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Trade-up or sellout? Canada's new foreign policy focus

Giant Trojan horse statue with EU and Canadian flags in its mouth, set up last month by activist group Council of Canadians, protesting economic and trade Agreement  between Canada and the EU. Photo: Reuters/Mark Blinch.

Things move so fast, even in government. Just days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that his foreign policy would be switching over to "economic diplomacy" a.k.a. business deals, a new CEO of Overseas Sales was appointed to run Foreign Affairs – a coup for Ottawa, which stole Rock Gutt from his home base in Kansas City, where he headed an oil-banking-agricultural conglomerate.

But that’s just the back story.  Today we bring you a top secret, leaked account of the department's first performance reviews, part of an ongoing restructuring plan for its former diplomats, called “Every Mission Will Pay.”

*              *            *
AIDE: Amb. Percival Preachley, the ambassador to Upper Slobbonia is here, sir.

GUTT: Siddown. Get comfortable. But not too comfortable. What’s up in Upper Slobbonia, Preachley?

PREACHLEY: (dejected) Not much, chief. Same as usual.

GUTT: So what’re we selling ‘em from the great state -- sorry -- nation, of Canada?

 PREACHLEY: (squints at diary) Last year it was $234.05 in candle wax.

GUTT: So!  Big opportunities out there, Preachley. How about some LRT hardware?

PREACHLEY: They don’t have any rail tracks.

GUTT: No rail? How do they schlep stuff from city to city?

PREACHLEY: They don’t have cities in Upper Slobbonia.  It’s basically a rural country with a fairly old demographic, a next to zero GDP, and no real industries.

GUTT: No industries?  So how do they make their money?

PREACHLEY: Sheep. The Upper Slobbonians steal them from the Lower Slobbonnians. Then the Lower Slobbonians steal them back…

GUTT: Waaay too labor intensive. What kinda guns they got?  If we ship them some of those fancy shmansy assault rifles, the Upper thingummies could wipe out the Lower thingummies and double their sheep crop tomorrow. They’d thank us.

PREACHLEY: er,  we have a small Canadian peacekeeping force that’s disarmed both sides and reduced violence to new lows…

GUTT: big mistake. it’s only costing the taxpayers money. They’ll thank us too. I’ll take care of it. You get back there, pronto. And here’s your sales pitch:  “a gun for every Slobb.”

*                        *                    *                  *

AIDE:  Sir, this is Amb. Terrence Thicke-Fogg, the ambassador to Bhutan.

GUTT: What the heck are you wearing?

THICKE-FOGG: It’s a gho.

GUTT:  No way is it a go on my watch! You’re representing a G-7 country that’s a neighbor of the U.S.A. You can’t go out selling in a skirt!

THICKE-FOGG:  No, no. A gho is the accepted dress for a man in Bhutan. (Stands). Here, you can see this nice hand-woven kera around the waist -- that’s where you keep the betel you chew…

GUTT: An envoy of the Canadian Queen crunchin’ bugs. What's this country coming to, if you can’t trust 'em not to go native? Yesterday I had to terminate the Yemen guy because somebody spilled that he was chewin’ on a cat.  What would those animal rights terrorists do with that? Go put on a business suit, and give me 10 ideas for products you’re going to sell.

THICKE-FOGG: Products?  They don’t believe in consumerism. They’re a non-materialist culture. It’s their ideology.

GUTT: (bangs table with fist) Non-materialist? Ideology?  I’m putting them on our no-fly list right now.  And I’m closing that embassy. Geddoutahere. You’re fired.

Olivia Ward has covered politics, conflicts, human rights and international diplomacy for the Star. She’s never read Lean In.


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