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Friday’s foreign policy notes.

Some things that caught my eye this AM to do with Canadian foreign policy:

I somehow had missed this story, where Harper’s actions has caused a “chill” in Canada-Cuba relations, but I’m not the least bit surprised by it:

A trip Kent had scheduled to Havana for mid-May was abruptly canceled by the Cubans after Prime Minister Stephen Harper described himself as an “anti-communist Conservative,” and Kent said publicly that he would press the government on human rights.

I don’t know Peter; maybe you should be more circumspect in public declarations and try using a bit more diplomatic tact, before you visit countries like Cuba. I can see that the description of “junior foreign minister” fits Kent perfectly (though to be fair, I’d say Harper’s little outburst had more to do with this needless chill in Canada-Cuba relations – this as US President Obama is trying to thaw relations).

On another note, while Harper declares publicly how much he dislikes Cuba’s communism, he hasn’t been doing any public declarations saying how much he dislikes violence in Columbia against trade union members down there, and death squads that seemingly operate with impunity. This government has been trying to get a Free Trade agreement signed with Columbia, but perhaps public and private pressure is causing the Conservative government to reconsider. From Linda Diebel’s blog at the Star:

This is the week the deal — or Bill C-23 — was supposed to be debated in the Commons. But there is cautious optimism today among non-governmental groups who oppose the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement over what appears to be the quiet withdrawal of the bill from the House of Commons Order Paper. The hope is it’s off the schedule, at least until fall, giving opponents more time to fight in the court of public opinion.

Harper needs to be consistent. If he wants to rag on Cuba for human rights abuses, fine; but don’t then turn a blind eye to death squads operating in Colombia, just because they happen to have a capitalist system, and because you think Canadian corporations can make some money off of the deal.

UPDATE: Not to do with foreign policy, but I’m very amused at BCL’s discovery that the Blogging Tories have been using an unsecured Twitter Channel that anyone can access, and some anti-Harper/anti-Conservative folks have been leaving some snark over there. It almost makes me want to get a Twitter account like James did, to go pontificate on the evils of Harper over there. Almost.

UPDATE 2 @ 12:46 pm: Wow.. just noticed this:

Juliette Yameogo from Burkina Faso was the true champion of the meeting, challenging committee members as to why the cut nations had never been consulted prior to a press conference by CIDA in Ottawa. Almost all of them had discovered news of the cuts through the media. ”Canada was a friend who understood the challenges of Africa,” she began. ”For us, Canada is a country where its citizens stand solidly with oppressed people both at home and elsewhere in the world. In international gatherings, Canada has always stood shoulder to shoulder with Africa in defense of our continent’s interest.” The moment of truth came when she asked: “Are we to believe that our long time friend, Canada, is leaving?”

More at the link.. but more foreign policy ineptness on the Conservatives part, who weren’t even considerate enough to tell African nations their aid was being cut.


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