Canada Foreign Policy
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
  171-133 Abducted

Whenever something happens for the first time, there is a tendency to apply the term “historic” to the event or development. On 28 November 2005 Paul Martin’s minority Liberal government toppled by a vote of 171-133. On the morning of 29 November 2005 the PM paid the Governor-General a visit. Analysts, noting correctly this was the very first time in Canadian history a parliament fell on a straight no confidence motion, have already declared this is historic. Perhaps, even if we may take that to mean a historic footnote, of interest to actuaries.

There may be something historic taking place, and it may just end up being overshadowed by all the analytical ink about to be spilled covering the election. It was only about three weeks ago I was having a conversation with friends, and much of the discussion was given over to international travel. At least twice the observation about a backpack showing a maple leaf serving as protection was brought up. Yet Canadians are now living in a world where their fellow citizens are not only being kidnapped, but also stand accused of spying by their abductors in Iraq [See for example]. Is the story of Canadians in Iraq perhaps really where history is being made?

Analysts about to cover the election, slated for 23 January 2006, are divided. There are those who ask whether or not the process will be characterized by negative campaigning, and those who ask merely how long it will be before it all turns negative. I was surprised that matters turned negative the day before PM Martin met with the GG, and that foreign affairs, if not policy, could be driving much of the campaigning. To be sure, only minutes after a Liberal Party press release announced the timing of the election, Martin was answering media questions, noting that he was concerned about “Canada’s place in the world.” Conservative leader Stephen Harper, only minutes after that, kicked off his own campaign with a speech that included the throwaway remark that his government would “defend our sovereignty” [Global TV News, 29 November 2005]. So far, all this is very benign.

But earlier, only minutes after the non-confidence vote, at least two of the federalist leaders used international affairs as a code for what’s wrong with their opposition. Martin said the Conservatives are Neocons, no doubt an effort to convince all patriotic Canadians that Harper was, remains, and always will be something to be feared: a stalking horse for Washington and the Bible-thumping Bush administration. New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton went much further, claiming that Stephen Harper had absolutely no values that belonged to or came from mainstream Canada. I suspect this means we are to assume Canadians have more to fear from Harper than just the possibility that he will take his foreign policy marching orders from the right wing of the Republican Party. But Layton didn’t stop there. He observed the most dangerous thing for this country just might be a Liberal majority, adding it was only the fact that Martin had to broker affairs as leader of a minority that kept him from endorsing Bush’s missiles in space initiative.

Defending our sovereignty? Defining Canada’s place in the world? The leaders may make use of this jargon. But very early on, they are signalling that even though Canada is one of the largest countries on the planet, with one of the longest coastlines, when it comes to courting votes we are better off parochial, and fearing that which comes from outside. Of course, that may just be vote-getting rhetoric. But is a maple-leaf backpack just a maple-leaf backpack these days?

Posted by Stan Markotich
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Sunday, November 27, 2005
  ExoForeign Policy

It is now nearly certain that a no confidence motion, moved by the Conservatives and seconded by the New Democrats, will bring down Paul Martin’s government on 28 November 2005. Canadians will almost surely go to the polls sometime in January 2006, and so far most of the evidence suggests the result is going to amount to there being little change. Predictions and polls say there will be a new minority government, likely a Liberal, but possibly a slim one or two-seat Conservative. Nothing that seems to be going on in Ottawa captures the public imagination, and there’s more than enough not going on to make analysts of Canadian politics start thinking about a career change. Here on the West coast there is talk about politics, but it isn’t spirited, and the consensus seems that while a winter election really isn’t wanted, people will vote, if they must. There’s no urgency, no suspense, no anticipation and no expectation of any profound outcome. The public is subdued. An election is something to cope with, perhaps some sort of inconvenience, some thing to push aside before life and business can get back to usual.

Even the Prime Minister’s foreign policy accomplishments over the past three or four weeks signal next to nothing. In mid-month, from 18-19 November, PM Martin found himself in Busan at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering. Earlier, from 4-5 November, Martin found himself in Argentina at the Summit of the Americas. On both occasions he talked about free trade, what was endangering it, and possible solutions. Yet there’s little progress. Meantime, the PM’s former rock star friend and ally, U2’s Bono, now says he can’t understand Martin, and won’t lend any star-power campaign assistance. Evidently at one time Bono had taken Martin at his word when the PM said or hinted he might be increasing foreign aid assistance.

