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jerryking : political_staffers   5

Opinion: Ottawa seems to be out of ideas on devising a new kind of China policy
JUNE 19, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | by DAVID MULRONEY. SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND
David Mulroney was Canada’s ambassador to China from 2009 to 2012.

A new approach is needed to managing Canada’s relationship with China – one that’s alive to Canadian vulnerabilities as well as our national interests.....There are many smart reasons for engaging China, but flattering the leadership in Beijing isn’t one of them. Good ideas emerge from hard thinking about long-term Canadian interests. Even summoning the vision and courage to think strategically would mark a significant improvement over our current China policy, which appears to be conjured up from equal measures of wishful thinking and parliamentary politics.....Thinking strategically requires asking why China is being so assertive, (e.g. building a blue-water navy, militarizing rocks and shoals in the South China Sea)....These are part of a patient and persistent Chinese effort to push the U.S. out of Asia and achieve regional dominance – and that is clearly not in Canada’s interest. The U.S.’s commitment to Asia enabled regional balance and, with it, peace and rising prosperity. More to the point, a China-dominated Asia would hardly be friendly to Canadian values and ideas.
(1) Abandon our current policy of “comprehensive engagement” – the notion that we should say yes to just about anything related to China. Cancel the commitment of $256-million over five years to the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
(2) reassessment of our relationship with Taiwan.
(3) move from talking about human rights in China to actually doing something about them. We normally count on the United Nations to address major human-rights abuses, but the UN, anxious to avoid offending Beijing, has been silent in the face of the government’s mass detention of Uyghurs and its brutal assault on their religion, language and culture.
(4) do the same for China’s beleaguered Tibetans. Canada’s commitment would be a welcome signal to both communities that they haven’t been forgotten.
(5) investment at home, too. Put more money into domestic security, combatting Chinese interference more effectively. And we shouldn’t be afraid to name and shame perpetrators when we discover examples of meddling; Beijing won’t like it, but it will also probably tone down its more egregious activities.
(6) invest in China competence in Ottawa, where the commodity is alarmingly scarce. Future leaders in key departments, in the security agencies and in the Canadian Forces need to be far more aware of how China works and how it thinks. This isn’t about agreeing with China, but about understanding it – something that we’re having a hard time doing at present. To do so, Ottawa should create a special “China School” that not only offers language training but also exposes top people across government to the best thinking on China’s politics, economics and security issues.
AIIB  Beijing  bootcamps  Canada  Canada-China_relations  Canadian_Forces  China  China_rising  David_Mulroney  DND  human_rights  ideas  idea_generation  maritime  national_interests  op-ed  policymaking  policymakers  political_staffers  reassessments  reinvention  security_&_intelligence  South_China_Sea  strategic_thinking  Taiwan  Tibet  Uyghurs  values  wishful_thinking 
june 2019 by jerryking
After the SNC-Lavalin affair, we must strip the influence of political staffers - The Globe and Mail
Omer Aziz was a policy adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

From the outside, our government is a democracy with duly elected parliamentarians. From the inside, it can feel like an autocracy, with power concentrated in very few hands. There is a single node of power and all the channels run through it. That’s why the Prime Minister’s Office is colloquially referred to as “the Centre.”....At Global Affairs Canada, political staffers meet regularly with stakeholders, including human-rights groups, corporate representatives and anyone else who might be affected by our policies, and signals regularly came from above on how to manoeuvre on a certain file. If a message comes from “the Centre” to your office, you can bet that everyone will drop everything and make sure they are meeting expectations. Refuse, and well – these people hold your future in their hands.

It would be no stretch to say that most of the important decisions made by the Canadian government are made by only a handful of people. This has led to preventable errors and bad policy outcomes such as Justin Trudeau’s India trip or the SNC-Lavalin affair. As with too much accumulated wealth, too much accumulated power is ultimately bad for democracy.

