By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 24, 2012 - 0 Comments
Here is the official news release on today’s meeting between John Baird and William Hague.
Below, apropos of today’s debate, is the full text of the “Memorandum of Understanding for Enhancing Mutual Support at Missions Abroad.” (I’ve copy-and-pasted from a Word document that was provided.) Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 24, 2012 at 5:08 PM - 0 Comments
The Scene. After two general questions about the economy, Thomas Mulcair narrowed in on one particular side effect of the global recession: the trend of adult children compelled by financial concerns to live with their parents.
“Mr. Speaker, this weekend, British government sources leaked the details of a new agreement to create shared British-Canadian embassies in countries around the world. In these countries, Canada would now be represented by a desk at the British embassy instead of an independent Canadian diplomatic mission,” Mr. Mulcair reported for the House’s benefit. “Why did Canadians have to learn about this through the British press? If the Conservatives will not stand up for Canada in the world, why do they expect that the British will do it for us?”
The New Democrats stood to cheer their man’s indignation.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird stood and kindly asked that everyone move along as there was apparently nothing to see here.
“Mr. Speaker, Canada has a strong and independent foreign policy,” Mr. Baird explained. “What we will be announcing in an hour’s time is that we will be moving forward with a small number of administrative arrangements where we can co-locate.”
Mr. Mulcair was unpersuaded. “Under this agreement, Britain would be the de facto face of Canada in the world,” he charged.
There was grumbling from the Conservatives. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 11, 2012 at 12:22 PM - 0 Comments
Brian Stewart offers a theory on the Harper government’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran.
I believe Harper acted on new intelligence. But the warnings were likely more about the Iranian embassy activities in Canada than they were about the safety of our personnel abroad. Indeed, the sheer number of reasons given for the diplomatic break may mask the true one: Iran’s aggressive use of diplomatic cover to prepare guerrilla cells to attack in the west should Iran itself be attacked.
Western intelligence has been ringing top-secret alarm bells for governments for over a year, warning of an extraordinary build-up of Iranian personnel in Europe, Africa and particularly in Latin America, many of them believed to be linked to Iran’s notorious Quds Force. That’s the elite arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, tasked with “extraterritorial operations.” Iran has powered up its diplomatic arm in the Americas, from a handful of embassies a dozen years ago to 10 today, along with 17 “cultural centres” in various countries. Most posts are staffed with far more officials than required for normal duties – 150 in Nicaragua alone. In January, America’s top intelligence official, James Clapper, publicly stated that Iranian diplomats abroad were setting up sleeper cells designed to attack U.S. and allied interests around the world in the event of war.
Michael Petrou’s analysis is here.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 3:29 PM - 0 Comments
While announcing his department’s crackdown on immigration fraud, Jason Kenney was asked about the government’s decision to cut diplomatic ties with Iran and whether would be any impact on Canadians who need consular services or Iranians who might be hoping to immigrate.
Well, first of all, I should say that we closed our immigration bureau in Tehran a few months ago frankly I can say now in anticipation of this decision with respect to the embassy and we continue to provide visas, visa services for Iranian nationals seeking to visit Canada out of our Ankara office in Turkey and we’re exploring the possibility of establishing what is called a visa application centre which is – which would be like a contact presence in Tehran which some other governments have.
So Iranian nationals will be able to continue to apply to immigrate to Canada or to visit Canada and we will continue to welcome them if they are admissible. I should point out however that we are being very rigorous in applying this, the screen on admissibility for Iranian nationals seeking to immigrate to Canada. Many in the Persian community in Canada have been concerned that people who have been close to or members of the regime and their relatives, they believe have in too many cases been able to establish residency in Canada and we want to ensure that people who may be inadmissible, that is to say those who perhaps are associated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the Al-Qud’s Force, the Basij or senior members of the regime are not admissible to Canada under section 34 through 36 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
In terms of the actual closure of the embassy, I think the prime minister and minister Baird have spoken to that and in terms of safety, our first concern is for the safety of our diplomats and our public servants there. It was clear to us that following the ransacking of the embassy of the United Kingdom last year, that embassies deemed unfriendly by the Iranian regime were targets for that kind of violence and that given the situation, we just could not with confidence, keep that embassy open, given that our – the need for security for our people.
