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Globe & Mail - 5 maggio 1995

5 maggio 1995

GLOBE & MAIL (Toronto)

senza indic. autore


SOMMARIO. L'articolo è importante perché è apparso su un giornale canadese. Viene infatti aspramente criticato il comportamento del Primo Ministro del Canadà, che ha deliberatamente "snubbed" sir Leon Brittan, "trade Commissioner of the European Union", dopo che questi aveva sollevato alcune critiche all'atteggiamento del Canada durante la cosidetta "guerra del pesce". Un atteggiamento di questo tipo, ispirato al peggior nazionalismo ("Jingoism") e all'irragionevolezza, non può che aver danneggiato l'immagine stessa del Canada nel mondo.

From the beginning, Canada's behaviour in the so-called fish war has been marked by threats, jingoism, bombast and hyperbols, to say nothing of contempt for international law. Now add simple rudeness to the list.

On Tuesday, Sir Leon Brittan had an appointment to meet the Prime Minister in Ottawa. This was a reasonably important encounter. Sir Leon is not the postmaster of Andorra. He is the trade commissioner of the European Union, a key liaison between Canada and its European trading partners and a leading figure in preparing for the G7 summit in Halifax next month, at which Jean Chrétien will be host. Yet when Sir Leon appeared at the Prime Minister's office at the appointed time, officials said Mr Chrétien had been called away to "an unexpected engagement". It was clear to everyone what this really meant : Sir Leon had been made the object of a delibarate snub.

Why ? Had he perhaps endorsed the independence of Quebec? Had be attacked the personal integrity of the PM? Not quite. Sir Leon's sin lay in some remarks be made at a private luncheon earlier that day at the residence of the EU ambassador. Canada's resort to gunboat diplomacy during the dispute over Atlantic overfishing, he said, had driven a wedge into Canadian-European relations and "coloured" Europe's attitude about closer trade ties - a reference to Ottawa's suggestion of a free-trade pact.

"It is in the interests of those who wish to advance our relationship to face up to the fact that the effect of the dispute will be to reduce European enthusiasm for any further opening up to Canada for the time being" Sir Leon said. Earlier, talking with reporters, he put it more bluntly. "You can't have it every which way ; Either you think the populist approach is helpful ... or there has to be some consequences to that ... You can't just do what has been done and then expect there will not be any reaction of any kind to it."

Quite so. There were perfectly logical and moderate remarks, well within the bounds of diplomatic comment. It is obvious to just about everyone outside of the cabinet room that Canada's belligerent fish-war tactics have given the country a black eye in Europe. Though the fish war officially ended with last month's Canada-EU agreement on catch quotas and fisheries inspections, the damage to Canada's reputation will last months and perhaps years, affecting Canada's relations with one of its most important trading and political partners.

A sensible government would try to mend fences. Instead, Mr Chrétien goes out of his way to offend one of Europe's most important officials. Meanwhile, his Fisheries Minister, Admiral Tobin, continues to let his tongue flap like a turbot in a net. This week, in an example of supreme bad taste, he dragged Canada's war dead into the fray, suggesting that Sir Leon should remember the Canadian contribution to European freedom in the Second World War and "give thanks, rather than complaints".

Please. Even if this rhetoric plays well at home (and let's hope it does'not), it puts at risk one of Canada's most valuable possessions: its image abroad as a moderate, law-abiding nation. The cod disappeared overnight. Canada's good name could go as quickly.

Argomenti correlati:
commissione europea
brittain leon
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