I was just at the Canadian Foreign Affairs website poking around and came across a solicitation for feedback.
“What do you think are the most important security issues facing the world today? What are they for Canada? What should our responses be to them?”
During the current session of Parliament, the Government will table its’ new foreign policy initiative and direction for the coming years. This is something that they ahve been working on for a few years now and they have, at many points, asked for feedback from Canadians. It looks like they’re soliciting some more feedback, so, if you have an opinion (whether you’re Canadian or not) log onto their website before February 25.
You can also see what other people have written.
Here is what I had to say:
Canada faces many challenges when it comes to foreign policy. The world is in a state of flux and Canadas’ traditional commitment to stand up for those who are suffering and in need is becoming less effective.
I don’t know whether it’s due to the softening of Canadian foreign policy or due to the changing circumstances, it’s probably both, but regardless it seems that we as a country have diminished greatly in importance and influence in the world.
And in this time of heightened security fears… where non-state groups threaten our cities and allies, we must redouble our efforts to solve the root of the problems in the world.
We must be more vocal in our support of human rights and freedoms and our opposition to tyranny and oppression. We must recognize the causes of extremism and terrorism and work feverently to solve the underlying issues. We must continue to be the voice of reason and be the facilitators of compromise so that agreements are reached and multilateralism thrives.
I will give some specific examples.
Canada has traditionally been completely absent from the discussion. We need to change that. This is an issue that is at the heart of what threatens us as a people. We must be more involved. We must offer our help, as an impartial, Western nation to mediate and offer solutions.
Africa and the poor: The Prime Ministers push to forgive the Dept of the poorest nations should be strenghthened and followed through on. Canada should set the example by forgiving all the debt of the poorest nations of the world, and at the same time continue to work hard to deliver affordable medicine to fight AIDS and other diseases.
Canada should continue to be gather support and be a leading voice in calling for sweeping UN Reform. It is obvious that the UNSC especially needs an overhaul in order to function in todays reality. Canada must do what it can to push that reform forward.
What I believe is most severely lacking in Canadas “toolchest” is a well-equipped and at-the-ready military. While we should not fall into the trap of aggressive reactions, we must be proactive. And to do that we must have a military that is willing and able to go anywhere and take the lead. No, we do not need to be ready to fight a war, that has never been the Canadian way, but we should be able to deploy a Brigade to any hotspot in the world and intervene so as to stop violence and atrocities from occuring.
That capability alone would, as others have already said here, allow us to promote the “Responsibility to Protect” with legitimacy and credibility.
I beleive that if the Canadian public was presented with a plan that would see our Canadian Forces augmented, modernized, and extended so that they can help anywhere in the world… there would be tremendous support.
Canadians are proud of the reputation that their country holds as a leading peacekeeping and diplomatic force. Our new foreign policy must reinforce that by redoubling our efforts to present a strong case on the diplomatic front, and back it up with a strong military to take the lead and set the example for the rest of the world to follow.
Thank you for the opportunity to participate.
Foreign Affairs has posted it’s “official response” to the previous question on “Renewing Multilateral Institutions” posed in the eDiscussion. It is quite interesting.
I’ve downloaded the response in PDF form so you can grab it from here too if you’d like.
The response starts out:
“There were a number of very thoughtful contributions in this eDiscussion. The exercise illustrates the range of pressures that shape Canadian thinking about institutional reform: interest vs. values, traditional alliances vs. willing coalitions; formal process vs. instrumental results, incremental vs. transformative change – with political feasibility being an over-arching consideration. If anything, the variety of proposals shows how difficult it is to balance our various priorities and interests with those of 190 other member states.”
– Peter Padbury, Policy Research Division, FAC