Canada: International relations, defense and foreign policy November 2023-

Written by  //  May 16, 2024  //  Canada, Foreign Policy  //  1 Comment

16 May
Canada imposes sanctions on perpetrators of extremist settler violence against civilians in West Bank
(Global Affairs) The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today announced that Canada is imposing new sanctions under the Special Economic Measures Act. These are the first sanctions measures listing extremist Israeli settlers. …
Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers—a long-standing source of tension and conflict in the region—have escalated alarmingly in recent months. This has undermined the human rights of Palestinians, prospects for a 2-state solution and posed significant risks to regional security.

13-17 May
Minister Joly travels to Cyprus, Lebanon, Türkiye and Greece
(CBC) In Cyprus, Minister Joly will meet with His Excellency Dr. Constantinos Kombos, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus, to exchange views on shared priorities, including efforts to increase humanitarian aid into Gaza as well as regional security. During her visit, Minister Joly will highlight the 60th anniversary of the UNFICYP, and Canada’s significant contribution to peacekeeping on the island.
In Lebanon, Minister Joly will meet with senior government officials and stakeholders. While in Lebanon, Minister Joly will also underscore Canada’s support for Lebanon and Lebanese people in their current challenges and reaffirm Canada’s commitment to regional stability.
In Türkiye, Minister Joly will meet with His Excellency Hakan Fidan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Türkiye, to explore avenues for increased cooperation between Canada and Türkiye. Minister Joly will also meet with government officials to discuss long-term peace and regional stability in the South Caucasus.
In Greece, Minister Joly will meet with His Excellency Giorgos Gerapetritis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic, to deepen the long-standing relationship between the two countries and to build on the success of the recent visit to Canada of the Prime Minister of Greece.

30 April
The Red Passport. Louise Blais, Jeremy Kinsman and Peter Donolo (podcast)
What Would Pearson Do?
The world has changed dramatically since Lester Pearson accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo almost seven decades ago. The era of “Blue Helmets” may be long over (for Canadians, at least), but how can Canada apply the Pearsonian spirit of global engagement and bridge-building in the 2020s?

18 April
Liberals buck global trend by increasing foreign aid
Countries known for their aid spending such as the U.K. and France have cut back on foreign aid, citing pressures on their domestic economies.
Foreign aid groups are hailing the federal government’s decision to resume spending more on humanitarian and development spending each year.
The Liberals pledged in their Tuesday budget to increase humanitarian aid by $150 million in the current fiscal year and $200 million the following year.
Global Affairs Canada says that means total foreign aid for this fiscal year “is projected to exceed $7 billion,” though the department did not offer a precise number.

18-22 March
Joly pushed for even softer arms export language in motion on Israel-Hamas war: NDP
Foreign affairs minister held closed-door meeting with three Liberal MPs after vote
The consequences of a symbolic House of Commons vote Monday that called on Canada to cease future arms exports to Israel are still reverberating as Liberals face criticism from Israel — and from within their own caucus.
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly held a closed-door meeting with some Liberals late Tuesday after three MPs voted against the motion, saying they were blindsided by the details of the last-minute amendments.
Government’s endorsement of amended Palestinian statehood motion wins praise, draws outrage
‘We were able to find common ground,’ Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly says
(CBC) The Liberal government’s last-minute endorsement of an amended NDP motion on Palestinian statehood is being welcomed by the country’s Muslim advocacy group and derided by Jewish voices who say Ottawa has sub-contracted its foreign policy to “anti-Israel radicals.”
Joly says Canada can’t change foreign policy based on NDP motion on Palestinian statehood
(Gazette/Canadian Press) Canada will continue to back a two-state solution between Israel and its Palestinian neighbours, but it’s not about to change its foreign policy based on an NDP push to “officially recognize” the state of Palestine, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Monday.
… Conservative foreign affairs critic Michael Chong said Conservatives are in favour of a two-state solution but that can’t be accomplished through a “unilateral declaration in the House of Commons.”
“It can only be achieved through a long, arduous process that will take months, if not years, of negotiations between the two parties at hand, the State of Israel and representatives of the Palestinian people,” he said, adding that Palestinian representatives would need to have popular support and renounce violence and terrorism.
NDP motion on Palestinian statehood passes after major amendments
The House of Commons passed a softened New Democrat motion on Monday night that no longer calls for the federal government to officially recognize Palestinian statehood after last-minute amendments brought in by the governing Liberals.
Softening the motion’s original language, one of the 14 amendments called for the government to work toward “the establishment of the State of Palestine as part of a negotiated two-state solution.”
The vote on the non-binding motion — initially set to take place at about 7:30 p.m. ET — stirred confusion among MPs. Late in the evening, Liberals moved to amend the opposition motion by replacing clauses entailing recognition and alluding to genocide — points that the NDP emphasized and that angered some Jewish communities.
Other amendments include referring to Hamas as a “terrorist organization,” affirming that Israel has a right to defend itself and demanding that Hamas release all hostages and lay down its arms.

