Canada: International relations and foreign policy August 2021 -–

Written by  //  May 16, 2022  //  Canada, Foreign Policy  //  1 Comment

Minister of Foreign Affairs Mandate Letter
Canada: International relations and
foreign policy June 2020 – August 2021

Associate Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (DMA)
– Transition Book

Canada-China Relations:
A Discussion With David Mulroney

Matt Gurney: Canada has chosen to be a freeloader on the world stage, but it’s not too late to change
The Canada of today can’t contribute much to NATO, can’t contribute much to Ukraine, doesn’t contribute much to the developing world and is pretty OK with this. … The problem isn’t necessarily what Canada is willing to spend (though there does seem to be a dawning recognition that, especially on defence, we spend far, far too little); it’s what Canada commits itself to. We aren’t honest with the world, and ourselves, about our freeloading ways

8 May
Trudeau says Canada backs Ukraine in seeking justice for Putin’s ‘heinous war crimes’
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid a surprise visit to Kyiv on Sunday, meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, touring a blackened, bombed-out suburban community and pledging enduring support for the embattled country.
He also reopened the Canadian Embassy and welcomed the ambassador back to the capital, Kyiv. Trudeau was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and an armed security detachment.
The prime minister also announced that all duties on Ukrainian imports to Canada would be removed for the next year and that the federal government would place sanctions on Russian individuals and entities.
Trudeau’s visit came on the same day G7 leaders were set to discuss the war in Ukraine, meetings in which Trudeau and Zelensky took part.

29 April
Jeremy Kinsman: The War, the Reckoning, and its Aftermath
While we pay acute attention to the US, commit to NATO and to Ukrainian defence and reconstruction, and partner the EU, Canada should also re-connect our marginalized foreign service and inward-looking government to the much wider world in Asia, Africa, and our own hemisphere, the “silent majority” of countries.
(Policy) Canada’s DNA is, if not “globalist,” distinctly internationalist, arguably “post-nationalist”. Canada identifies with an international rules-based order that works for all. The current one, still hobbled by ossified UN privileges for claimant victors of WW2, does not, when we need it most. Solutions apt to win universal support are elusive, calling for coalitions of middle and smaller powers to drive their construction and radiate marketing.
Canadians and Germans are engaged in a bilateral like-minded effort (“Renewing our Democratic Alliance”) to build a solidarity network among willing North and South governments and civil society, aimed at effective inclusive multilateralism that selectively pools sovereignty, defends human rights, and pursues initiatives on such as corruption and refugees. It is timely now to nurture a more constructive global mindset that looks beyond preoccupations with Putin, or the China-US rivalry for “number one” bragging rights.
While we pay acute attention to the US, commit to NATO and to Ukrainian defence and reconstruction, and partner the EU, Canada should also re-connect our marginalized foreign service and inward-looking government to the much wider world in Asia, Africa, and our own hemisphere, the “silent majority” of countries recent governments frankly dropped, including many who remember Canadians as among their early friends. They need to hear that a rules-based world is the best friend of all.

10 April
A Cold War Turns Hot: What Needs to Happen Now?
Colin Robertson
(Policy) The global cold war between autocracy and democracy has suddenly turned hot. Unless we stop him, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine will be the first in a series of such hot wars. Canada and its fellow democracies must now quickly deliver to Ukraine the weapons that can prevent that cascade.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland got it right when she told the House of Commons in her budget speech on April 7 that “Putin and his henchmen are war criminals. The world’s democracies—including our own—can be safe only once the Russian tyrant and his armies are entirely vanquished.”
Canada and its fellow NATO partners must set aside their misplaced morality about providing offensive or defensive, lethal or non-lethal weapons. When you are defending your home, you need whatever it takes. NATO needs to re-examine all options: Can we break the Russian naval blockade of Ukrainian ports to get supplies into the hands of the defenders? What about re-evaluating the risks of a no-fly-zone?
For Canada, the increase in Budget 2022 for security and the defence of our North does not come close to catch-up. We remain in the rear of the Alliance when it comes to meeting the NATO commitment of 2 percent spending on defence by 2024. A review of Strong, Secure and Engaged — Canada’s defence policy as of 2017 — is overdue, but it’s not enough. We need a comprehensive strategy that looks at the threats to our global position, squares with NATO’s forthcoming Strategic Concept, and integrates national security, diplomacy and development.

