The federal New Democrats accused the Conservative government of selling out its foreign policy to the United Kingdom. According to NDP Leader Tom Mulcair, “Under this agreement, Britain will be the de facto face of Canada in the world.”
Mr. Mulcair’s odd and grossly inaccurate statement was prompted by Ottawa’s announcement of an agreement to share embassy space and resources with the U.K.
As Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said in a joint statement with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, the move will see Canada and Britain share space and collaborate on consular services in a “handful of areas” where Canada or Britain does not already have its own mission.
In other words, this is a similar arrangement to the one Canada has had for decades with Australia whereby the two nations agreed in the mid-1980s to share consular services in several missions around the world.
So has Canada (or Australia for that matter) given up its “de facto face” in the world, as Mr. Mulcair would have Canadians believe?
Of course not. And neither have the two nations’ foreign policies always converged on major issues during that span of time. Australia, for instance, supported the United States in their 2003 invasion of Iraq with boots on the ground—Canada did not.
Mr. Mulcair’s statements amount to little more than the usual bafflegab we get from the NDP when they try to discredit Conservative initiatives.
Agreements of this sort are nothing new to Canada. This may be a more formal arrangement than some, but Canadians have been working out of the Australian mission in Cambodia and elsewhere in a whole slew of South Pacific countries for years. And, as Minister Baird noted, the British have a desk in Canada’s embassy in Haiti, while Canada uses office space in Britain’s mission in Burma.
Obfuscation and exaggeration are first cousins of the outright lie, and the New Democrats and their leader seem to have mastered both forms of mistruth and propaganda.