Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Canada's back

Or is Canada a backwater? No additional comment needed with the quotes from this article (My emphasis in bold):

G8 Attack Reflects Poorly on Canada: Experts

Although the misstep by the prime minister will likely make few waves with Canadians—most of whom are busy enjoying summertime—experts say it adds to a troubling pattern in Mr. Harper's approach to foreign policy. They say he seems content to miss opportunities to contribute to the international dialogue, instead commenting on internal, domestic politics that international journalists will have no interest in. ...

For observers, it's the way Mr. Harper approaches foreign policy.

"Foreign policy is not [Mr. Harper's] main interest," said Errol Mendes, a professor of international law at the University of Ottawa. "It would be interesting to know how many average citizens of the G8 would know who our prime minister is, whereas they certainly knew who Trudeau was, even Mulroney. So the fact that he does not shine on the international stage does impact on us having profile."

Mr. Akin recalled that at the prime minister's first G8 Summit in St. Petersburg in 2006, Mr. Harper avoided the press for three entire days, even as every other G8 leader loudly trumpeted their messages to the international press gathered on site.

"He was so uncomfortable he was invisible, he physically looked smaller in that '06 summit...he seemed really out of his element," Mr. Akin said. "When you're travelling with him, there's never enough information about his activities, about who he's speaking to. The read-outs that we get from the PMO communications when he meets with other leaders are frustratingly bland and vague."

Journalist and author Andrew Cohen suggests Mr. Harper's performance and press coverage from the G8 may reflect Canada's diminished role in the world. Mr. Cohen questions what international issue Mr. Harper has associated himself and Canada with, and said it is not clear what it is that Canada is contributing.

"What struck me about this is that he was relentlessly and unnecessarily partisan," Mr. Cohen said. "And you wonder why he did it; it doesn't help him internationally and it doesn't help him at why did he do it? Maybe because he just can't help himself.

"We will probably have to wait...before we ever know what kind of a prime minister he was in those summits, but my sense is if we were doing innovative things and we were as daring as once we were, we would know." ...

"Why would he have offered up this gratuitous and what turns out to be erroneous critique of his competitor in Canada when he'd just done a reasonably good job otherwise?" Mr. Graves said. "That might reinforce this view that he has difficulty transcending partisan instincts."

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