5 April
Foreign Minister Joly in Finland where calls are mounting for Russian war crimes trial
(National Observer) Joly said Canada will provide additional funding to support the International Criminal Court investigation looking at Russia’s conduct since its invasion of Ukraine. She said Canada will be imposing new sanctions on Russian and Belarusian individuals and she plans to follow up with G7 partners, saying that group of leading democracies needs to do more to isolate Russia.
In Helsinki, Joly also reaffirmed Canada’s support for Finland’s entry into the 30-country NATO military alliance.
She also visited the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, and also sought to bolster co-operation in the Arctic. Finland and Canada are among the eight countries on the Arctic Council, and Russia had been its chair. But after the invasion, the remaining members said they were taking a pause in the council’s work because of Russia’s actions.

3 April
Canada: An invader, warrior, peacekeeper and arms supplier in conflicts near and far
David Webster, Professor, History & Global Studies, Bishop’s University
(The Conversation) In Ethiopia in the 1930s and in Ukraine today, the effects of invasion are devastating. But how has Canada confronted military invasions throughout its history?
First off, Canada was built on invasion and displacement. French and later English merchants came in search of furs and other riches, invading Indigenous territory. But alliances with some Indigenous nations grew volatile, displacing communities, disrupting ways of life and attempting to erase culture.

25 March
As Canada prioritizes expedited resettlement for Ukrainians, at-risk Afghans remain trapped abroad
(The World) Canada plans to accept unlimited numbers of Ukrainians fleeing the ongoing Russian invasion. Meanwhile, progress remains slow in the resettlement of 40,000 Afghans.
Canada’s special program for Ukrainians has renewed attention to the long waits for Afghans who are awaiting resettlement — particularly those whose relationships with Canada have put them at risk.

— Canada isn’t at war with Russia. But make no mistake: Canadians are at war with Russians. Politico’s Andy Blatchford dug into the inner workings of a pair of foreign-fighter groups: The Georgian Legion and the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine.
Band of others: Ukraine’s legions of foreign soldiers are on the front line
Up to 20,000 volunteers — from all over the world — have joined up to fight Russian invaders. …fighters from the Baltic countries and Canada, which has the world’s largest Ukrainian diaspora after Russia, have shown up in sizable numbers. Clusters of soldiers, who know each other well, are arriving together to join the legion.
… the Ukrainian legion has made efforts to keep soldiers together based on country of origin and language. For example, the Canadians in Ukraine’s legion make up a unique contingent.
A “large, large majority” of the Canadian recruits are of Ukrainian descent and many have arrived with “old comrades-in-arms” from their tours in Afghanistan. In Ukraine, Canadians who know each other have been grouped in platoons, along with other English-speaking volunteers.

18 March
Canada’s UN mission goes viral with tweet mocking Russian letter to United Nations
In an unorthodox diplomatic move, Canada’s UN mission on Thursday tweeted out a heavily annotated letter that Russia had sent to the United Nations, including pointed comments in the rewrite, later prompting Russian accusations of “kindergarten-level libel.”
In a tweet that quickly went viral, Canada’s UN mission added multiple remarks to a March 16 letter from Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia. The missive sought support for Russia’s draft resolution on providing aid access and civilian protection in Ukraine.
… Lama Khodr, a media spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, said the tweet was published “to contribute to Canada’s public diplomacy on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and to provide transparency on the disinformation being spread by the Russian mission to the UN.”

