President Obama is receiving sustained criticism from Republican senators, conservative media, and many Cuban Americans for his efforts to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba and bring about the eventual end of the U.S. economic embargo. But he has strong allies in Canada's Conservative government, which has otherwise taken a more aggressive approach to such issues as Vladimir Putin's Ukraine adventures, and to supporting the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, than a) one might expect Canada to take; and b) the Obama administration.
I met with the Canadian foreign minister, John Baird, in New York a couple of days ago. I will post my full interview with him next week (he made very interesting comments on Syria, Middle East peace, and Hillary Clinton, to name just a few subjects), but I thought I would share his views on Cuba now, since they are particularly relevant to the current debate. Canada, of course, hosted secret talks between the Cuban government and U.S. negotiators, and it has always maintained normal diplomatic and economic relations with Havana, despite previous U.S. hopes that it would participate in the 50-year boycott of the Castro regime. (Canada's tourists have traditionally flooded Cuba, and believe themselves to be noble and demure while doing so—which is not always the case, as I've seen on my visits there, but more about this another time.)