Kinsman: Should building ties in Latin America be a policy priority for Canada?

By: /
March 11, 2013
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Of course.

Trudeau (PET) believed deeply that Canada has a global vocation insisting we have key relationships in all parts of the world. (And he did.)

Obviously, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and yes, Cuba and Venezuela – subject to our ability to communicate a human rights message as well – should be strategic partners. The South American continent has a new energy and is largely democratic. The EU is charging into South America. So is China. And of course, the U.S. looms over the continent. We should be as attentive as our key strategic partners to what is going on and connecting in our own vertical hemisphere.

But we can’t come across as surrogate gringo stand-ins.

Nor should we assume South Americans are avidly awaiting our embrace. It will take time to build influence which requires their belief in our consistency. We need good ears. I have doubted this Canadian government is equipped with such essentials for the task of connecting substantively to any but a few ideological trusties, but John Baird’s message in Mexico was positive. It needs radiation now more widely to the South. And we need to staff and finance our plans in foreign affairs across the global board.