15 March
Aaron Wherry: Parliament gave Zelensky a hero’s welcome. He gave us something else: a cold dose of reality
President Zelensky calls on Canadians to ‘imagine’ the catastrophe of war
More than 7,000 kilometres away, the guest of honour sat somewhere in the middle of a war zone. Standing on the floor of the House of Commons, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau introduced “our friend” Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine.
The words “our friend” seemed to speak to something much more than personal rapport or even national connection. Zelensky is now the focal point for a massive allied effort to defend his country. He’s also one of the most admired political leaders in the Western world. His words and actions at a time of great danger have elevated him to heroic status.
But friendship means being able to speak directly and candidly — and that is what Zelensky did in his 12-minute address.
“Dear Justin and dear guests, can you imagine that every day you receive memorandums about the number of casualties, including women and children?” Zelensky asked. “I would like you to understand and I would like you to feel what we feel every day.”
Zelensky’s appeal to his audience’s imagination built up to a request for intervention in the skies over Ukraine — for the one thing that allies, fearing the prospect of a wider war with Russia, have so far refused to provide.

Russia puts Trudeau, foreign affairs and defence ministers on its ‘black list’
The Russian foreign ministry announced Tuesday it has added Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly and Defence Minister Anita Anand to what it calls its “black list,” banning them from entering Russia.
The other federal party leaders — interim Conservative leader Candice Bergen, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet and Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May — have been told they can’t set foot on Russian soil.
Hundreds of MPs from all parties and leaders of various Ukrainian-Canadian groups — including Alexandra Chyczij, the president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) — have also been put on Russia’s black list.
The move is a response to Canada’s aggressive stance toward Russia following that country’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Russia banned Freeland in 2014
This isn’t the first time Russia has banned Canadian officials. Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, a former financial journalist who lived and worked in Moscow for years, was secretly added to the black list in 2014 after Canada and other Western countries imposed sanctions on some Russian entities following Putin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
A Russian foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed in 2017 that Freeland and a dozen other Canadian officials would be banned from Russia until Canada lifted similar restrictions on Russian officials.

6 March
Tom Axworthy: Has Canada Turned the Page on Foreign Policy Passivity?
Like so many things in our 21st-century, post-internet context of geopolitical competition, foreign policy isn’t what it used to be. The fight for domination once manifested in battles over territory and spheres of influence now plays out in narrative warfare on social media screens and in previously unthinkable headlines. Tom Axworthy, who served as a senior advisor to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, writes that Canada’s foreign policy needs a reboot. Activism over Ukraine may be the spur.
(Policy) …a recent (January 2022) comprehensive survey by the Macdonald-Laurier Institute on Canadian attitudes towards foreign policy found that 87 percent of Canadians believe that defending Canadian values, such as democracy and human rights, on the world stage, is important and 85 percent believe that pursuing jobs and economic growth is also critical. Over three quarters (77 percent) also believe it is important to be influential on the world stage, a perspective our political leaders should embrace since foreign policy was almost totally absent from issues debated in the 2019 and 2021 election campaigns.
But the survey also reveals a critical disconnect between mass and informed opinion, a chasm that informs the rest of this article. Sixty-three percent of Canadians believe that Canada is very or moderately influential in world affairs, an increase of 10 percent since 2020. This is a dangerous delusion. If Canadians believe we are influential in the world when we are not, this lets our decision makers off the hook — they can continue to under-invest in the military and development aid, play to domestic voting blocs rather than do the hard work of diplomacy, and be content with government by press release instead of building capabilities.

