The Commons: Canada moves back in with its parents

Why stop at the embassies, Mulcair charged, Ottawa and London could also merge their armed forces

The Scene. After two general questions about the economy, Thomas Mulcair narrowed in on one particular side effect of the global recession: the trend of adult children compelled by financial concerns to live with their parents.

“Mr. Speaker, this weekend, British government sources leaked the details of a new agreement to create shared British-Canadian embassies in countries around the world. In these countries, Canada would now be represented by a desk at the British embassy instead of an independent Canadian diplomatic mission,” Mr. Mulcair reported for the House’s benefit. “Why did Canadians have to learn about this through the British press? If the Conservatives will not stand up for Canada in the world, why do they expect that the British will do it for us?”

The New Democrats stood to cheer their man’s indignation.

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird stood and kindly asked that everyone move along as there was apparently nothing to see here.

“Mr. Speaker, Canada has a strong and independent foreign policy,” Mr. Baird explained. “What we will be announcing in an hour’s time is that we will be moving forward with a small number of administrative arrangements where we can co-locate.”

(If recent adjective history is any indication, this will almost certainly end in a guilty plea of some sort.)

Mr. Mulcair was unpersuaded. “Under this agreement, Britain would be the de facto face of Canada in the world,” he charged.

There was grumbling from the Conservatives.

“Canada’s foreign policy will be hardly distinguishable from that of the British. Under these conditions, how can the Conservatives argue that Canada could maintain a strong and independent voice in the world?” the NDP leader continued. “It’s all very nice to be nostalgic for the great British empire, but there are still limits!”

He leaned forward to better scold the minister.

Mr. Baird smiled as he dismissed the fuss. “Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is just making it up as he goes along,” the minister protested. “He refers to an agreement that we have not even released yet.”

Mr. Baird proceeded here to list all of the ways the Commonwealth is being maintained. “Here is what we do around the world,” he said. “Canadians are working out of the Australian mission in Cambodia; Australians are working out of the Canadian mission in Columbia. The United Kingdom works out of our mission in Mali. Canada provides services to Australians on the Ivory Coast, Algeria, Maui, Romania, Venezuela, and Ecuador. Australia provides services to us in Bali, Hawaii, Cambodia, New Guinea, Papua New Guinea and Laos. Canada even depends on such friends and allies as Jamaica to help us out.”

Even Jamaica? (Our friend and ally will surely be pleased to referred in that way.)

“What we are talking about,” the minister clarified, “is services like providing a passport and providing consular services to Canadians when they need it abroad.”

So it is all merely a matter of paperwork. Unless it is also about sticking it to the European Union.

Mr. Mulcair was unimpressed. “Mr. Speaker, Canadians deserve better. Canadians deserve the best diplomatic representation. They deserve the best consular services and under the Conservatives they will get neither,” he alleged.

The Conservatives howled. The New Democrats cheered. Mr. Mulcair talked over the applause.

“The Conservatives need to find money to curb the deficit they created with their irresponsible corporate tax cuts,” he charged. “Why stop at the embassies? They could merge our armed forces. No wonder they are so nostalgic for the war of 1812. Why not merge the Senate with the House of Lords? It is the same difference. Why not a united Olympic team? The Conservatives could do that, or they could stand up for Canada.”

The New Democrats stood to applaud.

Mr. Baird came back with an uncharacteristic clunker. “When the member opposite talks about amalgamation, borrowing one from the other, it is funny,” he mused. “The New Democratic Party finally had to turn to the Liberal Party to find itself a new leader.”

On that note, Bob Rae made his return to the House—he was away last week—and, raising his voice, tabled two questions.

“Mr. Speaker, if it is just a small administrative arrangement, I wonder if the minister could explain why he is having a highly touted press conference with the British foreign minister to discuss it?” he wondered. “If we have such a wonderful, independent foreign policy, why is the Prime Minister of Canada not discussing that foreign policy in front of the United Nations this week, like so many other heads of state?”

To explain Mr. Harper’s absence from the UN’s general assembly, Mr. Baird deferred to an award that was once given to Jean Chretien. “Obviously the Prime Minister of Canada continues to play a leading role on the world stage. He will be visiting New York later this week where he will have the opportunity to represent Canada at a number of very important bilaterals,” the minister explained. “I am going to go out on a limb and invite the member for Toronto Centre, the leader of the Liberal Party. The Prime Minister, in New York, will be celebrated and honoured as the best statesman of the year.”

The Conservatives cheered and Mr. Baird enthused over the applause. “There will be a seat at the front row for the leader of the Liberal Party,” he assured.

