Canada: International relations and foreign policy post October 2015

Written by  //  November 1, 2016  //  Canada, Foreign Policy  //  Comments Off on Canada: International relations and foreign policy post October 2015

See also: UN Conference on climate change COP21 Paris
Canada – U.S. 2015 – 2016
Canada International Relations – Trade

Helping Yazidis where they’re most vulnerable: on the ground
Canada’s responsibility to protect Yazidis in Iraq should extend beyond resettlement to the creation of “safe zones” in the region, argue Kyle Matthews and Silke Melbye-Hansen.
(Open Canada) The truth is that the time has come for Canada to move beyond the policy of resettlement as the preferred strategy to help those in need. As a signatory of the Genocide Convention and the country who introduced the mass atrocity prevention doctrine known as the Responsibility to Protect to the United Nations in 2005, Canada can and should begin aiming to bring like-minded states together to ensure the physical security of the Yazidis in Iraq.
17 October
Matthew Fisher: What happens after Mosul falls will set the new status quo for region
Canada will likely face pressure from allies to rejoin the fight against ISIL’s caliphate in Syria, which is every bit as evil as the pernicious Iraqi variant. Until now Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion has not said much except to note Canada is in favour of peace there.
Two generals are among about 30 Canadians based in Baghdad. They have been providing high-level advice to Iraqi commanders and supervising the training of some of the Iraqi troops now involved in the assault on Mosul.
Although it has not been heavily advertised, two Canadian Aurora spy planes, based in Kuwait and often operating near Mosul, have been providing specific bomb targeting information for coalition air crews. The crews receive their orders from commanders who base their decisions partly on the work of a Canadian intelligence cell that studies ISIL’s whereabouts and its vulnerabilities.
Once Mosul is conquered, all eyes will turn to the fight against the jihadists in Syria, which has become extremely complicated because Russia is there with troops, warplanes and warships and supports Bashar Assad’s regime, which is as almost as repulsive to western leaders as ISIL.
The Trudeau government was the only coalition country to withdraw its fighter jets from the air war over Iraq and Syria, However, a Canadian refueling tanker is still in the region to top up coalition warplanes attacking ISIL in Iraq.
5 October
Glavin: Beijing’s influence seeps into Canada
In just one of its many recent forays into the thuggish business of throwing its weight around in Canada – the firings and the chill in Canada’s Chinese-language media, the intimidation of ethnic Chinese community leaders across the country, the lavish investment in propaganda initiatives – the Beijing regime had insisted that no Taiwanese organization should be permitted to attend the Montreal conference, which wraps up this Friday. But ICAO also barred another journalist, with no connection to the Taiwanese government. Chia Chang, the Washington correspondent for the privately owned Taipei news organization United Daily News, was told to leave the ICAO building after producing a Taiwanese passport to ICAO media accreditation officials.
Canada recognizes Taiwanese passports. Beijing does not.
The only thing Global Affairs Canada has had to say about any of this is that Canada cleaves to a “One China” policy, which is exactly what Beijing requires Canada to say, and which, for democratic Taiwan, means its continuing encirclement and international isolation.
20 September
(CBC) Trudeau makes 1st major speech at UN as Canada bids for Security Council seat
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau emphasized Canada is “re-engaging” with the United Nations in his first speech to the General Assembly, as his government positions itself for a run at winning a temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council.
On his second day at UN headquarters in New York City, the prime minister also met with the president of Bulgaria and prepared to speak at a refugee summit hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama.
John Ivison: Trudeau wins over UN with strange speech full of liberal platitudes
“We’re Canadians. And we’re here to help.”
Justin Trudeau concluded his strange little speech to the United Nations General Assembly with a line that veered dangerously close to satirical fodder. As Ronald Reagan once noted, the most dangerous words in the English language are: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
But the UN is not a hotbed of satire. The line may have reinforced every goofy stereotype about Canadian boy scouts but the audience loved it.
14 September
(Open Canada) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that he will lead Canada’s delegation to the city, and plans to address the UNGA next week.
27 August
Justin Trudeau ChinaEastern promises
About to visit China for the first time as Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau can certainly expect a warm welcome, but he would like to come away with a lot more. Daniel Leblanc reports
… sources have told The Globe and Mail that there will be “no movement” toward a free-trade deal with China. Federal officials say the Canadian public is skeptical about China’s willingness to embrace the rule of law and transparency in business dealings, and it remains to be seen how the Chinese react to Mr. Trudeau’s calls for the respect of human rights during his trip, however forceful he makes it.
20 August
Jeremy Kinsman: Why Canada matters to China
Only Nixon could go to China — but only after Pierre Trudeau went first
(iPolitics) China is a country with great geopolitical and human relevance for Canada — which means we need a strategic partnership with it. Otherwise, we have no influence on it. Such a relationship doesn’t mute our voice on the inevitable disagreements; it lets us speak as candidly as we need to, and to be heard. You don’t get that from yelling through an ideological bullhorn.
Campbell Clark: Trudeau’s trip to China will be a diplomatic balancing act
(Globe & Mail)  … allies and East Asian nations that wonder if Ottawa, in a rush to expand trade, will ignore the other side of China’s rise, like its expansionist claims on maritime territory. One Asian diplomat expressed concern that Mr. Trudeau’s government might be populated by “panda-huggers.”
