Roundup: Adventures in Vladivostok

While at the APEC Summit in Vladivostok, Russia, over the weekend, Stephen Harper and Chinese president Hu Jintao witnessed the signing of the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement. Harper and Russian president Vladimir Putin also agreed to disagree on the issue of Syria. While at the summit, Harper also ratcheted up the rhetoric around Iran now that we’ve shuttered our embassy there.

It looks like the new Office of Religious Freedoms may have finally found its ambassador and could be set to open soon. Of course, it was also revealed that the Muslim panellists for their consultations were “not available,” which sounds terribly convenient when you’re trying to assure people that this won’t simply be an office devoted to Christian proselytising.

As Bev Oda’s spending habits continue to be combed through despite her resignation, we find that she charged a $250 fine for smoking in her room at one hotel to the public purse. Because $16 orange juice wasn’t outrageous enough, apparently. Predictably the Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants ministerial expenses posted online – err, except the Conservatives have pretty much eschewed the proactive disclosures already in place, and have been putting their expenses in other ledgers, like those of departments, so as to look like they’re not spending as much.

One of Harper’s new Senate appointees recently penned a piece about how the changes to EI will drive down wages. Now let’s all give him a chance to breathe before We The Media smother him in “IS STEPHEN HAPRER LOSING CONTROL OF HIS SENATORS?” speculation.

Small surprise, but First Nations are treating the government’s new “Results-based approach” to treaty negotiations with a bit of scepticism, given the history.

There is a move to revive the Avro Arrow programme to replace the CF-18s instead of the F-35s, because of its superior speed and altitude capabilities, as well as features that are specifically designed to operate in the Canadian Arctic. Meanwhile, there was concern about the level of wear-and-tear on the CF-18s caused by the Libya mission.

And here’s an interesting column about the Americans’ use of “Twiplomacy” or diplomacy via social media. She feels this could be useful for Canada, but one has to wonder about the value of announcing via Twitter every time we walk out of a presentation at the UN, which seems to be the extent of our diplomatic engagement these days.