Winnipeg first stop on federal foreign affairs minister tour
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 09/08/2022 (229 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
While most people visit Folklorama to try new food or learn a new dance, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly claims her visit to the Winnipeg festival this week will help her craft a long-delayed Indo-Pacific strategy.
The Manitoba capital was Joly’s first stop in an unconventional tour of Canadian cities, where she hopes to learn how Canadians feel about their foreign policy at a time when the Russian invasion of Ukraine, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic has sent living costs skyrocketing.
“Often, foreign policy seems very far from people. But this summer, in particular, we’re seeing really that it couldn’t be closer to home,” Joly said in a Tuesday interview.
During her two-day visit, Joly met with the Business Council of Manitoba, Ukrainian Canadian groups and refugee advocates.
At Folklorama, she took in the Punjabi Pavilion, and heard about a desire for stronger ties with the region that straddles India and Pakistan. In the northwest corner of the city, she met Filipino Canadians at Dr. Jose Rizal Park.
She said both Winnipeg groups have strong ties abroad, and told her Canada should be “a constructive nation that is a reliable partner” on education and human rights in the region.
“Canada needs to assert itself more as a Pacific nation; we need to step it up more in the region… in light of a much more assertive China,” Joly said.
Opposition parties have complained the Liberals have promised an Asia-Pacific strategy for years, and claim the delay has led to an incoherent approach to military co-operation and trade.
Joly also toured the Canadian Museum for Human Rights with Lloyd Axworthy, who was a Liberal foreign affairs minister from 1996 to 2000.
She said Axworthy has advised her on resettling asylum seekers from Ukraine and Afghanistan, and he had advice for how to handle issues with China. She avoided specifics, but said the former MP (1979-2000) has helped advise her on how to use new powers to seize Russian assets.
Part of Canada’s sanctions package has included tariffs on fertilizer from Russia, and agriculture groups claim no other G7 country has implemented those levies. Farmers argue the policy will make groceries even more expensive, together with planned regulations aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions from fertilizer.
Joly hinted her cabinet colleagues are mulling some sort of aid for farmers.
“We have put forward a compensation package to farmers, but we’re very much in listening mode, because we know at the end of the day this is a cost-of-living issue.”