SARAJEVO/SURREY – Canadian political leaders had their first chance to get together and to exchange their views on current Canadian situation ahead of October elections. What we saw was not especially interesting nor anything already unseen when it comes to Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, Elizabeth May and Thomas Mulciar. Lot of a same, but a few elements have raised as interesting and worthy of a mention. But a general judgment of this debate is that none of present four leaders had been able to pull ahead and win this debate.
Beside standard points of economy, jobs and do we really need all proposed pipelines we saw interesting debates on democratic process and foreign affairs/security.
Conservative Leader Stephen Harper once again showed his unwillingness to accept that he gravely failed when it comes to his Senate policies. Not only when it comes to his promises not to name any new Senators, but also to accept his share of guilt when it comes to illegal actions of his Senators. Unwillingness to accept that he has a great part in creation of Pamela Wallin, Mike Duffy and Patrick Brazeau and their respective controversies showed to voters that they can expect more of it probably in the future.
On the other side New Democratic Party Leader Thomas Mulcair in this segment showed that he just wants to ensure that he will get some votes in Quebec from separatists. His idea of going after Clarity Act is just huge waste of time, as well as political and democratic resources. His opponent from Liberal Party Justin Trudeau has showed that his attention is set on this issue, probably incited by his wish to avoid any discussion on reforms of parliamentary process especially in the House of Commons. All three of them has not showed to us how they will deal with parliamentary behavior which is far from accepted or honorable. It seems that House of Commons will continue to be disgraceful part of Canadian political system and that will continue to look and unorganized jungle from time to time.
Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair had presented themselves as leaders who can’t make their minds if they’re in favor or against putting boots or forces in actions. Both had said that requirements to approve mission should be judged by mandated which should and could be given by NATO or United Nations. But this is not yet clear enough what more precise reasons or requirements would be asked from them or their governments before Canada would agree to accept to be a part of future missions.
Stephen Harper as always stood by his argument that we need to fight against jihadists or terrorists. Yes, he is completely right that we need to be in that fight but we have not yet seen any results of already used forces and resources in fight against ISIS since Canada deployed forces under US leadership.
To talk about C-51 is like to talk about a maze in which neither of four leaders knows where they want to go with it. That’s one of the most complex issues in Canada today and one on which every single person has it’s own opinion and idea how it should be deal with it. Does it have or it doesn’t have some sort of oversight or should have it is one of most debated questions today, but there’s a big probability that we will not reach answer on it by October 19th and time when our ballots will be cast.
I have already wrote here on Canada’s foreign policy. That policy under Stephen Harper leadership is pretty well known and it can be described as disastrous. If we leave aside situation with the United Nations, which has some grounds to be justified due to UN’s dysfunctional system at the moment everything else done by Stephen Harper over the last decade is pretty much failed foreign policy even worse than that one of Barack Obama.
But let’s take a look at what Stephen Harper has said about Canada’s status in the world. According to CPC Leader and some “very respected” institution Canada is “the most admired country in the world”. Well, CPC Leader or as he’s branded by his own Party Prime Minster, should take his head out of his PMO inner sanctum and head out to the world and learn something about a world today. If you look out of Canadian media and political spectrum to see what is said about Canada you will probably hear bits and pieces about Canadian sports and individual athletes. Canadian politics or society at the moment are far away from being interesting to anybody outside of Canada and Canada truly doesn’t play any role on the international political/diplomatic scene.
Though or as Harper calls them “principled” stands on Israel and anti-Palestinian behavior of his government are not interesting to anybody except of course to Israel and Palestine or their imminent neighbors. Even this election campaign has not been covered by the media as much as it is US Presidential campaign and debates among potential nominees. Why? Because Canada doesn’t play any significant role in any of international political processes at the moment. Once in the past Canada has been key player in the relationship between Iran and the West and had a key role in many diplomatic activities related to key events, today is far from that status.
Recently we have seen historic negotiations between Iran and 5P+1 and Canada has been excluded from it but United Kingdom or France had played a significant role in reaching this deal. Over the next few months France will have a chance to show to the rest of the world first results in political and economic benefits from this deal, while Canada will remain as Stephen Harper said “the most admired country in the world”. Only area where Canada has played key role, not perfectly but with dignity and actively has been Ukraine. Truly and expeditiously Canada took a leadership and lead the international community ahead in fight against Vladimir Putin and his secessionist forces in Crimea. That’s a part of Canadian foreign policy where Stephen Harper can be congratulated and branded as someone who moved a right move at the right moment.
Harper himself is not seen as a strong leader on the international scene, most of the time he’s a mockery target due to his late arrivals for “family pictures” at G7(8) meetings around the world. Also he hasn’t made much of face-to-face diplomacy and most of his ten years in office he spent at the Parliament Hill instead of going to meet and greet his “allies” around the world. Even Barack Obama doesn’t see him often as he sees many other political leaders from across the world and that shows enough about Canadian status in the world today.
This status can be a real game changer for Canada if one of the remaining leaders get support in October and puts right tools and people into the action to move Canada ahead on the international scene.