15 June
In Chinese foreign minister’s outburst, a test for Trudeau
The dressing down of a Canadian reporter by Wang Yi earlier this month is not the first time Chinese officials have shown arrogance on Canadian soil. When dealing with China going forward, self-interest and self-respect need to be first in Trudeau’s mind, argues John Bruk
(Open Canada) By its arrogance and aggression, China’s government is trying to see how easily Canada’s prime minister can be maneuvered in discussions during his forthcoming visit to China, and how easy it will be to exact more concessions from the new government beyond what China had accomplished in negotiations with the Harper government.
These kind of put-downs by China will test Trudeau’s grit and ability to assert Canadian self-respect and stand up to China, while maintaining a cordial and working relationship. That will be the telling test of Trudeau’s statesmanship.
27 May
Justin Trudeau sees mixed results on G7 Japan trip
Canada gets tough words on ransoms, but approach on the global economy didn’t win across-the-board support
(CBC) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had two main goals heading into the G7 summit in Japan: he wanted support for his stimulus agenda for economic growth and a strong statement against paying hostage ransoms.
The end result was mixed.
They came to Japan with different views on how to boost the global economy. And the final declaration did little to bridge that divide.
The leaders promised collective action to boost the global economy. But the exact wording is vague enough —  with references to “country-specific circumstances”—  to allow each country to take its own approach.
Where there is some agreement is on the role infrastructure can play in the global economic recovery. Canada has made infrastructure spending a key part of its growth plan. The G7 leaders agree that is an effective path to global growth.
The declaration condemns the paying of ransoms for hostages, calling it a source of funding for terrorist operations
Trudeau pushed for this to be in the declaration. It calls on all countries to refuse to pay.
28 April
Canada, in change of heart, decides to keep historic official residence in Rome
The Liberal government has taken Canada’s historic official residence in Rome, Villa Grandi, off the auction block, reversing the previous government’s policy of unloading valuable and often dazzling foreign properties that it argued were too costly to maintain.
Joe Pickerill, spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion, said Villa Grandi is going back into diplomatic service. “I can confirm the property is off the market and, for operational reasons, we’re keeping it that way for the foreseeable future,” he said in an e-mail on Thursday.
A government source in Ottawa said the sale of other high-end residential properties that the Conservative government was bent on selling is under review and may be stopped. But many of the top overseas properties had found buyers before the Liberals took office last autumn and are gone forever.
In pictures: Canadian diplomatic residences put on the market by the Conservatives
The decision in 2013 by John Baird, Mr. Dion’s predecessor, to sell the showpiece Villa Grandi triggered a diplomatic storm and a debate over whether the property, in the heart of ancient Rome near the Appian Way, the Roman empire’s most important strategic road, was or was not part of Italian war reparations to Canada.
16 March
Canada’s pitch for UN security seat will cost ‘financial and political capital’
‘It’ll be a question of what Canada is prepared to give up,’ foreign policy researcher says
Justin Trudeau to announce when Canada will seek UN Security Council bid
Prime Minister to meet with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday
Trudeau let it be known that Canada would resume its bid for a rotating seat on the 15-member council — something the previous government was unable to achieve — during a joint press conference with Ban in Ottawa last month.
“We’re looking at a number of windows in the coming years. We are going to evaluate the opportunities for Canada to mount a successful bid,” Trudeau said.
Several UN diplomats told CBC that 2020 would be the earliest slate available for Canada to have enough time to mount a successful campaign.
9 March
Trudeau to host Three Amigos summit with U.S., Mexican presidents in June
4 March
Murray Dobbin: ‘Condemn’ Canadians? What Would Dad Say, Justin?
Why gov’t slamming Israel boycotters hurts Palestinians, Canadians, even Israelis.
(The Tyee) If Justin Trudeau and his government believe they are doing Israel a favour by supporting the repugnant Conservative thought crime resolution, they could not be more mistaken. Every time a Western government turns a blind eye to Israeli apartheid it reinforces and extends that system by signalling to Netanyahu that he can do whatever he pleases.
By steadfastly denying the apartheid reality in Israel successive Canadian governments in fact betray the long term of interests of that country — not to mention, of course, those of millions of Palestinians.
Ban welcomes Canada’s decision to be a more active UN member
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on an official visit to Canada, warmly received Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision have Canada resume a more active role in the UN. Canada plans to seek a seat on the UN security council and increase its participation in peacekeeping operations and conflict-prevention programs. “Since the United Nations was founded, Canada has always been one of our most important partners,” Ban said. The Guardian (London) (2/11)
8 February
Turning Point | Canada’s changing ISIS mission
The CBC panel discusses the government’s announcement that Canada will pull its fighter jets from coalition airstrikes and focus on training local troops.
Canada to pull fighter jets, triple training in mission against Islamic State
Canada’s fighter jets will be coming home from the Islamic State fight on Feb. 22, as the military ramps up its training mission in Iraq and Syria.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s revised military operation Monday, which will see the government triple the size of its training and assisting mission and increase the number of Canadian Forces personnel to 830 from 650. Mr. Trudeau said the mission will continue to be “non-combat.”
The government will also keep two CP-140 Aurora reconnaissance aircraft and one CC-150 aerial refuelling plane in the mission, Mr. Trudeau confirmed.
