Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Harper still MIA on the UAE

Judging by the PMO's spin effort to pursue Bob Rae on the UAE issue, they see vulnerability for themselves politically. Not surprising. Rae has a point. It's not a hard one. Canada is in an unnecessary fight with a trading partner in the Middle East that has caused us to be ignominiously booted on short notice from the military base we were using in the UAE. We've got visa fees now that have been slapped on Canadian citizens travelling there. There's clearly a faltering relationship between the two nations that is not a good scene no matter how much sideshow patriotic bravado the PMO wants to put out there and no matter what friends they enlist to sing from their chorus book. Rae has written another blog post today speaking to the issue, focusing once again on the heart of the matter that all the Harper talkers have yet to address.
The Harper government’s diplomatic bumbling with the UAE has endangered a $2 billion bilateral trade relationship, cost Canada access to a strategic airbase in the Middle East and saddled taxpayers with a $300 million relocation bill. There are over 200 Canadian companies operating in the UAE, and it’s our 17th largest export market in the world and our single largest export market in the Middle East. Recently, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach, Nova Scotia Premier Darryl Dexter and Ontario International Trade Minister Sandra Pupatello have all led trade missions to the UAE. Later this week Alberta International Relations Minister Iris Evans is leading a trade mission there.
What are they going to do about the core of the problem here? Keep digging in that hole they've created? What's the plan, Mr. Cannon Mr. Harper, to repair the relationship? Attack Bob Rae in a p.r. slug fest? Doesn't sound like a plan at all.

This is about foreign affairs incompetence that has affected our budget ($300 plus on exit of Camp Mirage & untold costs now to replace its capabilities as we continue in Afghanistan), the military (who must scramble), our standing in the world (what is going on with Canada?) and reaffirms a central weakness about Mr. Harper (diplomatic skills). No wonder they're lashing out.