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Canada continues to serve our adversaries diplomatic victories on a platinum platter. 

Last month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed Canada’s House of Commons. This historic moment was unfortunately overshadowed by the Canadian government’s failure to vet a 98-year-old former Nazi. Consequently, all 338 Members of Parliament and distinguished guests celebrated the “war veteran” with a standing ovation.  

That no one in the Speaker’s office was alarmed by the fact that Yaroslav Hunka fought against the Russians during World War II begs the question: What qualifications do the people granted the privilege of staffing and advising Canada’s elected Members of Parliament hold? Incompetence is bad enough, but not conducting a basic background check on every person in attendance that day was a complete national security failure.  

Zelensky is a wartime leader of historic importance. He has reportedly survived at least 12 assassination attempts. What if Hunka were not a World War II veteran with a controversial past, but one of Putin’s assassins instead? Would this lack of security not embolden other rogue states to do what India has been accused of and assassinate Canadian citizens in Canada? Your guess is as good as mine. 

To call this humiliating situation a diplomatic disaster is an understatement. Amplifying the Russian propaganda machine’s message by lending credence to the lie that both Ukraine and Canada are infiltrated by Nazis is an international embarrassment. Even worse, imagine giving a morally bankrupt country like Russia a legitimate reason to demand an apology from the Canadian government in the year 2023.  

From Washington to Warsaw and Jerusalem to Moscow, Canada’s incompetence has made it the laughingstock of the international community. Although the Canadian government’s inconsistency and incompetence in matters related to national security and foreign policy has reached new heights, this downward spiral is decades in the making. 

Last year, Global Affairs Canada sent a senior diplomat to Russia Day celebrations at the Russian Embassy in Ottawa. A colonial empire that persists to the present, Russia Day is nothing more than a commemoration of Russian imperialism. It doesn’t take a genius to know that celebrating Russia while it wages a genocidal war against Ukraine is unacceptable. 

Earlier this year, the Globe and Mail revealed that Michael Chong, the Conservative Party of Canada’s Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs, was the focus of an “intimidation campaign” from China. Although Canada’s intelligence agencies knew that a diplomat working at the Chinese Consulate in Toronto was targeting Chong and his family since 2021, he only learned about this at the same time as everyone else: through information leaked by national security officials to the media. 

Unfortunately, it didn’t dawn on anyone at the Prime Minister’s office or the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to inform Chong that he and his family were being targeted by a foreign government. In fact, the diplomat who targeted Chong maintained his accreditation for an extra two years as if nothing were happening. If Canada is unwilling to inform let alone protect one of only 338 elected Members of Parliament from the transnational repression of our adversaries, what will it do about the millions of other Canadians? Again, your guesses are as good as mine. 

Forget putting petty partisan politics aside and forming a united front against foreign interference; the Canadian government delayed for months before launching a public inquiry. To add insult to injury, Canada’s Foreign Minister, Melanie Joly, was nowhere to be seen during Chong’s stellar testimony to a congressional committee. Rather than taking the matter seriously and advancing Canada’s national interest by engaging with our most important ally, Washington, Global Affairs Canada updated its travel advisory for the United States to include LGBTQ individuals instead. 

Global Affairs Canada’s mandate consists of setting, advancing and accomplishing the Canadian government’s foreign policy objectives. By the looks of things, it seems Canada’s top diplomat is more concerned with campaigning for her next job, becoming leader of the Liberal Party and prime minister of Canada. Nothing exemplifies this better than contradicting the Canadian government’s official position while courting voters.   

Consider the example of Nagorno-Karabakh. Despite empathizing with Armenians in the region, Canada’s official policy, like that of every other government in the international community, recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan. In August, Canada was castigated because Joly affirmed her commitment to the so-called Republic of Artsakh, a Russian-backed separatist project in Azerbaijan, at an Armenian festival she attended in her professional capacity as an elected Member of Parliament and Foreign Minister of Canada.  

Unfortunately, this was not the first time Joly contradicted the Canadian government’s official position to appeal to domestic voters. Given her ambitions to secure the top job, and Canada's record of incompetence in matters related to national security and foreign policy, it is unlikely to be the last. 

Canada’s long list of failures and gaffes in favor of its enemies goes on and on. It could be that foreign assets have infiltrated the highest echelons of the Canadian government. Maybe it is merely a symptom of misinformed staffers falling prey to foreign propaganda. Perhaps it is just a consequence of incompetent advisers and unqualified officials unknowingly advancing the interests of our foes. 

Whatever the case may be, Canada must take foreign policy and national security more seriously, immediately. 

Originally published by The Hill on October 11, 2023.

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