After China, India: Canadian diplomacy criticized for its naivety

The diplomatic crisis hampering Ottawa and New Delhi shows Canada’s lack of “seriousness” regarding issues of national security and foreign interference, according to some experts.

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Indo-Canadian relations, already tense, soured further earlier this week when Canada raised the possibility of Indian government involvement in the killing of a Sikh leader in June near Vancouver.

“The crisis with India was a huge mistake,” Charles-Philippe David, professor of diplomatic studies at the University of Quebec in Montreal, told AFP, adding that Ottawa had received warning signals for “a long time” about foreign interference. in his territory.

The global context, which “changed in recent years and was accelerated by Ukraine”, forced Canada, he said, to “choose sides and take a more assertive position”.

But so far, according to him, the country is in a state of “dormancy” which results in a lack of ambition, resources and leadership.

“We must treat international relations and foreign policy more seriously than we have done so far,” stressed David.

One of his colleagues at the University of Ottawa pointed out that Canada has not reviewed its foreign policy for “a generation or two.”

“This is a failure of our government, no matter which party is in power. We need the right defense policy,” public and international affairs professor John Packer told AFP.

The latter believes that more and more autocracies are now exercising their influence on Canadian soil.

“The people here are confident because they are surrounded by three oceans and allied neighbors to the south,” he concluded. “But that is no longer the case, even these oceans don’t serve as barricades now.”

“Polite and kind students”

Tensions with India prove, according to Professor Packer, that “the world has changed and we need to adapt to it”.

“We were perhaps a little naive and not vigilant enough to defend our sovereignty,” he continued.

Moreover, apart from India, Ottawa also has difficulties with China.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated significantly since 2018 when Canada arrested, at the request of the United States, a senior executive of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. Two Canadians were later arrested in China, in what was widely seen as retaliation from Beijing. All three have been released.

According to national security expert and former senior Canadian intelligence official Michel Juneau-Katsuya, Canada is now “at a crossroads.”

“We have become so naive on matters of national security that we are almost stupid,” he said. “Now it’s catching up with us.”

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The man who was head of the Asia-Pacific division at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in the 1990s claims that Indian interference dates back decades.

Earlier this month, after months of controversy and delays, Ottawa finally officially launched a public inquiry into foreign interference, particularly from China.

“Canada is a polite and kind student. “We don’t talk loudly, we don’t bang on tables, we don’t slam doors,” explained Mr. Juneau-Katsuya. Some countries, he argues, have taken advantage of this attitude.

The former CSIS official believes that government inaction from all sides has led to a deterioration in relations with New Delhi.

According to him, collective awareness is needed regarding the issues that are shaking Canadian diplomacy. “This is really undermining our democracy,” believes the expert.

Garfield Woolery

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