This is the prepared text for Hillary Clinton’s opening statement at today’s confirmation hearings. She’s spent the subsequent two hours expanding on those points and defending herself.

Silly question. How many months—years?—will Lawrence Cannon be the Foreign Affairs Minister before he commits as much to the record?

Update. Maybe I’m being hard on Larry, who I actually find sort of endearing.

Nonetheless. He’s been Foreign Affairs Minister since the end of October. By the count of the Ministry website, he’s delivered three speeches—see here, here and here. He has put his name to statements on India, Maldives, the Congo, Burma, Darfur, APEC, Iran, Thailand, Mumbai, Mumbai, Mumbai, Mumbai, Mumbai, Mumbai, Thailand, Thailand, Mongolia, Greece, Niger, Zimbabwe, Middle East peace, holiday travel, Iran, Guinea, Israel, Iran, Bangladesh, Ghana, Israel and the Boundary Waters Treaty.

So maybe he has actually committed as many words to the record. Just in snack size. Foreign policy fit for the back of a postcard.

Does all of this equal that? Good question.



  1. But remember …… we have a twofer …… Cannon and Kent.

    They’re probably waiting for the document to be translated.

  2. Why…does Cannon have a $100 million in personal assets sitting around that no one knows about?

    • I’m certain none of the mediocrities in the Harper cabinet have been successful enough to amass nearly that much wealth.

      • I am aware of only three federal cabinet ministers in Canadian history with that kind of wealth: Paul Martin, Robert Stanfield, and CD Howe.

        • Oops. Stanfield was never a cabinet minister.

    • Sorry, what I meant to say was “the Opposition gets to ask the Foreign Minister questions about 150 times a year, on everything from the war in Sri Lanka to what’s his favourite colour. This, it seems, is the only crack they get at Hillary.”

      Now, if the issue is that Ottawa reporters want to get their questions asked, they just have to be more creative. Send an email to Pablo Rodrigues and all will be answered.

      • Of course, one might argue that it’s not so much about the 150 times per year that the Foreign Minister is questioned, as it is about the answers (or lack thereof).

        After all, it’s not called “Answer Period”.

        I’d say that if anything, the fact that Clinton will probably say more on the record today about foreign policy than Cannon EVER will is actually made WORSE by the fact that Cannon is questioned regularly in the House.

        I’ll take one day of questioning followed by substantive well thought out answers over a year of questioning followed by (in)artful dodging any time.

  3. Before you criticize the current title holder, perhaps you could offer up examples of previous Canadian foreign affairs doing the same.

    • I think you may be jumping after ghosts… I’m sure Aaron would have said the equivalent about the current foreign minister of whichever party was in power.

      I know I would ask the same question of anyone — Liberal, Conservative, etc.

  4. Are you in favour of confirmation hearings for MPs, Aaron? Don’t think it’s really necessary, myself, since they are in the public spotlight all the time. And what happens if an elected MP doesn’t make it past their confirmation hearing.

    However, I would love to see confirmation hearings for Supreme Court, deputy ministers and other quango appointments.

  5. “Are you in favour of confirmation hearings for MPs, Aaron?”

    No, apparently just for Conservative ones . . .

  6. Who said anything about confirmation hearings? How about just words and ideas on where they stand, what they believe, what they envision et al without someone’s hand up their back?
    C’mon, con-trollers, why are you so eager to set the goal posts so low?

  7. Elected officials or not, I, for one, find that confirmation hearings for cabinet appointments here can avoid having a dimwit like Maxime Bernier being handed the foreign affairs portfolio. Yes unlike in the States, cabinet ministers are elected officials to begin with, but requiring them to go through some kind of scrutiny about the job can go a long way cutting down this tendency of regional pandering (oh, we must have X number from Quebec, Y number of women, one or two ‘minorities’) in cabinet appointments in this country.

    • “cabinet ministers are elected officials to begin with”

      When was M. Fortier elected?

  8. So, the answer to “Why won’t our Foreign Affairs Minister publicly lay out a practical framework of what Canada’s foreign policy goals and objectives are?” is either “Hillary Clinton is rich!!!”, or “The Liberals never did it!!!” or “We shouldn’t have confirmation hearings in Canada”.