On the humanitarian front, Mr. Trudeau announced more than $1-billion in humanitarian aid and development support, including $840-million over three years in humanitarian assistance and $270-million for social services on the ground.
7 February
Most Canadians disagree with Trudeau’s plan to withdraw CF-18s, poll suggests
Half say pulling fighter jets in fight against ISIS would harm Canada’s international reputation
A new poll suggests that majority of Canadians disagree with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s pledge to withdraw Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets by the end of March from the U.S.-led bombing mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
When asked what Canada’s role should be in the fight against ISIS, only 27 per cent told the Angus Reid Institute that they were on the same page as Trudeau in wanting to stop Canada’s bombing mission and focus only on training local troops in Iraq and Syria.
Meanwhile, 11 per cent of respondents wanted to stop Canada’s involvement in the fight against ISIS altogether.
29 January
Leaked UN report piles pressure on Ottawa’s Saudi arms deal
A leaked United Nations report detailing potential war crimes committed by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen is raising new questions about Canada’s controversial plan to sell $15 billion worth of advanced armoured vehicles to the ultra-conservative kingdom.
In its final report to the UN Security Council obtained by Radio Canada International, a UN panel investigating the implementation of Security Council resolutions related to the conflict in Yemen says it has found “widespread and systematic” violations of international humanitarian law committed both by the Saudi-led coalition and their Iranian-backed opponents on the ground.
Payam Akhavan, professor of international law at McGill University and a former UN prosecutor at The Hague, said the report points to evidence of attacks against civilian populations that could potentially constitute war crimes.
“To the extent that these attacks are widespread or systematic, they could also constitute crimes against humanity,” said Akhavan after reading a copy of the report obtained by RCI. “There is clearly cause for serious concern and a need for a proper investigation, as recommended by the UN Panel.”
The federal government has faced repeated requests to justify the shipment of weapons to Saudi Arabia.
Under federal export control rules the government must make sure that “arms sales are carefully reviewed and human rights considerations are seriously taken into account.”
NDP foreign affairs critic Hélène Laverdière said she was very disturbed by the reports of the UN panel of experts and urged the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to release the assessment done by federal officials prior to granting the export license for the sale of LAV 6.0 armoured vehicles to make sure that the weapons will not be used to commit human rights abuses or violations of international humanitarian law.
“It’s all the more important for us to have the information what the current export permit entails and what measures did Canada take to make sure they wouldn’t contribute to such acts,” Laverdière told RCI.
There are also serious questions about whether Canadian-made weapons might end up in the hands of radical Islamist groups fighting on the side of the Saudi-led coalition.
25 January
Daryl Copeland: Is Canada “Back” on the World Stage? Maybe…
(Guerilla Diplomacy) Canada once contributed imaginatively, generously and energetically to the construction of broadly-based international security and prosperity.
That stature was not merely conjured by spin doctors. It was earned, grounded demonstrably in the diplomacy of the deed.
Lester Pearson and Justin’s father Pierre, for instance, are renown[ed] for their commitment to development and peace.
But there is much more.
From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, under PM Brian Mulroney’s Conservative government, Canada brought home an acid rain treaty with the USA, the Montreal Protocol on Ozone Layer Depletion, played a central role in orchestrating the legendary 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro (UNCED), and led the Commonwealth’s campaign against apartheid in southern Africa.
The second half of the nineties featured the zenith of Canadian public diplomacy and soft power with Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy’s Human Security Agenda. Cleverly retrofitted by officials to appear rationally sequenced and coherent, this rapid-fire string of achievements – including the treaty banning land mines and initiatives on blood diamonds, small arms, children in conflict, the International Criminal Court, and the Responsibility to Protect doctrine – was nonetheless impressive.
During the last two decades of the 20th century, even in the face of significant international policy resource reductions, Canada was able to make a difference.
In 2003 Foreign Minister Bill Graham brought Canadians the innovative, interactive Foreign Policy Dialogue, using the Internet for the first time to ventilate and democratize the foreign policy development process. His successors, John Manley and Pierre Pettigrew, despite high expectations, delivered few new initiatives, although Pettigrew did sign off on the expansive International Policy Statement. There was much to admire in this innovative inter-departmental effort to integrate diplomacy, defence, commerce and development, but all traces of that epic undertaking disappeared with the election of the first Harper government in 2006.
Although a break with the past was to be anticipated – the pace of Canada’s progressive international engagement had already slowed appreciably by the mid-2000s – it has been the past 10 years that really spoiled Canada’s brand. The one time peacekeeper, honest broker and helpful fixer came to be regarded as a liability, even a pariah, the country that others preferred to ignore. On Harper’s watch the UN and its activities were devalued, ideology was substituted for science, diplomats and public servants were muzzled. The legacy of Foreign Ministers Peter Mackay, Maxime Bernier, David Emerson, Lawrence Canon, John Baird and Rob Nicholson is faint. Even the otherwise admirable provision of increased assistance for maternal and child health was marred by its exclusion of support for family planning.
16 January
Trudeau picks close allies as ambassadors to U.S. and UN
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has selected a politically connected Toronto corporate consultant and a high-powered lawyer from Quebec to take over as Canada’s envoys to the United States and the United Nations.
