Canada’s voice no longer matters

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Editor: The letter-to-the-editor by Garth E. Staples, (“Prime Minister a strong leader,” March 26), misses the mark by a very wide margin. Having taught Canadian foreign policy for almost two decades, I’d have little option but to give Mr. Staples a failing grade.

To suggest that Canada matters on the world stage today is to deny reality and to dream in Technicolor. No one cares what Canada thinks anymore. We have absolutely no influence internationally. Zero.

What influence we used to have was mostly derived from our engagement in multilateral initiatives and coalition building. But the Harperites don’t do multilateralism well.

Our position on climate change has made us a pariah and outlier on the global stage. Some European delegations won’t even sit with us at international gatherings.

We couldn’t even get enough support to back our bid in 2010 to sit as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Besides at the founding of the UN in 1945, that rejection hadn’t happened before.

As for Harper and Ukraine, the 1.2 million Ukrainians in Canada may not be the only reason for why Ottawa is taking an active role in the current crisis. But it is certainly the most important reason.

In fact, no government in the history of this country has “politicized” foreign policy more than the Harper Conservatives. It’s as if we shape our entire foreign relations based on Diaspora politics (Israel is another case in point).

Would we be now shunning the Mexicans, by imposing a needless travel visa, if there were 1.2 million Mexicans in Canada? Hello! Mexico is a NAFTA member, a North American security partner, and the locale for almost 3,000 Canadian companies. Is Mr. Staples suggesting that Ukraine is more important to Canadian foreign policy than Mexico? Nonsense.

 At one time, Canada’s voice in various international arenas used to matter. Not anymore, I’m afraid. And Mr. Staples can thank Prime Minister Harper for that.

Peter McKenna,

Professor and chair, Department of Political Science, UPEI

Organizations: United Nations Security Council, UN, Harper Conservatives NAFTA North American Department of Political Science

Geographic location: Canada, Ukraine, Technicolor Mexico Ottawa Israel

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