3 March
Bringing ‘unlimited’ Ukrainians to Canada won’t stall Afghan resettlement, minister vows
‘We can do more than one thing at a time,’ says Immigration Minister Sean Fraser
(As It Happens CBC radio) Your government has been struggling to deliver on your existing refugee promises. Are tens of thousands of Afghans going to be put on hold as Ukraine becomes Canada’s new priority?
No, and let me say that we can do more than one thing at a time, and our commitment to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees has not wavered one bit. In fact, we’ve now got more than 8,500 Afghan refugees. There were 335, I believe, landed in Calgary last week. There will be more flights arriving each week.
Our internal capacity was something that I was concerned about. But what we’ve done was we modified, essentially, the system that we used to bring tourists to Canada, because that’s one of the systems that has the most horsepower across our department because it’s accustomed to processing two million people a year. This is a separate system and process that’s used to process our refugee applications for people who are coming through.
Canada prepared to welcome an ‘unlimited number’ of Ukrainians fleeing war, minister says
Immigration Minister Sean Fraser says Canada is waiving most typical visa requirements
To start, Fraser said his department has created a new visa category that will allow a limitless number of Ukrainians to come to Canada to live, work or study here for up to two years.
People accepted under the Canada Ukraine Authorization For Emergency Travel program will have an open work or study permit and employers will be free to hire as many Ukrainians as they want.
Fraser said the federal government is waiving most of the typical visa requirements but applicants will still need to supply biometrics and undergo a background screening process before leaving for Canada. The application process will open in two weeks’ time.
Fraser said the department is prepared for a possible influx of Ukrainians and there are biometric kits and personnel ready to assist would-be applicants at diplomatic posts in Warsaw, Vienna and Bucharest and at 30 other locations throughout Europe. Canada is also waiving application fees for all Ukrainians who want to avail themselves of this program.

28 February
Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations Bob Rae addresses UN General Assembly on Ukraine crisis
Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, addresses a special emergency session of the UN General Assembly on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Since the start of the invasion on February 24, 2022, Canada has announced a number of economic sanctions against Russia, closed its airspace to Russian planes, and indicated that it will supply protective equipment to Ukraine. (video)
The following is the text as delivered of the statement by H.E. Ambassador Bob Rae, Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations, to the Emergency Special Session of the UN General Assembly on Ukraine, February 28, 2022.

27 February
‘Suffocate the Russian regime’: Joly says SWIFT decision puts pressure on Putin
(CTV) Canada’s “first round” of sanctions against Moscow were announced Tuesday, when a Russian invasion appeared to be imminent. These sanctions ban Canadians from buying Russian sovereign debt or having have any financial dealings in the separatist-controlled regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine.
More sanctions were announced on Thursday, after Russia’s attack began. These sanctions affect dozens of Russian oligarchs, banks, the paramilitary organization Wagner Group, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
On Saturday, Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and EU also agreed to cut off several Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system and place restrictions on US$600 billion in assets owned by Russia’s central bank.
“It will isolate Russian banks. They won’t be able to communicate with the other banks in the world. So, the impact of SWIFT is really important,” Joly said. “Not only is it important, it is immediate”…
Canada joins with Europe in closing its airspace to Russian airliners
Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot operates multiple flights per day through Canadian airspace en route to the U.S. and beyond. It is a critical route for the airline
The closure of European airspace to Russian airlines and vice versa had immediate impacts on global aviation. Air France said it was temporarily suspending flights to and from China, Korea and Japan, while it “studies flight plan options to avoid Russian airspace, in compliance with French and international authorities’ directives.”
Canada among countries moving to block Russian access to SWIFT
Western allies announced sweeping new sanctions against Moscow on Saturday, including kicking some Russian banks off the main global payments system.

25 February
Canada, European countries preparing for influx of Ukrainian refugees
Defence Minister Anita Anand says Canadian officials are “doing whatever we can to assist” Ukrainian refugees who are fleeing Russian violence.
Speaking to CTV’s Your Morning on Friday, Anand said the Canadian Armed Forces are in Poland and prepared to help with the humanitarian effort as thousands of Ukrainians cross borders into neighbouring countries to escape the invasion.
Canada to sanction Putin, Russia’s foreign minister for Ukraine invasion
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday that Canada will follow the lead of its allies and levy sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the country’s attack on Ukraine.
The announcement comes after the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States all announced sanctions against the two Russian leaders.
“These men bear the greatest responsibility for the death and destruction occurring in Ukraine,” said the prime minster, during a press conference about the crisis.
Canadian liquor stores pull Russian products amid conflict in Ukraine

