When no Canadians are around

Nicolas Sarkozy gives yet another prime-time televised interview with hand-picked reporters to list his priorities for the French Presidency of the European Union, which begins tomorrow, July 1, a national holiday in certain countries said to be dear to France’s heart. And where is the project for a Canada-EU trade deal, which Jean Charest has been pushing for a year and a half, precisely with an eye to the six-month window of France’s EU presidency? Absent.

Better yet: Sarko sings the praises of protectionism! “We expect from Europe that it will protect against the risks of globalization… we must not be afraid of the word ‘protection.'”

(Warning: Links will take readers to articles written in the tricky tongue of the French.)

In Canada we hold whole conferences about the possibilities for Canada-EU trade. Visiting Canadian dignitaries are constantly greeted in Paris, and sometimes in Berlin or Brussels, with encouraging pats on the head and a few words about the prospects for Canada-EU trade liberalization. But I’ve been following this story for a year and when there are no Canadians around France’s leadership never, ever mentions the project. Mr. Charest and, to a lesser extent, his not-overly-enthusiastic federal partner Stephen Harper are being patronized. The good news is, that won’t last more than another six months.