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Cablegate: Scenesetter for Human Rights Trilaterals, May 15-16

VZCZCXRO8587
OO RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHOT #0636/01 1291342
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 081342Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY OTTAWA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7822
INFO RUCNCAN/ALL CANADIAN POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 OTTAWA 000636

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR DRL DAS BARKS-RUGGLES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM CA
SUBJECT: SCENESETTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS TRILATERALS, MAY 15-16

REF: A. OTTAWA 593
B. 07 OTTAWA 1924

1. (SBU) Summary: Canada remains a key partner of the United
States in the protection and promotion of human rights
worldwide, in addition to being the home of one of the
world's most successful democratic systems and strongest rule
of law. Prime Minister Stephen Harper leads one of the most
stable minority governments in Canadian history. His
government's foreign policy style includes a transition from
a traditional peacekeeping role through the UN to
"peacemaking" military operations in Afghanistan under NATO
and elsewhere, a greater concentration of foreign assistance
in key regions (notably, Latin America and the Caribbean),
and a "principle-based" approach to human rights. It is a
generous donor in Iraq, Haiti, and elsewhere. Despite some
domestic concerns, Canada remains fully engaged in the
Security and Prosperity Partnership, which it hopes will
survive the transition to the next U.S. Administration. End
summary.

WELCOME!
--------

2. (U) Embassy warmly welcomes DRL Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State Erica J. Barks-Ruggles and the delegation
she will lead to the May 15-16 human rights trilaterals with
Canada and Mexico in Ottawa. Poloff Elisabeth Zentos will
act as control officer, and Embassy appreciates her inclusion
as part of the delegation.

PARTNER ON HUMAN RIGHTS
-----------------------

3. (U) As the State Department's country reports on human
rights, trafficking in persons, and international religious
freedom and other reporting make clear, Canada is a model for
the world in terms of the promotion and protection of human
rights and democracy in its own society. It is one of the
world's most successful federal democracies, with an open,
accountable, and effective civil service, and a fair and
transparent legal system.

4. (U) Canada also actively promotes human rights and
democracy internationally, as ref a detailed. It explicitly
cites democracy, freedom, human rights, and the rule of law
as the four core values that guide its foreign policy. It
works collaboratively to promote human rights and democracy
through the UN Human Rights Council, the Organization of
American States (notably through the Unit for the Promotion
for Democracy and the implementation of the Inter-American
Democratic Charter), and the Organization of Economic
Cooperation and Development (notably, the Partnership for
Democratic Governance), and the Asia-Pacific Democracy
Partnership, inter alia. Its Stabilization and
Reconstruction Task Force (START) provides a coordinated,
whole-of-government approach to respond in countries in or at
risk, such as Sudan, Afghanistan, and Haiti, including a
robust Global Peace and Security Fund.

A MINORITY GOVERNMENT THAT GOVERNS LIKE A MAJORITY
--------------------------------------------- -----

5. (SBU) The Conservative Party under PM Harper came to
power in January 2006 elections, but has only 127 seats in
the 308 House of Commons. (The opposition Liberal Party has
the majority in the appointed Senate.) While the average
duration of a Canadian minority government is one year and
three months, the current government has now exceeded this
average by 12 months and appears set to remain in office at
least until fall 2008 -- and possibly until the required
elections on October 19, 2009. (Under Conservative
legislation that Parliament passed in May 2006, federal
elections should take place every four years, beginning in
2009, unless a government fails at any time to win a vote of
no confidence in the Commons, at which point elections would
Qno confidence in the Commons, at which point elections would
then take place.)

6. (U) At the opening of the Parliamentary session in October
2007 (ref b), the government outlined five areas of focus:
strengthening Canada's sovereignty and security by projecting
a presence into the Arctic and rebuilding the armed forces;
building the economy; modernizing the federation; protecting
the environment and improving health care; and, tackling
crime. Despite its minority status, the government has
subsequently succeeded in passing its budget (including
substantial new resources for long-overdue military
modernization), a comprehensive crime bill, and a motion to
extend the mandate of the Canadian Forces in Afghanistan
until 2011. Revised anti-terrorism legislation has passed

OTTAWA 00000636 002 OF 002


the Senate and now awaits approval by the House of Commons,
which should happen before the summer 2008 recess.

FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES
-------------------------

7. (SBU) Despite some criticism from the opposition that he
is too close to President Bush personally and to the U.S. in
general, PM Harper remains determined further to improve
relations with the U.S. -- bilaterally, trilaterally through
the Security and Prosperity Partnership, and multilaterally
in NATO, the UN, and other organizations. Under the slogan
"Canada is back," other new approaches have included:

-- a willingness to challenge the decades-old consensus here
that the Canadian armed forces should only engage in
traditional "blue hat" peacekeeping under the UN, arguing
that some hard fighting -- "peacemaking," as in Afghanistan
under NATO -- is sometimes necessary to gain enough security
to make progress on development, democracy, and peace;

-- greater attention to Latin America and the Caribbean by
shifting more aid dollars to the hemisphere, including about
US$100 million annually for Haiti as well as negotiation of
free trade agreements (most recently with Colombia);

-- increased efforts to develop stronger ties with major
emerging markets, especially India and China;

-- a "principle-based" approach to human rights and
democratization, unlike earlier governments' willingness to
go along with the multilateral consensus on human rights and
democracy issues and not upsetting relations with key trading
partners. PM Harper's government has challenged Belarus on
its flawed elections, refused to recognize the Hamas
government, officially received the Dalai Lama (in 2007) and
granted him honorary citizenship (in 2006), conferred
honorary citizenship to Aung San Suu Kyi (in 2008), shifted
Canada's voting record at the UN to clarify its position on
non-democratic regimes, and spoken out forcefully both in
public and in private about human rights concerns in Cuba,
Burma, Syria, Iran, Tibet, and elsewhere;

-- while declining to provide troops to Iraq, Canada has
dedicated about US$300 million for Iraqi reconstruction
through 2010, has conducted training programs for Iraqi
police, diplomats, and government executives, and has spent
over US$200 million in aid for Iraqi humanitarian relief,
most of it through multilateral agencies. The Canadian Forum
of Federations was also involved in writing the Iraqi
constitution.

SECURITY AND PROSPERITY PARTNERSHIP
-----------------------------------

8. (SBU) The fringe left continues to see the SPP as a
mechanism for the U.S. to "steal" Canadian water and other
resources and/or to form a European Union-like system under
U.S. domination, but PM Harper has made clear that he values
these annual meetings and that he strongly hopes that the
mechanism will survive the transition to the new U.S.
Administration. The government has patiently explained to
the public over and over that the SPP, as well as the North
American Free Trade Agreement, provide clear benefits for
Canadian businesses and citizens, by leveraging North
American strengths, including the vast market and integrated
value chains, as well as a platform for innovation and global
success.

Visit Canada,s Economy and Environment Forum at
http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/can ada

RODDY

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