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I attended a conference on Canadian culture to which several dozen undergraduate students came by bus from cities several hours away. They had learned about Canada from teachers who themselves had benefited from the tiny grants which once allowed them to visit Canada or order the books and other materials on which their teaching depended.
Canada has long been a country with a high degree of sensitively -- and astuteness -- about status in the world. The sharing of some embassy services between Canada and the U.K. has already received a lot of attention. In geo-political hierarchical terms, the main risk of Canada cutting rather than building diplomatic infrastructure is that it plays to an image of decline that is contrary to the desire of the Harper government. An agreement with the U.K. then risks displaying not strength but a double image of weakness.
In March, Canada closed its embassy in Syria. Earlier this month, Canada closed its embassy in Iran. Now we learn that sharing embassies with the UK may benefit the government's bottom line. With no physical presence in places like Iran or Syria, how do we protect those ties? The next best thing is a virtual embassy.
There are times when the Canuck press is perfectly willing to tun the guns inward. For example, whenever Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente gets embroiled in some kinda plagiarism scandal. Her press buddies really seem to hate her, and my word, are they happy to see her fall! You'd almost think there was some sort of embassy restructuring involved, so heady and thorough has the coverage been.
Canada's recent move week to share embassies with Britain as a cost-cutting measure would only confirm the country's international reputation is in trouble. While the Harper Government might be promoting this as a savings measure, globally it is being perceived that our best diplomatic days are now part of our history books as a nation.
Minister Baird and British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced plans on Monday to merge British and Canadian embassies. To be precise, Minister Baird framed the suspicious measure as sharing. Reminiscent of the Napster file-sharing tool online, the open exchange of diplomatic duties across international jurisdictions does not inspire confidence. The idea, packaged and sold to Canadians as a cost-saving measure, flies in the face of common sense and gives off a hint of hypocrisy to a government saddled with billion dollar boondoggles in the form of G20 Summit and the never-ending money pit labeled the F-35 jets.
The Conservative government has made the wrong decision here, not for the interest of the country but to appease the hard-line leadership of Israel which is eager to wage a war against Iran. Canada, a country that was respected around the world as a peace broker, has failed its citizens and the world for taking an unwise decision that would help no one in the long run except the warmongers.