Foreign Service

A foreign service worth fighting for

Somewhere between ‘golden age’ and ‘culture of complaint’ lies the state of Canada’s foreign service. OpenCanada’s Catherine Tsalikis interviewed nearly two dozen diplomats and experts to discover a gradual tarnishing of the diplomatic corps over the years — but many are rooting for its restoration.



July 26, 2017
Illustration of Global Affairs Canada headquarters in Ottawa. Credit: Sami Chouhdary.

Like the Great Sphinx of Giza, from which its headquarters at 125 Sussex Drive took inspiration, Canada’s foreign service holds many secrets — the building’s nickname, ‘Fort Pearson,’ speaks to the opacity that surrounds many of its inner workings.

The exterior is clad in uninviting horizontal, concrete slabs. Through a canopied front entrance, and past security, is the wood-panelled Robertson Room, where Canada’s government hammered out its response to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, and where leaders from Germany, the United States and the Soviet Union met to discuss German reunification after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In an homage to one of Canadian diplomacy’s signature moments, prominently displayed by the lobby’s windows is a perfect replica of Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson’s 1957 Nobel Peace Prize — the original now relocated to the new Canadian History Hall, which opened as part of the Museum of History’s Canada 150 exhibit.

While Confederation brought the colonies of Canada together 150 years ago, the foreign service isn’t quite that old. When Canada’s first Department of External Affairs was created in 1909, it was housed in a ramshackle office above a barber shop at Queen and Bank streets, and its main responsibility was to manage the flow of correspondence between Ottawa, London and foreign capitals. Though then-Prime Minister Wilfred Laurier had wanted to give the work of foreign affairs “the dignity and importance of a department by itself, as [was] done in other countries,” its beginnings were less than auspicious. Five blocks away from the East Block on Parliament Hill, where the prime minister and several ministries had their offices, the department was made up of only a handful of employees and had hardly any capacity to shape Canada’s relations with other countries.

The department did make it to the East Block a few years later, and over the first half of the 20th century its size and scope — and its diplomatic corps, the foreign service — grew modestly as Canada itself gained more autonomy from Britain over its international dealings. During the period following World War II through to the mid-1960s the department expanded rapidly, with Canada playing a leading role in the development of multilateral institutions like the United Nations and NATO, in what came to be seen by many as the ‘golden age’ of Canadian diplomacy — its zenith being Pearson’s Nobel Prize for the creation of a UN peacekeeping force during the Suez Crisis in the Middle East.

When Pierre Elliott Trudeau came into office, however, he brought with him a distrust of professional diplomats. “In the early days of the telegraph,” he told a reporter, “you needed a dispatch to know what was happening in country A, whereas now, most of the time, you can read it in a good newspaper.” Despite protest, in 1973 the department was moved to its present location, about a 10-minute drive from Parliament Hill, on the banks of the Ottawa and Rideau rivers.

Over the next few decades, the department’s makeup underwent much shape-shifting, with trade, immigration and development at various times consolidated under the foreign affairs banner or not. Most recently, under Justin Trudeau, the department’s designation became ‘Global Affairs Canada,’ which includes foreign affairs, trade and development.

Canada now has 1,174 foreign service officers and 179 diplomatic missions in 109 countries, up from 101 foreign service members and 22 missions at the end of WWII.

Behind these outwardly visible changes, however, there is a battle for the soul of the diplomatic corps unfolding, with fundamental questions about the role of a diplomat and the future of the service giving rise to, at times, fractious disagreement, according to interviews with almost two dozen current and former foreign service officers.

Glamour to grit

The foreign service has always had a bit of a challenging story to tell. Throughout the years, the idea of the ‘professional diplomat’ has for many conjured up visions of “dithering dandies” in pearls or pinstripes “lost in a haze of irrelevance somewhere between protocol and alcohol,” as former foreign service officer Daryl Copeland likes to say. That perception of course isn’t new; as one “riled career man” told The New York Times in 1970: “If I see one more caricature of a Canadian diplomat in striped pants sipping from martini glass holding a maple leaf olive pick, I’m going to burn my credentials card.”

But even in the 21st century, the average Canadian might find it hard to describe what the purpose of a foreign service officer is. Within the service, there is also existential angst about the role. While working for the diplomatic corps still holds a certain amount of prestige in the popular imagination, the reality on the ground is more than monogramed calling cards and canapés.

The foreign service is meant to be the government’s strongest advocacy instrument for defending Canada’s interests abroad — and the first line of defence when it comes to conflict prevention. The key elements of its mandate include working for international peace and security, promoting trade, investment and business opportunities for Canada’s economic benefit, and improving human rights around the world.

A few contemporary examples: helping to rebuild Bosnia after the 1992-1995 war; responding to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti; championing the cause of maternal and early childhood health in the developing world; and working to prevent the spread of Ebola in Africa.

The benefits that come from personal diplomacy — the nurturing of relationships with key international decision-makers to protect and advance Canadian interests — may be nebulous, but can tell in a crisis.

The last year has put into stark focus the importance of a strong diplomatic team abroad. When, following the election of Donald Trump, Canada’s most valuable trading relationship seemed in jeopardy, the diplomatic corps activated a network of influencers across the United States who had a stake in trade with their northern neighbour, setting up a dramatic 11th-hour reversal by the White House, which abandoned a pledge to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and agreed to renegotiate the pact instead.

“The benefits that come from personal diplomacy may be nebulous, but can tell in a crisis.”

It was perhaps the biggest diplomatic coup to date for the new foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, who was appointed to the post after throwing herself as trade minister into the task of rescuing a pact between Canada and the European Union from near defeat with direct personal appeals to decision-makers in Brussels.

Career foreign service officer Colin Robertson served at the Canadian embassy in D.C., among other posts, and was part of the team that negotiated the original NAFTA treaty. He said in-person dealings are still just as necessary as ever. “You need someone on ground to provide you with trusted perspective. In Washington, I spent all my time wandering around Capitol Hill. Nothing beats being there — face-to-face is still the best way to transact business.”

Robertson defends ‘cocktail diplomacy’: “I always went to cocktail parties, for two reasons: one, to see and be seen, and two, as the Romans say, in vino veritas — truth comes out over a glass.”

David Edwards, who spent three decades in the foreign service and retired in 2011, says he hasn’t heard much waxing on about “dithering dandies” in recent years: “People are actually on the frontlines, a lot of people have been shot at, we have people in Baghdad, in and out of Libya, Haiti…I think it has moved from glamour to grit.”

Former Canadian Ambassador to Ukraine Abbie Dann, who retired in 2013 after 33 years in the foreign service, likens being a foreign service officer to a calling, such as serving in the military, or feeling compelled to become a doctor or a human rights lawyer. “It’s not even a profession,” she said, “it should be considered a vocation. I’m Catholic, so I can use words like that.”

“I have 20 percent of my lung capacity, from pollution in Sao Paulo, Bombay and Kiev. And I’ve never smoked — lots of us are like that. Real foreign service officers are brought up a bit like the army: don’t explain, don’t complain, just get it done,” Dann said.

Michael Kologie, outgoing president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers (PAFSO), agrees, and points out that the officers themselves are often not the only ones making sacrifices. “As diplomats, we have to remember that we are not just working from 8:30am-6pm — we’re representing Canada abroad 24/7. And it’s not just foreign service officers doing it, it’s their families that are doing it.”

One of the main purposes of the foreign service is to provide fearless advice and loyal implementation when it comes to the government of the day’s foreign policy, which necessitates close cooperation with Canada’s foreign ministers.

Lloyd Axworthy, who served as minister of foreign affairs from 1996-2000, says that when the Chrétien government was working on developing an ambitious treaty to ban landmines, Canadian embassy staff around the world “worked the streets,” in diplomatic parlance, with the goal of pulling off a treaty at the UN.

Thanks to the foreign embassy network set up under Pearson in the post-war years, Canada was able to draw on infrastructure in every region: “There have always been [those] in the Treasury Board saying oh, why do we need embassies in Patagonia, or something, and I said well, because they vote at the UN, they’ve got interests, and we never know when we’re going to need them.” In Axworthy’s opinion, the strength and ability of the foreign service has been one of the reasons why Canada has been able to play, when it wants to, an effective role on the international stage.

Barbara McDougall, Canada’s secretary of state for external affairs from 1991-1993, offers a more mixed assessment.

“There’s no question in my mind that the foreign service is the most professional of all the public service…That doesn’t mean that I thought they were always on top of their files,” she told OpenCanada.

In 1992, McDougall was the first Canadian foreign minister to visit South Africa for 30 years, timed to follow Nelson Mandela’s release from prison as a gesture of support for South Africa’s reforms following apartheid — though negotiations over the lifting of Canadian sanctions were just beginning.

In a kind of reverse example to Axworthy’s, McDougall said: “I don’t think our high commission there was at the kind of strength that it should’ve been. And you really notice when that happens, which tells you how good the foreign service is, when they’re at their best. Because when they’re not there, you notice.”


Tellingly, many of the current and former foreign service officers interviewed by OpenCanada pointed to Axworthy’s tenure — which saw the landmines treaty become binding international law — as the last ‘high point’ for Canada in international diplomacy.

By contrast, many said relations between the foreign service and its political masters reached a nadir under the government of Stephen Harper.

Of the atmosphere in the years before she retired in 2013, Dann said, “You could really feel it — they had an anti-elitist attitude. But it’s not an elite, it’s a profession first. Does it have some elitist aspects to it? Yeah — so does medicine, so does law, so does being a long-haul truck driver. You have to be really qualified to do it. That’s not elitist; that’s just being qualified.”

John Graham’s career with the foreign service spanned many decades, from spying for the Americans in Cuba in the 1960s to eventually being appointed ambassador to Venezuela and non-resident ambassador to the Dominican Republic. He sees an erosion of the service’s esprit de corps as starting earlier.

“You’re getting the voice of the dinosaur,” he told OpenCanada, “but this dinosaur has the impression that there were higher professional standards — the sense that it was a distinctive profession, with a culture of professional knowledge that you acquired as you moved through.”

Graham refutes the notion that the foreign service pre-Harper or pre-Chrétien was a “splendid, a well-oiled machine that most people were happy with — that was not the case. It’s important not to have a myth, a shining tower.”

Still, he is of the opinion that an “erosion” did indeed occur during the Harper years, and is concerned about the lasting effects.

“It’s very discouraging to note that a lot of the damage that was done by Harper is not being repaired,” he added. “That, I think, is an area really deserving of investigation.”

So, what have been the lasting effects of the Harper years? After almost a decade of cuts, has funding been restored? Has morale? And what gets lost when Canada isn’t playing at full capacity on the battlegrounds of diplomacy?

‘Yes men’ and ‘yes women’

Canada’s foreign affairs department is known to have taken a hit under the almost decade-long government of Stephen Harper, from severe personnel cuts to the muzzling of diplomats to the selling off of properties abroad. The 2010 failure to win a seat at the UN Security Council was a major diplomatic setback, and was held up as emblematic of the Harper government’s rejection of multilateralism. While many foreign service officers interviewed, like Graham, were careful to point out that Canadian diplomacy had seen low points before — the 1970 Times article also mentioned Pierre Trudeau’s “practice of depending on his own aides rather than professional diplomats for important advice and information” — Harper and successive Conservative foreign ministers seem to have left a mark on the psyche of the foreign service.

