Thank you, Mr. Chairman. For me, this is an honour. Truly.
I will talk about the global setting of the crisis in Ukraine; about its origins; about the existential imperative that we in the West keep more peace with Russia and how Canada might help do so; and about what I think you should recommend.
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.
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.
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.”
"It felt like the good old days, when Ministers and civil servants trusted one another and worked together with mutual respect. Why, here you had former Foreign Minister Flora MacDonald not only remembering the Sheardowns, but emphasizing the crucial roles John and Zena had played in the rescue. Here you had good will and banter between former PM Joe Clark and those who'd served him - Ken Taylor, Roger Lucy, Michael Shenstone... the whole team. The evening recalled a different world, a better one, with appreciation for foreign service and diplomatic capacity. Here's hoping such productive relations might before long be restored between our government and its still willing servants at home and abroad."