Canada: International relations and foreign policy August 2021 –

Written by  //  September 23, 2021  //  Canada, Foreign Policy  //  1 Comment

Canada: International relations and
foreign policy June 2020 – August 2021

Canada can take harder line with China without disrupting trade between the countries: former ambassador
Australia has taken a firmer stance with China, even though 30% of its exports go there, while for Canada the figure is just 6%, Guy Saint-Jacques said
As for the imprisonment in China of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, Saint-Jacques said Ottawa’s options are limited to a scenario where Chinese Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou agrees to some blame in the case that could lead to a plea bargain.
… While wrangling over what’s widely seen as China’s “hostage diplomacy” continues, Saint-Jacques said the trade relationship between the country and Canada has actually progressed.
“Our relationship with China is very bad politically, but on the trade side we could have a banner year because our exports are up more than 20 per cent so far this year,” he said.
But allowing China to substitute its Australian imports with Canadian products shows the difficulty of maintaining a solid front against Beijing, said Saint-Jacques and foreign policy expert Richard McGregor.

17 September
Robert Fife: Canada caught off guard by new security pact between U.S., Australia and Britain
(Globe & Mail) The defence ministers from the U.K. and Australia reached out to Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan to inform him of the decision shortly before the late-afternoon announcement. Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau received a call from his Australian counterpart. Daniel Minden, a spokesperson for Mr. Sajjan, said Ottawa had been kept in the loop on talks between the countries.
One of the Canadian officials referred to the pact as the new “Three Eyes” and said it’s clear that Canada’s closest allies consider Ottawa to be a “weak sister” when it comes to standing up to China.

16 September
Federal election: How the next government can build a stronger foreign service
Caroline Dunton, PhD Candidate, Political Studies, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa
(The Conversation) How might Canada develop, maintain and nurture a functional foreign policy in 2021? My answer is that the Government of Canada’s investment in its foreign service and broader foreign policy apparatus at Global Affairs requires a significant overhaul and increase in resources, expertise and staffing.
…  In many cases, divisions are also understaffed for what they are expected to produce, with individuals covering multiple positions or policy areas. In fact, there are fewer staff now than there were in 2010 and challenges remain from the merger of the former Canadian International Development Agency and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
A lack of a vision for foreign policy and a thinly stretched apparatus go hand-in-hand. A new government cannot develop a vision without the capacity to do so and they certainly cannot deliver on it, leaving both Canada and foreign policy labour treading water.

14 September
Chine, défense continentale, espionnage : voici les grands enjeux internationaux qui attendent le prochain gouvernement
Marco Munier, Doctorant au Département de science politique et chercheur au Réseau d’analyse stratégique, UQAM
(The Conversation) Traditionnellement, la politique étrangère n’est pas un domaine déterminant dans une élection fédérale. Cela s’explique en partie parce que la politique étrangère n’est pas une des principales priorités des Canadiens lors d’une élection.
Toutefois, cela ne signifie pas que les Canadiens se désintéressent de la politique étrangère, bien au bien au contraire. Un sondage montre notamment que les Canadiens ont une vision internationale de leur pays et sont largement favorables à un engagement mondial du Canada pour poursuivre ses objectifs.
… Ce n’est d’ailleurs pas une surprise que nos principaux alliés, les États-Unis, désirent maintenant se concentrer sur la « menace chinoise » et une future confrontation entre les grandes puissances. En effet, les États-Unis réfléchissent à une nouvelle planification stratégique et un possible affrontement avec la Chine. En tant qu’allié des États-Unis, il faudra sûrement s’attendre à ce que ces derniers demandent au Canada de contribuer, d’une façon ou d’une autre, à leurs efforts pour contrer l’influence chinoise grandissante dans la région.

10 September

Lloyd Axworthy, Jean Charest, Jennifer Welsh, Jeremy Kinsman and Ben Rowswell:
Canada needs to reimagine a foreign policy for a leaderless world
[I]n a Canadian election campaign that was launched on the same day as the fall of Kabul, foreign policy does not seem to feature on the agenda of our political parties. The government has called the election to allow Canadians to pronounce on choices facing them on health, social policy and economic recovery. As geopolitical rivalries intensify, climate change accelerates and the international economy transforms in unpredictable ways, how will our country participate in efforts to create greater stability and more effective international solutions? So far the election campaign has offered no answers to voters.
(Globe & Mail) The disastrous retreat from Afghanistan is yet one more development that shows the U.S. has lost the primacy it once enjoyed in international affairs. Both Republican and Democratic presidents have demonstrated a faltering resolve for global leadership. America’s commitment to work with allies in upholding the international order is in question as never before.
Without effective U.S. leadership, the onus to address burning international issues falls more heavily on the rest of us in the democratic world. The rise of illiberal nationalism and authoritarian rule, the declining self-confidence of liberal democracy, the return of protectionism and trading blocs, runaway nuclear proliferation, global health and climate crises – these are issues that countries such as Canada must now confront if superpowers cannot or will not. (30 August)