“I think they came in with a mistrust of the foreign service,” Axworthy said. “You heard all these horror stories. On the lecture circuit or while travelling I would hear ambassadors saying that they were told they couldn’t go to meetings, and if they were going to meetings their speeches had to be checked by the PMO or the PCO.”

While Axworthy said he never heard much outward sign of “rebelling or revolting,” the foreign service “went into a little bit of a fetal crouch for a while…they definitely lost a lot of good people, because they were just not being given much scope to advance.”

David Edwards remembers a dramatic shift in tone under the Harper government, with a pivot towards a projection of militarism. “We weren’t peacekeepers, we were warrior wannabes,” he said of Canada during the period, noting there was a change in the face and voice of the country when it was abroad. “If you were a soldier, you could speak to the press, but we couldn’t.”

Edwards gives the example of the 2010 Haiti earthquake: “The only people being interviewed were soldiers who had arrived 24 hours later. What about our people, who were there during the earthquake itself and during those first critical hours, who were actually living there?”

On top of tight message control, the government’s relationship with the civil service was perhaps put under even more strain by, as Graham puts it, “an absolute refusal to continue with the traditional culture of consultation with senior members of the public service. This certainly applied to the foreign service — senior people were not encouraged to consult with ministers. It was, ‘this is the policy and don’t ask questions.’”

This translated, Graham argues, into senior officials in the department being hired “at least in part because they were seen to be people who would not rock the party boat — they would be, to use a disparaging term, ‘yes men’ and ‘yes women.’”

“The foreign service ‘went into a little bit of a fetal crouch for a while.’”

This is a recurring critique offered by many who have served recently and by PAFSO.

Tim Hodges, who spent 25 years in the foreign service and served as president of PAFSO from 2014-2016, said there was “in effect a decade where you had management being promoted not just because they did the government’s bidding, because that’s our charge anyway, no matter who the government is, but [because] when asked to jump, they asked, ‘how high do you want me to jump?’”

Over time, Hodges said, bureaucrats from other departments were brought in at foreign affairs “in part to infiltrate the department, but [also] to bring it more in line.” While “not necessarily a bad thing,” Hodges thinks it had a negative result in this particular case. “Non-risk takers, centrists, were promoted up through the organization…talented personalities, yes, but that’s not the kind of people who would naturally think out of the box or think about new initiatives. And I think that’s a major downside currently for the department.”

Enter Justin Trudeau

Justin Trudeau came to power promising a restoration of Canada’s tradition of multilateralism and, in a Nov. 2015 letter to the ambassadors and high commissioners of Canada’s foreign missions, a “new era” in international engagement.

“My cabinet colleagues and I will be relying on your judgment, insights, discretion, and work ethic in advancing our interests. I have every confidence that your reporting and our interactions when I am abroad will provide a critical, factual basis for our policies,” Trudeau wrote.

Diplomats working for the newly renamed Global Affairs Canada at ‘Fort Pearson,’ where a siege-like atmosphere had set in, greeted their new political leaders with applause. One historian recently described it to OpenCanada as Trudeau “walking into the Pearson building and being received by the starving inmates with outstretched hands.”

The prime minister repeated his message at a rare meeting with 135 ambassadors and heads of mission in Ottawa last June. But while the tone coming from government with regards to the foreign service has definitely shifted back to a more traditional one, and while almost all of the diplomats who spoke with OpenCanada for this piece were happy to go on the record, interviews indicate that more than a year and a half since the Liberals took office, many are still waiting for the restoration of the foreign service to its former strength, standing and influence.

Abbie Dann now sits on the board of the Retired Heads of Mission Association. “All of us, the sort of ‘elders’ of the tribe, were very encouraged by the prime minister’s letter,” Dann said, “and from the type of ministers that have been put in, we’re hopeful. The [question] is, is that political will being really systematically pushed down through the department?”

Shift in tone aside, one publicly available metric by which to assess whether or not the foreign service is being built back up under the Trudeau government is funding. While total department spending is up slightly from the last year of the Harper government, Global Affairs’ Report on Plans and Priorities for 2017-18 suggests that more money for the foreign service is unlikely, given a projected drop in spending from $6.3 billion in 2016-17 to $5.4 billion in 2019-20.

And despite the Trudeau government’s “Canada is back” rhetoric, it has continued the Harper government’s strategy of selling off diplomatic properties. According to The National Post, as of June, 29 diplomatic properties have been sold since the Liberals were elected.

Michael Kologie, the outgoing PAFSO president, says he hasn’t heard of any new resources being allocated to the foreign service under Trudeau’s Liberals. In terms of personnel and positions abroad lost under the Harper government, Kologie “hasn’t seen any new life there,” nor has he seen financial increases to make up for rising costs of operating missions abroad and salaries increasing with inflation. “What that translates into is having to do more with less,” he said.

A Global Affairs spokesperson declined to comment specifically on whether additional funds have been allocated to the foreign service, and instead asked readers to refer to the departmental plan, which details funding for the entire department.

Daryl Copeland, who has written at length on his ideas for reforming the foreign service, points out that, as Canadians saw recently with the 2017 defence policy review, the “lion’s share” of international policy resources are going towards defence rather than diplomacy and development.

Copeland blames a timid service.

“It’s the department’s fault — they didn’t ask for any money in the budget,” he said.

“There are ways that the department can support the foreign service, either by building up the department’s budget so that they’ve got program money so that they can take initiative, or by applying for new funds to hire more new recruits, and there just hasn’t been any of that.”

Indeed, some view the apparently slow pace of rejuvenation under a more open-handed regime as a sign that the senior leadership of the service has yet to adjust to being let off the leash and is not yet inspiring the ranks to greater ambition.

There is debate, typical of political transitions, about whether senior managers brought in under Harper are the right people for the job.

“I think there’s a big disconnect at the moment between the Trudeau government’s ambitions and the senior levels of leadership in Global Affairs Canada,” Copeland said.

“The folks at the top now are those that got promoted during the Harper years — that means that they were rewarded for stifling dissent, keeping the lid on, muzzling the staff. These are not the people who can deliver an activist foreign policy agenda or bring us the kind of creative, imaginative policy leadership that’s going to be required. It’s a bit like asking a patient that has been on life support and in a coma for 10 years to get up and run a marathon. It just can’t happen.”

“There’s a big disconnect at the moment between the Trudeau government’s ambitions and the senior levels of leadership in Global Affairs Canada.”

The impression of inertia is echoed from inside ‘Fort Pearson.’

One Global Affairs Canada executive who preferred not to be named told OpenCanada the message from the political class has been “very clear about: ‘We want to free you so that you can fly.’”

But, “there’s a hesitation at senior levels of the bureaucracy.”

The executive pointed, by way of example, to everyday issues that seemed like things an assistant deputy minister should be able to address: “So you talk to the ADM, and they’re not sure what authority they now have, and they kind of err on the side of caution.”

“We used to have in this department very strong, sometimes quite eccentric senior officials, like [former Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom] Jeremy Kinsman. These people were not necessarily very by-the-book when it came to all the admin and process stuff, but they had views, opinions, and they helped drive a governmental agenda. I don’t sense that now — I sense that maybe the type of people who have been put in behave as managers more than leaders…kind of more [focused on] process, management, a lot of administration.”

The idea of a focus on process over substance is one that comes up repeatedly in conversation with former members of the service.

Valerie Percival, an assistant professor at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, worked for the department early in her career. “Over the years it’s become abundantly clear to me that it doesn’t really matter what you do, it matters how you do it,” Percival said. “It’s all about process, all about oiling the wheels of the machine. It’s not really about tangible results.”

As a result, according to Percival, the individuals who move up through the ranks are those who know how to work the system, rather than those with the most relevant CV.

Not one of us

Percival takes issue with the appointment of senior officials without international experience, pointing out that the current deputy minister of Global Affairs, Ian Shugart — while a respected and accomplished civil servant — has never been a diplomat or served in other capacities internationally. “Living and working abroad improves your analytical skills and heightens your diplomatic abilities. This experience is valued in the diplomatic services of other countries — it should matter to Canada.”

Shugart is a post-Harper appointee, made deputy minister by Trudeau in May 2016, having previously held senior government positions in health and environment portfolios. Speaking to OpenCanada, he offered a spirited defence of the idea that managers without foreign service experience can still make significant contributions to the department.

“I think it is not fair to say that, as a general rule, the department is more focused on process, rather than substance. I have not seen that,” he said. “The world of trade negotiations, the world of multilateral diplomacy — the reality is that these things are, of necessity, process-heavy.”

Shugart emphasized that in a 21st century world, managers who come from various fields or different arms of government can be extremely valuable. “I came to this department knowing from hard personal experience an awful lot about global health. Why? Because I did it,” he said. “I came to this department knowing an awful lot about one of the top current issues, interestingly enough, that the government is facing: climate change. Why? Through hard personal experience in international, multilateral climate change negotiations.”

“I’m not just an import from some other department, as a senior deputy minister. Do I know the details of international diplomacy? No, but I know some things that some people in this department don’t know, and it’s useful for them to have access to that.”

Many foreign service officers place great importance on the time served abroad by those in their senior ranks. Graham is of this school of thought, especially when it comes to leaders understanding the particular kind of lifestyle challenges that come with serving abroad. “What about all of the issues that arise about life in difficult circumstances, problems of kids, problems of spouses?” he asked. “People who have not experienced this — it’s not to say that they’re clowns or indifferent, but it is not the same if you don’t know it.”

Dann said that when she arrived in Sao Paulo in her late 20s, her boss at the time took her under his wing and took an interest in her professional development. “I don’t get the feeling that happens the same [way] anymore,” she said, after observing young officers through her work teaching courses on protocol and networking at the Canadian Foreign Service Institute. “You need people at senior levels who are themselves professional foreign service officers.”


Credit: Sami Chouhdary

The previous service of senior officials aside, there is a perception that excessive caution and lack of imagination have seeped down the ranks of a service whose purpose is meant to be the offering of fearless advice.

Inside 125 Sussex Drive, the executive who asked not to be named says a period of restrained ambition may account for a tendency towards self-censorship that has also affected newer entrants to the service.

“I thought well, maybe it’s because their whole experience in government has been waiting to be tasked with doing something, as opposed to, this is the framework the government has proposed, but now they want the bureaucracy and the foreign service specifically to step forward and find opportunities.”

“But also I think for young people maybe it was that nobody had said to them: ‘Think big, come up with ideas. The worst thing that can happen is it won’t go anywhere, because it just isn’t the right time, or there aren’t resources to support it or whatever.’”

The deputy minister offered a careful response to each of the frustrations expressed by those within and without his department.

“What appears to be a failure to think outside the box is, sometimes, you look at the substance of the issue and the constraints, and there really is very little that one can do. You continue to think about possibilities, and it is true that sometimes people need to be nudged or shoved to think more creatively. I think that’s a tendency that we always have to be alive to.”

Shugart said the burden for shifting the department’s culture onto the front foot ultimately rests with senior managers within the foreign service.

“Sometimes it may be true that the political arm of the government will constrain the policy options,” he said, “but other times, it doesn’t matter what stripe of government it is, it’s the foreign service itself, it’s the bureaucracy, it’s the institution — sometimes vested interests within the institution — that are thinking very conventionally themselves.”

