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Thursday, July 31, 2014

A great read

We’ll pay for Harper’s ‘hit and run’ diplomacy

Sergio Marchi is the principal of the Marchi Group, a Global Strategies Consultancy based in Geneva.

If a different government emerges after next year’s election, a long list of priorities await it. One of them will be to review and ultimately reset our foreign policy.

During the Stephen Harper years, our trajectory has not only deviated from our traditional and once respected role, but Canada’s leadership on the world stage has been significantly diminished.

Previous Conservative and Liberal governments followed a shared foreign policy approach. Recall Brian Mulroney’s leadership on the issues of South African apartheid, free trade with the United States, and the environment. That common ground was founded on four pillars: A fundamental belief in multilateralism; a vigorous engagement with friends and foes alike; a partnership with civil society; and thinking big.'

The current government has pivoted away from all of these, particularly the second point, which was clearly evident in the Prime Minister’s weekend Globe and Mail op-ed on Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukraine.

I agree with the thrust of the Prime Minister’s article. Mr. Putin has behaved like a belligerent, dangerous bully. Beyond victimizing Ukraine, he has also managed to challenge the political will and unity of Europe and United States.

However, Mr. Harper ignored his – and by extension, our country’s – greatest handicap when it comes to Mr. Putin. Namely, that he has not built a personal rapport with his Russian counterpart and thus has no ability to influence his thinking and actions.

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