As a result of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine, NATO is much more in the news lately. Consequently, the job of heading the organization is attracting attention as the current secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, completes his term in 2023. Rumour has it that the powers that be believe the alliance needs the fresh perspective of a woman. The names of some impressive women have been bandied about including three former presidents of NATO nations. Also mentioned has been our very own finance minister and deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland.
Freeland is eminently qualified. With degrees from both Oxford and Harvard, as well as studying at the University of Kyiv, she is steeped in Eastern European politics and history and speaks English, Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, French, Spanish and Italian. She is, according to Chris Skaluba of the Atlantic Council, “broadly well thought-of in European and trans-Atlantic security circles.”
During her career in journalism, she served in editorial positions at the Financial Times, The Globe and Mail and Reuters, becoming managing director of the latter. Her books include Sale of the Century, about Russia’s transition from communism to capitalism, and Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else which won the 2013 National Business Book Award for the most outstanding Canadian business-related book.
Ms. Freeland has amply demonstrated her grit. While living in Ukraine in 1988-89, her political activism brought her to the attention of the KGB. More recently, her tough renegotiating of NAFTA incurred the ire of Donald Trump. If NATO is looking for a tough lady with international connections, she’s their woman.
However, we can’t afford to let her go. She offers the best electoral prospects for defeating a Conservative Party rejuvenated by their superstar Pierre Poilievre. Poilievre’s capture of his party was more than impressive, winning 68 percent support on the first ballot. The Conservatives have never seen anything like it. They will be energized.
Not that I would underestimate Justin Trudeau. He’s a canny politician. But Canadians are tiring of him. He’s won three elections in a row but with fewer votes each time. In the 2021 election, his Liberals got fewer votes than the Conservatives.
His party needs a fresh face, and the best face on offer is Chrystia Freeland, the best next prime minister for the country in my opinion.
An election pitting Freeland against Poilievre would be a bit like the 2016 presidential election in the US: a highly qualified liberal woman against a flaky populist male. In that election, the liberal won the popular vote only to have the presidency stolen from her by the Electoral College. Fortunately we don’t have an Electoral College.
My money would be on Chrystia—an Albertan we can believe in.