In Plain Sight.
Canada is suddenly serious about sanctioning oligarchs? Canada's Man In Europe bitterly opposed Magnitsky sanctions. These days, he's hanging around with Vladimir Putin's best European friend.
There are a couple of questions that should arise in light of the historic events of Sunday, February 27, when Canada joined the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States in a barrage of unprecedented financial sanctions targeting Russian strongman Vladimir Putin, Russia’s banks, and the sundry bloated industrialists and real-estate moguls among Putin’s greasy consiglieri.
Over the weekend, as Russian tanks were rumbling down Ukranian roads towards Kyiv in columns several kilometres in length, EU leaders decided to break all their taboos and throw themselves behind Ukraine’s cause. They quickly came up with an unprecedented €450 million gift of serious weaponry to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. This was a huge event. .
And the Federal Republic of Germany finally buckled after weeks of tumult and international embarrassment over its hands-off, gaze-averted approach to the crisis in Ukraine. Germany’s paralysis ended Sunday with an historic decision to repudiate the neo-pacifist foreign policy that had kept German diplomats’ fingernails so nicely manicured for so many decades. That was a huge event, too.
“With his invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, President Putin created a new reality,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz told the Bundestag, to roaring applause. In the new reality, Germany would invest mightily in its own defence forces and straight away send Ukraine an arsenal of surface-to-air-missiles and anti-tank weapons.
But where has Canada’s envoy to the European Union been while all these momentous, world-changing events have been going on? And just who is Canada’s ambassador to Germany, anyway, and why don’t we ever see him or hear anything from him?
Canada’s ambassador to Germany is none other than the Chretien-era fixture Stéphane Dion, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s first foreign minister. Dion also happens to be Canada’s special envoy to the European Union. So where has Stéphane Dion been all this time?
Dion has been hanging out in Armenia, the only country in the 47-member Council of Europe to support Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine. Last Friday, Armenia stood alone in opposing Russia’s expulsion from the Council for the crime of invading another European country. That very day, Dion was in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, hanging around with Armenian foreign minister Aararat Mirzoyan.
Whatever was happening in Kyiv or Berlin or Brussels, it was apparently more important to be chatting with Mirzoyan about the “digitalization of public service” and modernizing the Armenian judiciary and strengthening democracy and Canada-Armenia ties and things like that. Here he is now, on the left, with one of those grey K95 masks on.
It’s worth remembering in this historic moment that what distinguished Dion during his time as Trudeau’s foreign affairs minister was his delight with the prospect of signing an extradition treaty with Xi Jinping’s police state, his full-throated advocacy of restoring full diplomatic relations with the gruesome Khomeinist torture state in Iran, and most pertinent here: his adamantly arms-open-wide embrace of Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
Over the weekend, as diplomatic earthquakes were shattering taboos in Germany and Brussels, and Russia’s Grad rockets were raining from the skies above Kharkiv, and the death toll was rising by the hundreds, Dion was meeting with Armenian women entrepreneurs at roundtables to discuss ways to “strengthen inclusive commercial and community engagement,” and enjoying Yerevan’s nightlife.
It’s not as though he was hiding the fact that he was busy engaging in intimate conversations with the officials of a government that sent troops to accompany Putin’s mass-murdering air force in Syria -purely for humanitarian reasons, of course - and also sent troops on the Kremlin’s instruction to put down last month’s mass uprising against President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s kleptocracy in Kazakshtan.