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Brexit closes an important channel into EU for Canada: former high commissioner

Brexit closes an important channel into EU for Canada: former high commissioner
Canada will lose a friend and a liberal voice within the European Union as the U.K. plans its Brexit, says Jeremy Kinsman, Canada's former high commissioner to Britain

Canada won’t feel the aftershocks of the Brexit vote as strongly as some other nations, says our country’s former representative in the U.K., but Ottawa has nonetheless lost a key “channel” into the European Union.

“We’ve always counted on Britain both as a friend and as a sort of Liberal voice within the European Union,” former high commissioner Jeremy Kinsman told The West Block’s Tom Clark.

“And its exit worries Canadians, Canadian policy makers, because we don’t any longer have that channel, that particular channel in which generally we vested quite a lot of confidence.”

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Kinsman echoed what many experts have said in the days following Britain’s narrow vote to leave the EU: that the campaign became an emotional debate about British identity rather than an economic question. The British people who voted ‘leave’ were responding to a very particular kind of populist rhetoric, he said.

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“I was fascinated to read the 68 per cent of Brexit voters chose not to listen to the views of the possible consequences of an exit if they came from so-called experts or authorities or officials,” Kinsman noted.

“They preferred the views of so-called ordinary people. That’s something you don’t hear just in Britain. You hear it in the United States. And of course, any decisions that aren’t fact-based are risky.”

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The ‘remain’ side, meanwhile, gambled that facts would win the day, he added.

“(Prime Minister David) Cameron asked at the end of one debate, ‘Can we knowingly vote for a recession?’ It didn’t get through.”

As British politicians and the central bank work out where to go from here, Kinsman said, Canadians should turn their attention to how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau re-orients Ottawa’s position on the world stage.

“Pay attention to this meeting June 29th with the presidents of the United States and Mexico, because one of the impacts of this on Canada is that it makes North America, our neighbourhood, a lot more important.”

Watch the full interview above.