Friday, July 12, 2019

Friday, July 12, 2019

Welcome to The Week in Policy, Policy Magazine‘s weekly look at developments in policy and politics in Ottawa, Washington and beyond, compiled by Policyassociate editor and Hill Times columnist Lisa Van Dusen.

Above the Fold: Truthgate

For the political, media and diplomatic professionals who make up a significant slice of our readership, the head-spinning undoing of Ambassador Kim Darroch presents a murky cocktail of stunning Trumpian norm-breaking, classic political sabotage and trans-Atlantic, New World Order, Brexit-lubricating ingredients. On the one hand, the leak of Darroch’s diplomatic cables from Washington to senior government officialsat the Foreign Office and Downing St. is a chilling post-Wikileaks reminder that 21st-century diplomatic dispatches should be banged out with a cautionary viral headline in mind. At the same time, Darroch’s relatively restrained descriptions of Trump in the leaked portions of his “diptels” and the wildly disproportionate reaction from a president who behaves on a daily basis in ways that relentlessly court far more graphic opprobrium would indicate that the controversy wasn’t really about the content. In that sense, this is yet another marker laid down by an increasingly authoritarian American president whose war on truth apparently now includes foreign diplomats. Meanwhile, that the leak (or hack) of Darroch’s memos was first reported by the pro-Brexit reporter who ghost wrote the 2016 referendum memoir of investigation target Arron Banks and that he resigned Wednesday partly because of the lack of support for his survival in the post expressed by Boris Johnson in the Conservative leadership debate Tuesday between the kamikaze Brexiteer-former foreign minister and the current one, Jeremy Hunt, also sends a message to anti-Brexit voices in senior UK policy circles.

Above all, the trajectory of the story is just the latest instance of an inherently weak president exploiting the strength of his title to abuse power. Our Policy Magazinediplomatic and foreign policy expert Jeremy Kinsman — himself the author of scores of diplomatic dispatches as Canada’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, the European Union and Russia among other senior postings — filed an excellent piece for us on the controversy just as Darroch was resigning Wednesday morning. Here’s Kinsman with Darroch and Diplomacy: When Persona Non Grata is a Badge of Honour. The Financial Times international edition page one story from Thursday, FYI, was UK leadership favourite accused of betraying ambassador to US and here’s the accessible Guardian version, Tory MPs condemn Boris Johnson over Kim Darroch resignation. Here’s the Guardian‘s parting profile, Kim Darroch: Urbane diplomat who knew how to throw a party. In related content, my Hill Times column this week, No Zoloft for This: KAOS Malaise and Public Health. And not entirely unrelated, my Hill Times column last week, Boris, Donald and the Race to the Boorish Bottom.

Meanwhile, in London on Wednesday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and British Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt — in his day job as foreign secretary — co-hosted the Defend Media Freedom Conference with human rights lawyer and Special Envoy for Media Freedom Amal Clooney. “The decline in media freedom doesn’t only mean that journalists have fewer rights, it means we all have,” said Clooney. “As James Madison warned us more than 200 years ago: The right to a free press is the only effectual guardian to every other right.” Here’s the full video from the plenary and press conference. The summit produced a new global fund on media freedom, an international task force, a panel of legal experts chaired by Clooney, a contact group of like-minded countries to lobby in unison and a Global Pledge on Media Freedom. Here’s the wrap release from Global Affairs. And, here’s BBC media editor Amol Rajan with his piece, The new threats to journalism.

Your weekly TWIP links:

The latest Policy column by Editor L. Ian MacDonald, The Quite Honourable Joe Clark.

The latest column from yours truly, Policy Associate Editor @Lisa_VanDusen, in the Hill Times, No Zoloft for This: KAOS Malaise and Public Health.

Former ambassador Jeremy Kinsman’s piece on the Darroch debacle, Darroch and Diplomacy: When Persona non Grata is a Badge of Honour.
From our Policy columnist Don Newman, the latest of his excellent pieces on the role energy and climate in the 2019 election, The Pre-Election Universe is Unfolding as it Should.
In and About Canada: Cool Justice

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the nomination of Nick Kasirer to the Supreme Court of Canada. Kasirer, who has spent the past decade on the Quebec Court of Appeal, is a seamlessly bilingual, bicultural Montrealer who was dean of McGill Law from 2003-09. We asked Jeff Roberts, Fortune Magazine’s law and policy reporter and McGill Law 2004, how Kasirer was viewed by students. “At McGill Law, students and professors held Nicholas Kasirer in high regard for his spectacular legal intelligence, and deep understanding of both common and civil law,” Roberts recalls. “But many of us were also struck by his profound decency. He cared about people of all stations and made a point to show them kindness and respect.” Here’s the questionnaire Kasirer completed for his application under the new Supreme Court of Canada appointments process introduced by the Trudeau government.