Trudeau announces sanctions to punish Russia for its ‘horrific’ attack on Ukraine
Canada aims sanctions at Russian oligarchs, banks
The economic measures — which the government says were carefully coordinated with other G7 countries — are meant to hobble Russia’s economy as its forces push further into Ukraine. … Trudeau said Canada will target 62 individuals and entities, including members of the Russian elite and their family members, the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner Group and major Russian banks.
Canada will also direct its financial firepower at members of the Russian Security Council, including the country’s defence, finance and justice ministers.
Effective immediately, Canada will stop issuing export permits for Russia-bound products and cancel existing permits. … Canadians are barred from purchasing Russian sovereign debt and dealing with two state-backed Russian banks.
Canada prioritizing Ukrainian immigration applications amid Russian invasion
Canadian politicians on all levels are calling on the federal government to create a plan to help Ukrainian refugees
Additional Immigration Support for Those Affected by the Situation in Ukraine
IRCC will issue open work permits to Ukrainian visitors, workers and students who are currently in Canada and cannot go home, so they can stay longer if they wish. We will waive fees, retroactive to February 22, 2022, for certain travel and immigration documents, such as Canadian passports, permanent resident travel documents, proofs of citizenship, visitor visas, and work and study permits. Further details will be made available in the coming weeks as these measures launch.

24 February
A special edition looking at Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – Part 2 (text)
(CBC Radio The Current) Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is “an attack on democracy” and UN principles, says Canada’s ambassador to the UN
Putin’s launch of an invasion of Ukraine came just as the United Nations Security Council was meeting to find a last-minute plan for peace. We discuss the implications of those actions with Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations; and Roland Paris, a professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa and a former senior advisor on foreign policy to the prime minister of Canada.
Ambassador Bob Rae addresses the UN General Assembly regarding Russia and Ukraine
Extract from the Journals of the Senate of Thursday, February 24, 2022:
The Honourable Senator Boehm moved, seconded by the Honourable Senator LaBoucane‑Benson:
That the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade be authorized to examine and report on the Canadian foreign service and elements of the foreign policy machinery within Global Affairs Canada, and on other related matters; and
That the committee submit its final report no later than March 30, 2023, and that it retain all powers necessary to publicize its findings for 180 days after the tabling of the final report.

30 January
Canada pulls out more personnel from embassy in Ukraine
The Canadian government has moved to pull out the remaining non-essential staff from the Canadian embassy in Ukraine and their families.
Global Affairs Canada announced the decision on Sunday. … The embassy remains open and officials are able to provide consular support.
Jeremy Kinsman comments
Russia can choose negotiations or sanctions, Canada’s defence minister says in Ukraine
Anand didn’t use any inflammatory language but said Canada remains concerned and stands by the stark assessments of allies.
“It is difficult for me to say what intelligence the Ukrainian government has,” said Anand, who noted she had only just arrived and not yet met with her counterparts.
“The intelligence we are utilizing is consistent with our allies across the NATO alliance.”

24-25 January
Canada orders families of diplomats out of Ukraine as fears mount over Russian threat
“The safety and security of Canadians, our personnel and their families at our missions abroad is our top priority. Due to the ongoing Russian military buildup and destabilizing activities in and around Ukraine, we have decided to temporarily withdraw Canadian embassy staff’s children under 18 years of age and family members accompanying them,” said Global Affairs Canada in a statement.
Canada suggests non-essential Canadians leave Ukraine
Over the weekend both the U.S. State Department and the British government acknowledged that some embassy staff and their families were being withdrawn in response to the growing Russian threat.
Global Affairs Canada suffers ‘cyber attack’ amid Russia-Ukraine tensions: sources
Global Affairs Canada is scrambling to recover after a multi-day network disruption that security and government sources describe as a “cyber attack.”
While neither Global Affairs nor Canada’s cyber security agency, the Communications Security Establishment, could immediately comment, sources tell Global News the government is concerned the attack was conducted by Russia or Russian-backed hackers.