An unattainable ideal

Of course, the sentiment often heard from long-serving officers and retirees that the foreign service needs to return to a more professional body and embrace an ‘elite’ status may in part be a byproduct of the realities of operating in a different, information-saturated world.

For some context, OpenCanada turned to the head of the historical section at Global Affairs Canada, Greg Donaghy, co-author of a new book on the department under Pierre Trudeau. He says that while there “is a small kernel of truth in some of this stuff” — for example, that process is valued over substance — many diplomats are yearning for an environment that doesn’t exist anymore.

“If you go back to the 1940s and 1950s, people made their careers on dispatches from missions and policy briefs. Robert Ford, our guy in Moscow in the 1950s, wrote a series of really compelling reports on the post-Stalin Soviet Union and what Canada and Western policy should be. Mike Pearson read them, they shaped his view, and shaped Canadian policy towards the Soviet Union for a couple decades. That’s the way you made your reputation.”

Nowadays, when emails are sent instantaneously and communications are 24/7, “people aren’t sitting down to read 30-page dispatches anymore,” Donaghy said. “So where does a successful person have an impact? In a committee meeting, moving something up the ladder, being able to adjust new policy prescriptions to the tenor of the times, or shaping policy that meets the needs of the minister, and doing that in a quick briefing note.”

Donaghy recalled that former Canadian Ambassador to the UN Bob Fowler once told him that he made his money “in the 10 minutes from the airport to the meeting.”

“He had the minister or the deputy or the prime minister, and that’s where he’d give his pitch. Process guy. He’s not sitting down the way Robert Ford did, to write a 30-page reflection on the state of poetry in the Soviet Union and what that meant for Canada.”

Who should serve

Aside from differing reflections on how the role of diplomats may have changed over the decades, there is a heated battle underway within Global Affairs over who should serve.

“If you were to look at the department in 1950, it would be 90 percent foreign service officers,” Donaghy said. “That’s simply not the case anymore.”

Indeed, out of a total of 10,020 employees working for Global Affairs Canada, the number of foreign service officers stands at 1,174.

PAFSO, which represents employees with the foreign service, or ‘FS’, designation, has been at loggerheads with management for the past three years over a set of demands that include formally ensuring these staff have priority for assignments abroad.

“What we’re seeing now is that, more and more, non-career diplomats, non-career foreign service officers are filling those positions — the stat is something like 20 percent,” Kologie said. “That’s concerning to us, because the intent of the foreign service was to develop a corps of excellence, where foreign service officers would spend half of their career abroad, come back and go abroad again. When that 20 percent, and it’s creeping up there, is introduced, we’re spending less time abroad. We did an internal survey and foreign service officers have told us 48 percent of them struggled to actually get abroad.”

“Diplomacy isn’t ‘get a smart person, add water and stir.’”

This is partly a turf battle. But it is also a central bone of contention in the running debate about who should serve.

The need for a ‘professional’ foreign service is one Dann brought up many times in conversation. “Diplomacy isn’t ‘get a smart person, add water and stir,’” she said. “There are lots of smart people, for expert files, science behind climate change, etc. — okay fine, get them in on a single assignment or for a period of time, or even to be experts within the larger diplomatic corps. But you need in a country a professionally trained, professionally identified, constant corps of people who are diplomats.”

This view of foreign affairs as the exclusive preserve of a career corps of officers is not shared by the deputy minister, particularly when it comes to the most senior roles.

“I affirm the right, and I would even say the responsibility, of the government of Canada to decide who will be the representative of Canada around the world. Sometimes they make decisions that enrich our capacity around the world, [choosing] people who bring skills and experience and understanding that professional FS officers, brilliant as they may be, will never have to the same degree,” Shugart said.

“Now, the core of our international representation in my view has to be the FS. It’s got to have depth, and it’s got to have breadth of experience, and we’ve got to provide a career path to our foreign service officers. If we want to attract the best, and want to develop and retain the best, we’ve got to be able to provide people with a career path. But that, in my view, does not mean that senior appointments and senior international appointments have to be reserved for foreign service officers,” he added.

This does not just hold true for the senior ranks. Shugart concedes the distinction between a foreign service officer and someone without the FS designation doing foreign work for the department is blurring.

“I think compared to the past it’s true that it’s a somewhat more elastic concept, in that people who come from the development stream or the trade stream or the traditional foreign service, which is more, you could use the synonym ‘diplomats,’ all have access to postings and so on,” Shugart said.

In reality, Shugart said, at Canada’s missions abroad, “people from immigration, the security agencies, the defence attaché, the development team, and so on…are all working together as a team.”

“And while we fully recognize and maintain the, you might call it, business lines or practices of these specialized communities — development and trade and diplomacy — organizationally they are together in one department for the purpose of ensuring that Canada acts with all its instruments in a coherent and coordinated way internationally.”

Boosting morale

When it comes to the foreign service’s esprit de corps, present and former officers aren’t shy about offering up their suggestions for reforms that would, in their view, bolster morale and the service itself. Ideas range from a shift in hiring and promotions practices — reinstating official language training to widen the pool of applicants, increasing job security by relying less on temporary contracts, or making it easier for new intakes to get abroad more quickly, for example — to revisiting the 1973 relocation of the department and moving it closer to the newly renamed Office of the Prime Minister and Privy Council on Wellington Street.

As Percival and others noted, it will be up to the Trudeau government to articulate its foreign policy vision in a way that inspires the foreign service to go deep on substance. A large part of why Axworthy had notable successes as a foreign minister was that he had a very clear idea of what he wanted to accomplish. But day-to-day, enduring changes to the foreign service and the department as a whole will need to come from senior leadership within Global Affairs Canada.

And despite a proliferation of NGOs, think tanks and country experts, the case for personal diplomacy in the 21st century is made convincingly and robustly by those who have seen it at work.

“You can’t bomb Ebola, you can’t call in an air strike on a warming climate, or send out an expeditionary force to occupy the alternatives to a carbon economy,” Copeland said. “Our only chance is to talk our way out of these problems. That’s the province of diplomacy.”

Current Canadian diplomats from Atlanta to Australia would agree. Louise Blais, Canada’s consul general in Atlanta, says that in anticipation of NAFTA renegotiations, her staff has been part of the Trudeau government’s coordinated campaign to utilize policymakers at all levels to emphasize to key American players how closely intertwined the two countries are economically.

“At the end of the day, we open doors for our government…leveraging those personal relationships that we are paid to develop on the ground,” she said. “You look at how they’ve recruited [Brian] Mulroney, but they also have us.”

Blais gave the example of Sonny Perdue, Trump’s secretary of agriculture, who was reportedly instrumental in urging the president not to withdraw from NAFTA. Blais said Perdue is “a good friend to the consulate. We have worked with him closely — just last year, we awarded him the governor general’s award, I have his personal phone number. You can’t buy [that kind of relationship].”

Angela Bogdan, the Canadian consul general to Sydney, said that it’s important for Canada to address any “diplomatic deficit” left over from years of cuts under the Harper government.

She underlines the opportunity embedded in the current historical moment, with heightened uncertainty about an international order that has fewer champions.

“Never before have I seen the Canada brand be so embraced and emulated — this government and this prime minister have really propelled Canada as a brand on the international stage,” Bogdan said.

“This is an incredible opportunity for us to use this to full effect, not just for the sake of prosperity at home, but in terms of promoting the values systems that we hold dear, the kind of inclusive approach to diversity, refugees, tolerance on LGBTI issues…We’ve never been better positioned to advance Canada’s agenda, and we want to have the tools and the resources to use that to full effect.”


Though many would say the foreign service, and the department itself, have a ways to go to build themselves back up to the fabled ‘golden age,’ Canada’s diplomatic corps has been constantly recreating itself throughout its short history, and will continue to do so, wherever its headquarters happen to be stationed — whether on Sussex Drive or once again a stone’s throw from Parliament Hill.

Donaghy emphasized that the ‘golden age’ of Canadian diplomacy can refer to various periods throughout the 20th century, depending on who is doing the reminiscing. He noted there are two forces at work when foreign service officers look back wistfully at the past: one is the “spectre of golden-ageism” and the other is a “culture of complaint.”

“I think they’re both true but neither reflects what is actually happening — which is that the department is changing in response to shifts at home and abroad,” Donaghy said.

“The fact that you get these reoccurring golden ages suggests that [the department] is pretty good at doing this, because if it wasn’t, it would be a recurring set of dark ages.”

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Trump changes the game for diplomacy

Trump has changed the game for Canadian politicians

by Kaitlin Lee Jul 21, 2017 at 7:41 am PDT

(Source: Twitter/Justin Trudeau)

The Trudeau effort to establish a very good working relationship with Donald Trump has actually paid off: analyst

Donald Trump is the least popular American president in 70 years: poll

CALGARY (NEWS 1130) – He’s been in the White House for six months, but Canadian politicians are still figuring out how to navigate the waters of his presidency.

Donald Trump is the least popular American president in 70 years, according to a recent Washington Post poll, and the most active ever on Twitter.

Colin Robertson, Executive Fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary, said our leaders have had to step up and play the game the way Americans play it, but we’ve found more allies than expected.

“There’s a lot of people who see value and gain from the current North American Free Trade Agreement, particularly in the farm community and that’s what, I think, convinced Trump at 100 days, not to just completely tear up the agreement,” he says.

Robertson said Trump’s unpredictability has posed a challenge for countries around the world.

“We’re going in one direction on climate, and Mr. Trump has basically called a dead stop — California, which is, of course, bigger both in population and economic power than Canada. They are very much in tandem with where we’re going, as are a number of other states,” he says.

When it comes to the head of state, Canada’s prime minister has approached with caution.

“I think the Trudeau effort to establish a very good working relationship with Donald Trump has actually paid off. He’s avoided confrontation,” he says. “When he’s spoken to the president, in fact, he’s said more frequently than he spoke to Barack Obama by telephone, the president has carried through.”

In fact, working with the Trump administration has brought together Canadian politicians for the greater good.

“We’re finding there’s broad unanimity, regardless of political stripe,” he said. “Whether it’s Premier Notley or Premier Wall, or any of the others, they’ve all been down there, (and) that strengthens the Canadian hand going into these negotiations.”

Robertson’s new report suggests Canada still need to step up on a global scale.

“We are going to have to move in to that gap, particularly in areas where the Americans under Trump are pulling out and that would include climate, that would include support for international organizations,” he says.

He also said more effort needs to be put in to reducing reliance on the US.

“You can’t change geography, nor would we want to — having preferred access to the United States will always be a top priority for Canada, but that doesn’t mean to say we shouldn’t be seeking to diversify,” he says.

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Ambassador Kelly Knight Craft


Trump’s ‘influential’ pick for ambassador to Canada faces Senate hearing

Kelly Knight Craft donated $265K to Trump campaign committee in 2016

By Matt Kwong, CBC News Posted: Jul 20, 2017 5:00 AM ETLast Updated: Jul 20, 2017 9:27 AM ET

U.S. President Donald Trump’s pick for the next ambassador to Canada, a deep-pocketed Republican donor with influential allies in Congress and family ties with a Kentucky coal empire, faces her Senate confirmation hearing Thursday.