13 March
Joly’s mystery tour
(Politico) Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly made a visit last week to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank.
— Joly wraps her Middle East tour today with no plans for a media availability.
— Invitation to guesswork: Joly did not deliver a speech before or during her Middle East trip, inviting questions about the point of it given that the generic statements in the readouts could have been delivered on a Teams call.
Diplomacy is a bit tricky for Canada in the Middle East given the relatively fewer number of Parliaments in the region. There are 13 multilateral and bilateral parliamentary associations for MPs and senators to be involved with and none have a specific Middle East focus.
Joly is expected to say more about her trip when the House returns. In the meantime, Playbook asked Thomas Juneau, associate professor of public and international affairs at University of Ottawa, for insight on what she may have accomplished.
“I’ve seen the tweets. Very nice statements,” Juneau said. “But more fundamentally, what was discussed and what is Canada trying to achieve? Is not any more clear to me than it is to you.”

12 March
Canada’s foreign correspondents are almost extinct
Harrison Lowman
(The Hub) According to new data collected by The Hub, there could now be less than 60 full-time Canadian foreign correspondents left abroad from major outlets, with 45 of them working for the CBC/Radio Canada and only 15 working elsewhere.
There appears to be no permanent Canadian correspondents(sic) based in the Middle East, Russia, or mainland China.
Vanishing foreign bureaus are a result of shrinking budgets and authoritarian regime pushback, but may also be a reaction to a country that has a shrinking footprint on the world stage.

11 March
‘No empty words’: Muslim Canadians use Ramadan to urge Gaza action
Muslim groups say Canadian MPs won’t be allowed to speak to congregants this Ramadan unless they act to end Gaza war.

10 March
Canada’s UN ambassador set to attend emergency meeting to discuss crisis in Haiti
A spokesperson for the office of Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, will attend emergency meeting in Jamaica on Monday, following an invite from Caribbean leaders who want to discuss escalating gang violence in Haiti.

Nader Hashemi’s quite brutal assessment of Canada’s [lack of] foreign policy
Aid urgency marks Ramadan during wartime
(CBC Sunday Magazine) Ramadan brings no relief from tragedy for those impacted by the Israel-Hamas war. The Islamic holy month comes as warnings of mass starvation in Gaza intensify, and frustration mounts over international aid getting lost in partisan battles. Bijan Ahmadi is the executive director at the North American think tank Institute For Peace & Diplomacy. Nader Hashemi is an associate professor of Middle East and Islamic politics at Georgetown University. They join Chattopadhyay for analysis on the current state of the conflict in the Middle East.

8 March
Canada resuming funding to UN aid agency for Palestinians in Gaza Strip
(Canadian Press via iPolitics) International Development Minister Ahmed Hussen says he has reviewed an interim report from the UN about the allegations, and the decision is being made in light of that information and the catastrophic humanitarian situation.
The decision comes seven weeks after Canada and 15 other countries temporarily halted payments to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East after Israel alleged in January that a dozen of its workers participated in the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

