Canada: International relations and foreign policy June 2019 –

Written by  //  August 30, 2019  //  Canada, Foreign Policy  //  No comments

Canada International Relations – Trade 2017-2018
Canada-U.S. 2018-19

USMCA (formerly known as NAFTA)

30 August
Being Back: Foreign Policy as a Campaign Issue
When Justin Trudeau summed up his foreign policy in 2015 with the message to the world that Canada was back, the world—including the players who didn’t like it or didn’t care—knew what he meant. Since then, he’s been tweet-targeted by Donald Trump, sealed a major trade agreement with Europe and faces a crisis with China. Longtime senior diplomat Jeremy Kinsman looks at the politics of foreign policy four years later.
(Policy Magazine) Freeland has been a voice of some significance whose global network from her tenure as a senior editor at both the Financial Times and Thomson–Reuters has served her well. To the extent the U.S. and China files and defence of multilateralism enable her to do anything else, she has been brave on human rights, especially on Saudi Arabia’s strong-arming of dissident women. Some business-oriented Conservatives (and others) seethe about the commercial costs, but after the regime’s murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, it’s a political non-starter. Freeland’s leadership on the Venezuela issue is also positive, even if concerted pressure on the Maduro government isn’t having much effect. A deepening of the Hong Kong crisis and its impact on the 300,000 Canadians there would test human rights commitments.
Trudeau and especially Freeland have been discussing with democratic partners the creation of an informal coalition to defend and reform multilateralism and inclusive democracy. The necessity to strengthen the rules-based international order is a message Trudeau understands and communicates effectively. If our purpose is to be seen as “a useful country,” he serves it well enough (though very probably not enough to enable us to edge out impressively useful Ireland and Norway for a UN Security Council seat in 2020).

26 August
This time, Trudeau keeps low profile at G7 as election campaign looms
He may have spent the weekend an ocean away from home, rubbing elbows with world leaders during tense talks on international crises, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kept cool, collected and decidedly out of the fray.

24 August
Trudeau meets with U.K., Japan prime ministers ahead of G7 summit
(Global) Trudeau met Saturday with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson for discussions that focused on how Canada’s existing trade deal with the European Union would function in a post-Brexit Britain. It was the first face-to-face meeting between the two leaders since Johnson took over as prime minister of the United Kingdom in July.
Trudeau also met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, where they highlighted strong Japanese-Canadian ties forged from the successful launch of the rebooted Trans-Pacific Partnership late last year, as well as a chance to talk security issues amid rising tensions between Tokyo and South Korea.
Trudeau has been building allies among G7 and other world leaders, in part to show a united front to China after it detained Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig.

2 August
Chrystia Freeland meets Chinese Foreign Minister, discusses detained Canadians and Meng Wanzhou amid tensions
(Globe & Mail) Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has met with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, for the first time since Beijing arrested two Canadians last December in what critics have called acts of “hostage diplomacy.”
China’s embassy in Canada, however, said following the meeting that the obstacle to improving Canada-China relations remains Canada’s detention of high-profile Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, a businesswoman whom China watchers have described as a member of China’s corporate royalty.
The discussion between Ms. Freeland and Mr. Wang, China’s Foreign Minister, took place on Friday on the margins of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting in Bangkok.
“I took the opportunity to express Canada’s concern over the cases of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who have been arbitrarily detained in China,” Ms. Freeland said.
She said in return Mr. Wang “expressed concerns regarding the extradition process of Meng Wanzhou.” Ms. Meng is free on $10-million bail and living in a multimillion-dollar home in Vancouver as she awaits an extradition hearing in January.
Speaking later on Friday, the Chinese embassy in Canada noted the meeting in Bangkok was at Canada’s request.

11 July
Freeland says McCallum ‘does not speak’ for her government after controversial interview
(iPolitics) Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland is distancing herself from controversial comments made by fired Canadian ambassador to China John McCallum to a Hong Kong-based newspaper, saying he “does not speak” for the government.
McCallum had told the South China Morning Post in an interview Monday that he had warned former contacts at China’s foreign ministry any further “punishments” against Canada could lead to the Conservatives winning the election in the fall, a change not favourable to Beijing.
“Anything that is more negative against Canada will help the Conservatives, (who) are much less friendly to China than the Liberals,” he is quoted telling the English-language newspaper.
McCallum also told the daily that Canadian government officials and business leaders should continue relationship-building visits to China in preparation for an eventual normalization in ties.
McCallum tells Chinese that punishing Canada will help elect Conservatives

