The foreign minister visited Egypt today and came bearing modest and probably useful gifts. I have hoped such a visit would happen, so good on Lawrence Cannon for going to the place where, arguably, a disproportionate share of Northern Africa’s hopes and dangers reside.
Cannon says he saw “a genuine and authentic push toward real democracy.” As his boss has sometimes noted, that can be messy. This Saturday Egyptians will vote on interim constittuional amendments on the way to legislative and Presidential elections and, it is hoped but not yet certain, the establishment of some kind of constituent assembly to write a new constitution. The amendments face a rough ride. I see no evidence that Cannon expressed a preferred outcome for Saturday’s vote. That’s the way it should be too. We can provide resources that help Egyptians make decisions, but they must be Egyptian decisions.
Today’s action by the minister wasn’t much, but in the middle of a crazy busy week, when Cannon could have concentrated on Libya to the exclusion of everything else — or cut ribbons in the Outaouais — he put Canada’s foot in the door as a modest ally for real change in Egypt.
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