Freeland torques terror threats for political points
Bouquets from establishment media through her tenure as foreign affairs minister has made Chrystia Freeland thin-skinned to criticism.
On rare occasions she receives it, like at Tuesday’s Senate committee appearance, rather than yielding to a difference of opinion and returning to statecraft – minister of foreign affairs’ job description – the woman named ‘diplomat of the year’ by Foreign Policy magazine took her beef to social media instead.
In an edited clip she posted to Twitter, Québec Conservative Senator Leo Housakos appears incredulous there could ever be a politician in Canada “who believes that white supremacy is a threat to our way of life in Canada, to our communities, to our democracy.”
His remarks are the tail end of a broader disagreement Housakos articulated about relative threats, taken alongside the spate of Islamic terrorism over the previous two decades – terrorism so ferocious and severe it required marshalling Canadian military expeditions to combat it.
That little more than a week ago Freeland told the United Nations “neo-nazis, white supremacists, incels, and radical anti-globalists” threatened the civilized world, her position was fair game for a member of the Senate’s foreign affairs committee.
Listen to her UN statement by clicking here.
Freeland’s truncated Twitter clip of the entire exchange shows she heartily doubled down on her UN statement only hours after David Vigneault, director of CSIS, finished telling the Senate’s national security committee that Islamic terrorist groups remain the central threat having “caused the most significant deaths recently”.
Canada’s top spy also told senators that CSIS was working with RCMP and others to track 300 Canadians believed to have left to fight for ISIS, but other Islamic terror groups including Hezbollah and Al Shabaab; 90 of whom are believed to be back in the country.
Vigneault did say “ultra-right-wing extremists” occupy “more and more” of agency resources, yet in that vein he referenced the Richmond Hill ‘incel’ who killed ten with a rental van by employing techniques associated with other Islamic terror attacks in Europe: “which is to use a vehicle to kill as many people as you can.”
But all of this was buried under the media-fed, political bunfight Freeland instigated by taking a 1:36 minute slice of an hour’s worth of questioning, to suggest Housakos – the son of Greek immigrants – is proof Conservatives are in denial about, or even in bed with far-right racists who would threaten our security and democracy.
In isolation, it is on par with Conservative and Liberal MPs arguing a fortnight previous on the subject of which party is worse at doing feminism.
Given other pressing issues for Freeland, including two Canadians in Chinese custody, extradition of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, China’s canola blockade, Russian aggression in Ukraine and OECD’s ‘monitoring’ of the SNC-Lavalin imbroglio (topic of Housakos’ first question during the roundtable affair), winning an argument over nascent terror threats ranks less than urgent.
Senator Raynell Andreychuk chairs of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee and also engaged in a disagreement with Freeland, an albeit less publicized exchange.
“I hope that we’re not saying extremism is one definition,” Andreychuk told Freeland at the end of the minister’s appearance. “We are being bombarded from cyberspace. We are thinking we have had allies and finding out we don’t have the same allies. Countries are changing.”
The Conservative senator from Saskatchewan took particular issue with Freeland’s outlook on Russia’s annexation of Crimea in Ukraine, that the minister described as the first time Russia retook former possessions “since the Second World War”.
“I do want to correct you on Ukraine and to the east. It isn’t just one fact that changes,” Andreychuk said before Freeland left, refusing to engage media on her way out the door.
“Remember the Baltics that we abandoned. Remember the fact that Georgia was invaded. It is an incremental thing, and then we come to a consensus that we say enough is enough.”
Andreychuk also addressed deteriorating relations with China in the wake of Wanzhou’s arrest and extradition proceedings, further tested by an embargo on Canadian canola seed for alleged pest contamination on a product whose export to China is valued at $2.7 billion annually.
“It’s the same thing with China,” said Andreychuk. “It’s been incremental. We’ve overlooked, we’ve forewarned and we’ve been shocked. There comes a point to act. The canola crisis is hitting now.”
Justin Trudeau has announced his new cabinet for the 43rd Parliament. Despite there being a great deal of speculation as to who would be included in the cabinet, there has only been insignificant change.
One of the more noteworthy changes is that Chrystia Freeland has been moved from her position as Minister of Foreign Affairs to her new position as the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. She will also serve as the Deputy Prime Minister: a position that was first created by Justin Trudeau’s father, Pierre, and was done away with by Stephen Harper.
This will give Freeland broad power across the government and will only fuel speculation that she is being lined up as Trudeau’s successor. Quebec MP Francois-Philippe Champagne has replaced Freeland in the Foreign Affairs position.
The darling of the right, Catherine McKenna has been moved out of her position as Minister for the Environment. McKenna’s removal will delight the Alberta Premier, Jason Kenney, who has previously demanded that McKenna leave her position for the sake of national unity. The Member of Parliament for North Vancouver, Johnathan Wilkinson, is expected to take over McKenna’s position.
Despite Bill Morneau being heavily criticized for running deficits, and also being attacked for “elitist” campaign posters, he will continue to remain in his position as finance minister.