9 July
Trudeau’s precarious hold on the Liberal foreign policy agenda
By David Carment and Richard Nimijean
“Trudeau’s disinterest in foreign policy, as documented by former foreign policy adviser Jocelyn Coulon, reverses a long-standing trend of Prime Ministerial leadership on foreign policy. Trudeau has handed over responsibility for foreign policy to Chrystia Freeland, who appears happy to continue where Stephen Harper’s Conservatives left off”
(iPolitics) Under Freeland’s tenure, Canada has drifted so far from Trudeau’s optimistic 2015 campaign that Liberal foreign policy is virtually indistinguishable from the Conservative’s: take a hard line on Russia and Iran, undermine the Venezuelan government, and do not negotiate with China. For Freeland the U.S. is the “indispensable power” without which Canada would apparently be lost.
For her efforts, Minister Freeland receives tributes from U.S.-based think tanks. This kind of grooming is troubling given that American elites don’t seem to appreciate the fact that Canada is a sovereign nation with interests distinct from their own. Yet efforts to exercise that sovereignty are undermined by the fact Freeland has only limited access to Russia due to her persona non grata status. While many allies have expressed concern over the Trump Administration’s approach to Iran, Freeland has stayed quiet.
Meanwhile, 2015 campaign promises languish on the sidelines. Increasing Canada’s commitment to the UN specifically and strengthening international institutions generally remain unmet challenges. To fill the void, former Prime Ministers Mulroney and Chrétien have emerged as guiding voices for Canada, variously speaking about making good with China, finding a way to work with Russia on the Arctic and Eastern Europe, and carefully calibrating Canadian interests and values vis-à-vis the U.S., working co-operatively when it matters and standing up when needed.

5 July
Canada should lead campaign to move G20 summit out of Saudi Arabia, says UN expert
Agnès Callamard found ‘credible evidence’ to link the murder of Jamal Khashoggi to Saudi crown prince
(CBC) A United Nations human rights expert says she will be asking the Canadian government to push to have the 2020 G20 Summit in Saudi Arabia relocated elsewhere — or to boycott it altogether.
Agnès Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, is calling on world leaders to move or boycott the summit in order to protest the killing of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi.
“I will be reaching out to a number of governments regarding the many recommendations I have made,” Callamard told Power and Politics host Katie Simpson, adding that she plans to contact Canadian officials.
“The holding of the G20 in Saudi Arabia next year is a slap in the face of all those who have fought, and some of whom have died, for accountability and for human rights protection.
One former Canadian ambassador to Saudi Arabia said, however, that using the G20 to protest Khashoggi’s murder might not be very effective.
“I think we have to remember the G20 is not a democracy club,” Dennis Horak told Simpson. Horak was expelled from Saudi Arabia last summer as a diplomatic row between the two countries ramped up.
“There’s a number of countries in there that have difficult human rights records and have committed a number of various acts or atrocities or crimes,” he added, pointing to Russia, China and Turkey. He also noted that Canada also could come under fire for its treatment of Indigenous peoples, as could the United States over the conditions migrant children face in detention at the southern border.
“You start looking at that and start trying to punish countries in the G20, you start quickly running out of countries to host it.”

3 July
China calls Trudeau ‘naive’ for believing Trump asked Xi about Canadian detainees
In a meeting last month with Trudeau, Trump said he would raise the plight of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor to Xi
Trump said before leaving the G20 in Japan that he hadn’t discussed the Meng case with Xi, raising questions about whether he made good on his White House commitment to Trudeau to protest Kovrig’s and Spavor’s detentions.
“I would like to caution the Canadian side against being too naive,” Geng told reporters after he was asked at a Beijing briefing whether Trump raised the matter with Xi.
Geng reiterated the Chinese view that Canada is solely responsible for the current degeneration of relations between the two countries. China has repeatedly called on Canada to release Meng.

