"Canada is often forgotten"

Minister of Foreign Affairs John Manley spoke at the University of Calgary’s Rozsa Centre Tues., Oct. 31, outlining the direction in which he plans to export the Canadian economy. Manley traced his background as Minister of Industry and how he plans to continue to highlight economic and trade issues in foreign policy.

"The most important thing for me is that the Foreign Affairs portfolio continues to be an economic portfolio," he said. "The question to answer is, what is Canada doing to prepare for the new economy?"

He was also keen to point out future areas of concern to the trade economy, including competition with Mexico, to be included on the American trade agenda.

"Canada is often forgotten," he said while discussing border and trade issues. "It’s impossible to not see the U.S. as being Canada’s largest trading partner, but it is possible to see Canada as not being the U.S.’s largest trading partner… It’s not the U.S. we need to have an eye on but Mexico. That’s where our competition is going to come from."

Only 14 days into his job, Manley was admittedly unfamiliar with his new portfolio, exacerbated by the fact he was speaking to a group familiar with foreign affairs and defence issues. He preferred to defer questions on issues such as land mines and human rights, but emphasized a need to coordinate policies with the Ministry of Defence. He also cited a need to clearly state a policy towards nations with human rights infractions in a consistent fashion, a common criticism by the opposition and human rights groups of past relations. He was also concerned with getting to know new faces in the U.S. administration.

The talk thinly disguised an attempt to garner support for the Liberal party as three local Liberal candidates in the Nov. 27 election were also present. Manley emphasized what the Liberal party has done for University students and the support given to Calgary.

"No government, federal or provincial can spend too much money on education," he affirmed, recognizing the recent developments in debt alleviation such as the Millennium Scholarship Fund and tax exemptions. "It’s the only way to move towards the knowledge economy."

Quick to identify differences and shortcomings in the Canadian Alliance position, Manley encouraged the audience to read the Alliance election platform.

"Zero in on the part about the new economy; there’s nothing there," said Manley. "Nothing on how to prepare for the coming changes the world is going to make."