Due to Trudeau’s woeful results in western Canada, the prime minister was unable to select a member of parliament who was from Alberta or Saskatchewan to serve in his cabinet. Trudeau has also declined to bring in a senator to represent western Canada. As a result of this, the Prairies will be entirely unrepresented in Canada’s executive.
Aside from the names previously mentioned, here is the list of other cabinet transitions, as listed by the CBC:
- Ahmed Hussen, going to families, children and social development.
- Melanie Joly, to economic development and official languages, in charge of regional development agencies.
- Bernadette Jordan, to fisheries and oceans.
- Catherine McKenna, to infrastructure and communities.
- Dominic LeBlanc, now president of the Queen’s privy council, chair of the operations committee.
- Joyce Murray, to digital government.
- Mary Ng, to small business export promotion and international trade.
- Carla Qualtrough, to employment, workforce development and disability inclusion.
- Filomena Tassi, to labour.
Chrystia Freeland will no longer serve as foreign affairs minister, as the job will instead go to Saint-Maurice—Champlain MP Francois-Philippe Champagne.
Champagne served as minister of infrastructure and communities in the Trudeau government’s last parliament, and will be replacing cabinet faithful Chrystia Freeland. Champagne, who also worked as a trade lawyer, has served as minister of international trade in the past.
It is not yet known what position Freeland will be moved to, though it has been rumoured by sources that she will serve as deputy prime minister.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will make a formal announcement on Wednesday afternoon to unveil his new cabinet at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
Additionally, North Vancouver MP Jonathan Wilkinson will serve as the new environment minister, according to Radio-Canada. Pablo Rodriguez will be government house leader, and Steven Guilbeault will serve as the new heritage minister, according to CBC-Radio Canada‘s sources.
A former national security adviser to the prime minister told military officials that Canada’s perception of the threats posed by Russia and China need to be clearly recognized, especially as the United States shifts towards a more isolationist economy, reports the CBC.
“The risks posed by these two countries are certainly different, but they are generally based on advancing all their interests to the detriment of the West,” said Richard Fadden, former national security adviser to Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper.
“Their activities span the political, military and economic spheres.”
Fadden, who also served as head of CSIS and as deputy defence minister, made the comments at the annual Vimy Ridge Dinner in Ottawa.
Russia and China have both shown a willingness to “use virtually any means to attain their goals,” while the U.S. has shown at various instances that it’s willing to withdraw from global trade.
The rise of American isolationism, Fadden says, means Canada will need to seek new avenues in addressing global crises without the United States, and instead, with other allies.
But in order to do so, Fadden says, Canada needs to recognize drastic changes that have occurred on the world stage over the last decade.
Canada should “recognize our adversaries for what they are, recognize we have to deal with them, but draw clear limits to what we will accept,” he said.
According to Fadden, Ottawa and our federal leaders need to recognize that the post-Cold War world order “with comprehensive U.S. leadership is gone, and is not coming back in the form we knew.”
While serving as CSIS director years ago, Fadden noted the rise of Chinese influence throughout Canadian municipal and provincial politics.
“The West does not have its act together as much as it could and should,” said Fadden.
Fadden echoed similar sentiment as former U.S. national security advisor Susan Rice, who recently told the CBC that she believed Huawei phones, made by a company who American officials believe is puppeteered by the Chinese communist party, posed a major threat to national security.
“It’s hard for me to emphasize adequately, without getting into classified terrain, how serious it is, particularly for countries involved in the Five Eyes,” said Rice explaining the severity of the threat, while suggested the signals intelligence alliance (Five Eyes) between U.S., Canada, UK, New Zealand and Australia would be put into serious jeopardy if Canada went ahead with Huawei 5G.
Fadden also pointed out that radicalization was occurring beyond the confines of Islam and violent right-wing terrorism has become a growing concern.
“Right-wing terrorism is growing and, like its cousin jihadist terrorism, it is a globalized threat,” he said. “We will ignore it at our peril.”
Chrystia Freeland, who serves as foreign minister and the Liberal candidate running for the University–Rosedale riding, has won her reelection.
In an interview with CBC on October 4, Freeland stressed to the importance of making sure whichever government gets elected ensures no Canadian gets left behind.
“We are seeing in too many countries — where you have a group of people in the country who are left behind — that that creates an opportunity for irresponsible politicians to whip up a sort of angry nativist sentiment,” Freeland said, adding that Canada is not immune to the strains and stresses of divisive politics.
As the Toronto Star explains, Freeland has had a “meteoric rise” in prominence since becoming an MP, in large part thanks to Justin Trudeau, who promoted her from minister of international trade to foreign minister only two years later for her work on renegotiating NAFTA.
Freeland easily won a decisive victory in her downtown Toronto riding, with NDP candidate Melissa Jean-Baptiste Vajda trailing far behind. Many have expected this as Freeland has established herself as a high-profile candidate, while her opponents are relatively unknown.