But just when I thought things were moving so slow, something did happen to answer at least one burning question: just what does happen to high ranking foreign policy and defence officials who fade away, get lost in the mists of time? Over the past 8 weeks or so, former Defence Minister Paul Hellyer has resurfaced, screaming out answers. Hellyer served from 1963-1967, during what may have been the golden era for Canadian foreign affairs. Lester Pearson, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, was Prime Minister, and peacekeeping doctrines were taking shape. And it is out of this Golden Era that we get Paul Hellyer.

What happened with Hellyer after the 1970s may be of little consequence, but his story, picked up in 2005, will reassure and comfort Canadians who fear many policy officials are as capable of identifying real threats to our national security as they are of finding many nations on a map. If Hellyer is any serious indication, then ex-officials eventually discover fringe popular culture, watch television pseudo-documentaries, and convince themselves extraterrestrial civilizations will vaporize us. Of course, doom is not inevitable, but averting it does mean convincing the Americans they shouldn’t shove weapons in space.

Back on 5 November 2005 writer Gordon Heath, in a piece titled “The Politics of Exopolitics,” explained “Paul Hellyer, a former Minister of Defence in the Pearson Government, has announced his belief that UFOs are real and that the US is developing weapons systems for space which are to be used against alien craft entering earth's airspace. He voiced his opinions at the recent ‘2005 Toronto Exopolitics Symposium’ [on 25 September 2005]. Exopolitics is a new term used to describe the study of the politics of extraterrestrial contact” [cited in]. Heath continues: “Paul Hellyer states that his beliefs in ET visitation do not relate back to insider knowledge obtained from his time spent as Minister of National Defence from 1963 to 1967. At that time he was largely consumed by other pressing public policy priorities and paid scant attention to high profile UFO encounters…Hellyer states his recent interest in UFOs was prompted by viewing Peter Jennings’ TV documentary on the topic.”

And perhaps at this point it may just be best to quote in its entirety the preamble from “Former Canadian Minister of Defence Asks Canadian Parliament to Hold Hearings on Relations with ‘ET’ Civilizations”, a PRWeb Newswire Press Release [cited in]:

A former Canadian Minister of Defence has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on with Alien “ET” Civilizations. Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: “UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head.” Hellyer warned, “The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. Mr. Hellyer went on to say, “I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something.” “Now is the time for open disclosure that there are ethical Extraterrestrial civilizations visiting Earth,” a spokesperson for the Non-Governmental Organizations stated. “Our Canadian government needs to openly address these important issues of the possible deployment of weapons in outer space and war plans against ethical Extraterrestrial societies.”

And so why even mention this story now? For whatever reason, it can’t be denied that it’s getting perhaps much more than its fair share of media attention. And as for what’s going on with Paul Hellyer? That, I suspect, is something that’s wide open to debate.

Posted by Stan Markotich
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Saturday, November 19, 2005
  Is the world a better place?

Over the past weeks Prime Minister Paul Martin has spent a lot of time abroad. From the Summit of the Americas to APEC, the PM has talked about trade. In fact, during this time Canadian foreign policy has become mostly, perhaps exclusively, about trade issues. The PM, wanting to promote it, especially on again off again with places like Japan and Mexico, is concerned that some parts of the world, notably the US, have turned their back on it in all but rhetoric. The PM also keeps talking a lot about just wanting to “govern” suggesting, perhaps, he’s afraid he hasn’t been doing enough “governing” in the recent past? In any event, a no confidence vote in the Commons may bring down the minority government before the end of this month, so Martin may have to win an election before he can really get serious about “governing.”

In other parts of the world, rioting in France has de-escalated to acceptable levels, and Washington lawmakers are debating and quarrelling over the issue of an Iraq pullout. In fact, some are stating their case in such a way that it appears they really do believe an immediate pullout is something of an option at this time.

Meantime, in local affairs, It Happened in British Columbia:

Posted by Stan Markotich
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Thursday, November 10, 2005
  Events in Jordan:

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Sunday, November 06, 2005
  Bill Clinton, NGOs, and Paul Martin’s wit:

Americas Free Trade?

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Thursday, November 03, 2005
  The critics of Canada's anti-terror practices...

...and the Terror Busters...

Posted by Stan Markotich
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Wednesday, November 02, 2005


…Spooks, politicians, post-Iraq security…

…And an army for Quebec?

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A discussion of geopolitics and Canada's role in the world. A series of essays to examine the components of Canadian foreign policy making. Psychological, sociological, historical, and cultural variables impacting Canada's perceptions of the world.

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