The last point on consular cases, look, I’ve been very involved in some of the Iranian consular cases. It’s important to understand that the Iranian regime refuses to recognize dual citizenship. So if an Iranian national comes to Canada, becomes a citizen, goes back with a Canadian passport, the Iranian government refuses to recognize that they are Canadians and quite frankly this means that our efforts to defend the consular interests of Canadian citizens in the Iranian jails have been – have had no traction because you know, we send a diplomat off to the ministry of Foreign Affairs to demand consular access and they say “I’m sorry, this person is an Iranian, we don’t recognize this person as a Canadian” and that’s the end of discussion and this is one of the reasons for our frustration quite frankly, that even our more vigorous efforts to represent the interests of these individuals have been completely and consistently stonewalled but we will, as the prime minister said, use whatever means we can through other governments and through other channels to represent the interests of those individuals.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 10, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Asked about how Iran might respond to Canada’s decision to cut diplomatic relations, the Prime Minister says nothing would surprise him. Iran dismisses the Harper government as “racist.” John Baird says he has no knowledge of military action against Iran. Benjamin Netanyahu and Simon Peres praise the Harper government. Irwin Cotler assesses the situation.
Iranian students in Canada are worried. Iranian-Canadians in Calgary are concerned. Haaretz suggests sanctions and isolation may compel Iran to negotiate. The Tehran Times reacts to the move. Doug Saunders and Gus Van Harten question the Harper government’s decision. The Toronto Star worries about war between Israel and Iran. The Globe questions Mr. Baird’s reasoning and says it’s better to talk with your enemies.
The presence of an embassy and the retention of diplomatic relations is not evidence of support for or approval of a regime, it is an acknowledgement that it is better to talk, even to an enemy, than not.
Cardinal Richelieu devoted a chapter of his Testament politique to the imperative of continuous negotiation, stating, “I may venture to say boldly that to negotiate without ceasing, openly or secretly, in all places, and though no present benefits accrue, nor any prospects of future advantage present itself, is what is absolutely necessary for the good and welfare of States.” It is precisely because it is a threat to its own people and those in other countries that Canada should continue to talk with Iran and not retreat from its international responsibilities.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 at 9:05 AM - 16 Comments
The crucial document in the Oda Affair was first uncovered by Embassy magazine last fall and detailed in an extensive report on KAIROS.
After soliciting feedback from CIDA sections and embassies in the relevant countries, a number of memos and background documents were prepared for Ms. Oda in advance of approving the project. ”CIDA bilateral desks and Canadian posts abroad confirm that the proposed country components of the program are strategically aligned with our country program objectives, or complement these well,” reads one of the backgrounders. ”In Mexico and Guatemala, our embassies initially expressed concern over mining activities, which KAIROS addressed.”
The tone of the memos are such that they categorically endorse the full $7.1-million proposal, saying the entire package of projects would directly and indirectly benefit 2.5 million women and girls and 2.9 million men and boys by teaching “the targeted poor their human and legal rights, together with successful negotiating techniques to obtain fairer shares of local wealth.”
By Paul Wells - Wednesday, January 20, 2010 at 4:21 PM - 19 Comments
From Embassy magazine, a scrappy Ottawa tabloid that consistently beats the rest of the Gallery on foreign-affairs news simply because that’s all it concentrates on, an op-ed from a Kairos principle about the guy who wrote that Jerusalem Post op-ed.
The goal of the government’s action on Kairos and Rights and Democracy has been to make moves that would be noticed by almost nobody, but would have narrow-cast appeal to a very small, very engaged component of the Conservative voter base. Simply by getting noticed outside the target voter market, that strategy has lately gone a bit awry.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, November 27, 2009 at 12:48 PM - 15 Comments
Three important dispatches from Embassy magazine this week. Laura Payton on the plight of the whistleblower. Lee Berthiaume talks to the Information Commissioner about the paper trail, or lack thereof. And retired colonel Michel Drapeau argues passionately for a public inquiry.
Instead of being concerned with Canada’s reputation among the community of nations, the government appears to be more interested in displaying unbridled partisanship than statesmanship. However, whether a public inquiry is called by government over the next weeks or so, one thing is certain: This issue will not go away.
What is also certain is that both the parliamentary committee and the media will chip away at the story, a story which ministers of the Crown seem to be attempting to paper over. However, I am a believer in the inevitability of the truth surfacing sooner or later and in the rule of law.
The whole kernel might as well come out in a judicial manner, where partisanship will recede to the world of twitters. That would be best for Canada and its government, our armed forces and, of course, our gallant, valiant and brave men and women serving in the military. This is crucial so that they may complete their difficult and perilous mission in peace, honour, respect and affection of the nation, for they and their families, having served through blood, sweat and tears, have made enough sacrifices for the good of the nation.