Munk Debate on Foreign Policy Could Be Deciding Factor for Many (Oberfeld)




By Harvey Oberfeld

Keeping It Real…

Sunday September 13th, 2015


There are THREE  political election debates looming later this month … and barring any knockout blows or  terrible gaffes in the first or second, on economic and general topics,  I believe the THIRD debate, on Canada’s foreign policy,  could be the deciding factor for many  who watch.

The FIRST of the upcoming debates will be this coming Thursday, Sept 17 in English on the economy, to be carried on the CPAC public affairs network (Channel 123 in Vancouver) …and any other networks that decide to carry it.

From Wikipedia: “The first half of the 90-minute debate will cover five central themes on the economy: Jobs, energy and the environment, infrastructure, housing and taxation. The second half leaves time to look more closely at the leaders’ earlier answers, and to pose questions sent in by voters.”

The SECOND will in French (with English translation) on Thursday Sept. 24th … dealing with “general” issues: a pot pourri of political discourse,

But it’s the THIRD, on Monday Sept 28 that I believe could prove a critical turning point in the entire federal campaign: the Munk TV debate on Foreign Policy.

This will be the first time ever that a federal election debate dealing solely with foreign policy will ever have been held in Canada ….

 “Too often, foreign policy issues have been afterthoughts in past federal elections. By holding this debate we will bring greater public scrutiny to bear on the foreign policy prescriptions of the three federal party leaders recognized in Parliament,” explained Rudyard Griffiths, chair of the Munk Debate Forum.

What timing!

ISIS, Al Qaida, Syrian refugees, terrorist threats, national security, Iraq, Afghanistan,  Israel-Palestinian dispute,  Gaza, Sudan,  the UN and American relations …   what SHOULD BE  Canada’s role/policies/actions in dealing with each?

I believe these are BIG issues for many Canadians … possibly the first time since the Korean War that EXTERNAL issues have occupied such a high profile in Canadian politics.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been taking a LOT of media heat and social activist criticism for going slow on bringing in large numbers of refugees;  Tom Mulcair made it very clear this past week  the NDP would expedite welcoming 10,000 refugees  within WEEKS of an NDP government tasking office AND withdraw ALL Canadian troops from any military role in the fight against ISIS; and,  Justin Trudeau said  the Liberals would also expedite the bringing in of thousands  of refugees (haven’t seen a precise deadline) AND also stop all direct military actions …  only do training missions.

These policies illuminate critical differences between the parties on issues that have evoked not just interest and concern among Canadians …but emotion as well.

The foreign affairs debate will be broadcast on CPAC (Channel 123 in Vancouver), also on the Internet, and will likely also be made available on network stations.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if this debate draws a larger audience than did the others on what usually is Canadians’ GREATEST concern …  the economy!

Can hardly wait to see the results of polls after that one!

Harv Oberfeld





  1. The notion that Canada should immediately increase and expedite the numbers of refugees allowed into the country while at the same time withdrawing troops from overseas is IMHO a tad contradictory.
    The Western world cannot continue to absorb the suffering populations of the rest of the world indefinitely. Sooner or later we, globally, have to start solving the problems these people are running away from in their own countries.
    This must require both political AND – whether we like it or not – military missions.
    If these countries cannot solve their problems themselves, the rest of the world will have to help them do it. It is a very good thing to take in your neighbour when his house is on fire, but you have to put the fire out too.
    Unfortunately, this will likely involve some bad people being shot at.


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