I Listen To Joe
The thrust of Joe's speech was that Canada has typically been successful by looking at both sides of the Canadian coin; that is, maintaining a strong friendship with the Americans but also working on an independent voice in the world. This allows Canada to have more muscle in the international community because we're close to the Americans, but it also gives us more say with the US because we're on better terms with a lot of foreign powers than they are.
In Joe's opinion, "Mr.Harper and his colleagues are moving deliberately away from the foreign policy of the past" by making Canada/US relations the "dominant focus" of their government. To back this up, he referenced 16 ministerial trips to the US in 2006 versus 2 to Africa, 2 to China, and none to South America. I must say that given Mr. Clark's experience with overseas travel, I'm amazed he's so keen on it but I do think there is some validity to his claim that Harper is overly preoccupied with the Americans.
He did cite three other areas of concern he has with the current administration:
1. Nothing at all for the developing world (he was equally critical of the Chretien/Martin government on this)
2. The erosion of foreign service
3. The deterioration with relations with China
His criticism was most piercing with respect to China, saying that Harper has returned to "a pre-Nixonian policy" vis-a-vis China. He also lamented the lack of leadership Canada has shown in multilateral organizations.
When asked about Afghanistan, he said he agreed that we should be there but that it should be reviewable more often. He would like to see regularly televised committee meetings where the opposition could ask questions about the mission, similar to what was done with the Gulf War when he was Foreign Affairs Minister.
All in all, an interesting talk and I must tip my hat to Clark for the line of the day:
"I didn't see if foreign aid numbers were increased in the budget today. I try to miss budgets whenever I can...I had an unfortunate experience with them in the past..."