Kelly Knight Craft will testify before the Senate committee on foreign relations in a joint session with Trump’s nominees for ambassador to NATO and the U.K.

Craft and her husband, billionaire coal-mining magnate Joe Craft, donated about $265,000 to a committee backing Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. She announced her support for Trump after getting assurances that he wouldn’t bump House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell from their roles.

Maryscott Greenwood, who is the senior adviser to the Canadian American Business Council and knows Craft personally through mutual friends, calls her nomination a “terrific” choice.

kelly knight craft UN

Craft addresses the United Nations about U.S. engagement in Africa in 2007. President George W. Bush chose her as an alternate delegate to the UN. (Courtesy of Glasgow Daily Times)

Craft “brings a Southern charm that Gordon Giffin and David Wilkins also had,” she said, referring to two previous ambassadors to Canada.

“She’s quite impressive. Canadians will see that when they get a first chance to hear her in her own words.”

With more than $700 billion in two-way trade of goods and services between Canada and the U.S., along with issues regarding cross-border security and energy, “the deeper our ambassador’s connections with policy-makers, the better able she is to navigate this huge, complicated relationship,” Greenwood said.

Those connections with the White House and key members of Congress could prove very beneficial to Canada, experts say, particularly as Ottawa braces for U.S. tax reform and “Buy American” rules for a $1-trillion infrastructure plan that could lock out Canadian firms.


David Wilkins was a close family friend of George W. Bush when he was appointed ambassador to Canada. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

“The importance of the ambassador, really, is how close to the administration is she or he?” said Derek Burney, Canadian ambassador to the U.S. from 1989 to 1993.

“She must have the confidence of the president to get this appointment. And if she has the ear of the president, that’s good for us.”

Her appointment would come at a crucial time. On Monday, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative released a blueprint of objectives for renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Formal talks are scheduled to begin Aug. 16.

It’s in the interests of Canada and the U.S. to have that “point person” on site as soon as possible, said former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson.

“The ambassador acts as the quarterback in the field. With the release of the U.S. objectives for NAFTA, it’s very important that the Americans have an ambassador in Ottawa that can feed back into the United States the reaction of the Canadians.”

Joe Craft

Craft, right, with her husband, Joe Craft, a billionaire coal-mining magnate who has criticized former president Barack Obama’s climate policies. (Courtesy of Glasgow Daily Times)

One potential area of tension for Craft in Canada’s capital could be her strong links to the coal sector, said Elliot Tepper, a distinguished senior fellow with Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa.

“What’s clear is that her interests in regard to the coal industry are in sync with the American administration, but out of sync with the Canadian government at the moment,” Tepper said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government announced plans last November to phase out coal-fired electricity by 2030. Meanwhile, Trump has pledged to revive coal jobs in the U.S.

Craft’s husband is the CEO of Alliance Resource Partners LP, one of the largest coal producers in the eastern U.S. He has questioned the science and dangers of climate change, diverging from Canada’s position.

But Tepper said such factors are mitigated by the fact Canada has already gone through a six-month period of adjustment with its primary strategic and diplomatic trading partner.

‘Quick and without controversy’

Potential political differences with Canada aside, when lawmakers question Craft at Thursday morning’s joint session, her testimony should go smoothly, aided by a Republican majority on the committee.

Hearings for the Canadian ambassador post are typically “quick and without controversy,” following some warm remarks and introductions, said Robertson, who attended the hearings for former U.S. ambassador to Canada David Wilkins.

“I suspect all the ducks are lined up and her hearing will go quickly, and that she’ll be confirmed early next week,” the former diplomat said.

Craft previously ran a marketing consulting firm. In 2007, she was appointed as an alternate to the United Nations by President George W. Bush, advising on U.S. engagement in Africa.

U.S. ambassadorships to Canada are considered plum postings, typically not awarded to career diplomats but to key fundraisers who have the confidence of the president and may be well connected in Washington.

Wilkins, a South Carolina lawyer, was a top Republican donor and close family friend of George W. Bush. The most recent ambassador, Bruce Heyman, helped raise more than $1 million for Barack Obama’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee in 2011 and 2012.

Bruce Heyman

Bruce Heyman, a Barack Obama appointee, resigned as ambassador to Canada back in January because Trump wanted to name his own ambassadors. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Heyman resigned on Jan. 20, heeding Trump’s State Department instructions for ambassadors to clear house by inauguration day so he could name his own envoys.

While Craft has been active in philanthropy and also served on the University of Kentucky’s board of trustees, Tepper said little is known about her diplomatic or political skills.

“We know that she’s influential. What we do not know is if she has the requisite communication and diplomatic skills,” he said. “That will be tested during the confirmation hearings.”

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Global Trump at Six Months

Six Months of Trump:  What are the lessons learned as Canada heads into NAFTA negotiations


July 19, 2017

CALGARY- The University of Calgary School of Public Policy and the Canadian Global Affairs Institute today release a report that examines the first six months of the Trump administration’s foreign policy. The paper looks at the Trump approach, asks is there an emerging Trump doctrine, and offers some perspectives on the Trump Administration’s global policies after six months. According to author Colin Robertson, a Fellow of the School of Public Policy and the Canadian Global Affairs Institute:

Canada will have to actively engage with Congress, the states and the private and public interests that drive the American agenda. We will also have to put more effort and contribute more to the rules-based order of which we have been a beneficiary.  Traditional statecraft is based on predictability and stability, both hallmarks of U.S. post-war foreign policy practised by both Democrats and Republicans. Predictable, Mr. Trump is not. The deliberation and careful planning that characterized the Obama administration have been replaced by Mr. Trump’s reliance on gut and instinct. Such unpredictability will continue to create heartburn inside foreign chancelleries, whether friend or foe.”


Where once the USA was prepared to cover the spread on trade and security, under Donald Trump there will be more take than give. Now, Canada and the allies will have to make their own investments in hard power to preserve collective security. But less dependence and reliance on US leadership and more collective responsibility would be a good thing.


Middle powers, like Canada, will have to step up their diplomacy, both collective and individual. Focusing on their own niche capacities they will have to shore up the space left by Trump Administration decisions on climate, migration and at the international institutions that sustain the rules-based order. Ironically, one effect of the Trump presidency may be to make the western alliance stronger.


The text follows. The report can also be found online at

America First:

The Global Trump at Six Months




For Donald Trump ‘America First’ means ‘America First.’ Canada and like-minded nations will have to get used to it.


Canada will have to actively engage with Congress, the states and the private and public interests that drive the American agenda. We will also have to put more effort and contribute more to the rules-based order of which we have been a beneficiary.


Traditional statecraft is based on predictability and stability, both hallmarks of U.S. post-war foreign policy practised by both Democrats and Republicans. Predictable, Mr. Trump is not. The deliberation and careful planning that characterized the Obama administration have been replaced by Mr. Trump’s reliance on gut and instinct. Such unpredictability will continue to create heartburn inside foreign chancelleries, whether friend or foe.


Where once the USA was prepared to cover the spread on trade and security, under Donald Trump there will be more take than give. Now, Canada and the allies will have to make their own investments in hard power to preserve collective security. But less dependence and reliance on US leadership and more collective responsibility would be a good thing.


Middle powers, like Canada, will have to step up their diplomacy, both collective and individual. Focusing on their own niche capacities they will have to shore up the space left by Trump Administration decisions on climate, migration and at the international institutions that sustain the rules-based order. Ironically, one effect of the Trump presidency may be to make the western alliance stronger.



President Donald Trump: A ‘Spectacle of Excess’


In action and words, President Donald Trump, like Candidate Donald Trump, continues to demonstrate a “spectacle of excess.”


Blunt and abrasive, bombastic and brash, Donald Trump is an insurgent. He campaigned as the champion of America’s “forgotten men and women” and his “America First” policy draws unabashedly on nativism, populism and protectionism.


Since taking office, President Trump has acted on many of his specific pledges, drawing frequently on his executive powers.


Executive orders suspended immigration from seven Muslim countries (although were promptly overturned by judges). Executive orders approved construction of both the Dakota Access pipeline and the Keystone XL pipeline. Executive orders rolled back president Obama’s Clean Power Plan, replacing it with President Trump’s Energy Independence Policy.


Another set of orders withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), ordered the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and opened a 90-day investigation in America’s trade deficits with 16 countries (including Canada).


Trump’s first budget proposals increased spending for defence and homeland security, while cutting funding for the environment, diplomacy and most other agencies.


Neither the discipline of power, nor convention, nor political correctness matters to Donald Trump.


The Trump cabinet is whiter, wealthier, older and more male than those of George W. Bush or Barack Obama. It has an unusually high representation of “billionaires and generals.”


The presidency has done nothing to temper Donald Trump’s bombast or brash behaviour. The mainstream media and its “fake news” gets the back of his hand. While Mr. Trump’s supporters may give him a pass in the short-term eventually the lies and theatrics will wear thin.  As Elaine Kamarck, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, observes:
“President Trump has consistently behaved in ways that undermine his own self-interest. Take the Russia issue. It is entirely possible that he is completely innocent. But almost everything he has said or done since the election undermines that possibility, and reminds one of that old saying: where there’s smoke there’s fire. Moreover, he has consistently said things that are not true — like that Obama had him wiretapped or that his Electoral College victory was the biggest since Ronald Reagan. Following these tweets or statements, he inexplicably has stood by them in the face of no evidence. He repeatedly seems to go out of his way to make enemies, not friends, by attacking the press and reporters personally. There have also been times when his words in front of a group have been completely inappropriate.”


Donald Trump’s diplomatic approach is unlike any other US president, confounding America’s traditional friends and allies.


Autocrats appear to get a pass if not an embrace. After Turkey’s referendum, Mr. Trump congratulated President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the only western leader to do so. He lavished praise on General Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, Egypt’s military leader. He backed Marine LePen and the far right in the French elections. His first official visit took him to Saudi Arabia where he lauded its theocratic rulers and those of the Gulf nations. He treated Chinese President Xi Jing-ping at Mar-a-Lago and gave Russian President Vladimir Putin more time than any other leader at the G-20.


Allies have not had the same treatment. When the conversation turned sour, he reportedly “hung up” on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto canceled a Washington visit after Mr. Trump tweeted that “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” He refused to shake hands with Angela Merkel, the democratically elected leader of Germany whom The Economist magazine once described as the “Indispensable European”. He tweeted abuse at the mayor of London after that city’s terrorist attacks. Arriving at the NATO summit in Brussels he lambasted the allies for not paying their dues.


The Trump approach comes with a cost. After the G7 and NATO meetings, Conservative pundit David Frum tweeted: “Since 1945, the supreme strategic goal in Europe of the USSR and then Russia was the severing of the U.S.-German alliance. Trump delivered.”


Then there are the lies.


After a hundred days in office the Washington Post catalogued 492 false or misleading claims, following on the 59 Four-Pinocchio ratings Donald Trump earned as a presidential candidate. The New York Times is still keeping a list believing that “as regular as they have become, the country should not allow itself to become numb to them.” By design or accident, his tweets, whoppers and pronouncements keep him at the forefront of the media cycle.


To the consternation of his critics, it delights his supporters whose support remains strong. But at some point, the public is likely to become fatigued and long for a return to stable government.