7 March
Mélanie Joly’s Saudi trip underscores a new maturity in Canadian foreign policy
It took some time for her to get her bearings, but she has developed genuine diplomatic chops and is well-regarded and liked by her G7 counterparts. Whether or not you agree with her worldview, she has at least articulated a clear and understandable set of principles and goals by which to guide Canadian foreign policy.
Konrad Yakabuski
Expectations were low when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Mélanie Joly as Foreign Affairs Minister a little more than two years ago. As the fifth person in six years to hold the job, and with no experience in international relations, it almost seemed as if Ms. Joly had been set up to fail.
Her four immediate predecessors – Stéphane Dion, Chrystia Freeland, François-Philippe Champagne and Marc Garneau – made no real lasting mark on Canadian foreign policy.
Ms. Joly and Mr. Trudeau took flak from pro-Israel critics for meeting in Ottawa in December with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority, accusing Ottawa of seeking to curry favour with pro-Palestinian activists and supporters in Canada. The same critics weighed in again this week as Ms. Joly began a week-long trip to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Israel.

2 March
Harrison Lowman: When the going gets tough on the world stage, Canada gets going
In 2024, Canada’s reputation is running on fumes
(The Hub) In 2015, newly minted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau declared Canada was finally “back” on the world stage. But many argue that in the last decade, Canada’s international voice has only continued to weaken, and today is little more than a whisper. We do not wield the same authority or command the same respect as we did generations ago.
After countless trips abroad, Matthew Fisher, Canada’s longest-serving foreign correspondent admitted, “There is no country in the world that does less and says more than Canada.” Was he on to something, or exaggerating? What’s happened? Who’s to blame? And what’s a multilateral-minded middle power to do?

29 February
Paul Wells draws attention to a new book Statesmen, Strategies & Diplomats: Canada’s Prime Ministers and the Making of Foreign Policy. It’s the first systematic look at how Canada’s heads of government have conducted the country’s external relations. Mulroney comes out quite well, finishing just behind Louis St. Laurent and William Lyon Mackenzie King in the rankings. [The book is] edited by Patrice Dutil, a political science professor at Toronto Metropolitan University. Turns out he’s a great talker. We had a lot to discuss. (podcast)
Statesmen, Strategists, and Diplomats
Canada’s Prime Ministers and the Making of Foreign Policy
Foreword by John R. English; Edited by Patrice Dutil
Statesmen, Strategists, and Diplomats explores how prime ministers from Sir John A. Macdonald to Justin Trudeau have shaped foreign policy by manipulating government structures, adopting and rejecting options, and imprinting their personalities on the process. Contributors provide fresh, sometimes surprising perspectives on a wide range of policy decisions – increasing or decreasing department budgets, forming or ending alliances, pursuing trade relationships, and the management of the prime minister’s personal diplomacy – particularly as these choices affected the bureaucracies that deliver foreign policy diplomatically and militarily.

Defence insiders sound alarms on state of Canadian military
(CTV) Citing everything from troop shortages to dwindling ammunition stocks to aging equipment and technology, a growing number of current and former defence officials are raising alarms about the state of the Canadian military.
Even by its own estimates, only 61 per cent of the Canadian Armed Forces is considered ready for operations, according to the most recent data(opens in a new tab). In an increasingly volatile world, some say that’s serious cause for concern.
“On the readiness of the Canadian Armed Forces, I’d characterize it as it’s in decline somewhat precipitously and in a bit of a vicious circle,” Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) retired lieutenant-general Christopher Coates said in an interview with CTVNews.ca. “My impression is that the situation is significant today, and that it that it merits some good debate by our nation.”
Why this matters
Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization(opens in a new tab) (NATO) requires member states to assist allies if they are attacked. While such threats may have seemed unlikely a few short years ago, Russian aggression in Ukraine has brought war directly to NATO’s borders, producing the most serious danger to the security alliance in decades, and real fears that Canada, the U.S. and 29 other European NATO members could become embroiled in a broader war.
The increasingly troubled state of the Canadian Armed Forces came into sharp focus in late September, when Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Wayne Eyre appeared before Parliament’s national defence committee after the military was asked to trim nearly $1 billion in spending.

