Getting Ready fro Trump

Trump available to be persuaded by Trudeau’s team: observers

‘It won’t be a bromance,’ but there is potential for a constructive relationship, say analysts.

Canada-U.S. analysts Scotty Greenwood and Colin Robertson, pictured before testifying at Canada’s House Foreign Affairs Committee May 26, 2015. The Hill Times photograph by Jake Wright


PUBLISHED : Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2016 12:00 AM

Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government can’t delay in establishing a relationship with president-elect Donald Trump if they want to advance Canada’s interests, say observers of Canada-United States politics. Donald Trump’s apparent lack of ideology will present an opportunity for the Trudeau team, says Scotty Greenwood, executive director of the Canadian American Business Council.

“He is a person who is available to be persuaded,” she told The Hill Times in an interview days after the man criticized for his racist policy proposals and misogynistic comments throughout the American election campaign was elected as the country’s 45th president. Ms. Greenwood, a former political appointee in the administration of former president Bill Clinton, added that Mr. Trump’s “inflamed rhetoric on the campaign trail” wasn’t directed at Canada, meaning there was still room for education and awareness-building about Canada and the importance of the relationship between the two countries.

Given Canada’s proximity to the United States, geographically and culturally, world leaders will be closely watching Mr. Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) and Mr. Trump’s first interactions to see how the prime minister establishes an early relationship, said former Canadian diplomat in the U.S. Colin Robertson. He suggested the dynamic of the first G7 meeting that includes the new president will be especially interesting for those wanting to know what a Trump presidency will look like.


Look beyond Trump and Trudeau

“It won’t be a bromance,” Mr. Robertson said, using the adjective that many used to describe the friendship between outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama and Mr. Trudeau. Relationship building “starts at the top,” he added, though it can be just as important to reach out at other levels of government.

“Congress is what we put our focus on in the coming weeks,” Mr. Robertson said. New governors will have been elected as well, in state elections. It would be wise for Canada’s premiers to fly south this January to “get to know who the new players are. We can never have too many friends in the United States,” he said. For his part, Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball said while he has no immediate plans to travel to the U.S., he often meets with northeastern governors, and said he believes the “long-standing relationships” will prevail.

Between now and Mr. Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration, it’s time for laying the groundwork. “Rather than sit back and wait, we should be actively engaged, putting forward, ‘Here’s where Canada’s coming from. Based on what we’ve read in your [broad-strokes] policy, [here’s] what we think, or are asking for clarification on,’” said Mr. Robertson.

Working closely with the transition team, too, will be critical. “My observation is that Trump…campaigned in very broad strokes, [and] now they’ll be filling in some of the detail” before his inauguration, after which he will be expected to put forward policy initiatives.

Louise Blais, Canada’s consul general in Atlanta, Georgia, tweeted on Nov. 10 a photo of her meeting with Newt Gingrich, rumoured to be a potential Trump cabinet member. “Good conversation on the great Canada-U.S. relationship [with] @newtgingrich #FriendsPartnersAllies,’ the tweet said.

While the election results were still coming in Tuesday evening, American Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman told The Hill Times that the way Mr. Trudeau and current President Barack Obama became friends was through “early interaction” in Mr. Trudeau’s mandate. He suggested the two government’s “take that playbook back out again.”

“What happened was there was an early interaction between the two, then we collectively worked together along with the president and the prime minister to identify the priorities of our two governments and then looked at where we can accomplish some real actions together,” he said.

But with a Republican president-elect like Mr. Trump, he and the Liberal, feminist, and environmentalist Mr. Trudeau don’t seem to be as natural a fit as Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Obama were.

For that reason, there will likely be more strategy in establishing relationships with the Trump administration rather than a natural formation of ties.

Speaking to reporters the day after the election last week, Mr. Trudeau emphasized areas where he perceived the two to have common ground, on appealing to voters on the economy. “The fact is we’ve heard clearly from Canadians and from Americans that people want a fair shot at success,” Mr. Trudeau told a stadium of youth at a WE Day event.

In a media conference call the day after the election, Canada’s Ambassador to the U.S. David MacNaughton told reporters he had been reaching out to president-elect Trump “for some considerable amount of time.”

He said that about a month before the election, he had a long conversation with Republican Senator Jeff Sessions, “to discuss some of the things that already go on between Canada and the United States.”

The Alabama Senator was the first sitting Senator to endorse Mr. Trump for president, currently holds an executive position on his transition team, and is rumoured to be a contender for a cabinet position in the Trump administration.

He said that type of outreach will continue post-election.


Leverage influential Canadians

Foreign policy expert Fen Hampson, who is a fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, said to be successful, it’s important to develop a personal relationship with Mr. Trump, and sooner rather than later, while also leveraging those who have existing relationships with the president-elect, such as Conrad Black.

