Canada Tim Harper: Liberal caution could cost Canadians a voice in the Middle East

02:37  08 december  2017
02:37  08 december  2017 Source:

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Trudeau's tepid response to Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital will cost Canada , Tim Harper writes. This could also be a Middle East version of his border wall, and construction of a new embassy may not be underway by the next U.S. election.

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U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pose for photographs at the White House October 11, 2017 in Washington, DC. World leaders are voicing disapproval after the Trump administration moved to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Canada is not planning to follow America’s lead.:  © Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

In days of yore, there was a bit of an inside joke over at the Sussex Dr. headquarters of foreign affairs.

It revolved around the sliding scale of diplomatic words used in official releases regarding the severity of a particular foreign atrocity that should have Canada in high dudgeon.

It would start with an assurance that Canada was “closely monitoring the situation,’’ which could ramp up to “disappointment,’’ or “dismay,” or even “deep dismay.” Look out world if we veered into “deeply concerned,” before we “deplored” and the ultimate — “condemned.’’

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Middle East . Canada election: Trudeau hails Liberal win as Harper steps down as leader – live. A Liberal government will spell a sea-change in Canadian politics after a decade under the Conservatives – a shift that will be felt quickly on the world stage.

Thousands gather around the Canadian National Vimy Memorial during a Vimy centenary commemorative service on April 9, 2017 in Vimy, France. B.C. court rules against injured veterans. NewsAlert: Study links vets and suicide risk. Tim Harper : Liberal caution could cost Canadians a

This week, in the wake of Donald Trump’s reckless and dangerous declaration of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals couldn’t even climb to the “disappointment” level.

In fact, both Trudeau and Global Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland managed to react without mentioning either the United States or Trump. And the reaction was late, as if the threading of this diplomatic needle stretched from the prime minister in China all the way back to the Sussex Dr. bunker.

Freeland delivered some uncharacteristic boilerplate about Canada being a friend to Israel and a friend to the Palestinian people.

“Canada’s longstanding position is that the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute,” Freeland’s statement said.

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Despite several scandals worthy of Watergate over the past decade, Stephen Harper could win a fourth Canadian election next week. Yet this deeply unpopular politician has won three elections in the last nine years. Although the Liberals are showing a late lead in the polls, Harper ’s emphasis on

But after such a decisive win for the Liberals , even Mr Harper 's supporters would admit there were Canadians like to see themselves as a middle -power, honest broker in the world, he says, but Mr Harper never figured out the US or China, and his Middle East policy Why you can trust BBC News.

In China, Trudeau was asked whether he would personally convey Canada’s objections to Trump, but he responded with a careful statement on Canadian policy without mentioning Trump’s name.

Canada will not follow Trump’s lead and move our embassy to Jerusalem, a notion last floated and rejected 38 years ago. It wasn’t even on the radar during the Stephen Harper years, when he professed his allegiance to Israel in neon lights.

Trump will take virtually no one with him in moving an embassy, unless you call Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte someone.

This could also be a Middle East version of his border wall and construction of a new embassy may not be underway by the next U.S. election.

It is, of course, highly symbolic and it removes the U.S. from playing any leadership role in trying to forge lasting peace in the region.

In a masterful speech in June, Freeland lamented the lack of U.S. leadership on the world stage (without mentioning Trump) and vowed Canada will chart a more sovereign approach on foreign policy.

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Middle East . Africa. Inequality. On the other we have a degree of desperation of folks who are thinking: how could we possibly survive another four years?” For Dianne McIntyre, who sang one verse in the video, the song gave voice to the growing alarm of a professional class at Harper ’s

Middle East . Africa. Inequality. Conservative government has got through a tough spring and could , like its UK counterparts, achieve a majority unless Liberals and New Democrats cooperate. Stephen Harper prefigured David Cameron’s feat at the last Canadian election by winning a solid majority of

We understand the Liberals don’t want to poke Trump with NAFTA talks circling the drain and it is tougher to take umbrage with a neighbour; easier if you are an ocean apart.

Trump is a gift for the Liberals because Trudeau, in actions, can be the anti-Trump without having to openly criticize the president.

But caution is one thing. Milquetoast is quite another.

Canada’s tepid response will be noticed and has the potential to do damage to this country’s influence in the region.

Compare Ottawa’s reaction with others around the world.

French President Emmanuel Macron phoned Trump to try to talk him out of the move, then called the “unilateral” decision “regrettable.’’

Angela Merkel specifically said Germany does not support the move.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, a weakened leader who has resisted pressure to rescind an invitation for Trump to visit the UK, publicly disagreed with the U.S. position and said she would talk to Trump about a decision she declared “unhelpful” to the Middle East peace process.

Even Pope Francis reacted with much greater alarm than the Liberal government.

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Ignatieff criticized the Harper government for using Israel as a wedge issue with his political opponents in Canada , at the expense of the country's influence on peace in the Middle East . The Liberal leader called for a return to a time when Canada was perceived to be an honest broker in the global

While the Canadian middle class has fared comparatively well, the Harper ’s opponents successfully made this issue the ballot question, and the Harper government could not offer a compelling answer. Ditto, if more narrowly so, for his caution on admitting Syrian refugees to the country.

Conservatives in Canada were silent on the issue, an indication that there is really no daylight between their Middle East position and the Liberals’ position.

They continued on their campaign to run Finance Minister Bill Morneau through the wringer.

It was left to New Democrats to try to push the Liberals on a reaction foreign affairs critic Hélène Laverdière called “spineless.” She accused the Liberals of abdicating leadership on the world stage.

In response, Heritage Minister Melanie Joly read the official Canadian position on the Middle East in both official languages.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who called the Trump move “divisive and counter-productive,’’ has shifted party policy.

Former leader Tom Mulcair brooked no criticism of Israel and cut NDP candidates loose for what were considered to be pro-Palestine comments.

Just as Trump was pandering to his evangelical base in Wednesday’s speech, domestic politics are behind the response of all three main Canadian parties.

But being careful not to alienate voters at home or criticize a capricious leader to the south, can also cost you your voice on the world stage.

Tim Harper writes on national affairs., Twitter: @nutgraf1

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