21 February
Jeremy Kinsman: Foreign Policy and the Next Election
In the eventual election campaign, there will no doubt be over-heated attention to foreign interference in our elections, or to ritualistic carbon abatement clauses in our treaties, but little debate about Canada’s role in the world.
(Policy) It is a great pity that Canadian foreign policy and Canada’s role in the world are unlikely to figure prominently in the next election campaign. Most Canadians may not notice, being submerged in the familiar water of Canada World.
The inwardness of minority government reinforces the effect of more or less total self-involvement. Public and political priorities are pocketbook issues: housing costs, an over-stressed and increasingly dysfunctional health monopoly in most provinces, and clogged streets in the bigger cities, where higher population density has outstripped services.
… The George W. Bush administration didn’t like Canada’s defection on the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but were we ever right. As we had earlier been right to give American distress our full spontaneous support, heart and soul, after 9/11. That mix revealed the authentic Canada — globalist, neighbourly, and truthful in our voice, though some Canadian voices advised against disagreeing with Washington for the sake of our bilateral interests. Chretien did the right thing instead, as did his predecessors who accepted the challenge of leading.
Justin Trudeau doesn’t operate on the same level or with the same grasp. Maybe Canadians are OK with that. But if there is one question Canadian professionals and internationalist citizens hear out there in the world more than any other, it’s “What’s happened to Canada?”
Leadership matters. Others can argue that Justin Trudeau has positioned Canada on files with which he is more familiar. No question, his successive ministers of the environment have been international climate activists. As minister of trade and then a high-profile minister of foreign affairs, Chrystia Freeland brokered a norm-setting economic cooperation agreement with the European Union (EU) and safeguarded our existential NAFTA arrangements with the US. Trudeau’s hands-on leadership enabled Canada to manage the COVID pandemic better than almost all developed-country peers, though our participation in global pandemic management was pretty self-involved.
Overall, though, on foreign affairs, and on defence, our capacities to lead were degraded by neglect from the centre. The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) used foreign postings as offerings to Liberal party loyalists, many of whom stumbled in comfort. Trudeau is liked by other leaders, because his decency is what they expect from Canada, but he brings little to the debate except assent (though on Ukraine, it counts). Events have caused us to lose all influence in Beijing, Delhi, and, of course, and inevitably, in Moscow.
… It would be gratifying if a decisive Arctic policy were a feature of the election campaign. Sustained materiel and financial aid to Ukraine ought to be, especially if the Conservative base seems influenced by MAGA Trump supporters in the US to favour cutting back on support. Trudeau has to reiterate why Ukraine’s defence is our own, and that of the most essential of international norms. But it isn’t just a matter of sanctioning Russians. It needs strenuous Canadian leadership to build back world-wide recommitment to viable and fair international rule of law.

19 February
Opinion: Trudeau and Poilievre are both flailing on foreign policy
If the prime minister’s Israel-Gaza stance is phoney, the Conservative leader’s Ukraine excuses are baloney. We can do without the hypocrisy.
Shachi Kurl
This latest chapter of Trudeau’s contradictory and, at best, garbled approach to the war in Gaza was written when comments from Liberal MP Rob Oliphant (who did not know he was being recorded) were exposed by the CBC, showing the parliamentary secretary for Foreign Affairs deeply conflicted over his own government’s response to the Israel-Hamas conflict. “My heart hurts,” he is heard to say, expressing to a constituent his unhappiness with the federal response to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and its decision to suspend funding to UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for helping refugees.
…if political perdition for the Liberals comes in walking that line, so too may salvation. Conservative voters are near unanimous in their belief that Canada is siding too much with the Palestinians. A majority of NDP voters say the opposite, that Canada is giving too much support to the Israelis. Liberal voters are divided. Nearly 19 points down in vote intention polls, Trudeau can neither afford to lose the votes of Canadian Jews who have supported him in the past, nor of Canadian Muslims who have done the same.Trudeau is attempting to manage an approach that satisfies no one, including members of his own caucus.
Poilievre chides him for it, which is all a bit rich. After all, he is the leader who just painted himself and his caucus into an embarrassing corner, failing to support a key Canadian ally, by voting against legislation to update a free-trade agreement with Ukraine. Poilievre’s explanation was that it contained a reference to carbon pricing.

