Back in 2018, the Canadian International Council noted that “While multiple Canadian governments have asserted it is in our national interest to be active in the Asia Pacific, Canada’s recent military and security record shows a lacklustre—and even dwindling—presence … [and] … Beyond a few “enhanced engagement” documents and Canada’s so-called “Year of the Asia Pacific” (1997) … [when Liberal Jean Chrétien was prime minister] … the region has not occupied much space in Canadian Foreign and Defence policy, despite the now-common reference to Canada as a “three-ocean country” .. [and the article notes that] … Canada’s continued exclusion from two key strategic forums—the ASEAN Defence Minister’s Meeting Plus (ADMM+) and the East Asia Summit (EAS)—offer evidence of our declining and/or insufficient engagement in the region. Consequently, Canada currently has little role in shaping the region’s future security architecture.“
I have been concerned, almost since this blog began, that Justin Trudeau’s relentless commitment to style over substance, his vacuity when it comes to strategy and foreign policy and his total disdain for our national defence means that he has brought Canada “back,” but, sadly and entirely through his own efforts, back to the “kids’ table” in global affairs:
Canada was an important country, world leaders, even of the greatest powers, listened to our leaders with a modicum of respect because we, usually, pulled our weight, even when we were not punching above it …
… now we are treated as a bit of an embarrassing afterthought if not with outright contempt by world leaders, and it is ALL because of the gross ineptitude of Justin Trudeau and e.g. Chrystia Freeland and Harjit Sajjan and other senior ministers.
I note, in a recent article in the Straits Times, Singapore’s highly regarded English language newspaper, that “A multilateral maritime security field exercise will conclude in Singapore on Monday (May 13) after the completion of its sea phase … [and] … Singapore’s Ministry of Defence announced the conclusion of the sea phase of the exercise conducted under the Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) grouping on Sunday … [the article explains that] … The ADMM-Plus comprises the 10 Asean countries as well as Australia, China, Japan, India, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.” That’s one of the fora from which Canada is, purposely, excluded because Prime Minister Trudeau offended several Asian leaders in 2017 during the TPP negotiations and news reports suggested that Australia’s leadership has already rejected Canada’s application to participate in Asia’s premier security forum, the East Asia Summit, because Australian trade officials were “gobsmacked” by Canada’s behaviour at the table and on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) in Vietnam. That crisis was totally the fault of Trudeau and Freeland who were grandstanding during the TPP negotiations, “virtue signalling” for a few of their favoured constituents back home rather than pursuing the national interest.
Canada should be a member of ADMM-Plus, that we are not is proof that Justin Trudeau is not fit to lead a G7 nation. I have some good Liberal friends who will never vote for Andrew Scheer and the Conservatives; I think they’re wrong, of course, but I understand some of their reasons; what I cannot understand is how they can bring themselves to vote for Justin Trudeau when it is clear that he is not fit for purpose.
This is, of course, a drum I intend to beat from now until October … or, hopefully, until sometime earlier, when the Liberal Party of Canada comes to its senses and dumps our man-child prime minister onto the political trash heap where he, along with several of his colleagues, belongs.