Saturday, May 16, 2009

Ideology Does Not Make For Diplomacy

Sadly, it seems that even after 3 years in the PMO, Harper hasn't figured this out.

After all the planning and diplomacy, Europeans and their leaders were left with two images of Canada: a man clubbing a seal, and a prime minister missing a photo opportunity because, the European media kept reporting, he was on the toilet.

Absolutely nothing else registered: In the public eye and in many official circles, Canada failed to arrive.

"I don't think Canada is sending any message at all. It has become invisible in Europe," says Jeremy Kinsman, who was Canada's ambassador to the European Union until 2006 and served as prime minister Brian Mulroney's ambassador to Moscow.

It actually gets worse - if you can believe that.

"I think you can see that. This government has failed to reciprocate initiatives from the Europeans, it has not listened or offered anything that matters to them - we have just faded from the European picture."

That view is echoed, in less-public language, by Canadian officials across Europe, who say it has become difficult to get any significant hearing from European leaders.

The free-trade talks were successfully launched, largely as a result of aggressive efforts by Quebec Premier Jean Charest, but the lack of enthusiasm among Europe's national leaders was palpable.

Our NATO ambitions were rebuffed when Defence Minister Peter MacKay's bid for the secretary-general position won no major supporters, and countries such as Germany complained openly about Canada hectoring them to take more risks in Afghanistan.

Canada's Arctic-ownership agenda is being pushed, but Nordic leaders and EU officials complain that Ottawa's bellicose tone sounds more like Moscow's unilateralism than their co-operative vision.

Likewise, the effort to proffer a "Canadian model" of bank and finance reform went nowhere, and even seemed to annoy some leaders.

In short, Harper's approach to foreign affairs has turned off the Europeans just as much as Bush II's pugilistic approach to everything. When you allow ideology to drive your agenda, the results are pretty much guaranteed to be disappointing. Canadians should not be surprised - Harper has had his people focused not on running the country, but on generating the next set of attack ads.


Anonymous said...

Harper seems to approach every situation in a confrontational manner. He thinks that he is bigger than he really is and that by being deliberately pugilistic that he will impress people.

This goon is nothing more than an overage school yard bully. We don't need, nor can we afford, to have ideologically driven idealists running Canada.

With any luck the next election will see the Neo Cons wiped out.


Anonymous said...

What's a politician without ideology? They'd all be the same otherwise.

MgS said...

The distinction is between ideologues for whom it is all or nothing, or those who bring a degree of pragmatism to their politics.

Harper is, first and foremost, an ideologue.