18 January
Russia accuses Canada of ‘ignoring numerous crimes’ by Ukraine amid rising tensions
(Global) Russia’s embassy in Canada issued a rare statement Tuesday criticizing Foreign Minister Melanie Joly’s comments in support of Ukraine amid the country’s rising tensions with Moscow, accusing Canada of “ignoring numerous crimes” by Kyiv.
Joly wrapped her two-day trip to Ukraine, the first leg of a three-country continental tour that will include stops in France and meetings with European Union and NATO leaders in Brussels. She met with Ukraine’s prime minister and deputy prime minister on Monday to discuss Canada’s support amid a military buildup on the Russian border. Joly wraps Ukraine trip amid fears of Russian invasion in standoff with West, NATO
Canada ‘looking at options’ over Ukraine’s requests for weapons, equipment
Speaking in Kyiv after a series of bilateral meetings, Global Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Ukrainian officials have repeatedly raised the issue of access to military equipment and weapons as tensions with Russia remain high.
Canada deploys special forces to Ukraine amid rising tensions with Russia
Sources told Global News that the Canadian special operations presence is part of an attempt by NATO allies to deter Russian aggression in Ukraine, and to identify ways to assist the Ukrainian government.

2021

29 December
Police in Hong Kong have arrested seven people connected to independent media outlet Stand News
One of those arrested is pop star and activist Denise Ho, who was born in Hong Kong but is a Canadian citizen.  Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said on Twitter Wednesday afternoon that Canada’s ‘consular officials are engaged and stand ready to provide assistance on the ground’ – of course, we have no ambassador to China at present…

20 December
Rio Tinto taps Dominic Barton amid challenging transition, uneasy relations with China
Barton is seen as a proponent of engaging with China
(Financial Post) Dominic Barton, Canada’s outgoing ambassador to China, will join Rio Tinto Ltd.’s board of directors in April and assume the chairmanship in May of next year, as the giant mining company aims to rebuilds its environmental credentials and smooth ties with China.
See Either way, Dominic Barton’s plea of ignorance makes Justin Trudeau look bad for extensive background on Mr. Barton

16 December
Prime Minister releases new mandate letters for ministers
Mandate letters outline the objectives that each minister will work to accomplish, as well as the pressing challenges they will address in their role.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mandate Letter

10 December
Diane Francis: Melanie Joly has no business being foreign affairs minister
Joly has no qualifications for this role which will diminish Canada’s image as a member of the G7 as well as Five Eyes

8 December
(Politico Ottawa Playbook) Former Canadian ambassador to China, GUY SAINT-JACQUES, believes DOMINIC BARTON’s exit is an opportunity to appoint a career diplomat, someone better equipped to deal with “the dark side of China.”
— Reason No. 1: Speaking from Montreal, Saint-Jacques told Playbook Barton was initially praised for his experience with Chinese state-owned enterprises and some ministries. But the McKinsey executive’s “limited” experience left him ill-equipped to deal with hostage diplomacy, sanctions and consulting directly on human rights abuse, he said. “This was all new for him.”
— Good political appointments “rare.” Saint-Jacques said there have only been a few political appointments who have done a good job in his opinion, singling out BOB RAE, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.N., as a “rare” example of an effective diplomat.
“We have entered into the era of diplomacy as a show,” Saint-Jacques said, explaining the trend of plum diplomatic postings being treated as favors to business circles. To illustrate a different tact, he pointed to prime ministers BRIAN MULRONEY and JEAN CHRÉTIEN whose governments were influential in Washington. “We were using, to the full extent, our diplomatic network, to launch initiatives,” Saint-Jacques said. “Canada was visible.” Now, he said, Canada is paying the price for years of neglect to its foreign policy.
Trudeau, Joly and Canada’s (un)diplomatic corps
Paul Wells: Canada needs new ambassadors in Beijing and Paris, and the career diplomats are likely to face stiff competition from political appointees

