U.S., Russia ignoring Canada, PM Harper to blame: opposition

Mon Sep 28, 2015 9:55pm EDT
 
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By Randall Palmer and David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Opposition leaders said that neither Russia nor the United States listened to Canada because of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's approach to foreign policy and what they said was an abandonment of multilateralism.

Justin Trudeau of the Liberals and Thomas Mulcair of the New Democrats said on Monday during a televised debate that Harper had marginalized Canada's influence abroad. They face an election on Oct. 19.

Harper responded that he would press Canada's interests in international trade negotiations and in discussions with the United States, and he also stressed the importance of standing up to terrorism and Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Both opponents accused Harper of souring relations with U.S. President Barack Obama by predicting Washington would eventually end up approving TransCanada Corp's Keystone XL oil pipeline to the United States.

"It's very difficult to see how Canada’s superior interests were being served when Prime Minister Harper said to President Obama that it was a complete no-brainer, that the Americans had to approve Keystone XL," Mulcair said.

Trudeau belittled Harper's confrontation with Vladimir Putin at last November's G20 summit when he told the Russian president to leave Ukraine.

"Canada has such a diminished voice on the world stage that Mr. Harper hasn't noticed that Vladimir Putin didn't listen to him when he told him to get out of Ukraine," he said.

The Conservatives say they have taken the moral high ground in their nine years in power, shunning messy diplomatic compromises while resolutely backing allies such as Israel and Ukraine.   Continued...

 
Conservative leader and Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at the Munk leaders' debate on Canada's foreign policy in Toronto, Canada September 28, 2015. REUTERS/Mark Blinch