29 June
Justin Trudeau vs. the world: How the next government can reclaim Canada’s place on the international stage
By Doug Saunders
(Globe & Mail) The Prime Minister’s bold foreign-policy message no longer makes sense in a world without reliable allies. These are the steps that should be taken after the election, by whichever party wins, to protect our national interests
Large parts of the world have slipped away from international co-operation and democratic peace – this time with the United States leading the retreat.
At best, it’s a temporary stress test of the Canadian government’s capacity to handle an unstable world without reliable partners. At worst, it’s a long-term international crisis that defies both Mr. Trudeau’s optimistic expansionism and the more defensive approach of his Conservative predecessors. Either way, we’re stuck.
“We have frozen relations with India, with China, with Russia. We’re walking on eggshells around the United States – we’re on our own,” says Janice Gross Stein, a professor of political science at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. “And our foreign policy has to be grounded in a deep understanding that we are now on our own.” … What was the Trudeau Doctrine? As many Liberals saw it, it was a shift to putting pragmatic national interest back at the centre of foreign relations while using those renewed relations to promote Canada’s liberal, pluralist values.
Four years ago, the Trudeau Doctrine nevertheless seemed to many informed observers to be reasonable and attainable: It was, at the very least, a way for Canada to expand its sphere of trade and political partnerships around the world, making it less dependent on traditional partners by building on the existing circle of open-minded democracies. What was less apparent in 2015 was the extent to which the entire Trudeau Doctrine was premised on having the co-operation of the United States. Without a U.S. president seeking similar goals, without a circle of open-minded democracies, Mr. Trudeau’s combination of pragmatic hardball and moral influence would go nowhere.
How do Canada’s governments, its institutions and its economic actors handle the strain if you withdraw the support of the United States, face an escalating crisis of retribution from China and watch several important partners slide out of democracy and open trade, all at once? How well can Canada manage if it finds itself much more alone in the world?
This insecure, unstable new world requires new approaches to Canada’s international relations. These three should be a starting point, post election, for either party:

Huawei’s CEO has a message for Canada: Join us and prosper in the 5G future
Ren Zhengfei doesn’t like Ottawa’s decision to jail his daughter, Meng Wanzhou, but he says it hasn’t stopped his telecom company’s commitment to Canadian research – it’s only slowed it down. In an exclusive interview, he spoke about Canada and China’s political feud, the coming revolution in artificial intelligence and more.

27 June
What to watch for as Trudeau heads to the G20
(Maclean;s) Mystery meets: Trudeau arrives in Japan for the G20 summit with high hopes that diplomacy can smooth over relations with Beijing, but he’ll be depending on others, in particular the world’s least diplomatic leader, to convey that message for Canada. Since Trudeau is unlikely to get a one-on-one meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, aside from cornering him in a hallway, his next best bet is a face-to-face between Xi and Donald Trump. The President has promised to bring up the case of detained Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. But experts will also be watching to see who else Xi wags chins with. As Rohinton Medhora, the president of the Centre for International Governance Innovation told Global News: “Beyond the Trump bilat [bilateral meeting], how many other bilats does he grant? If it turns out that he has very few others, then I wouldn’t read that much into it. On the other hand, if he has half a dozen and Canada isn’t one of them, then I would read something into that.” (Global News)

26 June
Trudeau seeks help from Trump for detained Canadians ahead of G20 Summit
Trudeau is expected to meet with European partners to discuss a range of issues on Friday.
Christopher Sands, the director of the Center for Canadian Studies at John Hopkins University, said Canada doesn’t play offence very much but agrees it would be advisable for Canada to talk to other leaders about the detained Canadians.
Beyond asking for Trump’s support, countries like Japan, South Korea and perhaps India might be willing to do the same, Sands said, adding that would only strengthen the U.S. president’s commitment to the cause.
The G20 is an opportunity to show whether Canada is a player or not and its place in the world, [Rohinton Medhora, the president of the Centre for International Governance Innovation,] added.
“I would say the pressure (is on), especially going into an election when you have to demonstrate that Canada is better and different than four years ago,” he said.
Conservative foreign-affairs critic Erin O’Toole echoed that point, saying it is critical Canada not let the opportunity afforded by the G20 pass, especially given the upcoming election campaign.
“As of September, the writ will drop,” he said. “This is really the last major time to really shake up and try to stop the spiral of the China relationship.”

13 June
Opinion: Canada should resist any urge to retreat from the world stage
If global democratic backsliding is to be reversed, Canada must continue to stand its ground with likeminded states.
Irwin Cotler & Kyle Matthews, Special to Montreal Gazette
Recent years have seen an increasing number of governments stifle freedom of the press, engage in democratic backsliding and scapegoat religious and ethnic minorities, practices that have led to an increase in atrocity crimes. According to Freedom House, of the 41 established democracies that were ranked free from 1985 to 2005, 22 have registered net democratic decline in the last five years. In Russia, more journalists are in jail than at any time since the fall of the Soviet Union, human rights NGOs have been declared foreign agents and independent media have been wiped out. China continues to persecute the Uighur Muslim minority, and has installed an Orwellian social credit system that ranks people based on behaviour.
Faced with an increasingly illiberal world, many traditional Canadian allies have retreated inward, as illustrated by a wave of populist victories in Europe and the United States. However, Canada has remained a steadfast supporter and, increasingly, a promoter of multilateralism and democratic principles. It is imperative that Canada continue to assume this role and resist any urge to retreat from the world stage.