8 February
Joly urges more funding to hire Canadian diplomats as Ottawa cuts spending
Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is asking MPs to support more funding for Global Affairs Canada, despite the Liberals undertaking cutbacks across the government.
Joly said earlier this week that the United States, France and rapidly developing countries are staffing up to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex world.
She cited the countries known as BRICS, which stands for Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, known as emerging market countries.
Canada needs more diplomats if it wants to have an influence in the Indo-Pacific and other key regions of the world, Joly said.

1 February
Rêver d’être norvégienne
Laura-Julie Perreault
Cette fois, ce ne sont pas les politiques environnementales, les réformes féministes des forces armées et les infrastructures impressionnantes que j’envie, mais plutôt les prises de position du pays scandinave à l’égard de la guerre entre Israël et le Hamas. Des positions qui sont les siennes. Et qui reposent sur des principes forts à l’égard de la primauté du droit.

22 January
Les réseaux sociaux au cœur de l’exercice de la diplomatie
Stéphane Paquin, Professeur à l’École nationale d’administration publique
(CORIM) Depuis quelques années, les réseaux sociaux se sont imposés comme le moyen de communication privilégié des gouvernements. La tendance est la même pour la communication diplomatique. Les États utilisent de plus en plus les réseaux sociaux pour atteindre des objectifs de politique étrangère.
La e-diplomatie est même devenue en quelques années l’outil le plus important de la diplomatie publique. Ce dernier concept représente l’art de communiquer d’un gouvernement pour renforcer sa capacité à façonner l’agenda public international par la persuasion. La diplomatie publique s’adresse aussi aux individus, plutôt qu’uniquement aux gouvernements.

15 January
Missing in Davos: Prime Minister JUSTIN TRUDEAU and his Cabinet may be studiously avoiding the stage at the confab, but some of Trudeau’s best friends in the world of summitry will be present for the Alp talks.
… Few Canadians are on the summit’s program, but one staple of the five-day elite-a-thon will make an appearance: Mark Carney. The two-time central banker will cover familiar turf in a Thursday session on monetary policy under attack in a fractious time.
Michael Higgins: Mélanie Joly’s timidity a sign of Canada’s foreign policy cowardice
… Joly and Trudeau seem intent on making vagueness government policy. Contrast Joly’s statement with the unequivocal words of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “The charge of genocide is meritless. It’s particularly galling, given that those who are attacking Israel — Hamas, Hizballah, the Houthis, as well as their supporter, Iran — continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews,” he said.
The rest of Joly’s statement is a rehash of previous utterances designed to straddle a divided caucus.
On the one hand Canada condemns Hamas. On the other hand, Israel must respect international humanitarian law, the statement says.
“Safe and unimpeded humanitarian access must be increased and sustained” — presumably by Israel — but Hamas must also release hostages and lay down its arm in support of a ceasefire, Joly says.

10-12 January
Government’s support for ICJ ‘does not mean’ it backs genocide claim against Israel, PM says
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says that although Canada supports the International Court of Justice, that doesn’t necessarily mean it supports the premise of South Africa’s case against Israel.
Canada reviewing genocide claim against Israel at ICJ, Freeland says
Asked about South Africa’s claim before the International Court of Justice that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada is “aware of the filing and reviewing the case carefully” but did not take a position on the case.
Canada still hasn’t taken a position on ICJ Israeli genocide case
As South Africa prepares to present its genocide case against Israel tomorrow at the International Court of Justice, Canadian members of Parliament are divided. Individual Liberal MPs are speaking against and in support of Israel’s case, but the government itself has yet to weigh in.

7 January
Families of PS752 victims push for government action against Iran on anniversary of deadly crash
Public safety minister not ruling out designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist group
As families of Flight PS752 victims mark the fourth anniversary of the aircraft’s destruction, the federal government isn’t ruling out designating the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization — a measure the families have demanded for years.
PS752 was shot down by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) shortly after taking off from Tehran on Jan. 8, 2020, killing all 176 people onboard, including 55 Canadian citizens and 30 permanent residents.
The IRGC is a paramilitary force created after Iran’s 1979 revolution. According to the U.S.-based Council on Foreign relations, the IRGC is charged with defending the Islamic Republic from both internal and external threats.
Ottawa designated Iran’s Quds force, a branch of the IRGC responsible for extraterritorial operations, as a terrorist entity in 2017.
But the Liberal government has for years resisted calls from the opposition Conservatives and from families of PS752 victims to designate the IRGC in its entirety as a terrorist organization. It has argued in the past that such a listing would be a blunt-force approach that could affect low-level people who were forced to serve in the paramilitary force.