Escape from Afghanistan
The Globe and Mail tells the story of how Canadian journalists saved their Afghan colleagues in the nick of time, with Ukraine’s help.
… The Canadian army, which ended its mission in Afghanistan in 2011 but redeployed special forces troops to Kabul airport last month to stage its own evacuation, was also unable to rescue many of its own citizens and support staff, let alone those who had worked alongside Canadian media, including The Globe. …Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (or IRCC) had only a vague plan in place, and it buckled swiftly under the sheer volume of Afghan allies in need of evacuation.
… For two weeks I barely slept, consumed with worry that Sharif and Mukhtar would be left to endure whatever came next under Taliban rule.
I called every personal contact I had, pulled every string I could find, but these people who had been so essential to Canada’s understanding of our war in Afghanistan were stuck in Kabul a dozen days after Taliban fighters took over the city.

5 September
Diplomats join march to mark 1,000 days, press China to release Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig
As Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig marked 1,000 days in Chinese prison cells, their families, friends, senior politicians and diplomats gathered in Ottawa in a show of solidarity and to call for their freedom.
In a rare move, the top diplomats from the U.S., Britain, the European Union, Germany and Australia attended the march. Their message: that they stand “shoulder-to-shoulder” with Canada and that “hostage diplomacy is unacceptable,” said Arnold Chacon, acting U.S. ambassador to Canada.
Despite Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor passing yet another grim milestone in prison, their families said they still hold out hope the two men will be freed. But how and when they might be released is an open question. And while the federal government says its approach is showing signs of progress, critics say the fact that the 1,000-day milestone was hit shows a new tack is needed.

3-4 September
I felt abandoned by Canada when I was held captive. I can’t imagine how the Michaels must feel
Robert Fowler: The fates of Michael Kovrig, Michael Spavor – and also those of Robert Hall, John Ridsdel, and all those loyal Afghans who have been abandoned by Canada in Kabul – will leave an indelible stain on the legacy of the Trudeau government.
(Globe & Mail) … Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor…have clearly been deserted by Justin Trudeau’s crocodile-tearing government. How could they, in their misery and isolation, come to any other conclusion: They have been deserted by their government, and, yes, also by their fellow Canadians – good people who have stood by as their government did nothing useful to save them?
A government has no greater duty than the protection of the health and safety of its citizens. Mr. Trudeau already failed on that score five years ago, when he abandoned Canadians John Ridsdel and Robert Hall to be beheaded by the Islamic State-affiliated Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the Philippines. The Norwegian and Philippine governments, however, intervened to save their nationals held by the same terrorist cell. Our Prime Minister’s simplistic mantra – “we will not make significant concessions to hostage-takers and terrorists” – is disingenuous. To my certain knowledge, everybody does, including those governments which pompously profess otherwise. So just whom are we trying to impress with such posturing, at the cost of the lives, suffering and sanity of Canadian citizens?
Finally, let’s be very clear: This is not somebody else’s problem. Ottawa’s beseeching Washington to fix this for us is unseemly and distasteful.
A different view from Margaret McCuaig-Johnston
Canada must not by cowed by China’s pressure
First, such geopolitical hostage-taking calls for the strongest government response, not appeasement aimed at, for example, sending Meng Wanzhou home. From day one, the government of Canada has condemned the detention of innocent Canadians and demanded their immediate release. It has withstood pressure from business and political circles pleading with the government to release Ms. Meng so that positive relations can resume.
Second, it is important not to allow the hostage-taking to temper other aspects of the government’s relations with China. The government has not performed as well in this regard, despite mounting public pressure to deal forcefully with the new more aggressive China.  …
It committed to, and a year later dropped, a plan for a China Policy Framework, with the foreign affairs minister at the time, François-Philippe Champagne, saying  that “the China of 2020 is not the China of 2016.” It has deferred announcements of expected negative decisions on allowing Huawei into Canada’s 5G systems and on the airing of forced confessions on Chinese networks broadcasting in Canada. It has held back on initiatives it would normally have taken with Taiwan. Two government reports that contain criticism of China were shelved the day before publication. Beijing’s accusations that Canadian media are too negative concerning China led to unsuccessful efforts by government officials to silence two former Canadian ambassadors critical of Beijing’s actions.
We failed to heed the warnings on China. Kovrig and Spavor are paying the price
Michael Cole, former analyst with CSIS, now Taipei-based senior fellow with the Macdonald-Laurier Institute and Global Taiwan Institute.
Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor must be freed, but not as part of some transaction that allows the Chinese regime to get away with it. For this will only be an invitation for Beijing to engage in similar behaviour in the future.
This weekend marks the 1,000th day since China’s arbitrary detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. The fate of the two Canadians has dispelled any notion that the Chinese party-state apparatus is a normal and decent entity, one whose excesses and ideology have no direct relationship with our safety and way of life.
Thanks to our collective refusal to see the facts, Beijing got away with imprisoning thousands upon thousands of people within its borders and inside the territories of its empire – ethnic Uyghurs, Tibetans, activists, lawyers, journalists, writers, publishers and religious figures.
The detention of Canadians on trumped-up charges of espionage may have proven satisfactory for Chinese officials who regarded the arrest of Ms. Meng as an affront to Han exceptionalism, or who needed to remind Canada of its proper place in the hierarchy of states. However, this excess is bound to be counterproductive, as it has helped awaken Canadians – and many others around the world – to the reality of China under Xi Jinping and a form of despotism being exercised on a worldwide scale.

