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Has Canada Become A Second-Rate World Power? – OpEd

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The tell-tale signs of weakness and ineptitude were all too present. Canadians just didn’t want to take them seriously. I suppose the major slide in foreign policy began with the first minority Conservative government of Stephen Harper in 2006. Profiting from the bevues of the Liberal Party financing scandals, Harper was elected mainly by Western Canada where he hails from. Ontario was neutralized as a Liberal bastion whilst the Québec nationalists were able to reduce the Liberals to an Anglophone rump on the island of Montréal. That’s the electoral political logic of the Canadian foreign policy skid.

The majority Conservative government of 2012 was able to change its Mideast strategy to be even more supportive of Israeli unilateralism over and against the demands of the Palestinian people. Thus, at the United Nations, Canada now found itself next to Guam and the Marshall Islands voting to deflect resolutions against Israel and thereby supporting Israeli aggression against the Palestinians (PLO and Hamas). Whatever Tel Aviv asked for, Canada said ‘yes’. It was a harbinger of the inexorable slide into oblivion in the coming years. Sadly, Canada and its Western allies set the stage for the impossibility of a two-state solution and the birth of a new apartheid state.

PM Harper would have had an even closer relationship with Washington if it had not been for the election of Barak Obama. The ideological differences were evident from the start and it prevented the anticipated ‘love-in’ with the American Republican Party.

The Huawei Affair

What to make of a government whose actions lead directly to the imprisonment of its own citizens, and then proceeds to blame others using a standard of law that it does not believe in itself (the SNC scandal made this obvious) and then pleads with its allies to help release the very citizens it has put in jail? The hypocrisy of such a tactic is baffling but its objective was fulfilled; that is, avoiding the wrath of President Donald Trump and the need to placate right-wing America.

This was accomplished in the name of an abstract legal principle of equality before the law leading to the unjust imprisonment and possible torture of its own citizens. Verily, Canada has put forward a new version of Byzantium and its bureaucratic hypocrisy as public policy. China laughed and taunted the Canadian chicken while European allies wondered how the Canadians could have been so incompetent doing America’s dirty work instead of letting the Mexicans deal with the Huawei executive. After all, Vancouver was an escale, not the final destination of Meng’s North American trip.

COVID-19

The arrival of the COVID 19 pandemic in early 2020 was another glaring example of poor international leadership past, present and probably future. While some governments simply said it was a version of the flu, Canada’s response was for weeks simply absent. For ten critical days, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau remained self-sequestered in Ottawa before finally admitting the obvious. Wait, what about the vaccines? Only ten years prior to the pandemic, suburban Montreal was the hub of the pharmaceutical industry with top drug research being done there. Suddenly, in 2020, there was no one left to search for a vaccine anti-Covid-19 on Canadian territory. Our feckless leaders dilly dallied for months before proclaiming that they had bought millions of doses of vaccine on the free market for its citizens. They even got doses earmarked for the developing world, such was the political price being paid by the Liberal Party in the polls. What they also forgot was that other countries would compete for the same rare doses including the Americans, who, in several cases, purchased with cash on the tarmac before re-routing the doses to America. Money talks. Canada was caught napping big time and it cost the lives of many citizens who had to wait longer for their vaccinations than other nations especially at the beginning of the vaccination period (December 2020-April 2021). In the meantime, lives were lost.

NAFTA 2 Negotiations

American President Trump caught Canadian negotiators napping one summer as he and the Mexicans decided on key NAFTA 2 issues during private talks. During that period, Canadian negotiators took the month of August, when the Parisians leave Paris, to visit Paris (they can speak English to tourists in August!) and do some fine shopping along the Champs Elysée. Meanwhile, the destiny of the milk industry, aluminum tariffs and other key money issues were being decided by the Mexicans and Americans. It was another case of lazy bureaucrats and politicians violating the public trust. Canada’s negotiating strategy for NAFTA 2 was to remain under the radar and far from the critical regard of President Donald Trump. This strategy was so successful, it put the Canadians to sleep thinking all was well in the marvelous world of Merlin the magician.

The Botched UN Security Council Campaigns

Finally, need we add the pièce de la résistance, the most damning piece of final evidence? In ten short years, Canada twice proposed itself for a seat on the UN Security Council. According to unwritten UN protocol, one temporary seat on the UNSC was to be shared à tour de rôle by a grouping of Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Such was the tradition and that was historically the way it worked. Yet, when it was Canada’s turn, it failed miserably to convince the other UN members to accept the traditional protocol. Even Justin Trudeau’s statement ‘Canada’s back!’ failed to convince the UN General Assembly. Once a beacon of hope for many southern countries, Canada had become a pariah, a second-rate world power. Southern nations’ reasoning was ‘Better to accept the blood money from Beijing than entertain thoughts of the Pearsonian largesse of years gone by’. Arab countries looked at the Canada’s voting record and saw little to differentiate the Trudeau foreign policy the somber pre-Cambrian thuds of the Harper years. No one was happier than Donald Trump who was now content to kick the northern dupes one more rung down the ladder.

Bruce Mabley

Dr. Bruce Mabley is a former Canadian diplomat having served in the Middle East, and is the director of the Mackenzie-Papineau think tank in Montreal.

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