And, if our diplomats behave themselves, presumably the Brits will let Canadian boarders hang the text of Mr. Harper’s acceptance speech in their rooms.

The Stats. Foreign affairs, eight questions. Employment insurance, six questions. The economy, four questions. Foreign investment and the F-35, three questions each. Omar Khadr, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, prisons, ethics and immigration, two questions each. Veterans, sports, children, forestry and cell phones, one question each.

John Baird, 13 responses. Kellie Leitch, six responses. Rona Ambrose, five responses. Vic Toews, four responses. Gary Goodyear, three responses. Jason Kenney and Tony Clement, two responses each. Eve Adams, Bal Gosal, Joe Oliver and Maxime Bernier, one response each.




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The Commons: Canada moves back in with its parents

  1. Yup, we’re back to being a colony

    Next up…a formal return to dominion status, and the red ensign.

    • I, for one, am glad to be a citizen of Harperland. Before Harper came along Canada was “a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status.”

      • Sigh. Depressing innit?

        Apparently we can’t make it on our own.

    • And rotary phones…

      • with party lines.

        • Vic is already working on that – though he claims he’ll limit his heavy breathing to the child pornographers’ lines…

  2. Oh good Lord.

    If you’re going to mock the Tories when they do something that’s probably pretty smart, at least wait until they announce what they’re actually going to do first.

    Under this agreement, Britain would de facto face of Canada in the world.” How the Hell would Mulcair know that before the agreement’s been released???

    • Been in the news for some time.

    • Agreed that Mulcair was hyperbolic. But I think the underlying critique is quite fair. It’s like the Conservatives have no belief in the existence of Canada as an independent, functional nation. A census that allows us to know who we are and govern intelligently? Gone. Parliament as an accountable instrument of national democracy? From omnibus bills on down it’s fading. History? Let’s fetishize the War of 1812 and leave it at that. Culture? Let the big guy play a Beatles tune while they starve out everything else. I could go on…

      The Harper vision of Canada is something of a friends-with-benefits federation. No commitment, minimal strings attached, and let’s keep everything on the QT. It’s not like there’s a multitude of other means to save money, if that’s what you mean by “smart”. This is part and parcel of their deliberate fracturing and devolution of our national identity and cohesion, make no mistake. They’ve always resented the compromise inherent in making this country work (in our own dysfunctional way), but their solution is to eviscerate the federation. If folks are happy to exist in such a Canada, and see no future downside, then I guess this latest move is no big deal.

      I’m no drum-beating nationalist, but nevertheless see some benefit in autonomy and functionality as a state. Even without seeing the agreement (which apparently exists in final form – why haven’t we seen it?), there’s much to be suspicious of here.

      • It’s like the Conservatives have no belief in the existence of Canada as an independent, functional nation.

        It seems to me that in this instance the people who have no belief in the existence of Canada as an independent functional nation are the people freaking out at the idea that we might leverage the greater diplomatic presence that some of our allies have in certain countries, while allowing them to leverage the greater diplomatic presence that we have in others, in order to allow us both to better serve our citizens overseas.

        • I almost always nod my head in agreement with you LKO, but you’re wrong on this one. “Leveraging,” in this case, means symbolically and pragmatically aligning ourselves with one nation. Remember the invasion of Iraq? Wasn’t it a good thing that we were able to take a clearly independent stance on that action (which if I recall, was not in line with Britain’s). Embassies are NOT simply service kiosks for overseas Canadians. If that were the sole reason for their existence, I suppose we could be arguing the finer points of outsourcing and efficient management. But embassies are often our front line of contact with foreign nations. They are our seats at the tables of other states. They are among the necessary tools of being a grown up in the world of national adulthood. Surely you can see some downside to this?

          • More to the point, what could we offer that we would need Britain to leverage for us, and vice versa. We’re so far removed from them they can’t even make us stop culling our seals.

          • It wouldn’t matter if we happened to be Britain’s cultural, social, and political dopplegangers at this moment in time. Either we’re a nation, or we’re not. Clearly, the Conservative’s hissy fit toward the compromise and imperfection inherent in making this federation work is leading them to abandon the idea ‘in toto’. As much as I hated the Liberal excesses of fictionalized national identity and harmony, this latest approach is lacking even the defense of positive vision and hope (however badly misguided). It’s salting the fields in the the throes of a petulant, teenager-style, nihilistic tantrum.

          • …and scene. *standing ovation*

  3. “Even Jamaica? (Our friend and ally will surely be pleased to referred in that way.)”

    lol …… It could have been worse. He could have said France.

    Love the tittle too. The thought of Baird being offered the cupboard under the stairs is hilarious.