2 January
Canada’s Need for a 21st Century Foreign Service
On this episode of The Global Exchange, Colin Robertson is joined by Dan Livermore and Pam Isfeld to discuss a recent report of the Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, “More Than a Vocation: Canada’s Need for a 21st Century Foreign Service”.
You can find the report here.
Guests:
Dan Livermore is a former Canadian diplomat and an Honourary Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa.
Pam Isfeld is Chair of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers

2023

14 December
Trudeau, Biden weigh Israel support amid changing sentiments
(GZERO media) Canada was one of 153 countries that voted in favor of a Gaza ceasefire at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. Only 10 countries voted against it, including…the United States.
The last time the UN voted on a similar measure in late October, Canada voted with the US and Israel, but this time Canada, Australia, and New Zealand flipped their votes.

11 December
Meeting number 89 of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development.

6-9 December
More than a Vocation: Canada’s Need for a 21st Century Foreign Service
(Senate of Canada) Are Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the Canadian foreign service fit for purpose? This is the question that prompted the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (the committee) to conduct the first substantive examination of the Canadian foreign service in more than 40 years. The global environment has changed dramatically since 1981 when the Royal Commission on Conditions of Foreign Service published its report, not least because of globalization, new geopolitical alignments, and technological advancements. (See Executive Summary)

On Wednesday, the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, chaired by Senator Peter Boehm, released the report “More than a Vocation: Canada’s Need for a 21st Century Foreign Service”, the result of the first substantive examination of the Canadian foreign service in more than 40 years.
Senator Boehm writes in Policy magazine Meeting the Global Challenge: Strengthening Canadian Diplomacy  : “Foreign policy might not be on the ballot in our elections, but Canadians would certainly notice if we did not have a foreign service. That is why it matters.”

Senate report calls on Global Affairs to cut senior management, denounces ‘troubling’ loss of expertise
The report begins with a stark visual on the front page: a pile of floppy disks emblazoned with the words “Global Affairs Canada.”
Christopher Nardi
(National Post) Global Affairs Canada needs to hire more diplomats, cut senior management in half and make sure executives have “in-depth knowledge of and experience in international affairs” to stay relevant in the 21st century, according to a new report.
In a comprehensive report published on Wednesday [6 December], the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee made 29 recommendations to ensure Canada’s diplomatic corps has the appropriate resources, priorities and people for modern times, something even Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has admitted it doesn’t always have.
“The key question guiding our study was: is Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian foreign service fit for purpose? The committee’s answer is yes. But a qualified yes,” committee chair Peter Boehm told reporters Wednesday.
Boehm and the committee deputy chair Senator Peter Harder, both former senior GAC officials, said one of the starkest issues hampering GAC’s effectiveness are staffing issues, ranging from a lack of foreign service officers to excessive senior leadership and working conditions for diplomats.
The report echoes many of the findings and recommendations released by Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly in her reform paper Future of Diplomacy in June, but also goes further on many of the issues senators heard during their nearly two-year study.
(Politico Ottawa Playbook) — A Senate committee is recommending Ottawa consider overhauling Global Affairs Canada by cutting upper management and red tape, boosting recruitment and making it a separate agency.
“As the committee looked at the structure of the department, it does appear to be rather top heavy,” said Independent Sen. Peter Boehm, chair of the red chamber’s foreign affairs committee and a former department official.
He suggested peeling back the layers of senior management would empower bureaucrats further down the chain. “What we’re suggesting is a rationalization of that senior cadre.”
— Retool the machine: The report, based on the committee’s study that began in 2022 and involved trips to Washington, London, Oslo and Berlin, suggests the Liberal government “consider how separate-agency status could allow Global Affairs Canada to restructure the department and redesign its human resource regime.”
— Context: Experts and foreign service representatives have warned that Global Affairs is losing its “surge capacity” to respond to major conflicts due to challenges with recruitment and retention.

