Steven Staples participated in the panel, “Does conservative foreign policy need an overhaul?,” at the Manning Networking Conference on Friday, March 8. Staples provided a counterbalance to many of the other panelists views. The discussion was summarized by iPolitics (Michelle Zilio, “Does the Harper government have a foreign policy plan?,” March 8, 2013):
Panelists at the Manning Networking Conference in Ottawa Friday highlighted the difference between the implementation and communication of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s foreign policy strategy.
The session — titled, “Does conservative foreign policy need an overhaul?” — was hosted by Colin Robertson, vice-president of the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, Friday morning at the Ottawa Convention Centre. Robertson was joined by panelists Carlo Dade, senior fellow at the University of Ottawa’s School for International Development and Global Studies, Mark Cameron, former director of policy at the PMO, Monte Solberg, former minister of citizenship and immigration, and Steven Staples, president of the Rideau Institute.
Robertson’s first question — is there a Harper foreign policy? — directed the discussion for the remainder of the session.
For Staples, the answer is simple. If Harper has a set foreign policy strategy, Canadians don’t know what it is.
“It seems to not necessarily follow predictable lines,” said Staples. “They really seem to be, as many foreign policies are, determined by domestic concerns, whether it’s in regards to throwing your political opponents offside or to satisfy a particular constituency.”
Staples said the influence of domestic policy on foreign policy is not uncommon nor particularly unique to Canada.
…During the Q&A period of the session, a participant asked the panel what Harper’s foreign policy legacy might be. Staples said that while he believes Harper has yet to clearly outline his foreign policy, that doesn’t mean it’s too late.
“It’s now time to find some sort of push, some sort of diplomatic keynote initiative … in order to distinguish themselves,” said Staples. “It might be the Arctic, it be might global disarmament, it could be something else, but I think they need to find that in the years ahead.”
The full article is available online.