Mr. Hampson said Canadian-born businessman Conrad Black has a relationship with Mr. Trump that dates back 15 years. He was also one of Trump’s biggest supporters throughout the campaign, unwavering in his prediction that Mr. Trump would win. He could be an asset to Canadian politicians hoping to convey a message or two to the 45th president of the United States.

“Mr. Trump doesn’t know Canada,” Mr. Hampson said. That’s why the Trudeau government needs to use the few prominent Canadians who know the real-estate mogul to advocate on its behalf, or at least remind Mr. Trump of Canada’s importance to the United States.

He also said it would be a good idea for Mr. Trudeau to visit Mr. Trump as soon as possible. He pointed to former Progressive Conservative prime minister Brian Mulroney as an example. He said Mr. Mulroney was “more or less in constant communication” with George H.W. Bush, developing a relationship before Mr. Bush became president and speaking on the phone with Mr. Bush on election night. He also spoke with Bill Clinton when he was president-elect twice before Mr. Clinton’s inauguration. Mr. Hampson said one of those calls was about NAFTA, which Mr. Clinton had reservations about at the time.

“Part of your negotiation strategy is to build networks of influence. It’s not just all about personality. It’s working the levers of aligned interests. There are levers in the U.S. that are aligned with us. When the going gets tough, things get kicked upstairs, and they do tend to land on the president’s desk,” Mr. Hampson explained.


For the record

Reaction to Trump’s win


“Canada has no closer friend, partner, and ally than the United States. We look forward to working very closely with President-elect Trump, his administration, and with the United States Congress in the years ahead, including on issues such as trade, investment, and international peace and security.”


“The fact is, I think it’s important that we be open to talking about trade deals, NAFTA or any other trade deal…if the Americans want to talk about NAFTA, I’m more than happy to talk about it.”


“We’re going to work constructively together on this relationship, because that’s what people expect.”

—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau


“The United States is, and will remain, Canada’s closest friend and ally. Our unique relationship has stood the test of nearly 150 years.”

—Official opposition and Conservative interim leader Rona Ambrose


“I think it’s going to be very important for Mr. Trudeau to stand up to Mr. Trump. I think that when you see the type of sexist, racist statements that were made by Mr. Trump during the campaign those are things that we don’t want here in Canada.”

—NDP leader Tom Mulcair

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On Peter Boehm

DM Peter Boehm earns colleagues’ respect as mentor, mental health advocate

Leading the government’s foreign aid portfolio, the new DM has worked his way up his department over 30 years in the public service.

Peter Boehm, a longtime foreign service officer recently made deputy minister of international development, in front of a Neil Young poster hanging in his office at Global Affairs last week. The Hill Times photograph by Chelsea Nash

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016 12:00 AM

When I emailed Peter Boehm, the new deputy minister for international development, for an interview, he responded almost immediately. He’d be happy to speak with me, either over the phone or to meet me in person at his office. It was a pleasant surprise: high-level government officials such as Mr. Boehm are rarely so accessible and generous with their valuable time.

As Janice Stein, a friend of Mr. Boehm’s and founding director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto said, “When people become deputy minister, every five minutes counts.” She herself has not spoken to him since he assumed his new role, as acting deputy minister in November, and as confirmed deputy minister in March.

But open and approachable are exactly the words former colleagues and friends use to describe the career diplomat. He’s the “quintessential diplomat,” says former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson, and “uniformly highly regarded,” says Tim Hodges, former head of the Canadian diplomats union Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, and a friend and colleague to Mr. Boehm.

He has a large presence. A tall man, he stands out in any crowd, but he also has the sometimes-intimidating aura of someone whose approval needs to be earned. “Professional, curious, well-read, well-travelled, and deliberative in his judgments,” is how Mr. Robertson described him in an email.

He has a dry sense of humour, and is quite soft-spoken, though he doesn’t hold back while answering questions.

Mr. Hodges, who worked directly under Mr. Boehm at Canada’s embassy in Washington, D.C., and regards him as a mentor, said as much. Mr. Boehm was minister in charge of political and public affairs there from 2001 to 2004.

“He’s a tough brief, in the sense that he will read what you send him, and he will digest it, and you had better be up to speed when you get back to have a discussion about what you’ve written,” he said. A demanding boss, but in a good way, said Mr. Hodges, because he doesn’t simply ask for the best, but demonstrates it. Above all else, he is a leader, he said.

“He’s been my mentor, whether he knew it or not, for many years. I think he’s been a mentor for many other people…He not only cares about people, but he cares about people moving up through the system. That is usually voluntary; it’s not required for the job. It usually is after-hours, or find time at lunch time to have a sandwich with someone and talk about a problem,” he said, speaking of the extra effort that Mr. Boehm has given the department over the years.