A Trump Doctrine?

Promising to “make America great again,” Donald Trump told GOP delegates at his Cleveland nomination convention that “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo” because only then will Americans “get the respect that we deserve.” He promised to rebuild America’s defence establishment saying: “we don’t want to have a depleted military because we’re all over the place fighting in areas that we shouldn’t be fighting in. It’s not going to be depleted any longer.”


Throughout the campaign and then in his “thank-you” stops after his election, Mr. Trump was emphatic about keeping American forces out of foreign wars, saying that “we will stop racing to topple foreign regimes that we know nothing about, that we shouldn’t be involved with.” Instead he said, “our focus must be on defeating terrorism and destroying ISIS, and we will.”


Now, President Trump faces hard decisions around increasing the military commitment in Afghanistan and continuing to sustain the effort in Iraq and Syria.

Since his Inaugural Address, his speech to the people of Poland has provided the most insight into President Trump’s global perspective. In asking a series of questions in Warsaw’s Krasinski Square (July 6, 2017), he  returned to the dark “carnage in America” theme of his Inaugural Address :

“The fundamental question of our time is whether the west has the will to survive. Do we have the confidence in our values to defend them at any cost? Do we have enough respect for our citizens to protect our borders? Do we have the desire and the courage to preserve our civilisation in the face of those who would subvert and destroy it?”

In their Wall Street Journal column ‘America First Doesn’t Mean America Alone’ (May 30, 2017), National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster and National Economic Council director Gary Cohn write that while the US is “asking a lot of our allies and partners… in return America will once again be a true friend to our partners and the worst foe to our enemies.”

Defence Secretary Jim Mattis spoke (June 2, 2017) in a similar vein when he said at the Shangri-la Security Dialogue in Singapore: “we have a deep and abiding commitment to reinforcing the rules-based international order”.

In speaking to State Department employees, Secretary Rex Tillerson observed that the ‘America First’ policy “doesn’t mean it comes at the expense of others. Our partnerships and our alliances are critical to our success … but we’ve got to bring them back into balance.”

Unlike the often lengthy deliberation practised by the Obama Administration, the Trump Administration is not reluctant to act quickly.


The intervention in Syria was the Administration’s first major military initiative. President Trump said he found the pictures of gassed children choking to death “reprehensible” and insisted they “cannot be ignored by the civilized world.”


Secretary Tillerson and General MacMaster argued that the Trump administration would be “willing to act when governments and actors cross the line” and that the “strike itself was proportional because it was targeted at the facility that delivered this most recent chemical weapons attack”.


General McMaster observed that they had “weighed the risk associated with any military action, but we weighed that against the risk of inaction … which is the risk of (these) continued, egregious, inhumane attacks on innocent civilians with chemical weapons.”


The Obama administration was accused of dithering and over-deliberating before taking action. This is not likely to apply to the Trump administration. Rather it would do well to heed Talleyrand’s advice to leaders: ‘Surtout, pas trop de zele’ (Above all, not too much zeal).


Bloomberg’s Margaret Telev observed that the Trump approach at the G7 and NATO summit “was calibrated by the White House to show … to a domestic audience, as well as to Europe, that President Trump is not going to abandon every position that he held from the campaign just because he is here in these meetings, but, at the same time, there was a recognition from his aides that the more he engages with key allies all over the world, the more nuance is brought to the table in terms of him understanding the leadership role that the U.S. is expected to fulfill and the complexities of those obligations.”


Looking at the Trump administration after five months, Elliott Abrams, a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations — whose appointment as deputy secretary at the State Department was nixed by Trump senior adviser Steve Bannon — observed: “this is not a revolutionary administration. The broad lines of its policy fit easily within those of the last few decades. Trump might not be a conventional president, but so far, his foreign policy has been remarkably unremarkable.” Perhaps.


Concluding Observations


President Donald Trump is unconventional and unpredictable. On the road, his blend of bravado, bullying, and bluster fits easily into the stereotypical characterization of the “ugly American.”


But as Prime Minister Trudeau, who has managed his relationship as well as any foreign leaders, observes: “I have always found that whenever he has made an engagement to me or a commitment to me on the phone or in person, he followed through on that, and that is someone you can work with,”


To understand Donald Trump, one needs to read his 1987 book Trump: The Art of the Deal, which chronicles his various business deals in his successful effort to build a real estate empire. It underlines his preference for bilateral negotiations (third parties, he writes, are unnecessary complications, which result in leaving money on the table). Think big and, as Mr. Trump writes, “The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it. That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.”  Those negotiating with the Trump Administration, including Canadian and Mexicans who will soon begin re-negotiatio of the NAFTA,  should keep this in mind.


There is a tendency among new administrations, especially with a change in party, to vilify and repudiate the policies of their predecessors. This danger is magnified in the Trump administration. Assuming malfeasance and error, on the part of their predecessor, leads to over-correction. The repudiation of the Paris Climate Accord is a case of throwing out the baby with the bath water.


Nuance is not President Trump’s thing. In language, tone and application, Donald Trump’s international policy pronouncements on big issues like climate, migration, trade and on the utility of multilateralism are an abrupt departure from post-war American policy. But it is not by its rhetoric that the Trump administration should be judged, but rather its actions.


Here the record is less dogmatic and there is more evidence of continuity than of change in foreign policy: the intervention in Syria to preserve international norms on chemical warfare; confrontations with Russia over its lack of accountability; pragmatism towards China; and the re-embracing of the value of NATO and of collective defence, a 180-degree shift from Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric, albeit with an emphasis on allies pulling their weight in terms of sharing the burden.


There is more reliance on muscle, almost theatrically so.


There was the highly publicized dropping in April 2017 of the “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan, and the May 2017 launching of missiles against Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian air base as “after-dinner entertainment” while Mr. Trump was hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago. President Trump has told North Korea it has “gotta behave.” Vice President Mike Pence and cabinet secretaries James Mattis and Rex Tillerson have all echoed the warning to North Korea that “all options are on the table,” pointing to the “strength and resolve of our new president in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan.”


All new administrations have their pratfalls, but during the first six months of the Trump administration, rarely a day goes by without some controversy and they are not helped by Mr. Trump’s tweets.


If Mr. Trump’s administration is unpredictable, it is not entirely capricious.


On the details of an issue, even hot-button items like waterboarding, for example, or providing explanations on a crisis like the Syrian intervention, President Trump says he will defer to his cabinet officers (although, he will also sometimes go his own way, as he demonstrated with his refusal to explicitly underline U.S. support for NATO’s Article 5 at the Brussels summit). He is much more a CEO than a micro-manager.


As the Trump administration approaches six months in office there has been consistency with campaign promises around the decisions to withdraw from the TPP, to freeze the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, to renegotiate NAFTA, and to pull out of the Paris climate accord.


There is clearer definition on its policies: trade – protectionist; energy – drill and burn fossil fuels; climate – repudiation; defence – more money; and the rest of government – less money. To secure U.S. energy independence, the energy team is carrying through on the campaign promise of “drill, baby, drill” and repeal of Obama era environmental regulation.


There have been shifts: on NATO (now for it) and China (now more friend than enemy since the Xi-Trump Mar-a-Lago summit) while the warm words during the campaign for Vladimir Putin have been tempered by events. Where once the US led across the board, there are now deep divisions with its closest allies on climate, on trade, on migration, on the utility of multilateralism.


There is still much to be determined: an approach to Africa or Latin America and the rest of Asia (beyond China and North Korea); involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria; an Iran policy; and functional policies, for example, on cybersecurity and human rights.


The trade team, led by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and White House Trade Director Peter Navarro, is mercantilist and anti-China. They want to do more enforcement on the trade scofflaws and, at the same time, re-negotiate the various trade pacts, beginning with NAFTA. Their challenge will be their capacity to cope with all the hares they have set running, including acting on the executive orders on trade deficits, steel and aluminum and Hire American and Buy American.


Too much decision-making appears to be done on the run. The White House media briefings are chaotic and vitriolic. There is no appearance of order and deliberation.


All new administrations endure initial jostling for position by the main players for place and standing. In this Administration, the appearance is that the elbows are sharper and the divisions increasingly personal. Until the full team is in place, figuring out who is up and who is down, and where and how decisions are made is difficult.


While the cabinet is in place, most of the supporting cast of deputies, assistants and deputy assistant secretaries are still to be named let alone confirmed. As of July 4, according to the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service, nominees for just 46 out of 561 key jobs in the Trump administration had been confirmed by the Senate, and there are still no nominees for 384 positions.


The liberal-based international order has always relied on its guardian, the United States to be the adult in the room. U.S. allies are beginning to say publicly what they say to themselves in private: that a Trump-led America is not a reliable ally.


Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland recently observed in outlining the contours of her government’s foreign policy that while the U.S. has “truly been the indispensable nation,” it may be tiring of “global leadership.” Canada and like-minded, middle-power nations will have to step up in defence of the rules-based liberal international system.


Keeping balance and preserving stability during Trump times will be a test for diplomacy and diplomatic services the world over.

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Full Court Press on USA

‘Full court press’ by ministers, Trudeau ahead of NAFTA negotiations

An active cabinet is key to Canada’s new approach to U.S. relations, say former diplomats, current Parliamentarians.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe during a Q&A session with governors after his keynote address to the National Governors Association last week in Providence, R.I.Photograph courtesy of the PMO

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, July 19, 2017 12:00 AM

Canada’s “full court press” on U.S. relations is one coordinated from the top and taken up by MPs of all political stripes ahead of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations expected to begin next month.

“Our strategy is quite simply to work at all levels. We are doing everything reasonably possible to expand our relationship with the United States at every level,” said Liberal MP Wayne Easter (Malpeque, P.E.I.), who is co-chair of the Canada-United States Inter-Parliamentary Group.

He, like other Canadian officials, pushed back against reports that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) is going around Donald Trump’s White House, pointing to the bilateral meeting with vice-president Mike Pence that coincided with Mr. Trudeau’s speech to governors on July 14 in Rhode Island.

“We continue to work constructively with the Trump administration and with the United States Congress to advance mutual interests as well as our strong and prosperous partnership,” said Adam Austen, spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland (University-Rosedale, Ont.), in an emailed statement.

Since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, there have been more than 175 visits and “300 individual contacts” with senior U.S. officials and Canadian cabinet members, parliamentary secretaries, premiers and provincial and territorial ministers and Parliamentarians, according to data sent Monday by Ms. Freeland’s office.

Some 28 cabinet ministers and five parliamentary secretaries represent 95 of those interactions. Meetings have been with Mr. Trump, Mr. Pence, 17 U.S. cabinet members, 200 members of Congress, and more than 45 governors and lieutenant governors, with numbers expected to grow in the coming weeks, the office added. Washington represented the vast majority of meetings with 78, followed by New York with 18, and several spots in California made up eight visits.


U.S. NAFTA objectives released

Monday’s late-day announcement of negotiating objectives for the NAFTA by the United States Trade Representative started the next phase of the NAFTA talks, said Paul Frazer, a former high-level diplomat at Canada’s embassy in Washington.

“At this stage we can guess about the public role many in the Congress will choose to have. All-in-all I am confident that the Canadian advocacy work in the U.S. will need to be maintained and adjusted where necessary,” said Mr. Frazer, president of PD Frazer Associates who advises clients on cross-border issues.