David MacNaughton, chairman of Strategy Corp., who co-chaired Mr. Trudeau’s Liberal election campaign in Ontario, will become ambassador to Washington with a mandate to improve Canada-U.S. relations, The Globe and Mail has learned.
Marc-André Blanchard, the chief executive officer of the law firm McCarthy Tétrault, who was on Mr. Trudeau’s transition team, will be named ambassador to the United Nations. His instructions are to reassert Canada’s role at the UN.
7 January
Ottawa keeps analysis of Saudi human-rights record under wraps
(Globe & Mail) The Liberal government is refusing to make public a recently completed assessment of the state of human rights in Saudi Arabia even as it endures criticism for proceeding with a $15-billion deal to ship weaponized armoured vehicles to the Mideast country.
The Saudi deal was brokered by Ottawa, which also serves as the prime contractor in the transaction.
The buyer is the Saudi Arabian National Guard, which protects the kingdom against internal threats. A major source of domestic unrest in the country is the eastern provinces and the Shia minority there that Sheik al-Nimr represented.
Federal arms export controls oblige Ottawa, in the case of export destinations with a “persistent record of serious violations of the human rights of their citizens,” to obtain assurances that the Saudis will not turn these light armoured vehicles (LAVs) against their own people. The rules say shipments cannot proceed “unless it can be demonstrated there is no reasonable risk that the goods might be used against the civilian population.”
Trudeau Urged To Strengthen Ties With Oil-Rich Saudi Arabia, Despite Human Rights Record
Federal officials have told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Canada’s strategic interest would be well served by strengthening economic ties with oil-rich Saudi Arabia because of its powerful position in the Persian Gulf.
That advice sheds light on why the Liberals are rejecting calls to cancel a $15-billion sale of armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia following its execution last weekend of 47 people, including a prominent Shiite cleric.
Trudeau has also been advised to anticipate the easing of possible sanctions against Iran in the coming months if progress is made on implementing last year’s landmark nuclear agreement between Tehran and six countries, including the United States — a prospect that seemed imminent on Thursday.
6 January
We Need to Talk About Saudi Arabia
Canadians may decry its executions and power moves, but we’re locked in an alliance.
(The Tyee) Attractive as a change of masters might seem, everyone recalls the overthrows of Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gadhafi, not to mention the endless civil war in Syria. Oppressive regimes wisely fail to build the institutions that more enlightened governments depend on: a free press, independent judges, representative legislatures. When a tyrant falls, it really is the deluge that follows.
The deluge would not be confined merely to the Arabian peninsula. Saudi Arabia offers a welfare state and public service jobs for its own people while the private sector is largely the domain of “expats” — foreigners lured to high-paying jobs that Saudis consider beneath them. Including those in the Gulf states as well, over 25 million expats work in the region. According to a report in the Arab Times, they sent home over $100 billion in remittances in 2014.
That money has become a significant fraction of the expats’ home economies, whether India, Nepal, Pakistan, Egypt or the Philippines (Filipino nurses, doctors, and paramedics are the backbone of the Saudi health care system). If a sudden change of government took place, the threat of instability might cause many expat workers to head for home. That in turn would lead to still more instability — in their homelands as well as in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
…  And the prospect of a direct Saudi-Iranian war would be a nightmare for every foreign ministry on the planet: oil tankers sunk in the Persian Gulf, oil fields bombed in both countries, while Sunni and Shi’a Muslims blow one another up in every marketplace from Nigeria to Indonesia.
With friends like the Saudis, you don’t need enemies. Yet Canada is locked into alliance with them along with most other western nations. We may decry the 47 executions, but those armoured fighting vehicles mean 3,000 Canadian jobs. As well, we imported over $2.5 billion worth of oil from Saudi Arabia in 2014.


31 December
Justin Trudeau’s Federal Advisers Paint PM Gloomy Picture Of Syria’s Prospects
The extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant will continue to threaten the Middle East because there is “no progress” towards an effective political solution in Syria, federal advisers have bluntly told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
In memos prepared for Trudeau as he took office last month, officials said the conflict in Iraq and Syria endangers the entire region, including key allies Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.
30 December
Burney & Hampson: Canada must navigate rough global waters
In an ocean of global turbulence, Canada bobs like a cork, stepping up its intake of refugees while stepping down from a combat role against IS. We seek a “warmer relationship” with the United States but have no clear definition of what we hope to achieve. We stood out in Paris with our global aspirations. Serious thought must now be given to the economic consequences of what we agreed to, not just for our resource-based economy, but for the economy as a whole.
29 December
A return to multilateralism: Meet Roland Paris, the man behind Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy
(National Post) Last spring, University of Ottawa Prof. Roland Paris was one of many academics trying to influence Canada’s political elite. In an open letter, he declared that Canada needed to return to the idea of “working constructively with others” on the world stage.
Now, Paris has the prime minister’s ear as Justin Trudeau’s foreign affairs adviser. To understand Trudeau’s approach to the world is to understand what Paris is likely telling him. For that, there is a long trail of clues. … friends and colleagues describe him as a scholar with energy, a strong analytical mind and contacts at all levels of the international system. All fit with the type of government Trudeau has promised to install in Ottawa.