    It’s amazing how fast one can amass reasons that it’s fine and dandy that our Cabinet Minister’s seem totally unwilling (if not incapable, but who can judge capability if no one will try?) of actually discussing their Ministries in a meaningful way in public.

    Hillary Clinton will say more in public about her goals as Secretary of State and the outlines of American foreign policy today than Lawrence Cannon will say publicly about Canadian foreign policy between now and the return of Jesus.

    And no one to the right of Michael Ignatieff seems to think that’s even worthy of comment.

    • The only reason Hillary is saying ‘more in public about her goals as Secretary of State and the outlines of American foreign policy today than Lawrence Cannon will say publicly about Canadian foreign policy between now and the return of Jesus’ is because she has to if she wants her next job.

      Do you think she would be talking about all her dirty laundry if she didn’t have to?

      • American foreign policy is dirty laundry?

        • I have not been watching confirmation hearings today but I assumed Hillary would have been asked questions about Bill’s relationship to foreigners and what did he do to earn the hundreds of millions of $$$ he’s raised or been asked about her variety of views on Iraq or why she thought it was acceptable for her husband to pardon terrorists in order to enhance her election prospects in 2000.

          • She probably will be asked questions about all of that. And yet, even with all that time taken up she’ll STILL end up talking more substantively about American foreign policy and it’s implications then Cannon ever will about Canadian foreign policy.

            As for Clinton being OBLIGED to do this by the American Cabinet vetting process, fair enough. I still think that it’s more relevant THAT she’s doing this than WHY she’s doing it.

            “She’d be every bit as bad as Cannon if they’d let her get away with it” is hardly a defence of Cannon.

          • Then again “The Liberals used to do it” is hardly a defence of many of the things the Tories have done, but that doesn’t stop them!

        • I hope not. Canadians wouldn’t say ” me too ” to dirty laundry. Would we ??

    • I’m not sure what you’re suggesting here. You want ministers to discuss their ministries in a meaningful way with the public, after they are appointed? Many of them already do that, just not in a high-profile way like a confirmation hearing. They give speeches, they participate in forums, sometimes they even answer questions by reporters.

      Would you prefer some kind of prepared statement? An interview with Peter Mansbridge? A grilling on hot-button topics like Gaza?

      • Isn’t the point how little Canadian cabinet ministers discuss anything, anywhere, let alone publicly?

        I think Aaron is simply suggesting that Hillary Clinton is going to say more on the record today about foreign policy than Lawrence Cannon will say on the record on foreign policy for the entirety of his time as Minister of Foreign Affairs.

        Clearly there are differing opinions as to whether or not this matters.

        Personally, I don’t care to hear Cannon speak any more than he does. Or any of the Tory Cabinet Ministers for that matter. However, that’s because I am a) quite certain I wouldn’t like the plans they put forward for us, and b) sure I’d likely not believe whatever they said anyway.

        The point is, we’re currently governed by a team without a plan, who only created an election platform in the last election three quarters of the way through when they we shamed into it (not that it mattered, since they started blatantly making stuff up the day after the election) and who contradict what they said during the election about the major issue of the day (the economy) more and more every time they say ANYTHING (to hear Flaherty or Harper discuss the economy post October 14th is to wonder where the secret proclamation declaring the entire election period “Opposite Day” is kept).

        So, personally, I’m not at all concerned about our government’s total unwillingness to give the public any serious hint as to what they plan to do, since I’ve learned from experience that what they say today may be completely contradicted tomorrow. That’s not to say that, in theory I wouldn’t appreciate a government that a) lays out a plan, b) tells us what the plan is and then c) executes the plan. But honestly, given recent history, is anyone gonna hold their breath waiting for that???

  9. I watched a lot of the Hillary hearings today … as much as CPAC offered ….. and I would not call them a detailed examination.

    There was a lot .. I mean a lot … of Hillary and various Senators telling each other how wonderful they were.

    There was a large amount of time spent on Slick Willy’s foundation exploits and potential conflicts with Hillary’s duties. Nobody made it a major issue.

    There was a world tour of trouble spots ( in the USA view ) with a whole bunch of ” we’ll see ” responses.

    It did not change everything.

    The pundit consensus is that the attack dogs will be out for the Attorney General nominee ( Holder ? )