Navy Welcomes Mr. Colin Robertson As The Newest Honorary Naval Captain

CMS NR10.014 – October 25, 2010

OTTAWA, ON – The Canadian Navy is proud to welcome Mr. Colin Robertson as its newest Honorary Captain (Navy), as announced by Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, Chief of the Maritime Staff.

A former Canadian diplomat, Colin Robertson is a Senior Strategic Advisor for the international law firm of McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP. He is vice-president and senior research fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute and a distinguished senior fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.

Captain (Navy) Robertson is a member of the boards of Canada World Youth and the Conference of Defence Associations Institute. He is current president of the National Capital Branch of the Canadian International Council and is honorary chair of the Canada Arizona Business Council. He is a member of the Pacific Council on International Policy and the Retired Heads of Mission Association.

“I am proud and honoured to serve” said Captain (Navy) Robertson. A native of Winnipeg and a graduate of the University of Manitoba and Carleton University, he previously served as first Head of the Advocacy Secretariat at the Canadian Embassy in Washington and as Consul General in Los Angeles with postings in Hong Kong and New York. He is a former president of the Historica Foundation. Captain (Navy) Robertson has participated in fleet visits to foreign ports and in December, 2003, he and Rear Admiral (ret) Roger Girouard opened the Canadian Consulate in San Diego aboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Regina.

Honorary Naval Captains are quite visible, attending significant naval, Canadian Forces and public events and ceremonies in uniform across the country. They are appointed by the Minister of National Defence after receiving recommendations from the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chief of the Maritime Staff. These appointments are generally for a period of three years, although extensions may be granted.

Honorary Naval Captains act as bridges between military and civilian communities, representing diverse areas of Canadian society, from politics and business to journalism and the arts. They bring with them unique skills and connections that help to strengthen the navy’s ties to Canadian communities and to promote a better understanding of maritime defence issues.

With the addition of Captain (Naval) Robertson there are currently eighteen serving honorary naval captains across Canada.

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Midterms a Wakeup Call for Canada

From the Financial Post, October 20, 2010

There are lots of polls predicting the outcome of the U.S. mid-terms, but the one that counts is already released. U.S. unemployment remains stuck at 9.6% and America continues to shed jobs. At the time they introduced the stimulus package, the Democrats predicted that, by now, the unemployment rate would be 8%. And that gap — in jobs and its effect on faith in government — tells you all you need to know about the Nov. 2 elections. Canadians should pay careful attention least we get sideswiped.

Fifteen million Americans have been without a job for six months or more. For youth, a key part of the Obama coalition in 2008, unemployment is over 25%. For minorities, Latinos and African Americans, who turned out big time to elect President Barack Obama, the unemployment figure is closer to 30%, especially in the big cities. It’s devastating news for the Democrats.

The gulf between Wall Street and Main Street continues to widen. In 1980, 8% of U.S. earners received 16% of national income. That same proportion now falls into the hands of the top 1% while the top 20% take more than half. One in four Americans say they have “absolutely no confidence” in Congress, banks, the federal government, blogs and organized labour, according to an AP-NCC poll. The military and uniformed services come first, at 43%. Not great numbers for a nation that prides itself on its institutions, and they do a lot to explain the rise of the Tea Party movement. Americans think their country is headed in the wrong direction and many fear the nation in decline.

For America’s biggest trading partner — Canada — the U.S. malaise is very bad news. A recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll says that 69% of Americans believe free trade agreements with other countries have cost jobs in the United States, while just 18% believe they have created jobs. A 53% majority — up from 46% three years ago and from 30% in 1999 — believes that trade agreements have hurt the U.S.

Opposition to free trade agreements, including NAFTA, is particularly strong (61%) among Americans who define themselves as supporters of the Tea Party movement, just 4% less than union members (65%). The greatest shift against free trade comes from relatively affluent Americans, i.e., those with annual incomes of more than US$75,000.

“Make it in America” is the new “Buy America” and Senate and House Democratic candidates have come out with ads condemning free trade agreements. While China will be the main target of congressional action, we’ll inevitably suffer collateral damage.

We need to do more of what John Manley, chief executive of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, told an audience in Washington earlier this month when asked about efforts by Ohio Governor Ted Strickland to turn the campaign around by arguing that free trade with countries like Canada and Mexico has cost the state 400,000 jobs. The numbers, said Manley, tell a different story. Canada is Ohio’s top export market, purchasing 44% of the state’s international exports. More than 600,000 Canadians visit Ohio each year, spending $138-million. Trade between Ohio and Canada is $35-billion a year. Ohio enjoys a trade surplus. Most importantly, 276,000 Ohio jobs depend on trade with Canada. Manley said that he was happy to set the record straight, but “I would be even happier if more Americans were prepared to stand up and explain why liberalized trade is good for the United States and good for the world.”

Perrin Beatty, CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, had a similar message when he was in Washington in June. He reminded his Capitol Hill audience that Canada is the largest export market for 35 U.S. states and that the U.S. does more in two-way trade with Canada than it does with Germany, Japan, China and the U.K. combined.

Obama wants to double American exports to create jobs. Supply chain dynamics give us an opportunity to be part of that solution. Our political, business, and labour leadership need to develop a strategic plan built around jobs and growth that goes way beyond the FTA/NAFTA. Pursuing Canadian interests in the U.S. through incrementalism won’t work any more.