“Including deficit reduction as a U.S. goal signals that the president and his rhetoric will unavoidably be prominent; Ottawa and Mexico City will have to manage two tracks: the negotiation itself and the impact of the president’s actions/statements over the course of the negotiations.”

Export Action Global principal Adam Taylor highlighted several areas that “provide a key line of sight into the Trump administration’s thinking,” including: its fixation on trade deficits; sensitivities in agricultural trade; enshrining ‘Buy American’ policies; and raising Canada’s de minimis threshold, a rule that slaps customs and duties on imported goods worth more than $20.

“While there are very few surprises, it is now clear that one person’s tweak is another’s transformation,” he said by email.

Canada will be ready for negotiations to “modernize NAFTA, while defending Canada’s national interest and standing up for our values,” said Ms. Freeland in a statement Monday.

“Canada is the top customer of the United States. Canada buys more goods from the U.S. than China, Japan, and the United Kingdom combined.”

That messaging reflected Mr. Trudeau’s address at the National Governors Association meeting Friday—a first for a Canadian leader.


Personal relationships key to U.S. strategy

Mr. Trudeau’s reception in Providence is one sign that Canada’s message—as America’s “biggest and best” customer—is being noticed, and that the nation is less of an afterthought, said an official in Ms. Freeland’s office who said they could only speak on background.

Standing ovations at the summit, and the number of people who recognized Canada’s prime minister, speak to the work done to build ties recently, the source said.

The month before, Canada sent Andrew Leslie (Orléans, Ont.), parliamentary secretary to the foreign minister, to the Western Governors’ Association meeting.

The official didn’t confirm whether specific ministers were handed regional assignments, as reported by Vice News in May, but said some are a natural fit given their industries, like Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains’ (Mississauga-Malton, Ont.) connections to Michigan and its established auto and aerospace industries.

Former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson said face-to-face interactions were the most effective form of free trade advocacy.

“It’s a contact sport,” said Mr. Robertson. “Personal relationships are everything.”

“There have been a whole series of efforts that [go] beyond traditionally how we approached the administration,” he said, adding there have been more minister-level meetings, such as those between Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre, Ont.) and his counterpart U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin in February and again in June, accompanied by Ms. Freeland.

It was a smart strategy by Ms. Freeland and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan (Vancouver South, B.C.) to meet with U.S. officials before their respective policy speeches in February, he added. 

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s (Regina-Wascana, Sask.) effort to build a relationship with U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, the first of Trump’s cabinet to come north, was also crucial, he said.

“The homeland security side is really important, because that’s Trump’s base and so that relationship is very important,” he said, noting Mr. Kelly met with other key ministers.

An unusually large number of American officials are deciding they should make the trip north, Mr. Robertson noted. Recently Republican Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said he’d visit Canada this summer, leading a delegation of government and business representatives.

“I can’t think of a time when we’ve had that many in that short a period,” said Mr. Robertson.

Mr. Bains is one Canadian minister who has “undertaken significant outreach,” said spokesman Karl Sasseville—most notably in Michigan, Colorado, and California. And, while Mr. Trudeau was in Rhode Island, Mr. Bains met with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who has also met with Ms. Freeland to discuss issues like softwood and steel.

Mr. Bains has met with business leaders, governors, and other elected officials where he “[insisted] on the mutually-beneficial nature of the Canada-U.S. trade relationship,” said Mr. Sasseville.

The 10 other cabinet offices contacted deferred questions about their minister’s role to Global Affairs Canada’s Mr. Austen.


PMO briefing Parliamentarians

Ms. Freeland accompanied the prime minister to Providence, as did Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, whose government has fought against Buy American rhetoric, stressing the impact Canada has on various state economies, and warning that protectionist trade measures will harm more than help.

Global Affairs has helped to brief members of the Canada-U.S. Inter-Parliamentary Group attending bilateral meetings with the latest issues and messages from the communications branch of the Prime Minister’s Office, said Mr. Easter,

The PMO has also launched an unprecedented U.S.-relations ‘war room,’ led by Brian Clow, Ms. Freeland’s former chief of staff when she was international trade minister.

Conservative Senator Bob Runciman was among the group in Rhode Island last week, and said he’s also seen more attention paid to Canada-U.S. relations.

“It’s simply more a sense of urgency and a higher priority, given some of the things president Trump has said and veiled threats, if you will, in respect to tearing [NAFTA] up. I think there’s a real full court press,” he said.

He said there’s a real “team feeling” to the meetings, and agreed it was a good idea for Mr. Trudeau to reach out to governors, noting several key cabinet secretaries came from those ranks.

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‘Canada is back’, la política exterior de Justin Trudeau

‘Canada is back’, la política exterior de Justin Trudeau


Justin Trudeau y el ministro de Defensa de Canadá (en el centro), Harjit Sajjan, durante la Cumbre de la OTAN del 25 de mayo en Bruselas. GOBIERNO DE CANADÁ\

Internacionalista constructivo, el primer ministro canadiense ha recuperado los activos tradicionales de Canadá, centrándose en la defensa del clima, de la mujer y de un comercio diversificado. Su mayor reto es gestionar con tacto y firmeza la relación con EEUU.

Las expectativas eran altas cuando, tras ganar las elecciones de octubre en 2015, Justin Trudeau prometió a los canadienses que restauraría los “caminos soleados” y el crecimiento de la clase media. El primer ministro anunció al mundo “Canada is back” (Canadá ha vuelto). Prometió una política exterior “constructiva y compasiva”, con un regreso al multilateralismo y el foco en el clima, la emigración y la desigualdad. La administración de Donald Trump –proteccionista, populista y unilateralista– supone ahora el mayor reto para el gobierno de Trudeau. Gestionar al Tío Sam –la relación con Estados Unidos es la más importante para Canadá– ha puesto a prueba a los gobiernos canadienses desde el momento de la Confederación, hace ahora 150 años.

En su mayor parte, el primer ministro Trudeau ha cumplido sus promesas respecto a la política exterior. En estos casi dos años de gobierno, la marca internacional de Canadá ha mejorado. Pese a que los canadienses piensan que el mundo es un lugar más peligroso, depositan una gran confianza en la habilidad de Trudeau para gestionar los asuntos internacionales. Pero al mismo tiempo que Canadá celebra su 150 aniversario, Trump presenta un reto personal para Trudeau, al que ha de enfrentarse correctamente.


El método Trudeau y su mensaje

Tan solo unas semanas después de asumir el cargo, Trudeau participó en cuatro cumbres internacionales: la de la Commonwealth en Malta, el G-20 en Turquía, el Foro de Cooperación Económica Asia Pacífico (APEC) en Manila, y la Conferencia de París sobre el Clima. Ganó aplausos por su encanto personal e impresionó a los líderes extranjeros con su capacidad de escucha. En París, Trudeau y su equipo abrazaron la necesidad de una acción por el clima y trabajaron constructivamente para alcanzar el consenso que dio lugar al acuerdo internacional.

En el tradicional Discurso desde el Trono, por parte del Gobernador General (representante de la reina Isabel II) en la apertura de la nueva legislatura, están recogidas las prioridades del gobierno:

– Reforzar su relación con los aliados, “especialmente con nuestro amigo y socio cercano, EEUU”.

– Centrar la ayuda al desarrollo en la prestación de asistencia a los más pobres y vulnerables del mundo.

– Negociar acuerdos comerciales beneficiosos y perseguir otras oportunidades con mercados emergentes.

– Renovar el compromiso con las operaciones de mantenimiento de la paz de las Naciones Unidas, así como continuar la lucha contra el terrorismo.

– Revisar las capacidades existentes de defensa e invertir en la construcción de un ejército más ágil y mejor equipado.


Multilateralismo y los refugiados sirios

El multilateralismo, sustituido por el anterior primer ministro Stephen Harper y su gobierno conservador por “avanzar para llevarse bien”, ha vuelto. Como expresó Trudeau en la Asamblea General de la ONU en 2016, “eso significa reengancharse a los asuntos globales mediante instituciones como la ONU” (…) “estamos aquí para ayudar”, incluyendo asumir un papel de liderazgo en el reasentamiento de refugiados.

En contraste con el gobierno de Harper, Trudeau prometió durante la campaña electoral proporcionar un hogar a 25.000 refugiados sirios. En enero de 2017, más de 40.000 habían encontrado su nueva casa en Canadá y el primer ministro nombró a un refugiado somalí, Ahmed Hussen, ministro de Inmigración, Refugiados y Ciudadanía.


Política exterior feminista

El empoderamiento de la mujer es un asunto central de la política de Trudeau, en el territorio nacional y en el extranjero. A la pregunta sobre las razones que explicaban por qué la mitad de su gabinete estaba constituido por mujeres, incluyendo a la primera ministra de Justicia de origen indígena, Jody-Wilson-Raybould, y una refugiada afgana, Maryam Monsef, responsable del ministerio de la Mujer, Trudeau respondió: “Porque estamos en 2015”.

Tras consultar a más de 15.000 personas de 65 países, el gobierno canadiense publicó la Política de Asistencia Internacional Feminista como parte del conjunto de medidas de política exterior en junio de 2017. Afirmando que “los derechos de las mujeres son derechos humanos” y que el primer ministro y su gabinete eran todos feministas, la ministra de Asuntos Exteriores, Chrystia Freeland, declaró que tales derechos, incluyendo abortos legales y seguros “se encuentran en el núcleo de nuestra política exterior“. Estas medidas hay que entenderlas en el contexto de la decisión de la administración Trump respecto a la retirada de los fondos a las agencias de la ONU que apoyan el aborto. Así, en el Día Internacional de la Mujer, Trudeau anunció una inversión de 650 millones de dólares destinada a financiar proyectos de la ONU para educación sexual, servicios de salud reproductiva, planificación familiar y el uso de anticonceptivos.

La nueva, y feminista, política internacional de ayuda se marcó seis objetivos: igualdad de género y empoderamiento de las mujeres y niñas; un crecimiento que funcione para todo el mundo; acción respecto al medio ambiente y el clima; una gobernanza inclusiva; paz y seguridad, incluyendo un mayor papel de las mujeres en operaciones de paz; tolerancia cero hacia la violencia sexual y el abuso por parte de las fuerzas de paz. Las nuevas medidas, que se alinean con los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible de la ONU (ODS) y el Acuerdo de París sobre el Clima están encaminadas a asegurar que al menos el 95% de la ayuda exterior canadiense se destina a la mejora de las condiciones de vida de mujeres y niñas.

Finalmente, la política exterior feminista de Trudeau incluso ha logrado el respaldo del presidente Trump, que acogió una reunión de mujeres emprendedoras de los dos países durante la visita del primer ministro a EEUU en febrero de 2017. Trump también hizo referencia a esta iniciativa en su declaración conjunta ante el Congreso.


Gestionar al Tío Sam

Si bien todos los líderes mundiales comparten la preocupación por la seguridad y el crecimiento económico nacional, los primeros ministros canadienses hacen frente, además, a retos adicionales respecto a la unidad nacional y las relaciones con EEUU. En su único discurso sobre política exterior previo a su elección, Trudeau prometió “un cambio en las relaciones entre EEUU y Canadá”. Reconoció la sabiduría del primer ministro conservador Brian Mulroney (1984-93) por haber identificado la gestión de estas relaciones bilaterales como un deber clave de su cargo.