29 November
Louis Delvoie: Canada in retreat
(The Whig Standard) Reputation and image, presence and profile are of key importance to a country like Canada that has only very limited amounts of hard power (military and economic) to advance its interests on the world stage. Yet in all of these domains, Canada is receding. The evidence for this is to be found in the fact that Canada has now twice failed in its attempts to secure a rotating seat on the UN Security Council, once under the Harper government and more recently under the Trudeau government. These failures contrast sharply with Canada’s successes throughout the second half of the 20th century. Another indicator of Canada’s dwindling importance is to be found in its treatment by one of the world’s outstanding publications. Every year, The Economist produces an enlarged issue looking to the year ahead. Now for the second time in a row, that publication features no article on Canada. In fact, Canada is the only G7 country that does not rate an article in either “The World in 2021” or “The World in 2022.” This, too, is an indicator of Canada’s dwindling influence.
In order to reverse this trend, the Canadian government needs to rethink its foreign policy and to become more proactive in world affairs. Equally importantly, it needs to make serious new investments in its budgets for diplomacy, development and defence. Rhetorical pronouncements of good intentions are no substitute for effective action.

26 November
Did the Liberals just promise a better foreign policy?
Adnan R. Khan: Canada’s foreign service is a mess. The Throne Speech suggests the Liberal government knows it.
(Maclean’s) It’s not often that a Throne Speech has made me hit pause and rewind. This week’s, like many others before it, was packed with dull pageantry and endless platitudes—“go further, faster”, “no worker or region will be left behind”, “build back better”. …
But then there was this one tiny tidbit: “A changing world requires adapting and expanding diplomatic engagement.”
For foreign policy wonks, it was like an oasis in the desert. Could it be? After decades of neglect, could a Canadian government at last be waking up to the fact that Canada’s foreign service is in crisis? Or is it just another Liberal government mirage?

18 November
Canada must form a strong, unified response to the challenges China presents
John Ibbitson
Conservatives and Liberals have an opportunity to show unity in responding to the challenges of China and of Canada’s role in the new Indo-Pacific world. Both Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole should grasp that opportunity.
As my colleague Steven Chase reports, Canada and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have begun free-trade talks. Joining ASEAN would give Canada access to the all-important East Asia Summit, which includes ASEAN members plus the big regional players, among them China, India, Japan, Russia and the United States.
An ASEAN agreement would also help repair the damage Mr. Trudeau inflicted in 2017, when he managed to torpedo planned trade talks with China and almost scuttled the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which in turn short-circuited Canadian hopes of joining the summit.
In the wake of the [Two Michaels] hostage exchange – which is what it became – that sent everyone home, Canada needs to rethink its approach to China and to the other Indo-Pacific countries.
Fen Hampson, a professor of international affairs at Carleton University, is co-author of a new book on the recent events: The Two Michaels, with Mike Blanchfield of The Canadian Press. He believes that the Americans are developing a coherent response to the challenge of China, one that risks leaving Canada watching as a bystander.

November/December
Don Newman: AUKUS, China and Canada’s Evolving Security Context
(Policy) There are serious problems facing the country and Parliament is going to have to deal with all of them in this minority model that Canadians have chosen to maintain.
The most important issues going forward were barely discussed in the election campaign. It was only when the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced that they had entered a new defence agreement to supply nuclear powered submarines to the Australian Navy to curb the expanding influence of China, that defence, security and intelligence issues briefly were pushed to the front of the campaign focus. Until then, all the political parties seemed to assume that Canada somehow exists in a vacuum, free from any encroachment from the outside, increasingly hostile world.
After the announcement of the AUKUS agreement, the immediate question was, “Why was Canada left out?” The answer, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, was because it was about nuclear submarines, and Canada is not interested in acquiring any “any time soon.” While that answer was not wrong, it was disingenuous.

4 November
(iPolitics) [About] the Canadian Forces, and the interpreters who helped soldiers while serving in Afghanistan, Canada is set to leave them high and dry as money for a volunteer-run and funded safe houses, is set to run out tomorrow. As the Globe and Mail reports, that’s going to force interpreters and their families who are hiding from the Taliban out of hiding, many with no where to go.
“Some of them will go and they will live in the street, and the tragedy with this is that all of their communication with (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada), all of their hope rests in their phone and their ability to communicate electronically, and if they don’t have a place to plug their phone into, then they’re cut off and their chance of evacuation evaporates,” said Eleanor Taylor, a veteran who served in Afghanistan and volunteer chief of staff at Aman Lara, which has been running the safe houses for those trying to flee the country.