We need to take a common message about the facts of Canadian investment and the American jobs that depend on trade with Canada into every state and major U.S. city as well as in Washington. We need unity of action and shared purpose that includes premiers pitching governors and labour leaders engaging their American brethren. The mid-terms are a wake-up call for Canadians.

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Canada’s Place in the World after the UN Security Council defeat

For the first time in a half-century, Canada has lost a bid for a temporary seat on the UN Security Council. Does this signal Canada’s diminishing standing as an international player? Squeeze Play’s Rudyard Griffiths and Andrea Mandel-Campbell of BNN asks Andrew Cohen, author, “While Canada Slept,” and Colin Robertson, vice-president, Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute.

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Canada must rebuild its diplomatic resources

Excerpted From Globe and Mail, Wednesday, October 13, 2010 by Allan Gotlieb and Colin Robertson

Canada’s failed pursuit of a seat on the world’s most powerful body – the United Nations Security Council – puts the spotlight on our performance beyond our borders, the strength of which depends on the quality of our diplomacy and the skills of our diplomats….

The ineffectiveness of our foreign ministry has become a cliché in Ottawa’s contemporary political culture. The government has cut the operational resources of Foreign Affairs, especially representational funding – forgetting that an embassy without an entertainment budget is like a frigate without fuel. Diplomats are no longer authorized to talk publicly without the prior consent of the PMO. These remote commissars undermine the very purpose of our ambassadors – to publicly advance the national interest.

While Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made some excellent diplomatic appointments, his government is silent as to why a country needs an effective foreign service. Yet now, more than ever, we need skilled diplomats and a strong foreign ministry.

The international order of the 21st century is increasingly a world of decentralized sovereign entities and fragmentation among states. There is a deepening asymmetry between the structure of this order, with its 190 or so sovereign units, and the overwhelming transnational nature of the threats we face.

It is also a world of fracturing power within states. The explosion in the number of players – competing agencies in ever-expanding governments, narrow special interests, global activists, environmental crusaders, powerful multinationals, muscular NGOs, deep-pocketed lobbyists, legions of bloggers and self-declared experts – give rise to a single imperative: the need for interpretation.

The movements toward globalization and fragmentation place an enormous premium on the need for envoys of the highest calibre to fulfill four core functions. The first is as our chief intelligence officer in their country of accreditation. Second, the ambassador is the chief lobbyist for our national interests and chief promoter of our industry, trade and economic prosperity.

The ambassador is also our chief advocate, a role that goes in two directions. All input back home tends to come from domestic pressures, including special interests. Yet, decision-makers need to understand foreign political realities from their on-site envoy. Lack of knowledge, wrong information or mistaken beliefs can cause problems to escalate and endanger the national interest…

Successful engagement will oblige significant reinvestment in our diplomatic capacity at home, a strengthening of our network of missions abroad and a revitalized foreign ministry as the focal point for co-ordination. The rebuilding of our diplomatic resources will not be easily or quickly achieved. But if we don’t make the commitment, we’ll need to lower expectations about our role in the world.

For reaction to this piece see Brian Stewart on the CBC website and Barbara Yaffe in the Vancouver Sun

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Winning a Seat on the Security Council

Excerpted From CBC Radio The House with Kathleen Petty, October 9, 2010

STEPHEN HARPER (PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA): As a founding member of the U.N. and its seventh-largest contributor to its finances, Canada has been a consistently reliable and responsible participant in U.N. initiatives around the world. This was so in the earliest days of the United Nations; it was during the difficult days of the Cold War, of decolonization and of the struggle against Apartheid; and it remains so today. Canada continues to pay, for instance, the heavy price to fulfill our U.N. obligation to support the lawful government of Afghanistan.

KATHLEEN PETTY (HOST): Uh, did the Prime Minister need to remind everyone of all those things? Don’t they already that that’s who we are and that’s what we have to offer?

COLIN ROBERTSON: No, the Prime Minister did exactly the right thing; you have to remind people what we’ve been doing. This is… Well, it’s a campaign and we probably got into it a little later than we have in the past, but when you’re there, you’ve got to be out there and you’ve got to tell your story. So he did and while there was not a lot of people in the room when he spoke, the important thing was he got the message out and we would have distributed it to all the chancelleries around the world and it would have been distributed to every mission at the United Nations.

KATHLEEN PETTY (HOST): But we’ve believed a little less, lately, I think a lot people have observed and at least not with as much enthusiasm, perhaps as with previous governments.

COLIN ROBERTSON: That’s probably true. I think that’s a reflection around the world; the people are saying: “Look, this institution’s been in place, now, since 1945 and it’s not working as well as we hoped it to.” And that’s another why you have to get involved – if you want to fix it, you’ve got to be there. And the top table at the U.N. is the Security Council; it is the top table in terms of big peace and security issues around the world and the main players are there. There’s some who should be there that aren’t there – I’m thinking, in particular, of Japan, say, Germany, India and Brazil, who all want to have a seat on the Security Council. And that’ll be one of the issues that will probably come up in the next couple of years. The original members, of course, were the victors of the Second World War, but they send their best people – the Foreign minister of Russia, today, for example, is their former U.S. ambassador; there’s a number of issues that will come up at the table and then, there’s talk outside the table, where we can… we can play our interests forward, particularly, say, with China, the United States and with Russia.

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