Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Liberals In China

Ignatieff has announced his September China visit delegation. The optics are delicious:
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff today announced that Liberal Finance Critic and Markham-Unionville MP John McCallum, Vancouver South MP Ujjal Dosanjh and Brossard-La Prairie MP Alexandra Mendes will be joining him as part of the official Liberal delegation visiting China this September.

“As we reach out to engage China on a foundation of mutual respect and understanding, it’s important that the group engaged in that dialogue reflects Canada’s diversity,” Mr. Ignatieff said. “Our delegation represents a range of regional perspectives that will help highlight and capitalize on Canada’s natural advantages, like our large Chinese Canadian Diaspora.

“After the damage the Harper government has done to Canada-China relations, it’s imperative that the Liberal team begin the work of salvaging this important historical partnership right away,” he said.

Mr. Ignatieff and the official delegation will be visiting both Beijing and Shanghai September 6th-9th. The Liberal leader will be meeting with senior Chinese officials and delivering a major speech in each of the two cities.

Liberal International Trade Critic Scott Brison will also be visiting China on a separate trade trip to Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and finally Dalian for the World Economic Forum’s summer conference. He will also be joining Mr. Ignatieff for events in Beijing and Shanghai.

The Conservatives just announced that Harper will FINALLY be making a visit to China in November, almost FOUR YEARS after he took office. The Conservatives suddenly discovered China a few months ago, an embarrassing fact given it's economic and political clout on the world stage.

By being so "late to the party", with a policy that translated to ignorance and a lack of sophistication, the Conservatives have opened a "photo op" door for the Liberals. Ignatieff's visit will get coverage, but it will come with accompanying commentary that puts the Conservatives in a poor light. Ignatieff visits China before a sitting PM, on the job for years, will be the central thesis. The contrast will be clear, so optically this visit is quite a coup.


Anonymous said...

No Bob Rae?

Tomm said...

Ignatieff will get some great press. The Canadian media will love the juxtaposition, and will play it up.

It should work out well for him.

Morgan said...

Is this an official state to state visit for Ignatieff? Will he be hosted by or meeting top government officials or is it business people?

Jean Chretien and Paul Martin and many other top level Liberals have long time personal business investments in China. Are they helping with the itinerary?

I may be wrong but as I understand protocol the Chinese leadership themselves (government) would not formally host or meet with an opposition party leader but maybe it can be set up informally by the Liberal power brokers who are over there already. Would make a good photo op.