Paris has also been a vocal advocate for a return to the type of foreign policy that has become associated, rightly or wrongly, with previous Liberal governments. This includes a strong emphasis on working within international organizations such as the United Nations, as well as being a mediator and bridge-builder.
“He’s a liberal internationalist,” said University of Ottawa Prof. Errol Mendes, who worked with Paris in the Privy Council Office about 10 years ago. “He believes that Canada does have a role to play in promoting multilateralism, punching above our weight but also being mindful that there are finite resources.”
Colleagues say Paris was working with the Liberals even before the election. They say his fingerprints are clearly evident in the party’s election platform, particularly its emphasis on re-engagement with the UN and peacekeeping. …
Jeremy Kinsman commented
On Roland — he really is the best and brightest. He’s strongest on security issues which maybe aren’t Stéphane’s cup of tea. He built CIPS at U of Ottawa into what I found to be one of the best fora in Canada for international discussion. His appointment is very good news. Nothing dumb will get done while he’s on the watch.
As might be expected
Fen Hampson, director of the global security and politics programs at the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Waterloo, Ont., said Paris supports the UN and other international institutions “by instinct and inclination.” …  Foreign policy expert Derek Burney, who served as Canadian ambassador to the U.S. and chief of staff to Brian Mulroney, also has concerns about attachment to the UN. But he also said Paris has a certain pragmatism — in addition to his expertise — that will be important in his new job.
In his open letter [published by the Literary Review of Canada in March] which was written for whoever won the federal election, Paris also called for the start of free-trade talks with China as part of an overall shift toward the Asia-Pacific region, though there was no mention of China’s human rights record. He also supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership, though the Liberals have so far not endorsed the trade deal.
One thing Paris recommended and which the Liberals have already done, however, is to begin working with the United States on climate change. “Our two countries should resolve to make North America the most responsible producer of natural resources in the world,” he wrote.
The Liberal government has also suggested it will re-establish channels with Russia to talk about some issues such as the Arctic, returning to a more balanced approach on the Israel-Palestine conflict, and becoming more involved in peacekeeping. Paris recommended each in his letter.
Trudeau and his inner circle did not boast significant foreign-policy experience or expertise, which would explain why they acted so quickly to appoint Paris last month just as Trudeau was leaving on his first trip abroad as prime minister.
Since then, Paris has been present for most, if not all, of Trudeau’s meetings with foreign leaders. That includes sitting in on the prime minister’s discussions with U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and briefing Trudeau before the recent UN climate-change talks.
15 December
Islamist allegations surface after MP given key role
(CJN) With [Omar] Alghabra’s appointment recently as parliamentary secretary to the minister of foreign affairs for consular affairs, allegations about his agenda have resurfaced. Ezra Levant of The Rebel, a right-wing, web-based news and commentary site, and formerly of Sun TV news, questioned what Alghabra’s influence could be on the vetting of Syrian refugees, Canada’s position on normalizing relations with Iran and on its position on Israel.
Alghabra did not respond to a request for an interview by The CJN’s press time.
However, Howard Adelman, a retired York University philosophy professor, reviewed Alghabra’s record and concluded not all of the allegations were supported by credible or convincing evidence.
3 December
Kyle Matthews: Is Canada ‘back’? Not quite, but here’s how it can get there
Though change is already palpable, here are seven steps the Trudeau government can take to re-engage Canada in the world.
(Open Canada) The winds of change have blown Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada out of power and onto the sidelines of shaping foreign policy. Over the course of the federal election campaign political partisans and pundits alike have bemoaned the fact that Canada’s position in the international community has weakened during the past decade.
With Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party now sworn into power, changes to how Canada engages in the world have come about swiftly
15 November
Justin Trudeau promises closer relations between Canada and China
President Xi Jinping praises ‘extraordinary vision’ of PM’s dad during meeting at G20
Justin Trudeau gets rock star welcome at G20, faces questions on Canada’s role in ISIS fight
PM tried to focus on economy and long-term investments in infrastructure and youth
Canada’s newly installed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stayed focused on economic growth and climate change at the G20 summit in Turkey on Sunday, while reaffirming his pledge to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees by year end and delivering a pointed message that Canada is a country that defines itself by its shared values, not its cultural differences.
He also found time to greet business executives who gave him a rock-star welcome and sought selfie photos as he made his debut on the world stage … Canadian Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, was among those in attendance, along with Perrin Beatty, president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Angel Gurria, the secretary general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Trudeau covered ground that would have been familiar to Canadians following the federal election, including his infrastructure spending plans to stimulate growth.
Paul Wells: Justin Trudeau, NATO, and the problem with backseat ministering
The attacks in Paris raise questions about the prime minister’s policies. But he should get a chance to answer them.
Once implemented — it hasn’t been yet; Canadian jets are, at last report, still carrying out raids against ISIS targets — Trudeau’s policy would bring Canada into line with the activities of such honest-to-gosh NATO members as Spain, Slovakia, Norway, Bulgaria, Poland, Croatia and Romania. Jim Stavridis, the former U.S. navy admiral who served as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, dashed off an op-ed calling for NATO to attack ISIS. But even Stavridis called troop training — Trudeau’s avowed goal in the region — the “most important” project NATO could undertake if it gets involved.