Desde su llegada, Trudeau estableció una relación de confianza con Barack Obama respecto al cambio climático y compartían un compromiso con el internacionalismo liberal progresista. El conocido “bromance” fue visible durante la visita de Trudeau a la Casa Blanca en marzo de 2016, así como en la visita de Obama a Ottawa tres meses después en la “Cumbre de los Tres Amigos”.

Las relaciones con México, el tercer amigo, se restauraron en junio de 2016, cuando Trudeau cumplió su promesa de levantar la restricción de visados impuesta por el gobierno de Harper. El levantamiento está incluido en el enfoque conjunto de Canadá y México para las próximas negociaciones en el Tratado de Libre Comercio de América del Norte (Nafta, en inglés).

La victoria de Trump, con campaña proteccionista y populista recogida en su “América primero”, forzó a Trudeau a reajustar su gobierno y priorizar las relaciones con EEUU. Esto explica que en enero la hasta entonces ministra de Comercio Internacional, Chrystia Freeland, se convirtiera en ministra de Asuntos Exteriores, conservando la responsabilidad sobre el comercio norteamericano. Freeland junto al ministro de Defensa, Harjit Sajjan, y el de Finanzas, Bill Morneau, viajaron a Washington para conocer a sus homólogos en la nueva administración Trump. Es importante destacar que realizaron una visita al Capitolio donde se reunieron con líderes destacados del Congreso. Trudeau pronto seguiría esta iniciativa con una visita de trabajo al presidente Trump. El acuerdo sobre un programa para el futuro incluía aumentar las economías compartidas, la seguridad energética, medio ambiente, seguridad fronteriza, aliados en el mundo y el empoderamiento de las mujeres emprendedoras.

Desde entonces ha habido un tránsito constante hacia el sur por parte de los ministros de Trudeau, dirigentes provinciales y legisladores de todos los niveles, y no solo a Washington, sino también al resto de EEUU. Es evidente que el foco se ha centrado en el país de Trump. El mensaje que se transmite es el siguiente: Canadá es un aliado fiable, un socio comercial leal, y el comercio y la inversión canadienses crean empleos en EEUU. La energía canadiense alimenta la economía estadounidense y mantendrá el renacimiento energético norteamericano prometido por Trump.

Aunque tales esfuerzos no han sido probados aún, según New York Times, “a diferencia de cualquier otra cosa intentada por otro aliado, la campaña silenciosamente audaz para persuadir, contener y, si fuera necesario, coaccionar a los estadounidenses (…) ha tenido éxito en gran medida (…)”.
Declaración de política exterior y revisión de defensa

La relación con EEUU estuvo en el corazón del discurso sobre política exterior de la ministra Freeland de junio de 2017, que estableció las prioridades de Canadá. Presentado ante el Parlamento de Canadá, el discurso fue en muchos aspectos una evocación “de regreso al futuro” de los principios de la diplomacia pearsoniana que caracterizaron la política canadiense durante gran parte del periodo de posguerra. Canadá está buscando un asiento en el Consejo de Seguridad de la ONU, declaró Freeland, “porque queremos ser escuchados”.


Ante la crisis de confianza en la globalización, Canadá apuesta por apoyar a la clase media y a quienes quieren entrar en ella


La ministra reafirmó la posición del país como una “potencia media” con un “gran interés en un orden internacional basado en reglas. Uno en el que el poder no tendría siempre la razón. Uno en el cual los países más poderosos están limitados en su trato con los más pequeños por estándares que son internacionalmente respetados, aplicados y mantenidos”. Freeland identificó dos desafíos globales primordiales:

En primer lugar, la rápida aparición de potencias del Sur y Asia –preeminentemente China– y la necesidad de integrar a estos países en el sistema económico y político mundial, de manera que se preserve lo mejor del viejo orden que precedió a su ascenso, pero que a su vez aborde la amenaza existencial del cambio climático.

En segundo lugar, un agotamiento en Occidente de la creencia entre los trabajadores y la clase media de que el sistema globalizado puede ayudarles a mejorar sus vidas. Estamos ante una enorme crisis de confianza, que tiene el potencial, si lo permitimos, de socavar la prosperidad global. La clave para abordar esos problemas, según Freeland, es proporcionar a la clase media, y a quienes quieren incorporarse a ella, un mayor apoyo y un enfoque que en Canadá incluye la acogida del multiculturalismo y la diversidad.

Reconociendo el papel “indispensable” que desempeña EEUU en la preservación del orden mundial, la ministra identificó los múltiples frentes de la relación bilateral: “desde la seguridad fronteriza, a la defensa de Norteamérica a través del Mando Norteamericano de Defensa Aeroespacial (Norad), la lucha contra Daesh, los esfuerzos en la OTAN, el fomento y la mejora de la relación comercial, que es la más fuerte en el mundo”. A diferencia de anteriores gobiernos liberales, Freeland fue muy clara sobre la prioridad en la defensa. La ministra denunció sin ambages a Rusia respecto a la invasión de Ucrania y afirmó que la OTAN y su artículo 5 están en el corazón de la política de seguridad nacional de Canadá. “El uso de la fuerza con principios”, declaró Freeland, “junto con nuestros aliados y gobernados por el Derecho Internacional, es parte de nuestra historia y debe ser parte de nuestro futuro”.

El gobierno de Trudeau, según Freeland, hará las “inversiones necesarias en el ejército, no solo para reparar años de insuficiencia de fondos, sino también para poner a las fuerzas armadas canadienses en una nueva base, con el equipo, la capacitación, los recursos y una financiación consistente y predecible para poder llevar a cabo un trabajo difícil y peligroso”. Confiar únicamente en el paraguas de EEUU haría de Canadá un “estado cliente”, en palabras de Freeland.

Al día siguiente, el ministro de Defensa Sajjan anunció la nueva política de defensa, “fuerte, segura y comprometida”: fuertes en casa, seguros en Norteamérica y comprometidos con el mundo. El énfasis en el propio país, en América del Norte y después en el mundo es consistente con el enfoque canadiense. Entre los compromisos específicos en materia de defensa, Sajjan indicó los siguientes: aumentar el gasto en defensa del 1% al 1,4% del PIB para 2024; adquirir 88 aviones de combate avanzados para reemplazar a los viejos CF-18, y la construcción de 15 navíos de combate para sustituir a las fragatas existentes y a los destructores retirados; aumentar las fuerzas regulares entre 3.500 y 71.500 soldados, y las reservas entre 1.500 y 30.000, además de reducir el tiempo de reclutamiento de meses a semanas; aumentar la presencia de mujeres en las fuerzas armadas en un punto porcentual al año hasta alcanzar el 25% en 2026.

Los críticos de la política exterior de Trudeau sostienen que el gasto en defensa sigue siendo inadecuado en relación con los aumentos prometidos, y que están por debajo del compromiso del 2% del PIB marcado por la OTAN. No se hizo referencia a si Canadá se uniría a la defensa de misiles antibalísticos, tal como recomendó por unanimidad el Comité de Defensa Nacional del Senado en 2014. Tampoco se precisó en qué momento el gobierno debería cumplir con su compromiso de agosto de 2016 de enviar 600 soldados a operaciones de paz.

En lo que respecta a ayuda al desarrollo, Canadá actualmente destina el 0,26% del PIB en ayuda extranjera, lejos del objetivo de la ONU de alcanzar el 0,7% establecido por el gobierno de Lester Pearson en la década de los sesenta. La directora del Consejo Canadiense para la Cooperación Internacional, Julia Sánchez, expresó: “no entendemos cómo se va a lograr esa meta sin nuevos fondos”.


La búsqueda del compromiso

Los canadienses son gente progresista pero también prudente. Son liberales acerca de cuestiones sociales pero tienden al conservadurismo cuando se trata de la gestión de su dinero. Como pueblo, y debido a su clima, recursos, geografía y demografía, los canadienses se sienten obligados a encontrar consenso y compromiso. Sus recursos, ricas tierras de cultivo y grandes cantidades de energía, incluidos combustibles fósiles, son las joyas de la familia, pero la sostenibilidad del país y del entorno requiere cuidado y conservación.

Canadá es el segundo país más extenso del mundo, abarca 4,5 zonas horarias y posee la costa más larga del mundo. Todo esto exige mucha innovación e ingeniería para desarrollar comunicaciones marítimas, así como unas infraestructuras de transporte duraderas.

Uno de cada cinco canadienses nace fuera de Canadá. En nuestra ciudad más grande, Toronto, ese número se eleva a la mitad de la población. Una gestión eficaz del pluralismo es vital para la buena gobernanza. Como ciudadanos del mundo, pero de una forma más acentuada que la mayoría de las nacionalidades, el sentido de identidad de los canadienses deriva de cómo son percibidos por el resto del mundo. Ellos quieren ser, y quieren ser vistos, como internacionalistas constructivos y, por tanto, desempeñan un papel de puente, eje y figura útil en la resolución y gestión de los asuntos globales. Estas son las realidades que el primer ministro Trudeau debe manejar en beneficio de Canadá.

Desde la Confederación, la política exterior canadiense se ha construido alrededor de la realidad de vivir con el Tío Sam; en el pasado una amenaza pero durante más de un siglo un amigo y aliado, cuyo mercado sostiene la prosperidad canadiense y cuyo paraguas de seguridad nos protege.

Para mitigar la poderosa influencia cultural y económica de EEUU, los sucesivos gobiernos canadienses han adoptado la seguridad colectiva como estrategia de defensa, el multilateralismo en política exterior y la diversificación comercial. Estas opciones han respondido a la búsqueda del equilibrio, algo especialmente necesario con la administración Trump. La renegociación del acceso preferente al mercado estadounidense es la máxima prioridad de Trudeau porque reconoce que de ello depende la prosperidad canadiense.

Justin Trudeau y Donald Trump son polos opuestos en asuntos como el clima, la migración y el multilateralismo. Pero Trudeau sabe que la única relación primordial es aquella que mantiene con el presidente de EEUU. La pretensión de encontrar un terreno común con Trump sobre la creciente clase media y abordar la desigualdad está funcionando, pero pasará por distintas pruebas en el futuro.
Como sir Wilfrid Laurier, el primer primer ministro liberal de Canadá que popularizó el concepto “caminos soleados”, Trudeau es carismático y un activista natural. Si puede cumplir su promesa y satisfacer el sentido de soberanía de los canadienses, entonces, al igual que Laurier, Trudeau mantendrá la confianza de los canadienses en su líder.

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G20 Summit in Hamburg

CBC Commentary on G20

A Canadian Primer to the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7-8, 2017


Image credit: Germany G20 Website

by Colin Robertson
CGAI Vice President and Fellow
July, 2017


Table of Contents


This Thursday and Friday, the leaders of the major economic nations, their finance ministers and central bankers meet in Germany’s northern port city of Hamburg,

birthplace of their host, Chancellor Angela Merkel. It’s their 12th summit to discuss global economic and financial issues.

The summit cannot ignore geopolitics. Conflict continues in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Central Africa. Renewed famine ravages the Horn of Africa. Russia still occupies parts of Ukraine. China is using its muscle to push its claims to the South China Sea. North Korea’s Kim Jong-un improves his nuclear weaponry. Refugees from Africa and the Middle East continue to stream into Europe.