The DM has been with the department since he first joined as a foreign service officer more than 30 years ago. He is the only deputy minister in the department to bring first-hand experience within the foreign service—18 years worth, in fact—to the position.

Born in Kitchener, Ont., he grew up speaking German and English, and received a bachelor of arts in English and history from Wilfrid Laurier University in the region in 1977, according to biographies of him by his alma mater and his department.

His time at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, where he earned his master of arts in 1978, first sparked his interest in the foreign service. He applied then, but never heard back. So instead, he went to the University of Edinburgh on a scholarship, where he completed his PhD in history. At the time, teaching seemed to be the natural course of action for him, however, he wasn’t having much luck with his applications. He decided to try the foreign service again. This time, he heard back.

Next thing he knew, he was on his first posting in Havana, Cuba. He hopped after that to places including Germany as ambassador  from 2008 to 2012, and San José, Costa Rica. He’s also been ambassador and permanent representative to the Organization of American States from 1997 to 2001, and from 2005 to 2008, he was the senior official responsible for the North American leaders’ summits. Along the way, he’s earned the Public Service of Canada Outstanding Achievement Award and the Canadian Foreign Service Officer Award for his help toward achieving peace in Central America.

“It’s fair to say he’s a very results-oriented person, and he wants to deliver. He’s focused always on: what’s this going to deliver? How are we going to execute this? I think that’s a very good combination, to be open at the front end and focused at the back end,” said Ms. Stein.

Aid program review wrapping up

Interestingly enough, “open at the front end and focused at the back end” seems to mirror the format of the international development review the department is in the process of wrapping up. Public submissions on the future of Canada’s foreign aid program stopped being accepted at the end of July, and Mr. Boehm said they are in a period of “internal assessment, and trying to see what are the policy thrusts we are going to suggest to the minister.”

It was the first review of its kind the department has done, he said. Both in terms of the technology used to conduct the review—the department had a portal on its website to accept input—as well as the format of the review itself: the department accepted thousands of submissions from “really anyone in the world.”

Mr. Boehm said “a number of trends are already emerging,” including a focus on women and girls, and their rights and empowerment. Education and climate change are also important themes, he said.

“It’s a very exciting moment because there’s never been a consultation that has been undertaken in this way in our history,” he said, “in terms of really trying to get the most input from as many actors as we can, and trying to come out with a policy that is very 21st century, that is very forward-leaning, and can serve as an example for other countries.”

He said in his capacity as G7 sherpa—representative of the prime minister to the G7 summit—he has also been consulting with his counterparts from other countries for the development review, and talking to them about their challenges and successes.

“There is an exponential need for humanitarian assistance. The needs are high, but we also have traditional development. There’s a squeeze there in terms of how we use the budget, the dollars, to greatest effect. That also suggests looking at new and creative ways of programming and addressing these challenges,” he said.

Mental health advocate

Mr. Boehm also has a reputation for advocating for mental health initiatives, and has made great strides within the department to provide a support structure for foreign service officers.

Ms. Stein said mental health “was an important issue for him long before it became an important issue for many people…He does it in a very quiet, but very persistent, way—which again, reflects who he is.”

Mr. Boehm attributes his determination to advance mental health initiatives and to reduce stigma to his own experience. One of Mr. Boehm’s sons, who was born abroad, is autistic.

“Just travelling with him, and making sure he gets the supports he needs was probably the greatest challenge of my life,” he said. “I’ve been pushing it and I’ve blogged about it internally in terms of my own experience. And if I can talk about it, and write about it, then why can’t others?”

He is the father of three other children as well, ranging in age from 12 to 33. They are all over the globe, from Vancouver to Budapest, doing “different things.” None want to follow directly in his footsteps, he said, though they all seem to have caught his interest in international affairs.

“My 12-year-old, I have a plan for her,” he said with a coy smile. “Prime minister.”

The 62-year-old was reluctant to admit his age, saying he doesn’t think like he’s 62. That’s what his 12-year-old daughter tells him, anyways. And, having only been in his current position since November 2015, Mr. Boehm said retirement is not on his horizon anytime soon.

“Oh I’m not gone yet,” he said. “I’d like to stay involved in international issues. I think I have contributions to make.”

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On Deputy Minister Daniel Jean

Global Affairs DM to bring expertise to national security

Daniel Jean with former foreign affairs minister John Baird, as he oversaw the merger of DFATD in 2013. The Hill Times photograph by Sam Garcia


PUBLISHED : Wednesday, May 11, 2016 12:00 AM

Last week’s shuffle of deputy ministers included some “very rare” moves, say insiders.

Spurred by the retirement announcement of National Security Adviser Richard Fadden in late March, deputy ministers in several departments were moved around to fill the space, including Foreign Affairs DM Daniel Jean moving to fill Fadden’s role, and Ian Shugart, current DM of employment and social development, to fill Mr. Jean’s shoes.

