Top Rival to Trudeau Pledges a Tougher Line on China 'Threat'

08 Mai, 2019, 11:38 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Andrew Scheer leader of the Conservative Party of Canada smiles during an event at the Montreal Council on Foreign Relations, at the Marriott Chateau Champlain in Montreal

But Canada's relationship with China was a key theme in his speech laying out what a Conservative government's foreign policy would look like, and the Tory leader called the country the primary and strongest "propagator of authoritarian values".

The other topics Scheer will be speaking about over the coming weeks: immigration, confederation and intergovernmental relations, and environment and climate change.

With the clock ticking down to when the 2019 election campaign will be in full swing, it appears that Scheer will be making a pivot from presenting himself and his party as the opposition, to the alternative in a race that now has the Conservatives outpacing the governing Liberals in some opinion polls.

The first of those addresses was delivered in a windowless room at a downtown Montreal hotel, at a lunchtime event organized by non-profit foreign policy group the Conseil des relations internationales de Montréal.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks to AFP journalists in Ottawa, Ontario, on May 9, 2018. Though not unusual that a Montreal-based multinational should support a foreign policy event in the city, the company's presence - its logo appeared on much of the signage outside the room and at the firm's table near the front, eight people sat snacking on fish tartare - was the subject of some amusement for parliamentary reporters in attendance. Canada is "a long, long ways off" from being able to trust China, he said. "And the profound arrogance and self-importance of Mr. Trudeau's words foreshadowed how the new prime minister would conduct Canada's foreign affairs: Style over substance and ego over achievements".

He then laid out what he sees as Canada's biggest threats and priorities. While the United States is Canada's closest historical ally, Trudeau has had a rocky relationship with President Donald Trump, especially during North American trade talks a year ago. He also made no mention of Brexit, something for which he's previously voiced enthusiastic support.

Scheer did say that, like Trump, he would "recognize the fact that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel", as he had pledged past year to do if elected.

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"I will deal with China with eyes wide open", he says. "That obviously would include making sure that Canada's representation there is in Jerusalem and we'd work with the government of Israel to accomplish those types of things".

The Conservatives held power from 2006 until 2015 when they were toppled by the Liberals in a general election. For example, Scheer said as prime minister he would "reinvigorate" Canada's role in its alliances with multilateral allies such as the Five Eyes, the Commonwealth and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

But the series of promises that ended the speech included several that were more concrete.

Scheer, 39, said he would file a formal complaint against China at the World Trade Organization and end a C$250 million investment in the Chinese-owned Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank "if their trade blockades persist".

Scheer also promised to "begin the necessary work" to move Canada's embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, following Trump's decision to do so. He said he would enter negotiations to join the USA ballistic missile defence program, and fix defence procurement - always a tricky file for governments - in part by putting money towards new icebreakers, fighter jets and submarines. "Nothing can happen until such time", he said.

"We can play a vital leadership role in building the new global political infrastructure for the advancement of freedom in the 21st century", he said. "Some politicians want Canada to be the referee, I want Canada to be the quarterback".

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