Canadian premiers and territorial leaders ended a two-day Council of the Federation meeting hosted by Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe in Saskatoon on Thursday with an expression of national unity. Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, both conservatives, provided an asterisk to that consensus with the 2019 pre-election warning that alienation in their provinces has spiked over pipeline development and the debate between right-leaning premiers and Ottawa over carbon pricing. Here’s CBC’s Peter Zimonjic with Premiers end summit saying Canadian unity is strong — with some exceptions. And here’s his colleague Adam Hunter’s piece from Wednesday on Moe’s first time hosting his fellow (literally…they’re all men these days) premiers, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe takes centre stage at premiers meeting. The premiers held their meeting with Indigenous leaders ahead of their conference at a First Nation for the first time this year, at the Big River First Nation, where the Assembly of First Nations ended its boycott of the gathering. Here’s CPAC with the video of their closing newser. On Friday, Trudeau and Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi met with workers at the Trans Mountain pipeline terminal in Edmonton.

Former Immigration Minister John McCallum, who was fired by Justin Trudeau as Canada’s ambassador to China in January after making comments oddly amenable to Beijing’s position on the Meng Wanzhou extradition case was back in the news this week for yet another controversial content drop. In an interview with the South China Morning Post published Wednesday, McCallum said he’s told Chinese officials to “stop punishing” Canada over the Huawei executive’s arrest or it will help elect a Conservative government that is much tougher on China than the Liberals, handing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer this pre-election soundbite. On Thursday, Freeland called McCallum’s comments “highly inappropriate”, adding that McCallum “does not speak for the government of Canada.”

America Watch: Etc., Etc.

Other than the Darroch defenestration, the president of the United States this week sent some nonsensical tweets, held a nonsensical social media summit at the White House, abandoned what had been a largely nonsensical effort to overrule the United States Supreme Court and add a citizenship question to the 2020 census and made a thoroughly nonsensical speech about his own environmental record. On Friday, Trump’s labor secretary, Alex Acosta, resigned after an impressively coached but ultimately nonsensical damage control news conference on Wednesday failed to quell the outcry over his role as the federal prosecutor who in 2008 allowed politically connected financier Jeffrey Epstein to plead guilty to lesser offenses in a sex-crimes case. Here’s the Washington Post‘s coverage of Acosta’s departure. And, here’s the November, 2018 Miami Herald investigative piece that led to this week’s developments, How a future Trump cabinet member gave a serial sex abuser the deal of a lifetime.

2020 Watch: Sanity Strikes Back

Former Vice President Joe Biden, in the first major foreign policy speech of his 2020 campaign in New York on Thursday, outlined the many ways in which Donald Trump has undermined America by siding with autocrats, authoritarians and dictators at a time when democracy and liberalism are under attack globally. “While the world’s democracies look to America to stand for the values that unite us and truly lead the free world, Donald Trump seems to be on the other team.” Biden also made the link between democracy and Trump’s demonization of the media, saying he’d reinstate the longstanding daily press briefings at the White House. He also promised to reanimate diplomacy and repopulate the State Department, and host a global summit for democracy as a “renewal of the spirit and shared purpose of the nations of the free world” and include civil society and Big Tech to “make sure their algorithms and platforms are not misused to sow division here at home or empower surveillance states to be able to facilitate oppression and censorship in China or elsewhere.” Here’s the full C-SPAN video. Here’s the New York Times with Biden, in Foreign Policy Speech, Castigates Trump and Urges Global Diplomacy.

