In the Speech from the Throne of last September, the Government pledged to engage Canadians in discussion about Canada's place in the world. As Minister of Foreign Affairs, I am pleased to follow up on that pledge by inviting you to read this paper, consider the questions it poses, and share your views. Whether you choose to participate through our Internet forum, by sending a letter or by joining in public discussions, I am interested in hearing your comments.
The past months have been particularly challenging for the international community, and doubtless the next months will be so as well. Yet even as we deal with urgent matters, the Government must continue to address broad longer-term issues of concern to Canadians. I hope that as you follow daily events at home and abroad, you will help us engage in the vital task of reflecting on choices and priorities for the future.
In addition to conducting this dialogue, the Government is working to strengthen Canada's foreign policy capacities by improving planning and coordination among the many departments whose work extends to international affairs. From agriculture and immigration to trade, environment and health, there is scarcely any corner of our national affairs that does not affect, and become affected by, what happens beyond our borders. We take seriously our responsibility to ensure that all branches of government work together in promoting the values and interests of Canadians, both at home and abroad.
Your help is critical to this larger task. By sharing your views, you can make our country's foreign policy truly representative of Canadian values and interests. As the Government assesses foreign policy priorities and directions, we are committed to ensuring that public input and partnerships are central to the process. It is for this reason that the consultation will be carried out on many fronts - not only through the traditional means of public meetings and expert input, but also through an Internet discussion forum that is designed to be informative, interactive and readily accessible. Since I intend to report to Canadians in June on the response generated by this discussion, I ask for your views by May 1.
I have invited all Members of Parliament to join in this dialogue, and am asking them to hold community meetings about foreign policy issues. The House and Senate Standing Committees are reviewing aspects of our foreign policy, and their reports will form part of this process. I will also be conducting public meetings around the country to discuss the questions posed in this paper. Canadians with Internet access are invited to take part in an ongoing electronic discussion at www.foreign-policy-dialogue.ca. You can also send written comments to:
A Dialogue on Foreign Policy
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
125 Sussex Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G2
Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
The Honourable Bill Graham
Minister of Foreign Affairs
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