The prime minister’s recent shuffle of deputy ministers could suggest an emphasis on international affairs when it comes to national security.

When asked if he thought moving Mr. Jean to national security was indicative of the government’s emphasis on national security threats abroad, Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said, “you could say that,” before stressing that Global Affairs also deals with national security.

Mr. Dion said Mr. Jean had been responsible for the fusion of departments at Global Affairs. “It was a huge task,” he said. “He’s a great manager, as it should be.”

In 2013, the Conservative government merged the Canadian International Development Agency with the foreign affairs department, which then became known as DFATD. Mr. Jean was brought on as DM in November 2013, months after the announcement was made that the foreign ministry would absorb CIDA.

Andrew Caddell, a senior policy adviser at Global Affairs, told The Hill Times that Mr. Jean is a meticulous and friendly manager, who is hugely invested in the skills of his team.

“Daniel Jean was one of the few deputies who really did identify with the regular foreign service officers and a lot of that was because he’d been on a few postings himself,” said Mr. Caddell.

He described Mr. Jean as a personable leader, who would often hold meetings over coffee, and be very prompt in getting back to people.

“He was the type of guy who’d go down to the cafeteria when he first started and I think subsequently too, and he would just go and sit at a table and chat with people.”

Calling Mr. Jean a reliable listener and a straightforward person, Mr. Caddell had nothing but good things to say about the future national security adviser.

“He was very, very frank about what the situation with the department was, what his objectives were, what his priorities were, and he’s a very, very good listener and took notes and was very quick to respond, and I think that was a sign of his sort of leadership.”

Mr. Dion said he’s not surprised that the prime minister wants Mr. Jean close by. He also stressed that Mr. Jean had gained valuable experience in security during his time at Global Affairs.

“At Foreign Affairs, we have a lot of responsibilities regarding security. A lot of the information received is completely secret and very touchy and we work very closely with the PCO and with [Public Safety Minister Ralph] Goodale’s office and department, and in defence. So the years that he has been in foreign affairs, he has [this expertise],” Mr. Dion told reporters after a committee meeting last week.

Colin Robertson, a former Canadian diplomat and current fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, wrote in an email that Mr. Jean is “a very experienced public servant who has never lost a sense of proportion.”

The two served together in Hong Kong during what was “a very intense time” Mr. Robertson said. The pair were so close that Mr. Jean even taught Mr. Robertson’s daughter how to swim. “He is a very good sportsman,” Mr. Robertson said.

At the time, Mr. Jean was responsible for directing the entrepreneurial immigration program. Mr. Robertson said he was “renowned” for getting to work at six in the morning in order to be able to leave in time for dinner with his family.

Mr. Robertson said that “despite the pressures” of their time in Hong Kong, “the program got high marks for its efficiency, satisfied clients and the good morale of those who worked with him.”

Mr. Caddell said “it’s very rare for a deputy of foreign affairs to become the head [national security adviser].”

The last person to do so was Marie-Lucie Morin, who served as associate deputy minister of foreign affairs from 2003 to 2006, then deputy minister of international trade from 2006 to 2008, before being appointed national security adviser to the PM in November, 2008.

“I think that’s a sign of how much the prime minister values his advice, and how he’s perceived at PMO and PCO for him to make that kind of a leap,” Mr. Caddell said.

Mr. Fadden told The Globe and Mail in a Q&A last month that he thinks Mr. Trudeau “comes to office with a very strongly-held view that national security is a core responsibility of the prime minister.”

Mr. Shugart, who will be taking Mr. Jean’s place, has a varied background that appears to be based largely in health. In the mid-90’s, Mr. Shugart was the executive director of the Medical Research Council, now called the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. In the early 2000s, he served as assistant deputy minister in the health policy branch of Health Canada. After that, his focus shifted to have an emphasis on the environment, as he served as the associate deputy minister and then the deputy minister at Environment Canada.

His current position, which he has held since 2010, is deputy minister of employment and social development.

Mr. Dion said he does not know Mr. Shugart, but has been assured by Mr. Jean and Mr. Shugart’s current minister, Jean-Yves Duclos, that he will make a great replacement.

“I have heard only positive things. And perhaps it will not [do to] give one of the most demanding jobs you could imagine to someone who they would not have full confidence. It’s a recommendation of the clerk. The clerk knows that his reputation is directly linked to the quality of the person he will appoint at Foreign Affairs, at Global Affairs. It’s the deputy not only for me, but it’s the top deputy of Global Affairs. For Madame [Chrystia] Freeland and Madame [Marie-Claude] Bibeau as well,” he said, referring to the ministers of international trade and international development, respectively.
The changes go into effect on May 16.

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