LILLEY: Joly is latest face of Trudeau’s feckless foreign policy

Joly is Canada’s fifth foreign affairs minister in six years

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Melanie Joly is now Canada’s fifth foreign affairs minister in six years. For a government which once boasted “Canada is back” and promoted international engagement at every turn, it’s a stunning and embarrassing record.

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In Trudeau’s first cabinet, Joly was seen as a star and given the heritage portfolio but performed so poorly that she was demoted to tourism minister and then official languages minister. Now she has been promoted to one of the most important positions in the government.

As foreign affairs minister, Joly is Canada’s voice on the world stage but what will that voice say? It won’t be independent thoughts from Joly herself, few ministers are granted that in Trudeau’s Ottawa, but does Trudeau or his government have a coherent foreign policy?

The clear answer after six years in power is no and that’s a problem for Canada.

When they first came to power, the Trudeau Liberals seemed to have one goal: Don’t be the Harper Conservatives. They attempted to reengage with Russia and Iran and they promised to reestablish United Nations peacekeeping as a central part of foreign policy.

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“Whether confronting climate change, terrorism and radicalization, or international conflicts, the need for effective Canadian diplomacy has never been greater than it is today,” the 2015 Liberal platform promised.

The world never did see that “effective Canadian diplomacy.”

Stephane Dion, Trudeau’s first foreign minister, blathered on about the Harper policies towards Iran and Russia being “ideological and irrational” but the Liberal promise to restore relations didn’t go too well. By 2017, the Trudeau Liberals, like much of the progressive world, had decided that Putin’s Russia was a bad place which had interfered in the U.S. election to put Donald Trump into power.

As for Canada’s improved relations with Iran, they did shoot down Flight 752 filled with Canadians returning home. The regime in Tehran has never properly taken responsibility or allowed a proper Canadian investigation.

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And as for UN peacekeeping, that never materialized, just like the campaign to win a seat on the Security Council.

After Dion’s departure in January 2017, Trudeau appointed his fixer Chrystia Freeland to the post with one job: Charm Donald Trump. Freeland’s biggest accomplishment on this file was not losing more than she did in the NAFTA renegotiations.

She was replaced with Francois-Philippe Champagne, who held the job for 14 months before being replaced with Marc Garneau, who held the job for 10 months.

Joly takes on the job at a time when Russia continues to seek to divide the West, China is becoming increasingly aggressive and the United States is becoming more protectionist. Our allies are also forming new pacts which don’t involve Canada, such as the new intelligence sharing group formed between the U.S., the U.K. and Australia and to which Canada was not invited.

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Five Eyes became three — so much for Canada being back.

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Our allies no longer trust Canada because even after the ordeal with the Two Michaels, Trudeau is seen as weak on China. Meanwhile, China has shown Canada the back of the hand more times than can be counted and we have no other strategy in the Pacific Rim.

The trade deal to counterbalance China’s dominance in the area — the Trans-Pacific Partnership — was nearly blown apart by Trudeau demands. He annoyed allies such as Japan and Australia without getting anything of substance for Canada.

We still have yet to find a solid approach to India other than poking the Modi government in the eye.

Trudeau’s strongest ally on the world stage at the moment just might be the progressive but embattled leader of a country that barely registers internationally — New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern.

Having five foreign ministers in six years is bad but Trudeau’s foreign policy is worse.

blilley@postmedia.com

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