14 November
Jet lag diplomacy: Mr. Trudeau meets the world
By L. Ian MacDonald
(iPolitics) It’s a killer of an official travel schedule for Justin Trudeau over the next several weeks, starting this weekend with the G20 summit in Turkey on Sunday and Monday. From there, he’s off to the Philippines for the Asia-Pacific summit in Manila on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Then, back across the Pacific for a few days of getting over jet lag and a weekend with the family — after which Trudeau will be hosting the provincial and territorial premiers at a working dinner in Ottawa Nov. 23 to discuss a Canadian agenda for the climate change talks in Paris from November 30 to December 11.
Then it’s off to London to meet the Queen on November 25 (Trudeau is the 12th Canadian prime minister of her remarkable 63-year-reign) before flying on to Malta for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting November 27-29. From Malta, Trudeau heads to Paris for the beginning of the COP21 conference, then home to Ottawa for the opening of the 42nd Parliament, set for December 3, with a throne speech the next day.
This is a dizzying schedule, and it’s asking a lot of any prime minister — let alone a new one — to get through it all without a mishap. It also puts a lot of pressure on PMO staff, and the broader system, to deliver content for him.
Brian Mulroney used to say that the top two dossiers on any prime minister’s desk were fed-prov and Canada-U.S. relations — the only two that needed to be run by the PM himself.
Trudeau inherits both files after years of serious neglect and mismanagement by the previous Harper government.

12 November
Trudeau can use the G20 to reassert Canada’s role in the world
Lloyd Axworthy & Allan Rock
(Globe & Mail) On Nov. 15 and 16, Turkey will hold the G20 summit of the world’s richest nations in the city of Antalya, just across the eastern Mediterranean from Syria.
Turkey is at the crossroads between Europe and the Middle East. More than two million Syrian refugees reside there – 50 per cent of all the refugees from the conflict. This will be the setting for a summit focused on economic and financial co-operation among countries that represent more than 85 per cent of global GDP.
The Prime Minister has vowed to regain Canada’s place as a global champion of peace and stability. The summit presents Mr. Trudeau with a golden opportunity to advance that effort, and to signal that “Canada is back.”
The Prime Minister’s pledge to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year is a great first step. He can now build on that strong start by addressing the plight of refugees in the region and supporting the countries playing host to those groups.
Mr. Trudeau should encourage other leaders to rapidly ramp up funding and resources for Syria’s neighbours. He might also task Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion to start consultations toward an agreement that will lay the foundation for a new redevelopment and recovery plan for the region.
By showing an awareness of the burden carried by Syria’s neighbours and a willingness to stabilize the region by investing in their recovery, Canada can make a real contribution as the world works toward a regional solution.
Konrad Yakabuski: Trudeau primed to take his place on world stages
Apart from reading George Monbiot, the British climate-change activist and global doom columnist for The Guardian, Mr. Trudeau did not have any grounding in foreign policy before striking an advisory committee of experts on the topic in 2014. Schooled primarily by retired diplomats Michael Bell, Jeremy Kinsman and Ralph Lysyshyn, he has unsurprisingly come to embrace the traditional Liberal tenets of middle-power multilateralism.
… It is too early to know whether the latent anti-Americanism that underpinned Chrétien-era foreign policy is due for a comeback. But the new government intends to make a point of showing Canadians that its foreign policy is independent of that of the United States. Withdrawing Canadian fighter jets from the U.S.-led bombing campaign against the Islamic State is meant as an early signal of that.
While Mr. Trudeau keeps his policy distance from Washington, he will draw Canada closer to Beijing. The influence of Chrétien-era advisers and the pro-China Desmarais family is likely to manifest itself in a more welcoming approach to investment here by Chinese state-owned enterprises. Canada will now join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a decision Mr. Harper dithered on. And a free-trade agreement with China could also be on the agenda soon.
The talk-to-everybody Chrétien approach also looms over Mr. Trudeau’s plans for dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin. MP Chrystia Freeland’s occasional anti-Putin opinion pieces in The New York Times and elsewhere were not always appreciated among Mr. Trudeau’s foreign-policy team. They hope the International Trade portfolio will now keep her otherwise occupied.
8 November
Levon Sevunts: How will Canada’s foreign policy change under Stéphane Dion?
(RCI) … to find out whether Dion has what it takes to be the minister of foreign affairs and what his nomination says about the kind of foreign policy the new Liberal government is going to pursue, I called Paul Heinbecker. He is a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations and chief foreign policy advisor to former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, and a man who literally wrote the book on Canadian foreign policy.
“You have to be able to respond intelligently and preferably within the parameters of your own policy thinking and your own vision of what it is you want the country to do,” Heinbecker said. “So that takes a lot of intellect and Mr. Dion has a reputation for intellect.”
Dion was a star academic when he was brought into the Liberal Party by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, he has been the leader of the Liberal party, the leader of the official opposition and he has more experience than most of his Conservative predecessors, he said.
“I think it’s fair to say, although it sounds like an exaggeration, that he’s had more international experience, more under his belt, than the previous four Conservative foreign ministers taken together,” Heinbecker said.
Dion’s mastery of the environmental portfolio will also be very appreciated by his cabinet colleagues as climate change is likely to be one of the most important challenges facing the new government not only on the domestic front but also in its foreign policy, he said.
