To better position Canada for the impending Trump presidency, PM Trudeau has shuffled key Cabinet portfolios, replacing veteran Stéphane Dion at Global Affairs with former International Trade Minister and Trudeau insider Chrystia Freeland. At the same time, he announced that Freeland will keep the all-important Canada-USA trade file.
Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason asks:
By adding Canada’s most important trading relationship to the Foreign Minister’s responsibilities is PM Trudeau not exacerbating a risk already inherent in the Trump Presidency—that Canada’s broad multilateral agenda will be sidelined, if not completely derailed?
We know that Canada’s re-engagement in UN peacekeeping has run into heavy flak at National Defence. Given Trump’s open hostility to the UN, we need a Foreign Minister keenly focused on the broad international “Canada is back” agenda, while Canada-USA trade is managed by a strong Trade Minister.
Then there is Chrystia Freeland’s “problem” with Russia.
How exactly does Canada pursue a more constructive dialogue with Russia—an objective we allegedly share with the incoming President—when our new Foreign Minister, under personal sanctions because of her outspoken, indeed Harperesque, support for Ukraine, cannot even travel to Russia?
Only time will tell, but it seems to us that the appointment of Chrystia Freeland as Foreign Minister could have substantial downsides for Canada.
Photo credit: PM Trudeau official website
Writing in Foreign Policy in Focus, Middle East expert Stephen Zunes describes the recent vote in the U.S. House of Representatives in which a majority of Democrats joined Republicans in siding with Trump against Obama regarding Israeli settlements, international law, and the role of the United Nations. (See: Once Again, Democrats Are Blowing It on Middle East Peace, fpif.org, 11 January 2016.)
In the first major foreign policy vote of the new Congress, most Democrats sided with Donald Trump — and against international law — on Israeli settlements. – Stephen Zunes
On January 5, a majority of House Democrats joined virtually every Republican in voting for H. Res. 11, a resolution that criticized the U.S. refusal to veto the otherwise unanimous UN Security Council resolution 2334 condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Yet the UN Security Council resolution in question simply reconfirmed the longstanding consensus that such settlements are illegitimate under the Fourth Geneva Convention, a series of previous UN Security Council resolutions, and a landmark advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice.
H. Res. 11, the House statement, effectively equates opposition to the illegal colonization drive by Israel’s right-wing government with opposition to Israel itself. This would appear to be part of a bipartisan effort to delegitimize any criticism of Israeli policies.
…[M]oderate pro-Israel groups such as J Street and Americans for Peace Now supported Obama’s decision not to veto the resolution, recognizing that unfettered expansion of settlements will make the establishment of a viable contiguous Palestinian state alongside Israel impossible — and therefore eventually force Israel to choose between being a democracy or a Jewish state.
For the full article click: Once Again, Democrats Are Blowing It on Middle East Peace, (Stephen Zunes, fpif.org, 11 Jan 2017). See also: Hope fades for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Stephen Zunes, National Catholic Reporter, 10 January 2017).
Photo credit: Wikipedia
On Tuesday, January 10, PBS affiliate stations will air the dramatic documentary film “Command and Control” nationwide as part of their “American Experience” series.
For anyone disturbed by President-elect Trump’s reckless talk about launching a new nuclear arms, this brilliant documentary is a must-see. – Peggy Mason, Rideau Institute President
Here is the PBS write up about the documentary:
A chilling nightmare plays out at a Titan II missile complex in Arkansas in September, 1980. A worker accidentally drops a socket, puncturing the fuel tank of an intercontinental ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead in the American arsenal, an incident which ignites a series of feverish efforts to avoid a deadly disaster.
Directed by Robert Kenner and based on the critically acclaimed book by Eric Schlosser, COMMAND AND CONTROL is a minute-by-minute account of this long-hidden story.
Putting a camera where there was no camera that night, Kenner brings this nonfiction thriller to life with stunning original footage shot in a decommissioned Titan II missile silo. Eyewitness accounts — from the man who dropped the socket, to the man who designed the warhead, to the Secretary of Defense— chronicle nine hours of terror that prevented an explosion 600 times more powerful than Hiroshima.
Click here for a link to the PBS documentary summary and a short video trailer.
Photo credit: PBS
Warmest holiday greetings!
The Rideau Institute offices will close for the holidays at noon on Friday 23 December, re-opening on Tuesday 3 January 2017. However, our fabulous office manager, Sarah Bowles, will check in occasionally to make sure urgent matters do not go unattended.
There will be no new blogs during the holiday period but we will continue to post on Facebook and Twitter, albeit at a reduced pace. (Zzzzzz)
2017 promises to be an incredibly eventful year (and frankly a scary one too, given the election results south of the border). Hugely important reviews – of Defence Policy, National Security, International Development and Election Reform – were undertaken in 2016 and now the government must provide its policy responses to each one. We will be there when they do, providing insightful analysis and progressive options.
It is a tremendous privilege to be able to work with our fantastic Rideau Institute team on issues ranging from the arms trade and nuclear disarmament to conflict resolution and strengthening international law.
Our aim is always to provide both solid information and practical options for building sustainable global peace.”
All the best for 2017.
President of the Rideau Institute
The Canadian government today announced that it will legislate a comprehensive ban on asbestos and asbestos-containing products by 2018. Commenting on the decision is Kathleen Ruff, RI Board member and award winning ban activist:
The Trudeau government is to be praised for finally ending Canada’s long and shameful history as global propagandist and marketeer for the deadly asbestos trade. In every part of Canada and around the world, health experts, activists and asbestos victims will welcome this long-awaited and long overdue announcement.”
Click here for key promises made in the government’s announcement.
Civil society organizations played a critical role in convincing the Government of Canada to take this action. They are now calling on Canada to develop a national strategy to address the appalling legacy of asbestos use in Canada and to establish an expert panel to assist them in this task.
All those who have been and continue to be involved in the struggle to end the asbestos tragedy in Canada and around the world will rejoice that Canada will now, at long last, join the over fifty countries who have banned asbestos.” – Kathleen Ruff
Read the full CBC.ca article at: Full asbestos ban, changed codes and regulations expected by 2018 (CBC.ca, 15 Dec 2016)
Read Kathleen Ruff’s blog on the announcement and further measures that need to be taken by Canada at the international level at: Canada will ban asbestos by 2018 (RightonCanada.ca, 15 Dec 2016)
See also: Why Federal asbestos ban was long overdue (Hassan Yussuff, Toronto Star 15 Dec 2016).
Photo credit: Wikimedia