Visa problems persist for international students
Striking diplomats mean delays for processing visa applications
International students studying in Canada are being faced with the possibility of having to leave the country due to an ongoing strike by civil servants who process foreign visa applications.
Eight years ago, different government/same problem
Foreign service strike slowing down visa applications

2 September
Peter Menzies: Why was the CBC not in Afghanistan?
Our public broadcaster has the responsibility to be the organization that keeps Canadians informed of major international events when all others fail.
(The Line) The Line, through the work of Kevin Newman, has come as close as any Canadian media outlet to illustrating the reality of Kabul’s fear and betrayal. A former Global news anchor connected to people helping evacuate interpreters and others, his posts have come as close as any to actually being there. That said — and not to take anything away from his work or the ingenuity of others conducting digital interviews — no amount of second-hand reports can replace boots on the ground.
Getting into Kabul now is near-impossible. As the violence and death toll mounts, news organizations have begun to withdraw. But at least until late last week, all the main American media organizations were in Kabul, even PBS. Earlier this week, I watched a video posted by the Los Angeles Times of the Taliban checking out abandoned coalition aircraft. The BBC’s chief international correspondent, Canadian Lyse Doucet, was there with her team. The Australians were there, as were many others.
But Canada had no one. Not even the CBC/Radio Canada.

30 August
Practising good diplomacy will require Canada to recognize the Taliban in Afghanistan
Colin Robertson
(Globe & Mail) The federal government should recognize the Taliban as the new government in Afghanistan while making safe passage out for those we left behind a part of the deal.
Shunning the Taliban as retribution for the West’s defeat would be a mistake. That the Taliban include drug-dealing, misogynist killers as members is beside the point. Diplomatic recognition should not be considered a seal of approval, but rather as the means by which a given country represents and advances the interests of its citizens.
International support, mostly from the West, sustained Afghanistan for the last 20 years, and while Russia or China will want to fill this void, it comes with a price (as Russia will well remember). Humanitarian assistance – Canada pledged $50-million through the United Nations and Red Cross last week – gives us leverage that Western governments should apply collectively to ensure the Taliban follow through on “assurances” that those who want out will “be allowed to proceed in a safe and orderly manner.”

One Comment on "Canada: International relations and foreign policy August 2021 –"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson September 6, 2021 at 7:28 pm · Reply

    Re Bob Fowler’s column in the G&M I felt abandoned by Canada when I was held captive
    “It is hard to see any way out of this, but it seems to me that the cases of the two Michaels and of Fowler & Guay are fundamentally different.
    Fowler & Guay were kidnapped by a terrorist group that wanted a large ransom. That seems to have been managed by means of some kind of shadow-play.
    The two Michaels have been seized by a state actor in broad daylight. The Chinese are trying to get Canada to humiliate itself publicly, and in the process show the world that the USA cannot or will not protect its allies. They will not release the two Michaels in return for a suitcase of cash, no matter how it were delivered.
    Shakespeare said it best, even though he put the words in the mouth of one of his villains: “He who steals my purse steals trash. ‘twas mine, ‘tis his, and hath been slave to thousands. But he who filcheth from me my good name robs me not of that which makes him rich, but makes me poor indeed.”
    The Chinese want us to destroy our own good name. In public.”
    -Former Canadian ambassador Sam Hanson

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