The Hon. David Emerson is confused

The former Liberal Industry Minister and former Conservative Foreign Affairs Minister had some things to say about Canada’s international prestige and ways to remediate it, some of them flatly contradictory.

Now back in the private sector after deciding not to run in the 2008 election, Emerson said it was clear during his foreign trips that Canada is fading from the international stage.

“Certainly when I travelled abroad people would say, `Where’s Canada been? Why aren’t you out more?” said Emerson, who was trade and Foreign Affairs minister under Harper.

“There was a real kind of noticeable impression out there in the world community that Canada is not as visible as we used to be, and should be,” he told Canwest News Service in an interview.

Emerson said Canada’s visibility problems existed under previous Liberal governments and are possibly linked to the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, which he said made Canada “U.S.-centric.”

— Peter O’Neil, “Canada losing ground in world, former minister says“.  Canwest News Service, February 15th, 2009.

NAFTA’s made Canada too US-centric, so we need less integration with the United States.  Okay, fine.  Except our economic advantage is dwindling so we need more integration. Uh… come again?

He said Canada’s NAFTA advantage is withering in the post-9/11 era because of U.S. border security measures and protectionism. He called on the government to aggressively seek stronger Canada-U.S. ties, up to and including a customs union. He said at minimum Canada should advocate a North American security perimeter arrangement, a labour mobility agreement that modernizes NAFTA provisions, and greater integration on regulatory matters.

Tell you what, Dave.  Go home and think about this for a while.  Then give us a call when you’ve got it all straightened out in your own head, okay?

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