Over the past century, Canada has evolved and matured as a nation out of the yoke of colonialism and beyond the geographic dominance of its relationship to the United States. Through its valour in wartime and value as an honest broker, Canada has weathered shifts in geopolitics and its own domestic politics to emerge with its long-standing imperatives of multilateralism and pluralism intact. Veteran diplomat Jeremy Kinsman recounts the journey that brought Canada to its current place as a reliably rational port in our current global storm.
Duke Ellington once said that in his music, melody was his passion. But rhythm was his business.
Mr. Chris Westdal (As an Individual):
Thank you, Mr. Chair. It's an honour for me to address you.
Your subject is vast and, as you've found, it necessarily includes Russia, because to talk about the security, political, and economic circumstances of eastern Europe and central Asia without talking about Russia is to talk about everything in the room except the elephant. I'll use my few minutes to talk first about the popular narrative of Russia as an aggressive marauder, second about Ukraine on the brink, and third about the plans for a détente of President Trump, and, along the way, about Canada's roles in all this drama.
Canada once had a serious presence in the Caribbean, but our profile has diminished in recent years. When the British colonies in the Caribbean basin acquired independence in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Canada was quick to establish close relations with them, including meaningful development assistance programs and close political ties. Canada-Caribbean summits at the level of prime minister were organized on a regular basis, and personal relations among leaders were informal and friendly.
Back in the U.K. and Brussels recently for my first visit since the United Kingdom’s unexpected vote to pull out of the EU, I found nothing but buyers’ remorse among a score or so of experts, editors and diplomats in English circles.
Britain’s narrow but decisive vote to disengage from the European Union may be digested by history as a bafflingly self-sabotaging act by a Western democracy, as the pinprick that deflated the European project and destabilized the global balance of power—or as something else altogether. Veteran diplomat Jeremy Kinsman, whose Brexit vote post-mortem piece for opencanada in July (https://www.opencanada.org/features/brexit-post-mortem-17-takeaways-fallen-david-cameron/) went viral in the UK, writes that the process may beget more possibilities than we can now foresee.
The NATO Summit in Warsaw this week is a major test of Canadian strategic security policy, our role in NATO, and our relations with Russia. In Warsaw, the Prime Minister will have to answer hard questions his government has so far, by and large, avoided.
Spoiler alert: Brexiteers who now permit themselves to read only positive articles about the project to leave the European Union, should cease reading immediately.
1. Referenda are the nuclear weapons of democracy. In parliamentary systems they are redundant. Seeking a simplistic binary yes/no answer to complex questions, they succumb to emotion and run amok. Their destructive aftermath lasts for generations.
Divorces after 43 years of marriage are rare, usually severing unions that had been fraught for years.
Earlier this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron called an unnecessary referendum for June 23 on whether the UK would remain in the EU or leave in order to settle for good an abrasive issue in his Conservative Party that has been fueled by a surge of identity-based nationalism in England. It risks backfiring badly.
With only one week before the vote, every indication is that the result is up for grabs.
My bones tell me that in closing days “remain” will rally, as often happens in separation referenda when most undecided voters opt for the less disruptive option.
Two South American presidents are in danger of going down. Which will be first?
For quite different reasons, Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela are at the brink, teetering on the edge of either impeachment or unconstitutional overthrow.
This is significant and puzzling, because Brazil and Venezuela are, respectively, the most influential, and (potentially) the richest countries on the continent. How has it come to this?
A WAY AHEAD WITH RUSSIA By Chris Westdal
(Originally appeared on the Canadian Global Affairs Institute website and can be accessed here)
Canada and Russia are on speaking terms again. Our government has abandoned Stephen Harper’s policy of vocal disdain and the attempted isolation of Russia. We stand against Russian “interference” in Ukraine but, in the words of Global Affairs Minister, Stephane Dion, “the more we disagree, the more we have to discuss.”