Interview: Facing Beijing, Ottawa does not know who he is, as Jean-François Lepin thinks

Canada is still paralyzed by indecision over issues of the Chinese Olympics and Huawei 5G technology, but Canada is far behind the United States when it comes to making critical international decisions, believes Jean-François Lepin, who returned home after serving as provincial director of Quebec. Representation in China for more than five years.

“Look at our position on the Olympics. We find ourselves in a position, not to decide on ourselves, where if we decide to implement a diplomatic boycott of the Games, the Chinese will immediately say: That’s it, they are following the United States,” the former journalist’s slide, currently on vacation, in interview in Should.

Canada has not yet announced its colors regarding the presence of its diplomats alongside its athletes at the Beijing 2022 Olympics, while the United States warned on Tuesday, followed by Australia, that they intend to implement a “diplomatic boycott” of the Olympic Games. A sporting event to protest China’s treatment of the Turkic-speaking Uyghur minority.

“We’re going to make an announcement,” Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during the day. Without providing further details, his foreign minister, Melanie Jolie, pledged on Tuesday to “ensure that our athletes will be able to participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics” and to discuss with the country’s allies “to work in alliance”.

Last week, the Bloc Quebec MP for Lac Saint-Jean Alexis Brunel Ducep made a vital plea to Canada asking for the 2022 Games to be postponed until an international mission witnessed the situation in Xinjiang, accusing China. of carrying out genocide against the Uyghurs.

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Canada Singles

On the merits, Jean-François Lepin did not take a position on this issue. “This is a very sensitive political decision, and it is up to the Canadian government to decide, on the issue of Huawei technology. […] The only thing I would say is that the United States gave guidance. Perhaps we would have liked Canada to have provided guidance in advance. “

However, according to him, Canada’s Olympic paradox is a symptom of a much bigger problem: Canada doesn’t know who it really is in front of the world.

“The Canadian government suffers greatly from its indecision and lack of accurate direction on the international stage,” said the former diplomat, who blamed this flaw in Canadian foreign policy for his recent failure to secure a seat in the United States. UN Security Council.

“We need more individuality in the role we want to play on a global scale. […] By not taking initiatives for ourselves, to define ourselves, we are a little behind others. We are no longer the leaders we used to be, as when we realized [République populaire de] China, before the United States, or when we had an attitude toward the Middle East, which led us to refuse to follow the Americans. [en Irak]. We must find this leadership position there, in the face of powers like China in the world. “

Ambassador’s departure

On Monday, his former colleague, Canada’s ambassador to China Dominic Barton, publicly announced his departure after successfully spearheading the mission to free Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

Mr Lépine commented: “When the two were released, I immediately thanked Mr. Barton, for I know the role he played in the outcome of this whole story.”

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However, his replacement would pose a “challenge” to the Secretary of State, Melanie Jolie. “It is exciting to see that M.I Jolie has this challenge, at first, to appoint a new ambassador to Paris and to appoint a new ambassador to China. This is her chance to sign her autograph in her state. It’s a great opportunity for her. “

According to Jean-François Lepin, the next ambassador to China should have, as was the case for Mr. Barton, a deep knowledge of this “extremely complex” country with which Canada must certainly learn how to work better.

“China is a very powerful country, and it will become the leading power in the world. For decades we have lived next to a neighbor who was a global power that we know very well.” [les États-Unis], but in the face of that we ourselves had to adopt a very strict and very resolute policy [comme] During the NAFTA Free Trade Negotiations. “

An old picture of Canada?

in an interview in Should Last week on the Ukraine issue, Foreign Minister Melanie Jolie refuted the notion that Canada is struggling to define itself in the world.

« [On] Perhaps he is talking about the era of the former conservative regime, not now. I also think the Throne Speech clearly indicates our priorities, which is to say that we are going to increase our diplomatic presence in the world. “

According to her, Canada’s commitment against authoritarian regimes, its feminist politics, and its ability to “get everyone around the table” defines the country’s identity in relation to other nations on the planet.

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The former journalist answers: “The Harper government certainly had certain major tendencies in foreign affairs with which we did not agree at all.” Having said that, I couldn’t say what the Trudeau government would count on, to replace Harper’s. We can’t say the direction has been changed, and we wonder if there will be a change. “

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