6 November
Canada’s best role: Perpetual sidekick
(WaPost) If Canada resumes its role as a helpful fixer, it will be trading attention for efficacy. Expect less tough talk to dictators and fewer photo ops with Canadian combat troops abroad. But Canada should also have more to show for its efforts — even if no one notices. — Stuart A. Reid, a deputy managing editor of Foreign Affairs
DFATD gets a new name: Global Affairs Canada
Goodbye DFATD, it’s been…awkward.
Justin Trudeau’s new Liberal government has changed the long name of Canada’s foreign ministry to something simpler: Global Affairs Canada.
The move comes only two years after the foreign and trade ministry merged with the international development agency CIDA to become the clunky Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development.
The change is detailed on the website of the Privy Council Office, the department that supports the prime minister and cabinet, along with other changes to ministry names and the cabinet members responsible for them.
Stéphane Dion: «Le Canada est de retour dans le monde»
(La Presse) Finie la politique de la chaise vide dans les grandes institutions internationales. Retour au dialogue, au multilatéralisme et à la promotion de grandes valeurs universelles telles que les droits de la personne, la justice et la démocratie.
Le nouveau ministre canadien des Affaires étrangères, Stéphane Dion, a l’intention de marquer une rupture avec la diplomatie de la dernière décennie en renouant avec des institutions et des partenaires délaissés par le gouvernement Harper.
4 November — didn’t take long!
Stéhane Dion Trudeau at swearing in Nov 4 2015Dion: Canada to return to ‘honest broker’ role in Middle East
Canada can help Israel more by returning to its honest broker role and improving its relations with other Middle East nations than continuing the policies of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, says new Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion.
“The main difference is that we will stop making it a partisan issue,” said Dion, adding that Harper damaged the strength of the relationship between Canada and Israel.
“Israel is a friend, it is an ally but for us to be an effective ally we need also to strengthen our relationship with the other legitimate partners in the region.
For example, we need to strengthen our relationship with Lebanon and this will help Lebanon but also Israel. To be helpful, you need to strengthen your relationship with the other legitimate partners and that is what we will do.”
Dion, who was speaking after the Trudeau government’s first cabinet meeting Wednesday night, predicted that Israel will understand Canada strengthening its relationship with other players in the region.

A MUST READ for students and practitioners of geopolitics and diplomacy
U.S. and Iran: A diplomatic lesson for Canada
Few relationships are as adversarial as that of the US and Iran. But negotiating with one’s enemy is the most important kind of diplomacy — Canada should take note
By Jeremy Kinsman
There is a lesson here for current Canadian practice of not talking with adversaries for reasons that are sometimes “moral,” and sometimes related to domestic politics. As former ambassador to the UN Paul Heinbecker put it, by childishly closing our embassy in Tehran because we disapproved of the regime there, Canada is “deaf, dumb, and blind” in Iran. (20 May 2015)

It’s Time To Reboot Canada’s Diplomatic Machine
(HuffPost) The change of government in Ottawa will hopefully bring a new approach to our relations toward the Middle East, and in particular Iran.
Iran plays a pivotal role in a number of ongoing crises in the Middle East. Past experience in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown that whenever Iran and the West cooperate on complex security issues positive results can be expected.
The million-dollar question is: How will Canada meet the peace and security challenges of the Middle East? Is Canada capable of assuming its traditional role as a peacemaker and a peacekeeper in the region? Support for peace and human rights has been and continues to be one of the main pillars of Canadian foreign policy. However, the ideals and principles of the traditional Canadian foreign policy consensus need some transformation in order to bring them into line with the new principles of conflict management and the ideals of nonviolent exchange in today’s world.
Iran is a special case, its population can be considered the closest ally the West will ever find in that region (Israel being an exception). While people of Iran crave better relations with the rest of the world, part of its establishment benefits handsomely from ongoing conflict. In fact hardliners will have a tough time to sustain their ruinous campaign if Iran treads back from isolation. Canada can play a role here, by reestablishing the diplomatic and intellectual ties, it can start to act as an impartial mediator, trying to keep the dialogue lines open and influence the regime to act more responsibly.
27 October
David T. Jones: Canadian Foreign Policy Set to Change: Liberalism Versus Harperism
(Epoch Times) Essentially, the Trudeau-Liberal image of Canada substantially differs from the Harper-Tory paradigm. The existential Liberal concerns are domestic: enlarging the social safety net; increasing taxes on the wealthy and business; strengthening environmental protection; redressing wrongs done to First Nations; and so on.
Defense/security is a tertiary concern (and if allowed to decline as hypothesized, it will not be used to project force outside Canadian borders). Indeed, canceling the stealth-capable F-35 purchase will make coordinated air action with NATO allies impossible.
In this regard, Trudeau is a throwback to the self-indulgent “kinder, gentler” Canadian foreign policy epitomized by the image of Canadians as “peacekeepers” (while Americans are war makers). Liberals ignore the maxim that to be an effective peacekeeper, one must first be an effective soldier.
24 October
A number of somewhat interesting suggestions, but most of them lack the experience of running such a large organization with so many competing files – and, personally, I find the idea of Paradis really bad.
Who will be Trudeau’s Foreign Minister?
With major global events just around the corner, here are 10 prime candidates to represent Canada abroad.
