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realclearworld

Canada’$ $oft-$ell Me$$age on Human Right$ Abu$e$

Canada's foreign minister John Baird

Yeah. Damn the abu$e$, let'$ make a deal.... You don't even have to read between the line$ to $ee that Canada'$ Foreign Minister is much more intere$ted in hard cas$h than in a $illy ab$traction like human right$.

Baird looks to the future in Cuba and Venezuela
CAMPBELL CLARK
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

As Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird breaks new ground in visits to Cuba and Venezuela, he’ll bring a soft-sell message: a nudge for progress on rights and democracy as Canada and those countries do business together.

Mr. Baird has often projected the message that Canada won’t “go along to get along” on issues like human rights. But in the first visit to either country by a Harper government foreign minister, the message he’s planning to deliver in Cuba and Venezuela is not the aggressive blast of rights demands that some conservatives would like to see in states they view as pariahs.

Two elements seem to be driving that approach: Canadian trade interests and the prospects for transition in Havana and Caracas.

Along with visits with activists in Cuba and opposition leaders in Venezuela, Mr. Baird has scheduled meetings with Canadian businesses operating in those countries and with politicians who may represent the generation that will succeed Cuba’s Raul Castro and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez.

Mr. Baird’s aides insist he is never shy about confronting foreign counterparts on issues like rights, but feels those disagreements don’t have to hobble Canadian interests. No foreign minister has visited Cuba in 15 years, and it’s been more than 20 years since one went to Venezuela. Canada has $1.2-billion in bilateral trade with Cuba and $1.3-billion with Venezuela, and Mr. Baird’s message is that Canada wants political reforms to come as it expands business with both.

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