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Who is Peter Kent? Known to many because of his background as a journalist, (or as a talking head, as…

By Dawn Paley , in Foreign Correspondence , on February 10, 2009 Tags: , , , , , , ,

Who is Peter Kent? Known to many because of his background as a journalist, (or as a talking head, as some call him), he shot out on the political scene in English Canada as Israel bombed Gaza to bits.

Kent is Canada’s junior minister for foreign affairs. After the holiday lull, he cut his teeth taking a strong position against Hamas during Israel’s attack on Gaza that raged through the first month of January.

But Kent’s real role is as Canada’s free trade attack dog in the Americas. He did a high profile tour of Central America, (which I wrote about here, here, and here) pushing for renewed trade talks with the Isthmus.

Canada’s renewed economic interest engagement in the Americas didn’t start with Peter Kent, but rather, it was put into motion by Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.

Pressure from mining and oil and gas sectors, the largest Canadian economic interests in the Americas, has finally started to bear fruit.

By last spring, a bilateral Free Trade Agreement between Canada and Peru had been signed. The deal was quietly tabled on January 27th. A deal with Colombia has been signed, but is facing a more concerted resistance because of the egregious human rights violations there.

Peter Kent will most likely spend the next couple of years presiding over trade deal after trade deal between Canada and the leaders of Latin American nations.

His name might not be a household name, but Kent’s go-to role in the Americas will certainly be remembered by economists and activists throughout the hemisphere.


  • This has been very valuable and interesting reading.
    Someone once smartly advised that it is imperative to know who is Number Two. Who is the second in command? S/he may not be the figure head (and not merely a talking head), but does make decisions, sign treaties and pursue policies that merit serious scrutiny, especially because s/he will operate under the cover of obscurity.
    Thanks for blowing the cover off this one, Dawn.

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