Remember the euphoria that followed the “blue tsunami” Democratic victory in the midterms last year? The cohesive certainty that the divisive, relentless preposterousness of Donald Trump could be beaten with a coherent argument and a consistent appeal to national unity and enlightened self-interest? Just in time for the 2020 election, the dominance of that Democratic narrative in the minds of the voters is being overwritten yet again by apparent tension between the party’s congressional elders and the most vocal progressives elected last year, led by heat-seeking socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The conflict pits House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other veteran Democrats against activist freshmen members attempting to redefine power in a way that tactically elevates social media popularity and disruptive belligerence to an equal or superior footing with decades of legislative experience and organic electability. Here’s the discussion on The View Thursday, following Ocasio-Cortez’s comments to the Washington Post equating Pelosi’s dismissal of the social media power of freshman progressives including Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar (MN), Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Ayanna Pressley (MA) (aka “The Squad”) with disrespect for women of colour. On Thursday, House Democrats, notably women members of the Congressional Black Caucus, stood up for Pelosi.

World Watch: The Reprieve

After weeks of protests against an extradition bill that would render meaningless Hong Kong’s residual democratic status against the extraordinary rendition practices of Beijing, the former British colony’s China-backed chief executive, Carrie Lam, vowed on Tuesday that the bill is “dead”. While it was Lam’s most definitive renunciation of the bill so far in the standoff, her refusal to formally withdraw it left the pro-democracy movement dissatisfied. In examples of the ways in which events in Hong Kong aren’t just about Hong Kong, the Financial Times reported Tuesday — in a story at the intersection of diplomatic gagging, free speech and geopolitical back-scratching — that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s office had interceded to block what was to be a “kick-ass” speech by outgoing Hong Kong Consul Kurt Tong at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. Here’s the non-paywalled SCMP version of that story. And, at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, Chinese diplomats repeatedly interrupted pro-democracy activist Denise Ho (above) as she delivered a scathing indictment of Beijing’s anti-democracy activities in Hong Kong, saying they violate the 1997 handover agreement between Britain and China. And, Hong Kong’s “Lennon Walls”.


While we were off last week, the military council and pro-democracy movement in Sudan reached a power-sharing agreement after weeks of deadlock following the ouster of dictator Omar al-Bashir in April that included the massacre of nearly 100 protesters on June 3 in an atrocity now being investigated as a crime against humanity. The two sides agreed to “establish a council of sovereignty by rotation between the military and civilians for a period of three years or slightly more,” African Union mediator Mohamed Hassan Lebatt told reporters. Here’s the Reuters piece.


four years as prime minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras and his socialist Syriza party were ousted last Sunday in a landslide by Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the centre-right New Democracy party. The shift is being played as the end of populism and a return to the establishment in Greece. Mitsotakis — the Harvard-educated, Chase and McKinsey-trained son of a former prime minister — campaigned on a pro-business, low tax agenda favouring foreign investment, particularly from China. Beijing’s purchase and development of the iconic port of Piraeus — part of its expanding acquisition of key ports in Asia and Europe as a means of controlling not just the regulation of global trade but its critical infrastructure — had been put on hold under Tsipras. Here’s the Guardian with Mitsotakis takes over as Greece’s PM with radical change of style. Here’s Al Jazeera with How family and politics shaped new Greek PM. Here’s the Globe and Mail with China’s Piraeus Power Play: In Greece, a Port Offers China Leverage in Europe. Here’s the South China Morning Post with Why Greece’s New Government is Likely to Stay Close to China. Here’s Politico Europe with Greece’s Trojan Trump. And, here’s Mitsotakis on Bloombergfollowing his victory.

Sri Lanka

Less than a year after Sri Lanka lived through a constitutional crisis involving a power-grabbing president, a prime minister determined to see through his mandate and a failed attempt to impose a replacement that reactivated demons from a bloody civil war, the country is now beset by chaos generated by the politicization of the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 259 people in April. The Sri Lankan government on Thursday defeated a no-confidence motion brought by an opposition party over what it called “criminal negligence” in failing to prevent the massacre. Here’s Reuterswith that story. And the New York Times with Buddhists go to Battle: When Nationalism Overrides Pacifism, on the anti-Muslim backlash and Buddhist nationalism inflamed in the wake of the attack.

Democracy Watch: Chaos and Probability

In what may be the second-most instructive subterfuge narrative of the week, the European Union’s mechanism for fighting Russian election interference has ironically yet predictably been hacked, obstructed and snagged into uselessness. “Indeed, even before the European Parliament elections this spring, an inside joke was circulating in Brussels about the Rapid Alert System: It’s not rapid. There are no alerts. And there’s no system,” the New York Times reports.

