Singling out Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s stance on Ukraine and Israel, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau told an Iranian-Canadian newspaper that the Tories are pursuing a foreign policy strategy that serves only to pander to voters.
“Whether it’s positioning around Israel or working closely with the United States, [Stephen Harper is] very, very much focused on what is going to play well at the ballot box,” he told a panel of editors for Salam Toronto, a bilingual weekly that publishes in Farsi and English and is distributed throughout southern Ontario.
He added, “that’s not my vision for what Canada can be.”
In a 30-minute March 27 interview with the paper’s editors since posted to YouTube, Mr. Trudeau also dismissed Mr. Harper’s recent trip to Ukraine, calling it a “three hour photo op,” and stressed his own status as an “international traveller.”
“All my life I’ve been an international traveller; I’ve spent years travelling around the world seeing all sorts of different countries,” he said, noting that he has seen “90 countries.”
“Stephen Harper didn’t do much travelling, if any, before he became prime minister, and the lens through which he looks at foreign affairs is always ‘Is this going to help my electoral prospects back home,’” he said, citing Ukraine as an example.
When asked about Iran, Mr. Trudeau said the country would have to undergo “significant changes,’’ but seemed to criticize Mr. Harper’s severing of diplomatic relations with the Islamic republic by saying he was “of the school of international relations that says it’s important to talk to each other, and it’s especially important to talk to regimes that you disagree with.”
Nevertheless, citing security reasons, he said he was unprepared to “second guess” Canada’s embassy closures, although he did claim that Tories did not “understand” the difference between Iranian policy and the Iranian citizenry.
“I think there are very, very real concerns about the government in Iran that need to be addressed, but one has to make sure that you think about the citizens of Iran and the Iranian government differently,” he told the editors, many of whom are of Iranian origin.
“I worry that this is a nuance that this government doesn’t actually appreciate or understand; a good example was the closing of the embassy last year.”
The National Post