If it wasnt for the pandemic, the Conservative Party would have had a new leader by the end of this month. Instead, the race goes on with the final four candidates to be decided by mail-in ballots in August.
Canadians witnessed both agreement and clash as the four leadership candidates had their first televised debate last week. The timing of Ottawas failed attempt at getting a seat at the United Nations Security Council provided an opportunity for the candidates to discuss foreign policy.
The candidates agreed Canada needs to improve its relationship with the United States but disagreed on how best to engage with the United Nations.
Both Erin OToole and fellow front-runner Peter MacKay believe Canada needs to change its stance toward the U.N. but disagreed on the approach.
“We should have Taiwan in the World Health Organization and not be standing in their way,” said MacKay, who spent six years as Canadas defence minister. “We should be advocating at the United Nations, not pandering to them. And frankly we dont have time to reform the United Nations as suggested by Mr. OToole.”
OToole, the official opposition critic for foreign affairs, retorted, “Mr. Mackay, Ive been saying for four years you reform the United Nations by holding your money back. … Weve seen the World Health Organization corrupted. Weve seen trading and scandals of corruption within the U.N. The free countries of the world need to unite and say were no longer going to let the bad actors of the world run these institutions.”
The candidates had greater agreement when moderator Lisa Raitt, a former Conservative cabinet minister and MP, asked them how they would relate to the current and next administration in the United States.
All four candidates promised a more respectful relationship with the United States, including MacKay, who said, “To get things done, you have to take an approach that isnt insulting, that isnt confrontational, that isnt seen as speaking behind somebodys back on the world stage as we saw Mr. Trudeau do. Those types of behaviours dont advance Canadas interests.”
Leadership candidate Derek Sloan agreed. “We shouldnt insult the president of the United States when were the prime minister of Canada.”
Sloan, a lawyer first elected to Parliament last year, believes failed diplomacy is part of the reason that Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor remain jailed in China. The two were charged with spying on June 19, but were arrested in China 18 months ago following Canadas arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request.
Sloan said that in order to entice the United States to do more to help Canada, Ottawa needs to take “our closest, closest ally seriously.”
“We need to forge an excellent relationship with them. We need to work with them to constrain China,” he said.
The candidates were also critical of Ottawas USMCA trade negotiations.
“We have made concessions when it came to supply management. We have made concessions with respect to aluminum … with intellectual property. We have opened ourself up to vulnerability. In fact, we have even foregone some of our sovereignty,” said McKay, who led the Progressive Conservative Party before it merged with the Alliance to become the CPC.
The USMCA prevents the signatories from holding free trade talks with “non-market economies.” OToole said American fears led to this stipulation “because the Trudeau government was too close with the Communist Party of China.”
He said China has dumped aluminum and steel at the cost of Canadian jobs, which led to his push to reform the World Trade Organization. OToole also wants Canada to pursue CANZUK, a proposed free trade agreement between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom.
Lawyer and leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis said her platform is about “couragRead More – Source