Justin Trudeau's partisan brain trust on foreign affairs

 Za'atri Refugee Camp in Jordan
Your correspondent meets Syrian child refugees at Za’atri Refugee Camp in Jordan while covering Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit there earlier this year. Harper’s approach to the Middle East — aligning Canada much more strongly with Israel than previous Liberal prime ministers, for example — would be one of the defining characteristics of his foreign policy. Liberals recently opposed the combat mission against ISIL in Iraq.  (Look closely to find PostMedia’s Mark Kennedy among the kids there).

Today, the Liberal Party of Canada has announced a council  of “non-partisan” experts to provide advice and be a sounding board for leader Justin Trudeau on international affairs issues, from military procurement to international aid to global security threats.  The professional qualifications and accomplishments of the members of this council are impressive but it cannot be accurate to brand this group as “non-partisan”.

Indeed,  this council is made up of 14 individuals, 11 of whom are Liberals MPs, current or former Liberal candidates, or Liberal donors.  No one should be confused: This council does not believe that the way Stephen Harper has positioned Canada on the world stage is a good thing. And eight of them – the current or hope-to-be Liberal MPs — would have voted with their leader against the current combat mission against ISIL in Iraq. Nothing wrong with that. But let’s avoid the marketing sheen of “non-partisan.”

So who’s on this International Affairs Council of Advisors? As I said — it’s a group with some impressive credentials:


  • Marc Garneau – Liberal MP for Westmount-Ville-Marie • Astronaut • His party’s foreign affairs critic in the House of Commons. On Twitter.
  • Andrew Leslie – Liberal candidate for Orléans • Lt. Gen (Ret’d) Canadian Forces • On Twitter.


  • Irwin Cotler – Liberal MP for Mount Royal • Internationally respected human rights lawyer and advocate • Former Justice Minister • On Twitter.
  • Ralph Goodale – Liberal MP for Wascana • Former Finance Minister (among other portfolios) •  On Twitter.
  • Joyce Murray – Liberal MP for Vancouver Quadra • Former BC Environment Minister • Her party’s National Defence Critic in the House of Commons.  On Twitter.
  • Kirsty Duncan – Liberal MP for Etobicoke North.• Assoc Prof of Health, University of Toronto • Was on Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change • On Twitter.
  • Rana Sakar – Recently lost Liberal nomination in Don Valley North •  National Director of High Growth Markets, KPMG Canada.  Has contributed more than $9,500 since 2006 to the Liberals, including donations to Trudeau’s leadership contest • On Twitter. 
  • Stephen Fuhr – Liberal Candidate for Kelowna-Lake Country • Major (Ret’d) Canadian Forces • CF-18 Fighter Pilot  • Has donated $3,550 to the Liberals since 2011 •  On Twitter.
  • Michael Bell – Former Canadian ambassador to Egypt, to Jordan, and to Israel • Teaches at University of Windsor
  • Catherine McKenna – Liberal candidate for Ottawa Centre • Co-founder and executive director of Canadian Lawyers Abroad  • Has contributed more than $10,000 to the Liberals since 2006 • On Twitter.
  • Margaret Cornish – Former diplomat • Senior Advisor (China) and Beijing Chief Representative of Bennett Jones Commercial Consulting Inc. based in Beijing
  • Martine Durier-Copp – Director of the Centre for Advanced Management Education and a Professor at the School of Public Administration at Dalhousie University • Gave $400 to the Halifax Federal Liberal Assoc in 2010
  • Jeremy Kinsman – Former Canadian ambassador to Rome and Brussels • Former High Commissioner to the UK • Distinguished Diplomatic Visitor at Ryerson University
  • Jocelyn Coulon – Former Liberal candidate in Outremont (Lost to Thomas Mulcair) • Director of the Peace Operations Network at the Université de Montréal’s Centre for International Research and Studies

2 thoughts on “Justin Trudeau's partisan brain trust on foreign affairs”

  1. I agree with you that “non-partisan” would be a stretch. However, damn, this is a very qualified group to give a vast array of advice to JT. I trust that he will allow full discussion on policy issues & that he will be open to any advice offerings that come forth. It can only help the party to frame its stance & turn itself around for the next election with a solid platform for voters to assess.

  2. That’s like telling a bus driver how to drive a bus for the first time. He remains a rookie.
    Scary to think that this person who is so inarticulate he cannot form a logical sentence and mumbles his way through serious questions…this one aspires to be Canada’s Prime Minister.
    I wonder how World Leaders will treat this rookie.
    Personally I am not one of those who wants a rookie bus driver as an experiment for a Liberal celebrity endorsement.
    I will go back to a tried and true Prime Minister, Stephen Harper warts and all, the CBC campaign against him notwithstanding.

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