Brexit Watch: A Rocky Coronation

While the Darroch dunking story sucked up much of the UK political coverage this week, the Conservative leadership contest between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, which had been viewed as something sticky Johnson would have to step in before inevitably ascending to the famous stoop of 10 Downing, saw the sort of week that made it seem like something much stickier. Johnson was widely seen to have underperformed against Hunt Tuesday night even before his waffling became the key input for Kim Darroch’s career change. Here’s Johnson and Hunt bickering over the monstrosity of Brexit in a way that made it sound both sane and manageable. The roughly 160,000 Tory party members eligible to vote for a new leader (a figure coincidentally swollen by 36,000 £25-a-year memberships in the past year) have already started casting their postal ballots, with results to be announced the week of July 22. Here’s the Beeb’s page on the process. Meanwhile, the enduring mystery of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to resign. Ah, yes…the latest UK polling numbers. And, both Johnson and Hunt submitted to the tender mercies of veteran journalist Andrew Neil for his BBC show The Andrew Neil Interviews this week. Here’s how that went.

Noteworthy: Seriously?

The kerfuffle over the proposed addition to Ottawa’s Château Laurier hotel — historic landmark, heritage building, scene of countless political dramas (reported and not) and one of Canada’s original grand railway hotels — hit another level this week as Ottawa City Council on Thursday upheld approval of the unsightly, incongruous extension to the hotel so gobsmackingly charmless we like to call it Cell Block C (artist’s rendition, above). Opposition to the avoidably provocative project, whose multiple trips to the drawing board have produced increasingly hideous results — has been vocal and energetic, including support from respected lawyer and former prime ministerial spouse Maureen McTeer and comedian Tom Green. For an unintentionally hilarious look at the crux of the design debate, here’s CBC‘s piece from last June, Château Laurier architect defends modernist addition. Why the owners, the city and/or the feds haven’t called in Julia Gersovitz, “Grande dame of heritage architecture”, Order of Canada member, founding partner of heritage-specializing Montreal firm EVOQ and contributor to the award-winning West Block and Toronto Union Station redesigns remains a mystery.

Events, Dear Boy: The Boys are Back in Town

The 17th Canada-European Union Summit will be held in Montréal next Wednesday and Thursday. Trudeau will host outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The leaders will explore how Canada and the EU can “work together on common priorities and key challenges, including building economies that work for everyone, fighting climate change, advancing gender equality, and defending the rules-based international order.” Here’s the release. Meanwhile in Brussels, the succession process is underway for German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen to replace Juncker, former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel to replace Tusk and IMF Director Christine Lagarde to replace ECB President Mario Draghi.

Noteworthy: Good Money

What with all the diversionary drama unfolding in other realms lately, it’s been a while since we heard much about creative capitalism, corporate social responsibility or any of those quaint, inequality-mitigating concepts that seemingly got smithereened along with with so much of your RRSP or 401K by the financial cataclysm a decade ago. Thomson Reuters Foundation contributors Sarah Shearman and Annie Banerji posted an excellent piece Thursday on the next big thing in social investment from Scotland to India (Bombay stock market, above). Here’s Want to invest responsibly? A new breed of stock exchange aims to help.

Links We Love: Champions of Change

Yes, it’s a soccer story but it’s also a policy story. Most of all, it’s an excellent example of exceptional athletes leveraging their notoriety to catalyze positive change for everyone. In this case, the US Women’s National Team, as of Sunday four-time world soccer champions, using their own situation as a test case and the platform it provides as a megaphone for equal pay for women. At the ticker-tape parade for the team in the Canyon of Heroes in Lower Manhattan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed pay equity legislation. Afterward, the team’s co-captain and star scorer Megan Rapinoe made an eloquent, rousing declaration of the team’s philosophy. Here’s NBC News with U.S. Women’s soccer team boldly embraces off-the-field activist role. Here’s the New York Times with Megan Rapinoe Steals the Show at the Women’s World Cup Parade.

Books: Girl Meets Boy and Other Stories

As you make your way through whatever classics, potboilers, bestsellers and bodice-rippers you have next to you on the dock, by the pool or at the beach, CBC Books has a fresh crop of titles for you from Canadian writers writing about love in Doha, love at the carnival, love and a barbershop quartet, love in South Africa (Such a Lonely, Lovely Road, by Kagiso Lesego Molope, above) and other stories. Here’s 9 Canadian love stories to read this summer.

It’s been week on The View, with each co-host sharing her picks for your summer reading stack.

