In contrast with some recent American fumbles in addressing security threats abroad, Canada has been speaking frankly to today’s international villains in words and deeds.
When it became clear that Vladimir Putin had no intention of observing last weekend’s ceasefire in Ukraine, the White House’s Josh Earnest warned that the Russians had “not lived up to their commitments.”
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on the other hand, demanded an end to “the Putin regime’s ongoing military aggression.”
And while President Barack Obama struggled to articulate the religion of ISIS‘ latest beheadings in Libya, Harper was “outraged and saddened by the beheadings of Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians,” and sent “my deepest condolences to the families and friends of those killed and to the Coptic community here in Canada.” (RELATED: Obama Alone In Ignoring Roots Of Islamist Terror)
Canada has the world’s biggest Ukrainian community outside the former Soviet Union, which contributes to its strong stance against Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. Following this week’s broken truce, Harper imposed a new round of financial sanctions and travel bans against Russia. For its part, Russia dismissed the attempt at punishing its economy as “awkward.”
Harper has also proposed deploying Canadian troops to the country’s west, on a joint mission with the United States designed to help train Ukrainian soldiers. (RELATED: Ukraine Cease-Fire Not Really A Thing)
When Russian soldiers in uniform “accidentally” found themselves in Ukraine last summer, the Canadian mission to NATO tweeted some stern advice to Putin’s forces:
— Canada at NATO (@CanadaNATO) August 27, 2014
Harper’s conservative-led government has also set an example for the United States on other foreign-affairs concerns. In 2013, he established a Religious Freedom office in Canada’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, appointing Andrew Bennett as the Ambassador for Religious Freedom. When it was created, its corresponding office at the State Department had gone leaderless for over half of Obama’s presidency.
Since assuming the office, Bennett has traveled extensively in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. He has also spoken several times in Washington D.C. on the centrality of religious freedom to Canada’s foreign policy, at a time when terrorism and armed conflict threaten religious communities around the world.
Though some Americans ridicule Canada as a country of milquetoasts whose police ride horses, perhaps their northern neighbor has a thing or two to teach them about calling a spade a spade.