Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Comment on Kelly McParland: Michael Ignatieff's Canada is stuck in 1978

I am quite convinced by this blog piece critiquing Michael Ignatieff's recent address to the Canadian Club.  The blog link can be read at:

The paragraph on China reads:
"He promises to "engage with China", sending off more Chretien-style Team Canada missions, as if Canadian business can't find its way without help from a planeload of politicians. "Our lobstermen in Prince Edward Island want to sell their catch in Macau," he thunders, Macau being a tiny enclave off the South China coast, population 540,000. Even PEI isn't going to get rich off that one."

In my report commissioned by the Canadian International Council, Reassessment of Canada's Interests in China and Options for Renewal of Canada's China Policy ( I found that the Chrėtien-led Team Canadian missions to China had not fulfilled their promise.  I had had high expectations for this "Team Canada" approach at the time feeling that a "critical mass" of senior politicians and senior business people visiting China all at the same time would (somehow or other) lead to significant benefits for Canada in Chinese trade and investment and political relations.  But the subsequent declining trade statistics and our poor progress with our engagement with China on human rights concerns under Mr. Chrėtien's administration have proven me very wrong about this.  Returning to such a discredited approach under a future Liberal Government would be a significant step backwards.  But I imagine that if the Liberals do return to power and look into China policy more closely, the Liberal proposals to go back to the ineffective Team Canada approach and the ineffective Bilateral Human Rights Dialogue approach will be quietly set aside.  Canada's foreign policy with China should not be a platform for facile partisan one-up-manship.  Canada's relations with China are too important to our future to be subject to the political whims of the day.

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