  4. Britain’s forign minister has so little to do that he flies to Canada to announce “a small administrative arrangement?” If the Harperites are still in power in 2017, they will mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation by rejoining the Empire.

    • The sun didn’t set on the British Empire, it was just resting. God Save ‘our’ Queen.

      • Well, until we overhaul to our constitution, she is our queen. No need for parentheses.

  5. Am I reading this right? The socialists are crying for independence while the libertarians are trying to centralize operations?

    Weird…

    • It’s not centralization at all. This is an alignment of our international diplomatic presence with another nation. It’s simultaneously an outsourcing and a surrender of autonomy, in the name of streamlining. But streamlining is not centralizing. And the Conservatives may be many things, but they ain’t libertarians.

      • Would see it as streamlining if it was joining office with the Americans since we’re joined at the hip with everything but the War in Iraq. However sharing office with the Old Glory and countries we have nothing in common with but the Queen, that’s good old fashion centralization of power. Think about who will benefit the most from a unified voice in this deal. Certainly not us.

        And no, the Conservatives aren’t what they make themselves to be.

        • Point taken about centralization in the sense you meant it. I interpreted your meaning to be closer to the financial/administrative sense, not the consolidation of power. Not saying I fully agree it’s that well thought out or purposeful in that sense, but it’s food for thought.

          • I was mostly trying to be dramatic, or else wouldn’t have used the “socialist/libertarian” meme. But the juxtaposition is still bizarre to me.

          • T.

      • No, just faux libertarian neo-cons…

    • Yes, Harper worships Britain and America, but thinks very little of Canada and Canadians.

      Harper on America and Republicans: “Your country and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world.”

      Harper on Canada and Canadians: “Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status.”

      • This is one of the few things the Harper government has done right.

        • So it’s ok for him to go talk down this country, and brag up some foreign Conservatives, but if the opposition sends someone to Washington to make the case against pipelines or oil sands they’re traitors.

          • Your not making any sense and conflating issues doesn’t help.

          • Perhaps i misunderstood you, but you did reply to RW ,so i naturally assumed you approved of the Harper quotes above. In that context what i did post made sense…sorta anyway.
            So your remark was meant then to read as an endorsement of the super embassy move?

          • It is about standing up for Canada’s sovereignty.

        • You’re going to have to elaborate on that.

  6. Maybe they’re just sharing some desk space to save $, maybe they’re going to abandon all foreign policy, maybe they just want to say “look how close we are to our allies” the next time they plunge headlong into a stupid war in the middle east and the CPC wants to drag us in. I would not disbelieve any one of these things.

    And that really makes me wish we had a government you could at least trust and would be relatively upfront with its citizens, rather than crapweasels who seem to take glee in telling baldfaced lies and treat its people and institutions with sheer contempt. Even if I disagreed with them, I’d at least like to know their actual plan.

    • I really appreciate your comment…and agree. I too would not disbelieve any of those hidden agenda items. I was also just thinking about how we just cannot trust this government and what a sad state that is for a country…their closed door policy is just so unacceptable in a democracy. Thanks.

  7. Mulcair made an ass of himself. The 60s ended a long time ago and such adolescent nonsense should have too.

    • Now back to celebrating the war of 1812, everyone!

      • Brilliant.

      • Anyone know where to get whig powder?

  8. Well, if the Conservatives think it`s a good idea to share some real estate with our friend in some of the more remote Capitals on the Globe, then the ever predictable Wherry will automatically slam them for it—never mind that it makes sense and will have zero effect on any independent decisions we will make.

    And the ever predictable, and as boring as Mulcair, wusses who frequent this blog line up behind Wherry, like they need to be told how to react.

    Only LKO seems to have the balls to make his own clear-minded choice on a relatively minor diplomatic strategy.

    • No it doesn’t make sense….there is absolutely no reason to do this.

      And unlike Conbots… the rest of us don’t need to be told how to think

      • Like Wherry, You don`t have to think—-just slam the Tories–it`s automatic and boring.

        By the way, is it possible that Wherry and Emily are the same person ?

        • You know you just sound like an idiot when you say that, don’t you? Of course you don’t, that was a dumb question on my part.

          • And the largest lemming in the group contributes her bit of fluff.

        • Emily has been a member of the Reform/CA party and knows of what she speaks.

          You’re simply a Conbot repeating slogans.

          • I call BS on your claim of EVER belonging to the Reform party. Given that it was a western-based party in the 90′s and you lived in Alberta in the 60′s and given that you are obviously a left leaner and it was very right wing….unless you joined to spy on the party, you never believed in anything that party stood for. Further, I call BS on your claims to own guns. You just say this crap so that you can act like you have some expertise in these areas. Given that you have told some really questionable “stories” in the past, why would anyone give credence to these claims?

