I just about fell off my chair when the Globe & Mail’s Tuesday editorial actually suggested that a suitable first task for newly minted Religious Freedom Ambassador Bennett would be an inspection tour of Tibet:
Sending the freshly minted ambassador would surely anger China, a major Canadian trading partner. But if the Harper government’s much-touted initiative on religious freedom is to have credibility, it should accept this challenge.
Without even touching the fact that the Harper government has obviously lost whatever interest it once had in challenging the totalitarian dictatorship in Beijing, this proposal betrays a startling amount of ignorance about how diplomacy works. Contrary to the dreamy imaginings of the people who supported the creation of this office, Canada’s Religious Freedoms Ambassador can’t just wander the globe at will, stirring up trouble.
The notion that an ambassador would visit a country against its will in order to inspect its internal affairs is asinine. What’s even worse is that the “Religious Freedom Ambassador” isn’t actually an ambassador in the technical sense. He’s not accredited to China, or anywhere else. For all intents and purposes, he’s just a private citizen with a fancy badge until China says otherwise.
This discussion is also an entirely moot point. Shortly after it published this editorial, the Globe dazzled its readers with up-to-the-minute news that the Chinese government has told our actual ambassador in Beijing that he is not allowed to visit Tibet. If our actual ambassador to China isn’t allowed to visit Tibet, it’s a safe bet that our fake ambassador won’t be allowed to either.Tweet