(Open Canada) In order to rebuild Canada’s stature in the eyes of the world, Trudeau will need to appoint a Minster of Foreign Affairs up for the task.
…  Canada’s next Foreign Minister will have to hit the ground running — the G20 meets mid-November in Turkey, followed by a summit of leaders from the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group, as well as a Commonwealth summit in Malta. Topping it all off will be COP21, the Paris conference on climate change, at the end of November.
Thrown into the mix is the Liberal leader’s promise of a 50-50 gender split in the cabinet, which he will name on Nov. 4. Any woman chosen would be the first female Foreign Minister since Barbara McDougall in the early 1990s. And her legacy would be hard to live up to.
20 October
David Petrasek: Ten Quick Steps to Reset Canadian Foreign Policy
(CIPS) Foreign policy rarely becomes a matter of electoral debate in Canada. But this time was different. The refugee crisis in Europe, trade negotiation deadlines, and Canada’s involvement in the Syria conflict — all pushed foreign policy under the electoral microscope for significant parts of the campaign. The decision of the three main party leaders to participate in a two-hour debate dedicated to foreign policy brought added attention.
But there was something else. Foreign policy seemed to matter. In its decade in office, the Harper government set Canada firmly on a very different diplomatic direction, breaking with decades of broad, cross-party agreement on Canada’s role in the world. Hyper-partisanship in the Middle East, contempt for the United Nations and multilateralism, encouraging the naysayers to Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, defiantly refusing to sign arms control and human rights agreements — these and many other policies served to diminish our reputation and influence on a range of foreign policy files.
Steps can be taken very quickly — on the UN, on climate change and on Syrian refugees — to send important signals that a new direction is intended.
The Liberals promised to re-establish Canada’s role as an active middle power that is committed to multilateralism and upholding international law. That will take time, and new resources. …  There are three obvious steps the Liberals are already committed to taking. First, the new government must announce more ambitious reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions at the upcoming Paris conference. Second, the Liberals must follow through on their commitment to launch a national inquiry on the question of missing and murdered indigenous women. This is a pressing domestic issue, but such an announcement will resonate abroad; the government’s failure to launch such an inquiry has been criticized by several UN human rights bodies, and by a number of our closest allies. Third, the Liberals must follow through on their pledge to increase the numbers and speed up the arrival of Syrian refugees in Canada.
Canada Election 2015: 5 Foreign Policy Issues Justin Trudeau Will Face Right Away
1. Getting ready to travel. The international agenda is filled with summits and meetings in the next six weeks, placing a massive burden on the prime minister-designate to get up to speed — fast — on foreign affairs. In mid-November, there is the G20 leaders’ summit in Turkey and the APEC summit in the Philippines. Then there’s the Commonwealth leaders’ summit in Malta and then the international summit on climate change in Paris.
2. Getting a climate change plan in place. For the Paris meeting, Trudeau will also need to prepare by holding a meeting with provincial premiers in order to present a united Canadian policy. …
4. Closing some big trade deals. Canada and the European Union signed an agreement in principle on their sweeping free trade deal on goods and services more than two years ago, but it still isn’t a done deal. The legal text is still being scrubbed and it must be ratified in the European parliament and in Canada. Meanwhile, Trudeau needs to give the Trans-Pacific Partnership a read and decide whether he supporters it.
5. Bringing 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada by year’s end. This could prove to be a massive challenge for Trudeau and quite possibly a pledge he would have to scale back.
15 October
The face of the golden era of Canada on the world stage – Joe Clark was PM

A portrait of former Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, taken on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, NY on Friday, October 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

A portrait of former Canadian Ambassador to Iran, Ken Taylor, taken on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, NY on Friday, October 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan)

Canada’s Man in Iran
Ken Taylor, the Canadian ambassador who helped six Americans escape during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1980, has died.
(The Atlantic) In 1988, the CIA’s involvement in the escape became public knowledge for the first time. The 2012 film Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, played up the U.S. spy agency’s role in the escape at the Canadians’ expense, omitting Sheardown’s role in the caper and falsely implying that the Canadian government was willing to leave the six Americans behind after closing the embassy.
Canadian critics and newspapers strongly criticized the film’s accuracy after its debut at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival. In response, Affleck apologized and changed a note in the closing credits that had undercut Taylor’s role. “The movie’s fun, it’s thrilling, it’s pertinent, it’s timely,” Taylor told the Toronto Star in 2012. “But look, Canada was not merely standing around watching events take place. The CIA was a junior partner.”
His frustration is understandable. The caper evokes a golden age in Canadian foreign policy, when the country played an outsized role in world affairs under energetic prime ministers like Trudeau and Lester Pearson. Taylor, for his part, continued to follow Iranian politics and literature with interest after his dramatic departure. After the U.S. and five other world powers reached an accord with Iran over the country’s nuclear program this year, Taylor praised the deal and criticized the Canadian government for not doing more to thaw relations with Iran.
“I’m very much in favor of what President Obama calls engagement. Diplomacy for me is, one way or another, a method to influence an adversary,” he told a Canadian news outlet in April. “That doesn’t seem to be the case in Ottawa at the moment. Diplomacy, in respect to at least coming to a neutral relationship with Iran, doesn’t seem to be in the vocabulary.”

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