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Wednesday, January 17, 2007 

Harper's Foreign Policy Falls Short

I am no fan of the Harper government. Since taking power, the Conservatives have handled the foreign affairs file terribly. I have a number of complaints:

As turmoil ensued during the invasion of Lebanon (remembering that innocent Canadians were killed), Harper called the war a 'measured response'!

Conservative MP's, Jason Kenney and Rob Anders had not heard that the Cold War was over and seemed prepared (for ideological reasons) to jeopardize trade with China.

Globe & Mail columnist, Jeffrey Simpson wrote the following in his January 16th article:

"Prime Minister Stephen Harper now says his "new" government has restored Canada's place in the world. It's a curious claim. All governments puff up their accomplishments. So Mr. Harper's boast can be dismissed as the usual political puffery. Except that, whereas in other areas the government has indeed been active -- and changed policy and/or made a difference -- it's hard to see what's new and better about this government's foreign policy. Relations are supposed to have improved with the United States, and the softwood lumber dispute was resolved. Good, but as British Prime Minister Tony Blair long ago discovered, trying to influence the Bush administration is a thankless task.

On various bilateral issues - passports for crossing the border, the Maher Arar file, Canadians born in other countries who can't work on U.S. defence contracts- there's been no progress. Canada is even threatening to launch a trade action against U.S. agricultural subsides. (Good luck). [...]

This week, Trade Minister David Emerson is finally leading a delegation to China. What used to be called the Middle Kingdom became the Lost Kingdom for the Harper government, which seemed intent on ignoring the world's fastest growing economy. Mr. Emerson, a British Columbian and a former business leader with a sense of the world, was frustrated, to say the least, by the government's non-approach. It took him a year to get to China such were the blinkers the government wore. [...]

We shouldn't really be surprised at the bragging, for that comes with politics, or with the generalized lack of interest in things international. This government barely campaigned on foreign questions, and likely reckons they won't much influence the next election."

Harper's Caucus needs an attitude adjustment when it comes to foreign affairs. If we act in a 'holier than thou' manner, we will win few friends and lose influence as serious players on the world stage. If the neo-Reformers in the Caucus (Kenney, Anders, Day and Harper) continue to start the Cold War up again, Canadian trade will suffer.

More Buckdog on Harper's Foreign Policy


I suppose that Harper's attention is solely focused on getting a bigger say in the world affairs by increasing Canada's military presence. I also suppose that it must be pleasing for the Bush Administration although possible return for that investment might never materialize. English Tony didn't get too much return to his and same can be said about the Poles whom didn't even get their visa restrictions lifted despite heroically dying for democracy in Iraq.

I didn't know that about Poland and it's amazing. In Canada's case, Harper's ideological similarity with Bush is so strong that I think we would do (internationally) whatever we were asked to do.

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