Canada once had a proud foreign service. Our diplomats could boast of defusing the Suez crisis, battling apartheid, inventing peacekeeping, creating the Ottawa Landmine Treaty, mediating between warring factions in places as diverse as the Middle East, Vietnam and Northern Ireland. One of our diplomats won a Nobel Peace Prize.
Not any more. Canada's government decided in 2006 to merge Foreign Affairs and International Trade into a single department. And yesterday, the government announced that henceforth, the primary responsibility for Canadian diplomats is to act as salesmen for Canadian businesses.
I suppose it makes sense. Canada campaigned against international restrictions on trade asbestos, so that our asbestos mines could continue to sell their products to India. Canada campaigns against restrictions on greenhouse gases, in order to protect the interests of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. Canada no longer has any time for the United Nations - where we were, once upon a time, proud of our level of engagement in working to resolve conflict, relieve suffering, and improve international relations. Canada is quick to criticize Sri Lanka's human rights record, but mentions nothing of the record of our favoured trading partner China. Our foreign minister is "skeptical" of any rapprochement with Iran - how much of his skepticism is related to the impact improved relations would have on the price of a barrel of Ft McMurray bitumen?
We've shown the world our priorities.