23-24 November
Mark Camilleri: As EU leaders visit Newfoundland, the message is clear: It’s time to step up, Canada
Canada needs to produce more of what the EU and other allies need—especially energy and critical minerals
(The Hub) For the EU, its relationship with Canada represents a pivotal opportunity in the midst of growing global uncertainty: a stable, like-minded partner with enormous reserves of energy and critical minerals that is a friendly alternative to other authoritarian sources of these goods. One problem? Canada’s seeming inability to capitalize on this pressing demand.
The EU is one of Canada’s major trading partners—its third-largest, in fact, after the United States and China. The Canada-EU Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), sits at the heart of this trade relationship and is, by conventional measures, working well. Trade has increased by over 50 percent since the agreement’s signing in 2016, with a greater participation of companies, especially SMEs.
Yet for all this success, the potential for Canadian businesses in the EU market (the world’s second-largest economy) remains—as it has for decades—largely untapped. Current developments in the EU offer significant opportunities for Canadian companies to expand their reach.
Trudeau launches EU-Canada Summit in Newfoundland with research announcement
Trudeau launches EU-Canada Summit in Newfoundland
(Canadian Press) Prime Minister Justin Trudeau kicked off a two-day summit with the top two heads of the European Union on Thursday night.
Though formal discussions with European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen are expected to begin Friday, Trudeau wasted no time making announcements during his summit-opening speech on Thursday night.
He said Canada is joining the European Union’s $100-billion scientific research program, called Horizon Europe, which he called “the greatest research and innovation mechanism in the world right now.” Canada has also worked out a deal to build water bombers and ship them to the EU, after both regions faced devastating forest fires this past summer, Trudeau told the crowd.
Trump looms over EU-Canada summit
In St. John’s, leaders will be able to reaffirm their bilateral relationship.
(Politico Eu) When the EU and Canada meet for talks this week, their encounter will be calm, pleasant and even, in the words of one EU diplomat, “just plain boring.” But both sides will be contending with a looming problem — Donald J. Trump.
The prospect of another Trump presidency in the U.S. is spooking both Brussels and Ottawa as leaders plan to meet in St. John’s, a remote Canadian harbor city symbolic of their bilateral relationship: historically rooted, pleasant and friendly.
…leaders will be able to reaffirm their bilateral relationship and underscore their “shared commitment to democratic values, multilateralism and the international rules-based order,” which elsewhere are falling apart. The two sides are set to double down on their bilateral commitments in new policy fields with an “impressive list of deliverables,” according to the EU official, including a green alliance, more cooperation on raw materials, and a digital partnership.

18 November
As major Pacific summit wraps, Canada is sidelined on a new U.S.-led trade initiative
Canada’s ambassador to U.S. downplays threat of Indo-Pacific Economic Framework on Ottawa’s influence
Goldy Hyder laughed a bit when a reporter asked him Thursday evening what he thought Canada had accomplished at this week’s Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in San Francisco.
“It’s a short list, unfortunately,” the president of the Business Council of Canada said, before lamenting something Canada hasn’t accomplished yet: membership in U.S. President Joe Biden’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). It’s a group of 14 trading partners that concluded agreements this week on supply chain protections, lowering carbon emissions and fighting corruption — while promising more collaboration to come.
There’s no question Canadian officials from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on down were busy taking meetings all week.
“We’re doing the work,” Trade Minister Mary Ng insisted when reporters questioned why Canada still isn’t in IPEF, despite her insistence that all the current members would support having Canada at the table.

Spavor blames fellow prisoner Kovrig for Chinese detention, alleges he was used for intelligence gathering
(Globe & Mail) One of the two Canadians jailed by China for nearly three years in a case that was at the heart of a diplomatic crisis is seeking a multimillion-dollar settlement from Ottawa, two sources say, alleging he was detained because he unwittingly provided intelligence on North Korea to Canada and allied spy services.
Michael Spavor alleges that the deception was conducted by fellow Canadian prisoner Michael Kovrig, and it was intelligence work by the latter that led to both men’s incarceration by Chinese authorities, according to the sources.
These allegations cast a new light on the lengthy imprisonment of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor as well as on the work that Mr. Kovrig was doing in China.
Adam Zivo: It turns out it was one Michael and another Michael
Espionage revelations don’t excuse China’s hostage diplomacy
The arrest of the Two Michaels tanked Sino-Canadian relations and damaged China’s credibility among Canada’s allies. Many wondered: if Beijing was willing to achieve its diplomatic goals by essentially kidnapping ordinary foreigners, what else might it be capable of?
We now know that the truth was more complicated than the Trudeau government let on.

