Nigel Wright, who was Chief of Staff to Prime Minister Stephen Harper (and who resigned when it was discovered that he used his own money to repay some of Senator Mike Duffy’s misappropriated expenses) and is now the (London based) Senior Managing Director of the multi-billion dollar Onex Corporation, says, in a piece published by the (British) ‘conservative home‘ group, that “With the United Kingdom’s recent withdrawal from the European Union, the country finds itself needing to negotiate new free trade deals to expand market access for its products and services. This position provides a unique opportunity for the UK to work more closely with other like-minded, Commonwealth countries, to not only allow for free trade between nations, but to come together and advance their shared democratic values on the world stage. A Canada-Australia-New Zealand-United Kingdom (CANZUK) alignment could benefit not only these countries but also the wider global community.“
“Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Official Opposition of Canada,” he reminds us, “championed CANZUK during his leadership bid for the Conservative Party of Canada. Citing Canada’s long history of championing the rule of law, human rights, and standing with its allies to defend democratic values globally, O’Toole sees CANZUK as an opportunity to adopt a policy of “aspirational multilateralism,” where these like-minded Commonwealth countries work not only to advance the wellbeing of their citizens but also work to promote a commitment to democratic values on the world stage … [and he adds] … O’Toole’s commitment to CANZUK should not come as a surprise to those familiar with Canadian politics or the policies of the Conservative Party of Canada. In addition to specifically calling for a CANZUK Treaty, the Conservative Party’s official policy states that Canada’s government should work with foreign nations to reduce protectionist policies, in turn allowing for the establishment of free trade agreements.“
CANZUK to the rescue?
He says that “With the current hung parliament … [that’s Britspeak for a minority government] … and the Liberal government widely acknowledged to have bungled the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines for Canada, an election could take place this year. O’Toole’s embrace of CANZUK might provide the Conservative Party of Canada with a foreign policy plank that resonates with Canadians looking for sources of economic growth and for avenues to advance democratic values in a world in which that has become more urgent to do.” I think that’s possible IF Mr O’Toole can:
- Survive the challenge that the religious right poses to the very existence of the Conservative Party in Canada; and
- Join with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and advocate for CANZUK++. My version of a CANZUK++ would include …
… Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Singapore and the UK.
It would be an effective complement to British Prime Minister Johnson’s vision of D-10 ~ ten democracies: the G7 plus Australia, India and South Korea ~ which is aligned to contain China’s political aggression:
Foreign policy doesn’t win elections in Canada, it rarely even influences more than a handful of seats, but a well shaped foreign policy that is tied to trade and jobs and, therefore, to economic self interest might help a bit more. America remains, pound for pound, the world’s biggest and best trading partner. Japan is one of the world’s major economies, ditto Britain, France, Germany, Italy and South Korea. India is a rising great power and, potentially, a HUGE market that may even, in a few years, dwarf China. Ten of the twelve countries discussed above are in the top 15 of the world’s greatest economies; all are democracies, some more liberal than others.
It has been five and a half years since Justin Trudeau was elected to lead Canada. In that period Donald Trump has come, wreaked havoc in global affairs, and gone, but the Cold War (Version 2.0) that he started with China still rages because, for now, at least, Xi Jinping seems to think that he can win it. No matter what the eventual outcome, China is the issue for this generation.
In the G-7 Angela Merkel is leaving but, during her time in office, she has dealt with four American presidents, including Joe Biden, five British and three Canadian prime ministers, four French presidents and seven Italian prime ministers, too. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ran her a close second for longevity. During Bundeskanzlerin Merkel’s term in office, the most important global issue has shifted from the fight against radical Islamic terrorism (do you remember when Canada was fighting in Afghanistan?) to containing China. And during that same period Canada has gone from being a respected leader in global affairs to being an outsider, looking in at the grownups:
While I remain convinced that “jobs! Jobs!! JOBS!!!” must be the key issue for Canadian Conservatives in this decade, a sound foreign policy which promotes free(er) trade with friendly countries can be a good way to secure good jobs at here at home. A sound foreign policy must include ensuring that “Canada’s place in the world is one of pride and influence,” as former Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin put it. Being a proponent of an enhanced CANZUK++ arrangement ~ NOT a formal alliance, neither India nor Singapore will agree to that ~ might help to refurbish Canada’s tattered reputation which, thanks to Justin Trudeau, is that of a weak-kneed appeaser.
A sound foreign policy must be accompanied by an equally sound defence policy and both will require money that Canadians will be reluctant to spend on either portfolio.