          • Call anything you like….but really it should be a psychiatrist to discover why you want to start arguments that have no basis, with me.

            I was a Reform riding president….right here in Ont….after being PC for 30 years.

            Methinks you need an anger management course at the very least….you seem to have issues.

            Or maybe you just need to get out of Alberta and find out how the ROC lives.

    • So refugees showing up at the Anglocan embassy/consulate looking for asylum – what are they going to do – flip a coin?

  9. Be careful! We are conducting diplomatic operations out of the Australian mission in Cambodia. This is only a part of the secret plot to have far-right Australia secretly take over our country.This is just a lot of noise about nothing. This is about saving a few bucks here and there. No one is going to put Canada under the thumb of the British. In fact, based on the economic numbers, I would say that Britain will in 20 years be considerably poorer(lower GDP despite larger population) than Canada. The average Canadian already makes more money than the average Brit. Our debt situation is far less critical. We have a higher GDP growth rate, faster population growth rate, and a more favorable business climate(based on economic freedom rankings by the OECD, Heritage Foundation, and Fraser Institute). Also, the Canadian government has a smaller imprint on the economy(lower % of our GDP despite all the Crown Corporations) than Britain’s government has. The British situation is made worse by an unstable Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government that can’t agree on most issues. The end result will probably be the return of the Labor Party to government under the left-wing socialist Milibrand. Back in power, these guys will sink the British economy just like Labor ran down the country between 1997-2010(read up on how Thatcher saved Britain from these guys).
    Harper is a monarchist! Big deal, so are most Canadians(according to Angus Reid polling)! In 1775, we had a choice join the American republic or side with the British crown. To this day, we are still a member of the British commonwealth( yet independent like New Zealand, Australia, and about 50 other countries). As for the Canadian flag, I have always felt that the maple leaf was kind of dull. I don’t know about returning to the old red ensign. However, I do see nothing wrong with possibly looking at another design. As for the Senate, I would prefer to abolish it myself and save some money. What this is really about is leftist Canadians looking for a foreign bogeyman. It used to the U.S. under Bush. However, now many left-wing Canadians are okay with the U.S. because they are being run by a virtual NDPer named Obama. If Obama issued orders to the current Canadian government, many of these so-called left-wing Canadian government would excuse his power grab. The point is that we can have our royal ties(and love our royal past) but chart our own path. We are far different than the British. We largely believe in capitalism(most Brits are social democratic in nature ex: Labor Party, Scottish and Welsh Seperatists, Greens, and left-wing of Liberal Democrat Party). We believe in the right to have guns for protection or hunting with sensible controls while the British government has turned gun owners into virtual outlaws(pistols outlawed and long guns not far off). We believe in immigration and the idea of one Canada out of many. Britain is a society where both immigration is strongly opposed and new comers often fail to integrate into the larger society(in effect becoming ghettoized in their own communities with limited opportunities). In non-Quebec Canada, we value the individual and expect to solve our own problems. In Britain, individualism has been replaced with dependence on government for everything. The two countries are too different to ever be unified under one government.

    • Obviously you don’t know much about either the UK or Canada.

      • When have you last been in Britain? It has changed dramatically since Thatcher left. The country was considered one of the healthiest economically in 1997 when Labor came in. Labor has expanded the government’s imprint since 1997. Labor spent like drunken sailors while hoping that Britain’s financial industry would cover the cost through Blair’s windfall tax. This failed with the economic crisis. On the social policy side, the Labor Party has worked to ban handguns, push politically correctness to ridiculous lengths, loosen discipline in the schools, and undermine parents at every point. The Scottish Nationalists are seperatists who share much of the Labor Party’s values. The same with Wales Plaid Cymru(although they are for more autonomy rather than independence). In internal party elections, the left-wing of the Labor Party won control(under David Millibrand over his more moderate brother).Meanwhile, the Conservative Party has been taken over by a One Nation Ted Heath clone named David Cameron. He is a return to the big government aristocrat leaders that the Conservatives used to put up before Thatcher. The only true capitalist party in the U.K. is the U.K. Independence Party which is composed of many former Thatcherites. As for immigration, it is a major issue in the United Kingdom. There has been a lot of discussion about the lack of integration by immigrants into the larger British society. This has been mentioned most often in regard to the Muslim community. However, There have also been a number of stories about workers(and their families) from eastern europe not successfully fitting in to British society.

        • UKIP has no future.