After close encounter at APEC summit, Trudeau appears to steer wide berth around Xi
China and Canada routinely rub elbows when leaders gather for photos at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering.
But outside the family photo, officials took pains to point out that the two leaders shared little Thursday beyond a perfunctory hello.

Justin Trudeau struggles to walk a very fine line on the Israel-Hamas war
PM caught between asserting Israel’s right to self-defence and reflecting Canadians’ grief and fear
Aaron Wherry
(CBC) The war between Israel and Hamas creates two challenges for Justin Trudeau, as it would for any Canadian prime minister.
First, he must try to take and hold a principled position on a dire conflict. Second, he must try to hold together a country whose citizens are understandably agonized by the death and destruction.
The strain of both those tasks only becomes more apparent with each passing day. Within 24 hours of Trudeau’s remarks on the conflict Tuesday, Trudeau was heckled by pro-Palestinian protesters inside a Vancouver restaurant for what he didn’t say — and scolded online by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for what he did say.
15 November
Trudeau criticized for calling on Israel to ‘exercise maximum restraint’ in Gaza
‘The world is witnessing this — the killing of women and children, of babies,’ PM says of Gaza conflict

14-16 November
‘I can’t believe I won’t see her again’: Vivian Silver mourned at funeral
(Global news) A few hundred people gathered in Gezer Kibbutz to honour the life of Israeli Canadian peace activist Vivian Silver.
“I can’t believe Vivian won’t personally witness her advocacy for a better world bear real fruit. I will miss hearing her voice and above all, hearing her wonderful laugh. I can’t believe I won’t see her again,” Neil Silver said during his older sister’s eulogy.
On Monday, it was confirmed that the 74-year-old peace activist was among the 1,200 people Israeli officials say were killed during Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
In the weeks since then, her family believed she’d been taken hostage after they were told the Israeli government geolocated her cellphone in Gaza.
Vivian Silver, a Canadian-born Israeli activist who devoted her life to seeking peace with the Palestinians, was confirmed killed in Hamas’ Oct. 7 incursion into southern Israel. For 38 days, Silver, who had moved to Israel in the 1970s and made her home in Kibbutz Be’eri, had been believed to be among the nearly 240 hostages held in the Gaza Strip. But identification of some of the most badly burned remains has gone slowly, and her family was notified of her death on Monday.
9 October
Revered peace activist is missing after sending harrowing text message during Hamas assault
(NBC) The silver-haired grandmother is regarded on both sides of the border as an irrepressible force, according to those who know and work with her.

One Comment on "Canada: International relations, defense and foreign policy November 2023-"

  1. Diana Thebaud Nicholson December 8, 2023 at 10:33 pm · Reply

    Re: Senate report calls on Global Affairs to cut senior management, denounces ‘troubling’ loss of expertise
    One retired External Affairs diplomat and friend of WN comments: “I give very high marks to Peter Boehm, but not to Peter Harder. In positions at the top of the public service he was, as I understand it, responsible for parachuting officers from the PCO and non-international Depts into the senior ranks of Foreign Affairs – mostly people who did not know the culture nor the terrain. These people soon took over the management of the Dept and bear a large responsibility for the present mess. Of course, there were other villains including Harper, Baird, and Justin . Not least in contributing to Canada’s present low standing in foreign chanceries has been the revolving door for Canadian foreign ministers. Speaking recently to a newly arrived ambassador, he was shaken to find that the vast majority of his new colleagues to whom he had made calls held critical views of Global Affairs. To make matters worse there is a queue about 4 months long of Ambassadors and High Commissioners waiting to present credentials and in consequence unable to discharge many of their responsibilities (a Govt House problem not a Harder nor a Global one).”

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