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April 8, 2010

Canada's foreign policy gets F

The Canadian Charger

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Speaking at the recent Liberal convention, Canadian diplomat Robert Fowler had harsh words for both Liberal and Conservative foreign policy, and deeds, or lack thereof.

Fowler is the United Nations special envoy to Niger.

He opened his address by telling a Liberal audience that included former Prime Ministers John Turner, Jean Chretien and Paul Martin, that the Liberal Party has lost its way, particularly with regard to foreign policy, and it's in danger of losing its soul.

“To this observer it seems that Liberals today don't stand for much in the way of principles. I have the impression they will endorse anything and everything that might return them to power, and nothing which won't, regardless of the merits of either. It's all about getting to power and it shows.”

He added that the Liberal Party is catering to special interests rather than forging a broad-based principled alliance founded in deep Liberal traditions that include a distinct social contract and project an independent Canadian character.

Moreover, Mr. Fowler accused the current Harper government of complicity in diminishing Canada's hard-won international reputation as a fair and honest power broker.

He charged the Conservative government had let domestic political gains (reference to the Zionist Jewish lobby) guide its international involvement. He cited its support for Israel as having comprised Canada’s ability to be a trusted moderator in the Middle East.

Unlike Europeans and Americans, whom Mr. Fowler said have historically had a long unhappy experience in Africa, due in no small part to slavery and rapacious mercantilist colonial policies, Canada's relatively new experience in Africa has been much more positive.

“In a short period of time, we've established unique credentials in Africa.  I fear, however, that we're in the process of squandering a hard won and important asset. Africans and Canadians have come a long way together. How preposterous then it is to suggest by word and deed that such a heritage should be brushed aside by reasons of political opportunism.”

He explained that Canada doesn't have the luxury of picking and choosing which part of the world it can ignore.

“Canada's national and international interests demand a global knowledge, a global reach and a global vision and understanding of all regions and events, a series of partnerships and policies that will ensure Canada can respond effectively when our interests are at issue.”

Speaking about the upcoming election for a seat on the U.N. Security council, in which Canada will compete against Germany and Portugal, Mr. Fowler said he's not at all sure that Canada deserves to win this election because, “We no longer represent the qualities for which we Canadians have long insisted are Canada's, for the council to bring to such responsibility.”

With regard to foreign policy and foreign aid in particular, Mr. Fowler said Canada has done a complete about face from its traditional approach.

“The Canadian government has turned inward and adopted 'me first stances' across the international agenda and Canada's reputation and proud international traditions have been diminished as a result.”

He cited Canada as being 57th among U.N. Peacekeepers currently in the field, as of February 2010, as an example of Canada's diminished role in the world.

While acknowledging that some will counter that Canada has made a substantial commitment to Afghanistan with 2,500 troops in the field, Mr. Fowler said very few of the world's 192 countries understand what we seek to accomplish there and Canada is among them.

He cites a government website that states Canada has spent $11.3 billion in Afghanistan since 2001 and says: “Think of the number of little girls we could put in school in Africa for that kind of money and we could do it without having to kill anybody.”

Linking terrorism which directly affects Canadians, to the problems in the Middle East, Mr. Fowler said it seems that anyone who presumes to acknowledge this blindingly obvious linkage is immediately labeled anti-Semitic.”

While Israel continues to build illegal settlements in contravention of a myriad of international laws, Mr. Fowler said he supposes we're suppose to believe that 10 million Palestinians will just forget about it and “decide that being homeless and stateless and living for a fourth generation in impossibly squalid refugee camps is an outcome that they (Palestinians) better suck down and accept.”

Subsequently, he offered what he feels is the only solution to the Middle East problem, although he is aware that it may be politically incorrect.

“If there is to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians it will have to be on the basis of two viable states of which each has to have some part of Jerusalem as its capital.”

Mr. Fowler wondered aloud in front of a Liberal Party audience, “When was the last time a Canadian idea or proposal made a difference on the world stage?”

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M. Elmasry

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