Yet, on the economic front the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) World Economic Outlook (April 2017) projects a pick-up in global economic activity with a long-anticipated cyclical recovery in investment, manufacturing and trade. But in Europe, there are uncertainties posed by Brexit and continuing joblessness, especially youth unemployment in southern Europe. Protectionism continues to threaten, most vocally from President Donald Trump, who has also withdrawn the U.S. from the global climate accord.


Who and What is the G20?

The G20, originally a meeting of finance ministers, their deputies and central bankers, was formed in 1999 in the wake of the Asian and Russian financial crisis with Canada’s then-Finance minister Paul Martin playing a lead role. It was raised to the leaders’ level in the wake of the 2007-2008 financial crisis when then-U.S. president George W. Bush convened a summit in Washington (November 2008) to address the crisis. Canada hosted the G20 in Toronto in 2010.

The leaders’ summit is the culmination of a year-long process of meetings that in addition to the central bankers, finance ministers and sherpas, includes sessions involving labour, business, think tanks, youth, girls (Belinda Stronach was a driving force behind the Girls20 summit) and civil society.

The member countries include the G7 nations: Canada, the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Union, as well as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. With two-thirds of the world’s population, their economies account for approximately 80 per cent of world trade and global production.

The heads of the IMF and World Bank participate, as do the heads of the European Union and European Commission and the head of the European Central Bank. Other national leaders are invited to discuss specific topics such as development.


The G20’s Standing Agenda

The G20 has developed a de facto standing agenda.

First, the multilateral trading system. Expect words from leaders but there is no sense the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha round will soon be concluded. Today, movement on multilateral trade rests with efforts to resuscitate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a series of smaller regional groupings, including the pending Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and a possible Japan-EU free trade agreement.

Second, resistance to protectionism. Global Trade Alert reports that, notwithstanding the G20 pledge for standstill at the London 2010 summit, since 2008 governments have taken 7,815 protectionist measures ranging from local content requirements to discriminatory regulatory practices.

The G20 nations account for 65 per cent of protectionist measures but the good news is that there has been a sharp decline in such measures in 2016-17. WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo urged G20 nations to “continue improving the global trading environment, including by implementing the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which entered into force in February this year.”

Third, promoting international investment. Barriers to investment continue to plague G20 economies. Governments need to further open their economies.

Fourth, achieving sustainable fiscal policy. This means saving in good times so you can spend in recession and then get back to balance as quickly as possible.

Fifth, supporting sustainable development. With the conclusion of the Millennium Development plan in 2016, nations are now committed to 17 goals in the new UN Sustainable Development Agenda to be achieved by 2030, including no poverty, gender equality, good health and well-being, clean water and sanitation, reduced inequalities, decent work and economic growth.


What does the Hamburg summit want to achieve?

Merkel has set out her priorities. Leaders must address three questions:

  • How can we co-operate better in the future for the sake of our citizens?
  • What fears and challenges are associated with globalization, and what can we do to address these?
  • How can we safeguard inclusiveness and ensure that the fruits of prosperity and growth are distributed fairly?

In addition to the economic challenges, Merkel calls for a broad-based civil society dialogue on digitalization, effective climate protection policy and global health crisis management.

Build resilience, improve sustainability, assume responsibility – the leaders are expected to act on these three aims to:

  • Strengthen economic resilience
  • Strengthen the international financial architecture
  • Further develop financial markets
  • Make taxation fair and reliable internationally
  • Deepen co-operation on trade and investment
  • Protect the climate and advancing sustainable energy supply
  • Implement the 2030 agenda
  • Seize opportunities of digital technology
  • Promote health
  • Empower women
  • Address displacement and migration
  • Intensify partnership with Africa
  • Combat terrorist financing and money laundering
  • Fight corruption
  • Improve food security

These items are all likely to be reflected in the communique, no matter how wishy-washy the language.


What about deliverables from Hamburg?

Don’t expect a lot.

Perhaps the most we can expect is agreement to address inequalities, at home and abroad, in the face of the continuing domestic populist movements.

Merkel, with support from new French President Emmanuel Macron, wants further climate action. The German environment department has published a fact check on Trump’s climate statements. Trump is not likely to support further action and, by tradition, G20 decisions are made by consensus.

Trump promises to be the wild card at the summit, having already clashed with his fellow leaders at the NATO and G7 summits earlier this year over defence spending, trade, climate and refugee policy. Unhappy with foreign steel and aluminum imports, Trump is now considering raising tariffs on all imported steel to the alarm of Europe and Canada.

Most of the action will be at the bilateral level. It will be the first meeting between Trump and President Vladimir Putin and it is reported that Trump wants a set of deliverables to offer to the Russian president. Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting Russia and Germany prior to the visit to discuss the new Silk Road and Belt – land and sea trade route – initiative from China through South Asia, Central Asia and then Europe. EU and Japan trade negotiators are working to conclude free trade negotiations in time for the summit. The German decision to block a rally of Turkish citizens working in Germany with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will make for an interesting discussion with Merkel. Putin may also be called out over Russian interference in the U.S. and European elections.

As is always the case at these summits, security will be paramount with an estimated 20,000 police with dogs, horses and helicopters and 7.8 kilometres of steel barriers to prevent disturbances but also to contain the perennial protesters.


Image credits: Getty Images/Morris MacMatzen


Canadian Objectives

This is Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s third G20 summit. A contender for Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) “hottie” with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto at his first summit (2015), Trudeau is now seen as an experienced leader (third in G7 seniority), a constructive internationalist and someone who is managing well his relationship with Trump.

According to the PMO and Global Affairs releases on the G-20, Mr. Trudeau will “promote inclusive economic growth, progressive international trade, gender equality, action on climate change”, and reiterate Canada’s commitment to working with partners to develop a co-ordinated global response to terrorism while safeguarding human rights.

Trudeau wants to move on CETA. It is delayed from its originally anticipated July 1 provisional implementation because of interpretive disputes around the allocation of Canadian cheese imports and brand-name drugs.

There will be discussions on the TPP with Asian and Latin American partners, and the approaching renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Trump and Peña Nieto.


Do we really need a G20?

Yes. At a time when globalization, the maintenance of a liberal international order and multilateral co-operation are under question, the G20 is an important forum to discuss, and hopefully advance, common global interests.

The G-20 filled a gap in the architecture of top table meeting places at the UN and G7.

The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council – Russia, China, France, Britain and the U.S. – represent the world of 1945 and the early Cold War. As we witness with Syria and other crises, getting the Security Council to act constructively is very difficult. Reforming it is an exercise in futility.

The G7 group of leaders – the U.S., France, Britain, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada – was created in 1975-76 following the economic crisis that OPEC induced. It is Eurocentric. It doesn’t include China, India or Brazil. Russia joined in 1998 but it was suspended in 2014 after its invasion of Crimea.

The G-20 complements, at the leadership level, the work of the other major financial and economic institutions: the ‘Bretton Woods twins’ – the IMF and World Bank – and the World Trade Organization.

So, the G20 made sense. Like the G7, much of the value of the G20 is in its process.

More people will work on the draft of the final communiqué than will read it but the process of getting there is what really matters. The ongoing meetings between central bankers and finance ministers (the original G20) now include other ministerial meetings as well as regular discussions with business, civil society and think tanks.

What is important about these summits is not the prepared statements delivered at the main table, but the frank discussions and informal meetings that take place in the corridors and meeting rooms around the main conference. Winston Churchill, who popularized the word “summitry”, observed that “jaw-jaw” between leaders is better than “war-war”.


Further Reading

The best Canadian source for G20 documentation, with a chronology of past summits, is the University of Toronto’s G20 Information Centre, managed by John Kirton.

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in Waterloo does excellent research work on G2O issues, and especially noteworthy are recent reports on refugees, climate change and trade.

The official German site has useful information as does Global Affairs Canada.

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Trudeau speaking to U.S. Governors

Seeking U.S. ties apart from Trump, Trudeau will be first PM to address governors’ meeting

The prime minister’s address, which will focus on trade a month before crucial NAFTA talks are likely to begin, is part of his effort to build relationships with U.S. leaders outside of the Trump administration.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seen here at the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany on Friday, will be the first Canadian Prime Minister to speak at the U.S. governors' conference in Rhode Island next week.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, seen here at the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany on Friday, will be the first Canadian Prime Minister to speak at the U.S. governors’ conference in Rhode Island next week.  (Matt Cardy / GETTY IMAGES

WASHINGTON—Seeking influence with U.S. leaders who are not President Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau will be the first Canadian prime minister to deliver a speech to a major conference of American state governors.

Trudeau will give the keynote address at the National Governors Association meeting in Providence, Rhode Island next Friday, just over a month before the expected opening of North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiation talks.

Read the latest news on U.S. President Donald Trump

Trudeau’s address will focus on trade, his government said in a news release, and he “will also emphasize the importance of the Canada-U.S. partnership in cross-border security and the potential for common solutions on climate change.”

The address is part of Trudeau’s effort to build relationships with U.S. officials at the state and local levels. On the whole, state governors are far more pro-NAFTA than Trump, who calls the deal a “catastrophe.”

But the appearance will also give Trudeau another chance to make his trade case to Trump’s administration, with which his aides have been in frequent contact on trade. Vice-President Mike Pence is thought to be planning to attend, and economic officials may also be present.

Trudeau’s government described the attempt to build ties with governors as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, its healthy ties with the president’s team.

“Our government has worked hard to establish a constructive working relationship with all orders of the U.S. government, especially with the administration, and the president and his team directly,” said Trudeau press secretary Cameron Ahmad. He added: “The prime minister’s attendance at the National Governors Association summer meeting next week is part of that effort, and only builds upon our direct engagement with the administration.”Trump has alternated between praising the trade relationship and portraying Canada as an economic predator taking advantage of Americans. In his weekly radio address, released Friday, he said he is pursuing a “total renegotiation of NAFTA.”

“And if we don’t get it, we will terminate — that is, end NAFTA forever,” he said.

Association spokesperson Elena Waskey said Trudeau was invited to speak by the chair of the National Governors Association, Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and the vice-chair, Republican Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, because of “the meeting’s strong international focus.”

Thirty-three of the nation’s 50 governors are Republicans.

Former diplomat Colin Robertson called Trudeau’s appearance a “smart tactic” that can only help Canada in NAFTA talks. Canada is the top export market for most of the states Trump won, he noted, and governors are “very conscious about trade and jobs generated by trade.”

“We are seeing governors talking about the importance of Canada-U.S. trade to their states,” Robertson said.

While Canadian federal governments have long pursued ties with U.S. state governments, Trudeau, confronted with a president skeptical of multilateral pacts and the international order more generally, has made sub-presidential connections a greater priority than his predecessors.

Canadian premiers and federal legislators regularly attend National Governors Association meetings, and Trudeau’s government has sent representatives. But no Canadian prime minister has spoken there since its founding in 1908, according to U.S. State Department records.

“Not in modern times have we had a sitting Canadian Prime Minister deliver a keynote address at either our winter or summer meeting,” Waskey said.

Trudeau signalled his intention to work with states on climate change in his June statement responding to Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate accord.

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