reaching a critical juncture. The PM used a low-key tone.

7 May
Is there such thing as a singular Canadian foreign policy?
In this essay, Marie Lamensch explores the ways Quebec and other regions within Canada pursue their own global agenda, undermining the myth of a unified national interest.
(Open Canada) If anything, in fact, there seems to be not two distinct foreign policy approaches within Canada, but several, and they do not fall neatly within language lines. Instead of regarding Anglophone Canada as a monolithic entity, we should consider that all Canadian provinces and territories have and are still developing their own approach to foreign policy, from Alberta’s approach to energy to Quebec’s dedication to development in Africa. We need only look at the current discord between Alberta and British Columbia over the Trans Mountain pipeline to understand that the Canadian federation is a complex system where national and provincial interests can collide. Regarding that case, Trudeau recently said, “We are one country with a federal government that is there to ensure the national interest is upheld.” But, in a federation, how does one define “national interest?”

27 February
How Trudeau’s top national security advisor lost the plot in India
Terry Glavin on Daniel Jean’s preposterous conspiracy theory around the Atwal affair and what it says about Canada’s mixed up foreign relations
(Maclean’s)  As everyone in Ottawa knows, Daniel Jean was the anonymous “senior security source” who showed up in the news media out of nowhere last week with a preposterous conspiracy theory to explain why the former Khalistani terror-group member, convicted would-be assassin and Liberal Party fixture Jaspal Atwal was showing up in India on Trudeau gala guest lists.a
On Parliament Hill today, Conservatives were saying Jean’s name out loud, and peppering Trudeau in the House of Commons. Without many other options, Trudeau responded by defending Jean as a sensible, non-partisan civil servant, but going further, suggesting that when a official of Jean’s rank says something,  “it’s because they know it to be true.”
For a while there, it looked like there was a glimmer of good news to come from the cringe-making embarrassment and breathtaking incompetence that attended to Trudeau’s absurd fashion-show caravan at every turn as it trundled across India last week. It looked like the long overdue Canada-India Framework for Cooperation on Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremism had not been sabotaged, after all, by Daniel Jean’s unaccountably bizarre, last-minute intervention.

26 February
Gurprit S. Kindra: Trudeau’s trip to India both misinformed and myopic
Last Wednesday, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was launching the “trillion dollars” infrastructure investment summit in Lucknow, capital of the State of Uttar Pradesh, our Minister of Infrastructure was baking chapattis at the famed Harimandir Sahib in Amritsar. And while the team from Canada was hobnobbing with the stars of Bollywood, business leaders from other countries were negotiating partnerships in R & D in quantum-computing – in India’s silicon valley – in Bangalore. No visiting dignitary with a view to expanding trade with India has ever missed an opportunity to meet with the tech titans of this city. The absurdity of Trudeau’s itinerary in India is baffling, to say the least.

25 February
Trudeau is delivering the foreign policy Canadians deserve
By David Mulroney, former ambassador to China
(Globe & Mail) The problem isn’t with politicians, it’s with all of us. We’re getting the foreign policy we deserve. We seem unable to grasp that our engagement of countries such as India and China ultimately needs to be about something more than reminding them of how much they admire us.
India isn’t our friend. It is a rising regional power beset with a range of domestic problems, including serious human rights issues. It takes a prickly approach to global issues that is often at odds with traditional Canadian policies in areas ranging from trade policy to nuclear disarmament.
If we’re smart, the rise of countries like China and India can certainly contribute to our prosperity, and with hard work, we should be able to find common cause on important issues such as global warming. But the rise of these assertive and ambitious Asian powers will almost certainly challenge global and regional security. Both will also continue to reject traditional Canadian notions about global governance and human rights, and neither will be particularly squeamish about interfering in Canadian affairs.

23 February
Trudeau in India: The Canadian PM meets Modi after diplomatic dance
(BBC) The meeting came towards the end of Mr Trudeau’s first official visit to India, which has been far from smooth.
Canada caused upset earlier in the week by inviting an alleged Sikh extremist to an official dinner; an invite it later rescinded.
However, the Canadian PM has thrown himself into the visit, including by performing an impromptu Bhangra dance.

22 February
Justin Trudeau in the real world
Paul Wells: The prime minister’s so-called ‘state visit’ trip to India was so tone-deaf, hopeless and unserious he might as well never have gone
This trip began with an omen when the official PMO news release announcing it called it a “state visit.” Canadian heads of government don’t make state visits; governors-general do. Prime Ministers make official visits. In Ottawa, people familiar with the distinction are so common they are practically falling from the trees.Apparently none fell on anyone in Trudeau’s staff. And so this kind of is a state visit after all, insofar as it’s premised on the assumption that its protagonist is a ceremonial figure who is not authorized to make executive decisions. It follows a China trip in which the PM arrived in chinos and left with no trade deal, and an APEC summit in Danang that went so badly the Liberals had to send a sometime Liberal party factotum to Tokyo weeks later to mend fences. It’s not a great thing when the question that arises, consistently, when a prime minister travels is what the hell he thinks he’s doing.

