Canada’s new foreign policy

Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has had to make some difficult decisions in the past few months and has been particularly vocal about his positions on Canada’s new international stance.

Early in September he announced that Ottawa had suspended diplomatic relations with Tehran, and Iranian diplomats were given five days to leave the country.

This move was a response to allegations concerning the weaponization of Iran’s nuclear program, the regime’s continued support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Both Syria and Iran are now listed as state sponsors of terrorism under the Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act.

Media coverage of the decision also cited Iran’s tensions with Israel, the death of Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi in Iran in 2003, and Iran’s perceived failure to protect its embassy personnel under the Vienna Convention in 1979 hostage crises in the American Embassy and the storming of the British Embassies in 2011.

Canada is right to be conscious of Iran’s dire situation in today’s politics. However the degree to which our Foreign Affairs Minister should be a leader in this dialogue is debatable. This question of Iran is an international one and should be treated as such. More importantly, Baird’s decisions weaken the diplomatic efforts of the international community to mediate these disputes by raising political tensions.

This new Canadian rhetoric of diplomatic bitterness is also seen in Baird’s criticism of the failure of the UN’s mission in Syria this past Monday when he said the organization is unable to live up to its ideals. Although the UN has so far been unable to formulate a resolution on the Syrian crises, Canada should not be leading the effort to discredit the negotiation process.

Similarly with the Iran issue Baird is moving Canada’s international stance away from its traditional role as a peacekeeper and is instead reiterating the positions of more politically involved nations.

Canada should not feel threatened by Iran but our ministers’ decisions to become more aligned with Iran’s opposition may create new and unnecessary threats. Rather than becoming directly involved in this dispute Canada should show more support for international regulations and encourage diplomacy.

–The Cord Editorial Board

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