There are more than 600 political staffers in Ottawa. These jobs are not publicly advertised and are notoriously difficult to come by if you’re not already well-connected. It’s no wonder that diversity is such a problem in government – and this includes viewpoint diversity as much as ethnic and racial diversity.

Pull back the curtain and it turns out the people in the backrooms mostly resemble one another. Within the political staff itself, there exists a hierarchy, with senior staffers in the Prime Minister’s Office at the top. This is where the real decisions are made.

We need to seriously scale back the influence of political staffers and legislate what the parameters of their jobs really are......The biggest problem with concentrating political power is that it leads to hubris and arrogance, and eventually to critical errors. It leads people to believe that they can overstep boundaries in the name of the Boss.

Absolute power not only corrupts, it is fundamentally corrupting to the entire operation. This is not how a parliamentary system of government is supposed to work. These people are not the mafia. The government does not belong to them.

We could cut the number of staffers in half and Ottawa would run better than it does now. There should also be a formal, publicly acknowledged policy process so Canadians can trust that the system of democracy is working from within and decisions that might shape the future of the country for decades are not being made by a cloistered elite.
centralization  Ottawa  PMO  political_power  SNC-Lavalin  politicians  political_staffers  Canada  Canadian  government  institutions  partisanship  GoC 
february 2019 by jerryking
Ottawa is on the wrong side of Chinese power
January 15, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | JOHN IBBITSON.

Is there a way Canada could have avoided acting on an extradition request of the United States – employing the “creative incompetence” that former Liberal foreign minister John Manley said might have prevented the detention of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou? She is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, and Chinese anger at her detention is fierce and real.

“I’m with John Manley that we could have creatively avoided our responsibilities,” said Lynette Ong, a political scientist at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Canada could manage American anger at letting Ms. Meng slip away more easily than it is managing China’s anger over her detention, Prof. Ong believes.

Did Canadian officials in Ottawa miss an opportunity to de-escalate the conflict through quiet diplomacy, rather than ratcheting up the rhetoric over what appeared to be the retaliatory detention of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor? Should they have foreseen that the Chinese might further retaliate by increasing the punishment of convicted drug trafficker Robert Schellenberg from 15 years to a sentence of death? How much of this is Donald Trump’s fault?

Or was none of this preventable?....So, what next?....The government obviously cannot interfere with the judicial process that will determine whether Ms. Meng is extradited to the United States. Nor can Mr. Trudeau attempt to resolve the situation by direct talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, ....A successful conclusion to Sino-American trade talks might calm things down......Ong urges Mr. Trudeau to put down his public megaphone, and to focus on “quiet diplomacy behind the scenes.”.......There is another, deeper, concern. For at least two decades, Liberal and Conservative governments have concentrated more and more decision-making in foreign affairs in the Office of the Prime Minister. Global Affairs Canada may no longer have the capacity it once had to manage critical files, and political advisers to Ms. Freeland and Mr. Trudeau may be out of their depth, missing subtle signals and opportunities to reduce tensions between Ottawa and Beijing.
5G  Canada  China  China_rising  Canada-China_relations  Chrystia_Freeland  crossborder  foreign_policy  Huawei  John_Ibbitson  John_Manley  Liberals  Meng_Wanzhou  political_staffers  Xi_Jinping  Justin_Trudeau  diplomacy  PMO  reprisals 
january 2019 by jerryking
Bridging the gap between scientist and politician
Feb 21, 2006 | The Globe and Mail pg. A.17| by Preston Manning. .

There is a large communications gap between the political and scientific communities. Despite the fact that science has a huge contribution to make toward the resolution of national issues, ranging from productivity improvement and environmental protection to the genetic modification of plants, animals, and our own species, there were no real scientists in any of the party caucuses and few science administrators or advisers among the upper echelons of political staffs.
ProQuest  Preston_Manning  science_&_technology  politicians  Communicating_&_Connecting  political_staffers  upper_echelons 
october 2011 by jerryking

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