Here’s the New York Times Book Review with Text on the Beach: Great Summer Reads and 10 New Books we Recommend this Week.

And, here’s the Book Marks Best Reviewed Books of the Week.

Our Policy Summer Special: The Canadian Idea

Welcome to our 2019 summer special issue, The Canadian Idea. In 1850, abolitionist preacher Theodore Parker defined the American idea around equal rights. As there’s never really been an equivalent “Canadian idea” (notwithstanding the famous “As Canadian as possible under the circumstances” entry via Peter Gzowski) we wanted to unleash some of our regular contributors and favourite voices on the notion. We asked that they write about what Canada represents to them, in more personal than political terms. The results are a great summer read, especially in the pre-election heat. Here’s the Policy site. And here’s the PDF

The Canadian Idea:

In The Evolution of Arrival, longtime CBC anchor Peter Mansbridge, himself an immigrant from post-war Britain, writes: “The country has changed a lot in the sixty-five years since I walked down that gangway, not much more than a toddler, and I’ve witnessed Canada change and grow and mature.”

As a reporter and author on Quebec, and for a decade as Commissioner of Official Languages in Ottawa, Graham Fraser has long seen the country Through the Lens of Language. In the Canadian experience, he writes that “the longest history and the deepest fault line has been that of language.”

After a career as an advocate for Nova Scotia’s Black community and warrior against racism, Wanda Thomas Bernard became a Senator in 2016. “Despite being historically perceived as a ‘Promised Land’ and 185 years after emancipation,” she writes, “people of African descent still do not have equitable access to opportunity in Canada.” Here’s Racism in Canada: Planting the Seeds of Inclusion.

Pollster Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute, considers the attitude of Canadians towards first-generation born Canadians of immigrant parents, describing her own experience as the daughter of parents from India growing up in Canada’s official multiculturalism. Here’s From My Parents Homeland to My Own.

Elizabeth May has a favourite way of seeing Canada and talking to voters—on the train. In Big Country, Small World, she describes not just the political value but personal growth dividend of spending half her life traveling across the country. “Honestly,” she writes, “I do not think that anyone who has not seen the country by rail—or at least by leisurely road trip—can claim to have seen it at all.”

One of six children who grew up in Labrador in a working-class Mi’kmaq family, Vianne Timmons became not only one of the first generation of her family to attend university, she became president of the University of Regina. A champion of Indigenous empowerment and inclusion, Timmons writes, “I still believe that one of those little girls I have seen in Rankin Inlet can be our prime minister some day.” Here’s The Canadian Idea Hinges on a Promise Fulfilled.

In An American in Canada: It’s Complicated, Sarah Goldfeder, a State Department veteran who stayed in Canada after her last posting and is now an Ottawa-based consultant, writes, “When Americans ask me how I find living in Canada, it’s a hard question,” she notes. “I chose Canada but I love my country.”

As secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD), Don Johnston saw Canada as a nation among nations. As a longtime Liberal cabinet minister under Pierre Trudeau, he saw the country in ways most people never do. In Better Than Good Enough, he reminds us of how valuable Canada has become in a context of global turmoil, and recalls a visit to Sable Island with Pierre Trudeau and Mordecai Richler (above) as his quintessential Canadian moment.

In The Canadian Idea that Spawned the Others, Tom Axworthy, who served as principal secretary to Pierre Trudeau, argues that the values of inclusion and pluralism that we now embrace as Canadian had to evolve from tolerance, and without it, there would be no Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In The Conscience of the Country, Dalhousie University’s Lori Turnbull describes what has happened since the patriation of the Constitution and enactment of the Charter in 1982. As constitutions around the world become targets for populists, Canada’s remains a model for the protection of rights and the codification of democratic governance.

Our resident foreign policy writer, Jeremy Kinsman, has served Canada in its most senior diplomatic roles, as ambassador to Russia, the U.K. and EU, and has witnessed firsthand the evolution of Canada’s international image. One major change? People no longer think Canadians aren’t interesting. Here’s May You Live in Canadian Times.

And, last but never least, our regular columnist Don Newman, who has written a series of excellent pieces for Policy on the election-year exigencies of energy policy, looks at the pre-election landscape and surmises things could be much worse. Here’s The Best of Times. Seriously.

As always, many thanks to Policy designer Monica Thomas, web designer Nic Landry, and social media editor Grace MacDonald.

Enjoy the issue!

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