'I hope this is not one of Peter's games' - Macleans.ca

‘I hope this is not one of Peter’s games’

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Suffice it to say, Paul Dewar has some questions.

The transcript of his scrum after QP yesterday.

Question: What did you make of MacKay’s (inaudible) to be a top gun comments today telling the Russians the back off and…?

Paul Dewar: Well you know, I, all I can say is I hope this is not one of Peter’s games.  If, if Mr. MacKay is trying to ramp up the rhetoric to either, you know, promote himself to, you know, get another position in NATO and not doing what he should be doing, and leaving the whole business of diplomacy to the Foreign Affairs Minister.  And by the way, right now what we need to see in, in the Arctic is, is cooperation and putting out wedge issues and planting this kind of rhetoric on, in the, in the, you know, atmosphere of what is some very, very serious issues in the Arctic is not helpful. 

Question: So do you think he’s taking advantage and those kind of comments can damage Canada-Russia relations?

Paul Dewar: Absolutely.  I mean when he (inaudible) a comment like this, and where is the context for this?  What is the process, by the way, of Canada-Russian relations?  Is this the way he looks at building bridges?  Right now we have an opportunity when it comes to the Arctic to build bridges and what it seems Mr. MacKay is he’s playing, you know, a little bit of Russian Roulette here.  And if he’s going to continue that, then he has to explain to, I guess his colleague, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, what the plan is because when you start doing this kind of thing, what it means is it can come back and haunt you.  So why is the Minister of Defence putting out these comments when it’s clearly something that should be dealt with by our Foreign Affairs Minister. 

Question: Why do you think he, why do you think he brought it up?

Paul Dewar: I have no idea what Mr. MacKay was thinking.  I think Mr. Harper needs to, you know, question what his Minister of Defence is actually doing.  And by, what is the plan here?  What is the engagement with, with Russia?  And you know, I know in Washington, they’re looking at multilateralism again, thank goodness.  I don’t know, is he looking to get behind the defence mechanism in the North?  Are we going to be seeing that raise its head again?  And is he planting the seeds for that?  I don’t know.  And Mr. MacKay is the one who has to explain himself.  But again, I would turn to Mr. Cannon and say what do you have to say regarding your colleague’s comments and have you talked to the Russians about this issue?  This is very serious diplomatic, a very serious diplomatic issue.  And I guess I just question why is the Minister of Defence out there planting this rhetoric.

Question: Well the fact is this goes on all the time.  This is not unusual.

Paul Dewar: Well the question is why is Mr. MacKay stating these things now?  And where is the, the cooperation here that we need to see between polar countries?  Look, we know that we’re working with the Russians, with the Government of Norway, with the Americans on what’s going on in the North.  So to all of a sudden pause at this and out of nowhere, with no real reason states this.  So I think what we’re trying to do, Peter might be doing here is trying to go back to the 50’s and play a little cold war.  Well I’m sorry, but you know what?  If he wants to play a game of risk in his basement, that’s up to him, but it has no place in terms of diplomacy. 

Question: Before we get all worked up, would you like to hear more details on exactly what happened? 

Paul Dewar: Well yeah, and I’d like

Question: (inaudible) how close it came, what (inaudible)?

Paul Dewar: Well, absolutely.  So why, why is he just planting this out there and why is he making these comments?  And let’s, as I said, where’s Mr. Cannon on this issue, you know.  I think this is very serious.  And as I said, Mr. Harper should be asking his Minister of Defence where he’s going with this.  I mean, what’s the context of this. And I guess that is something that will have to come out in the next couple of days, as was mentioned.  These kinds of things happen all the time.  The question is why is he raising it now?  And as I said, if he wants to have a little game of cold war, do it in his basement, and you know, don’t do it on the world stage.

Question: Do you have any idea why he’s doing it?

Paul Dewar: I have no idea.  I’ve suggested that maybe this is a game that Peter’s playing for his own advancement, for perhaps a job with NATO.  He has to explain that, not me. 

Question: But do you think it’s important for Canada to defend its sovereignty (inaudible)?

Paul Dewar: Clearly.  I mean that’s, you know, to defend your sovereignty means that you are engaged, it’s called constructive engagement, it means diplomacy, it means you have actually shared responsibilities for places like the North.  News flash to Mr. MacKay, we actually are working with all polar countries.  We have (inaudible), which is a legal agreement about who owns the North and how it’s going to be organized and sovereignty over the North.  Those are the things that are already going on.  I don’t think it helps at all to build those bridges when you come out with comments like this.  And as I stated before, this is the role for the Foreign Affairs Minister.  This is not the role for the Defence Minister.  And I think Mr. Harper has to actually have his Minister account for this.