In January of 2002, Prime Minister Chrétien appointed Bill Graham as the new Canadian Foreign Minister and hopes for a more sovereign Canadian position with regard to the USA gave us a reason to quicken our attempts to get the weapons inspectors back into Iraq. By this time Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck were now concentrating their efforts in Europe. Arthur Millholland was in the UK and busy with his business efforts. Lloyd Axworthy became busy with his UBC institute. It was left to Scott Ritter and I, to continue the discussions started in New York in the fall of 2001.
Scott Ritter arranged to meet with the Labour Party in the UK and the French Government to discuss the return of the inspectors. I began to build support in Ottawa with MPs with whom we could work. Notably, Madame Francine Lalonde of the Bloq, Dr. Keith Martin of the Alliance, Joe Clark of the Conservatives and Alexa McDonough of the NDP were contacted and they agreed to keep in touch with the initiative. Madame Lalonde became quite active and was a strong source of support. I was in constant contact with Madame Colleen Beaumier who gave us access to the Liberal caucus.
Meanwhile, I developed a relationship with Robert Fry, the senior advisor to Bill Graham, the Foreign Minister, as well as with Chris Hull and Graeme McIntyre from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAIT). Through Robert Fry we could get access to the Foreign Minister if the matter was significant enough. At this point we were feeling quite encouraged and I asked the Standing Committee to meet with Scott Ritter to discuss the return of weapons inspectors. Thanks to the efforts of Madame Lalonde and Dr. Martin the Committee agreed to meet with Scott Ritter and Denis Halliday in early June 2002.
The meeting with the Standing Committee was very successful. Scott Ritter was able to convey the importance of getting the weapons inspectors back into Iraq as a necessary step to getting the economic sanctions removed. There was a sense from the meeting that Canada could play a role once the inspectors had returned. Scott Ritter and I then met with Madame Lalonde to develop a document entitled “The Honest Broker”. The thrust of this document was to ask Iraq to agree first to the return of the weapons’ inspectors and then to permit Canada, South Africa and Belgium to help mitigate any difficulties that might arise between Iraq and the UN as a consequence of the inspections. These countries would not interfere with the inspectors themselves because they recognized that the U.S. would not tolerate any interference with the inspection process. However, situations might have arisen requiring some form of reconciliation between the UN and Iraq during the inspections. Canada was chosen because it is the major trading partner of the U.S. with a close historical, political and geographical relationship. South Africa was chosen to represent the non-aligned nations and Belgium because of its membership in NATO and the EU.