Beijing suggests its snub of Canada will continue until Meng Wanzhou is released
Freeland dismisses idea of dropping extradition, says it would set a ‘very dangerous precedent’
(CBC) The spiraling diplomatic row between Ottawa and Beijing “lies entirely with Canada,” the Chinese foreign ministry said Thursday — suggesting for the first time that its leadership won’t speak with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau until Canada drops extradition proceedings against a Chinese telecom executive.
CBC News reported Wednesday that Beijing ignored a personal attempt by Trudeau earlier this year to arrange a conversation with China’s premier in order to intervene on behalf of Canadians detained in China. Trudeau’s office confirms that the prime minister requested the meeting, but China ignored and ultimately rejected his request.
Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told CBC Radio last month she also sought a meeting with her Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, but was unsuccessful.

Chrétien proposes cancelling Meng’s extradition case to unfreeze relations with China
(Globe & Mail) Jean Chrétien is floating the idea of having Canada’s Justice Minister exercise his legal authority to stop the U.S. extradition of senior Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou as the means to normalize diplomatic relations with China, sources say.
The former Liberal prime minister, who last week offered to serve as Canada’s special envoy to China to help free two jailed Canadians, has discussed the idea of cancelling the extradition process with business executives, according to sources with knowledge of the conversations.
The proposal was first raised by University of British Columbia professor Wenran Jiang. Mr. Chrétien’s former senior adviser Edward Goldenberg, an Ottawa lawyer, has sought input on it from other China experts, sources say.

11 June
Colin Robertson: The G20 summit will be a crucial test of Justin Trudeau’s foreign-policy mettle
The tests for the Prime Minister won’t be in the plenary session, in which leaders must come to grips with “intensifying” trade protectionism, but in what happens in the corridors and pull-aside meetings.
The first test will be whether Mr. Trudeau can convince Chinese President Xi Jinping to let up on Canada. We want our hostages freed, the canola embargo lifted and no more harassment of our meat and pork shipments. The Chinese want Meng Wanzhou returned and telecommunications giant Huawei eligible for our 5G procurement.
Improving relations will require creativity. Why not appoint former prime minister Jean Chrétien as a special envoy, as Brian Mulroney has proposed? The Chinese trust his straightforwardness. Get some “track-two” dialogue going through alternative, but reliable conduits such as the University of Alberta’s China Institute and the Asia Pacific Foundation. Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye was a problem, and when he departs later this month, both countries can name new ambassadors to restart the meetings between ministers and senior officials, a process that has been reportedly stalled.
The second test for Mr. Trudeau will be how well our trade goals can be advanced.
He needs to secure a commitment from European leaders that CETA member-state ratification is a priority. With the new Trans-Pacific Partnership now in effect, he needs to sell the world on Canadian food and services. We also need buy-in for the Canadian-led initiative to reform the World Trade Organization.

6 June
Mulroney urges government to send Chrétien to China to win release of detainees
Canada should use former prime ministers as the U.S. uses its former presidents, Mulroney says
Former prime minister Brian Mulroney says the government should enlist a former prime minister to lead a high-powered delegation to China to win the release of two imprisoned Canadians — but not him.
“What they might want to do is take a look at sending over someone like Jean Chrétien, who has a lot of respect of the Chinese,” Mulroney told The Canadian Press.
Mulroney said the former Liberal prime minister should be accompanied by another well-placed Canadian: Chrétien’s son-in-law André Desmarais, the deputy chairman and co-CEO of Montreal’s Power Corporation. Desmarais is also the honorary chairman of the Canada-China Business Council.
Mulroney acknowledged that his suggestion has echoes of the 2009 visit that former U.S. president Bill Clinton made to North Korea, where he was able to secure the release of two imprisoned journalists. He suggested there might be a lesson for Canada in how the U.S. sometimes taps its ex-presidents for delicate diplomacy.
“They know how to use their former leaders.”

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