          And without Europe, neither does the UK

    • “In non-Quebec Canada, we value the individual and expect to solve our own problems. In Britain, individualism has been replaced with dependence on government for everything.”
      And Tommy Douglas remains a #1 choice as greatest Canadians, according to non-Quebec Canadians. Are you sure about that value of the individual in solving their own problem? Certainly that Tommy Douglas was a Westerner with Western-Canadian values, no?
      Well written text though.

      • Tommy Douglas may be a Canadian hero but the truth is that we have been moving in an increasing individualistic direction since about 1993. Americans worship Reagan on the right and FDR on the left. Does that make Americans bipolar? On economic policy, the modern Conservative Party is far more a proponent of free markets, lower taxes, and less government involvement in the economy than the old PC’s(of Mulroney, Kim Campbell, or Joe Clark). The same goes for the NDP which is nationally trying to reinvent itself as a progressive capitalist party(compare current platform versus the Ed Broadbent days). Even big government Trudeau admitted in an interview shortly before his death that his biggest mistake was expecting that big government programs were the answer to every problem he encountered. We also have an increasing numbers of entrepeneurs(according to Macleans) trying to start their own businesses. This is a sign of more people wanting to take charge of both their dreams and futures. Canada will never be as dramatically capitalist as say Hong Kong. However, we are increasingly headed in a small government direction. The gun issue is just one aspect of this individualistic(or libertarian) direction.. In the early 1990′s, the gun registry had large majority support in polling. Another poll showed 73% support for a handgun ban over the current tight laws on handguns. Now, the latest polls find the public divided roughly 50-50 on these issues. Also, the newer polling shows that increasing gun ownership as a right. At the same time, the strong acceptance of gay marriage in Canada is another sign of the support of individual choices. Canada is becoming neither a Conservative Republican clone or a decaying French Socialist clone. It is charting a more libertarian direction.

        • Sounds like liberalism to me.

          2012/9/26 Disqus

  10. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes. Is it nothing to see move on as Baird seems to be saying, or is there more to it? Have the Conservatives put any thought into this at all, because it is clear the Brits have an agenda? The notion that their FM would turn up for a minor bit of administrative tweaking is absurd. Which lends weight to the thought our govt doesn’t have a clue what it is doing beyond clinging again to mommies skirts because they think that helps their brand and the opposition would never do it. But what if it doesn’t? This has the potential to backfire badly if the public takes it into its head to think the Tories don’t really value our independence all that much, or are playing politics with it. This is something that could possibly rile up everyone – from union guy to tory partisan. Remember how badly the O Canada rewrite went over? and it is almost certain not to go down well in Quebec , although that at least they must have foreseen, right?

    • It will be interesting to see what the Blogging Tories/Sun Media make of this – somehow I think it would have been wise to prepare them for this – they’re not known to be huge fans of the Monarchy and all that goes with it.

  11. selling the country off to the chinese and pretending we belong to britain. nice going harper.

  12. This makes sense financially and only someone deeply insecure would think of this as going back home to mom and pop. Right now the only think GB has on Canada is a thousand years of history. I would not argue that this is a small thing but time doesn’t move backwards and Canada has the future.

  13. The irony of a citizen of France, (Mulcair and his beard) who has delusions of becoming the PM of Canada hysterically ranting like an imbecile over such a minor agreement simply because it’s with the British is indeed rich. French citizen Mulcair is simply playing to the English haters in his warped Province and the stunted anti British whiners (Wherry) outside. Makes for a good laugh, although I’m sure, unintentionally. The Trudeau cult just can’t hide their hatred for all things British, including Canada”s history… it sure is funny!

  14. So, the ‘Harper Government’ is sneakily trying to reverse the progressive right to safe abortion, they’ve left the Kyoto accord, they’re proposing a back-door internet regulation policy, they’ve spent record amounts of taxpayer dollars on military ‘investments’ and now they’re trying to get us back into bed with the Monarchy we once ached to be independent of. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it feels like we’re going to end up living in black and white shortly. Driven by a being with beady, soulless eyes, a time machine does exist, and it’s called the Conservative Party.

    • Sounds like you’re already living in “black@white”… back to your “womans studies class”… what are you gonna do next… jump in your “time machine” and burn your bra?

  15. Hey,…. they are giving us Kate,.. the ‘porno Queen’ as soon as that hag Elizabeth buys the farm….. I am going to enjoy this.

    • What does this story have to do with your obsession with gay porn?

  16. Australia and Canada organised to do its embassy sharing some years ago and no one thought anything of it because the two countries are very similar and we obviously had embassies in different parts of the world, there was little overlap.

  17. This is why Canada is not a real country. It is a self-governing crown colony. The head-of-state of Canada is the Queen-of-England. If you want to visit Canada apply for a visa at the UK embassy.

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