Trudeau’s India trip is a total disaster — and he has only himself to blame
by Barkha Dutt
(WaPost) How did Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the world’s favorite liberal mascot — a feminist man, with movie-star good looks, a 50 percent female cabinet and a political lexicon that has replaced “mankind” with “peoplekind” (making millions swoon) — end up looking silly, diminished and desperate on his trip to India this week?
Trudeau’s eight-day India expedition has been an absolute fiasco.
Hours before meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his journey hit a dead end when the Canadian high commissioner invited a Sikh extremist named Jaspal Atwal (who has been convicted of attempted murder and was previously affiliated with a terrorist group) to a dinner to honor Trudeau in Delhi. Atwal was found guilty of trying to kill an Indian minister in 1986; he was also blamed for an assault on Ujjal Dosanjh, the former premier of British Columbia.
The length of Trudeau’s stay may help explain why the trip started on a discordant note. Government sources tell me India urged Canada to cut the trip shorter or to at least sequence it differently. India wanted to start the trip with political talks before Trudeau played tourist. The Canadians disagreed. Also, the Canadians expected Modi to accompany Trudeau to his home state of Gujarat, just as he had done with Shinzo Abe, Xi Jinping and Benjamain Netanyahu. India declined.

21 February
Don Martin: If this is Trudeau putting Canada ‘back’ on the world stage, we should get off
This week’s far-too-long tour of India by a prime minister looking for campaign-friendly photo-ops has become a cross between the Keystone Cops and Mr. Dressup.
(CTV) Poor advance team scouting, lousy political intelligence-gathering, awkward fashion advice and a major security breach have turned a minor snub at the arrival gate into a sustained epic failure.
For six days Trudeau has wandered the country with a collection of mediocre cabinet ministers in tow who have little reason to be there beyond being Sikh.
Meanwhile his foreign affairs and international trade ministers stayed home.
This is not to begrudge the effort. India is an overlooked economic giant with unlimited potential for Canadian interests.
It’s in the mission delivery where things have fallen apart.
In the quest for perfect optics, they missed the big picture problem of an India whose leaders believe, rightly or wrongly, that Canada is too cozy with Khalistani extremists.
And you knew this was truly a voyage of the damned when, just as Punjab was pacified, it fell apart all over again.
Critics latch onto perceived snub, costume changes, as Trudeau tours India
The Trudeau family’s ever-changing attire during their multiple stops in front of some of India’s iconic cultural landmarks was also the target of criticism, with online publication Outlook India referring to the numerous culturally sensitive outfits as “too Indian even for an Indian.”

16 January
Trudeau defends Canada’s position on Jerusalem at United Nations
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says abstaining from a United Nations vote on U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was about staying above “political games” aimed at isolating Israel.

1 January
Canada is proud to hold the G7 Presidency from January 1 to December 31, 2018, and will use this opportunity to showcase both its domestic and international priorities. As the G7 president, Canada is responsible for hosting and organizing the G7 Summit that will take place in Charlevoix from June 8-9, 2018.

2017

Canada walks political minefield by abstaining on UN vote against Trump embassy plan for Jerusalem
The vote placed Canada in a difficult situation because Trump had threatened to retaliate against countries that supported the resolution, and it came in the midst of NAFTA negotiations.
(Toronto Star) The government walked away from the potentially explosive debate over Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, sustaining only limited damage: the United States said it was pleased, the Palestinians said they were fine, too, and Canada’s leading Jewish affairs organization expressed muted disappointment.
Canada abstains as UN General Assembly backs resolution to nullify U.S. move on Jerusalem
President Donald Trump has threatened to cut off funding to countries that oppose U.S.
UN vote today on Jerusalem presents dilemma for Trudeau government
(CBC) Motion before UN General Assembly puts spotlight on Canada’s quiet support for Netanyahu government
Security Council seat could be at stake
Complicating matters further is Trudeau’s desire to win a UN Security Council seat. The Harper government was widely believed to have blown its shot at a seat over its support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It could be embarrassing for Trudeau, who once excoriated Harper for that loss, to suffer the same rejection for the same reasons.
[Paul Heinbecker, who served as ambassador under Jean Chrétien and also as chief foreign policy adviser to Brian Mulroney] said any country that alienates a bloc of approximately 50 Muslim-majority nations is unlikely to gain the 129 votes generally needed to win a seat on the Security Council.
“You don’t sacrifice a principle in order to get a Security Council seat,” said the former diplomat. “But in this case, the principle is in the other direction. All the way back to the establishment of Israel, Canada has supported the idea of a two-state solution.”