27 October
(Politico) Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU will spend a big chunk of the day in the air. He’s off to The Netherlands for the first leg of a three-nation eurotrip. Then it’s on to Rome for the G20 summit, followed by Glasgow for COP26. (Cabmin climate change fighters STEVEN GUILBEAULT and JONATHAN WILKINSON will join the Canadian delegation, too.)

26 October
KINSELLA: Trudeau unleashes disastrous Melanie Joly on world
Columnist Kinsella envisions the PM’s notice of his new minister of foreign affairs
(Toronto Sun) … World, we are BFFs no more. We aren’t besties like we used to be. I acknowledge that, and know who is to blame.
You, World. You are to blame. I’m the same guy — same chiselled jaw, same flowing locks. It’s you who has changed, World.
And I am serving my revenge, um, hot, World. My revenge is Melanie Joly.
You don’t know much about Melanie, now, but I guarantee you will, soon enough. She’s going to leave an impression on you, and you’re not going to like it.
Here’s a sampling of Melanie Joly’s gravest hits, World. Not one of these is made up.
… Ottawa Holocaust Monument. Melanie commissioned one, but she forgot something. The Washington Post noticed: “(Joly) forgot to mention Jews on the new Holocaust monument dedication plaque.” Oops.
… Anyway, you get the picture, World. If you’re not nice to me anymore, I’m not going to be nice to you. So, I give you Melanie Joly, the worst cabinet minister in the history of Canada.

30 September
Andrew Cohen: Canada goes from human-rights defender to gunrunner
Our last burst of foreign policy idealism — the Responsibility to Protect, blood diamonds, the International Criminal Court and the ban on anti-personnel landmines — was two decades ago.
(Ottawa Citizen) Garneau offered a tour d’horizon of big, vexing issues: climate change, racial and religious inequality, peace and security, the rise of authoritarianism, refugee and humanitarian crises. On each, he was hopeful. “It is in our hands,” he said, a refrain he repeated six times.
But if Garneau’s survey of the world did not mention all of Canada’s contributions, it’s because there is little to celebrate. Respectable as we are on climate change and exemplary as we are on immigration — our calling-card in the world today — we are egregiously absent in other places.
This is not new. Canada’s comparative commitment to development assistance has fallen well below international standards, and even our own. Our military remains mired in scandal and weak leadership, uncertain of what to do, where or how.
We long ago abandoned peacekeeping, once our international vocation. We have forsaken the creative diplomacy that once defined us. …
Last year we learned that Canada, the world’s boy scout, is selling other arms to Saudis used in Yemen, where there are reports of widespread sexual violence and child starvation. The United Nations Human Rights Council says Canada’s arms sales are inflaming the war.
This does not bother our federal government. The United States, Germany and other countries have reduced or revoked their arms exports, but not us. We could ban arms exports and buy oil elsewhere to pressure the Saudis, but we don’t. It’s a collapse of conscience.
Canada, once a venerable peacekeeper, diplomat and humanitarian in the world, is now gunrunner.

Foreign Minister Marc Garneau delivered Canada’s message “In Our Hands” to the UN General Assembly on 27 September.

23 September
Canada’s exclusion from the AUKUS security pact reveals a failing national defence policy
Paul T. Mitchell, Professor of Defence Studies, Canadian Forces College
Canada has skated on thin ice so far this century. It’s avoided confronting the erosion of its strategic defence.
(The Conversation) Since the heydays of defence spending of the 1950s, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have been gradually shedding fundamental capabilities — including long-range artillery, tanks, fighters that are now obsolete, submarine forces, destroyers and maritime logistics.
We can continue to drag our heels, but eventually the bill will come due when our government commits our forces to a mission they can no longer fulfill because we thought we didn’t need to concern ourselves with the health of the military.

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.
… 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)

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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