These are not the best of days at DFAIT.
According to an article on p.1 of this week’s of Embassy magazine, Canada will be moving to a “hub and spoke” model for its diplomatic network in Europe, centralizing resources at a few larger missions while reducing the Canadian presence elsewhere in the region.
A box on p. 9 in the same edition reports that the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade will lose about $170 million from its budget over the next three years. As a result, and among other things, the Department will:
• Review Canada’s participation in some international organizations
• Close five US missions in Anchorage, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Raleigh-Durham, and one satellite office in Princeton
• Introduce five new regional clusters in the United States: West Coast, Midwest,Great Lakes, South East, North East, and the South Rocky Mountain corridor
• Phase out the international Canadian studies program
• Reduce the funding and geographic scope of the International Scholarships Program
• Change DFAIT’s domestic network to have five regional hubs (Vancouver, Calgary,Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax) and close offices in Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon,Winnipeg, St. John’s, Charlottetown, and Moncton
• Eliminate 35 Commerce Officer positions
• Reduce the vehicle fleet at missions
• Update allowances for diplomats
• Extend the length of postings
• Sell some official residences abroad
Readers may well be thinking… Hub and spoke in the EU? A bit of trimming here and there?
Under the prevailing circumstances in public finance, these measures seem modest, sensible, and perhaps timely if not overdue.
With a few exceptions, that has certainly been the reaction across the Canadian mainstream.
As with so much received wisdom, however, a closer examination is necessary.