12 December
The Road to Charlevoix: What to expect from Canada’s G7 presidency
Ahead of next year’s summit in Quebec, Trudeau’s G7 sherpa, Peter Boehm, lays out Canada’s progressive agenda, which will include a focus on gender equality and climate change.
(Open Canada) While Canada technically assumes its year-long presidency on January 1, 2018 — from Italy, last year’s chair — the Trudeau government is already in full-on planning mode, and has secured agreement from other G7 countries on an agenda that will feature four broad areas of focus: investing in inclusive growth, advancing gender equality, addressing climate change and strengthening peace and security.

11 December
Andrew Cohen: Lester Pearson is back in favour but the international role he fashioned for Canada is lagging
After a long, chilly exile, Lester Bowles “Mike” Pearson is in favour in Ottawa again. It is safe in government circles to say his name – unspoken among Conservatives for a decade – and to celebrate his legacy at home and abroad.
Now, the Liberals are in power and Mr. Pearson has returned from Elba. Sixty years after he won the Nobel Peace Prize on December 11, 1957, the government hails him as the country’s greatest diplomat and a transformative prime minister.
To the world, it declares: “Canada is back.” More likely, Mr. Pearson is back. Canada is not. …
Almost 50 years since he left office, the need for Mr. Pearson’s statecraft is real. As leading democracies are in retreat or repose – the United States withdrawing from the world, Britain withdrawing from Europe, France and Germany looking inward – Canada is well positioned to seize the day.
Instead, we praise the man, but ignore his method, heralding Mr. Pearson more than Pearsonianism. We oppose global warming and accept Syrian refugees, yes, but shrink from innovative multilateralism, robust peacekeeping and generous foreign assistance.

24 November
A foreign policy midterm reality check for Canada
Has the current government accomplished any of the goals set out in the foreign minister’s mandate letter? Bruce Mabley argues there is much work to be done.

9 November
Why more Canadian students need to ‘go global’
As Roland Paris and Margaret Biggs write, unlike many of its peer countries, Canada lacks a strategy to boost participation in global education and it shows. Here’s why international learning benefits both students and Canada itself.
(Open Canada) Canada’s biggest customer, the United States, is veering towards protectionism. Rising powers are transforming the global economy. Intolerance is on the rise, including in Canada. Technology is revolutionizing the nature of work.
We must prepare young Canadians to meet these challenges. We will need them to build Canada’s global connections, expand and diversify our trade relationships, uphold the values of openness and tolerance, and succeed as employees and entrepreneurs in the economy of tomorrow.
International education is part of the answer. Learning abroad – in classrooms or in work trainee-ships – fosters the 21st century skills that Canadian companies say they want in employees: adaptability, resilience, teamwork, intercultural awareness and communication skills.

26 October
The Trudeau government overlooks China’s dangerous duplicities just to land a trade deal
Shuvaloy Majumdar: Broad public ignorance of Chinese truths is an important means to achieving Ottawa’s desired ends
(Financial Post) China remains captive to a deeply regressive governing ideology — a mixture of Communism, chauvinism, mercantilism, and colonialism.
Indeed, in many ways the defining story of the last few years has been the steady eclipse of Beijing’s much-vaunted agenda of “reform” by a resurgent and unapologetic pursuit of geopolitical self-interest explicitly at odds with that of its supposed Western partners.
An honest guide is needed to the unflattering truths of a country whose reputation Canada’s present leaders insist on shielding as they tighten bilateral ties. China is a nation whose guiding spirit is not the thoughtful pragmatism of a promising superpower, but the calculated cynicism of an insecure state. Collectively, we should be reminded to see China as it actually is, and not as some may wish it to be.

25 October
Kelly McParland: Sajjan’s troops are all dressed up but lack a mission
Canada’s contribution to UN forces puts us well behind Cameroon, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Indonesia and India
(National Post) [Defence Minister Harjit] Sajjan is eager to deploy some peacekeepers, and he needs to do it quickly. There’s a big United Nations conference coming up for countries with active peacekeeping forces in November, and Canada is hosting it. Unfortunately, through some unexplained oversight, our peacekeeping forces have fallen to record low levels. Lower than they were under Stephen Harper, who the Liberals regularly accused of besmirching Canada’s good name at the UN. Lower than they were under Jean Chrétien, who oversaw one of the saddest eras of decline in Canadian forces history. Lower than they’ve been at any point in almost 30 years, which is pretty sad, considering there’s been no shortage of countries that could badly use some peace.

21 September
Canada is ‘work in progress,’ Justin Trudeau tells UN General Assembly
PM talks about country’s failure in relationship with Indigenous people and the hope to repair it
Justin Trudeau says ‘the world benefits’ with Canada on UN Security Council
Meetings, speeches and rallies fill Justin Trudeau’s day in New York

6 July
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
HARPER’S WORLD: CANADA’S NEW ROLE ON THE GLOBAL STAGE
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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