Date: 2003-04-17 20:02:55
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Some very thoughtful emails have been coming into the Dialogue, and we have secured permission to post a few. As we count down to the end of the Forum on May 1st, we will also post some of the citizen briefs that have been submitted via email. To start things off, here is the first ( a bit longer than the usual forum post)from Victoria:
I attended your presentation in Victoria this week and appreciate your candour in dealing with questions from the audience. Regrettably, due to the long lineups I was unable to make a verbal presentation so I have included my comments below. Again, many thanks for making the effort to speak with Canadians.
Jay Spark Victoria, BC
April 15, 2003
Hon. Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Canada
RE: Dialogue on Foreign Policy
Dear Minister Graham,
I wish to add my observations and comments regarding Canada's foreign policy, to support arguments in favour of a more independent and multilateral approach to world affairs. In my view, given the recent security paroxysms in America, and similar incidents which have occurred in the past, it is no longer acceptable for Canada's government to hitch all of our wagons to the stars and stripes. There is a real danger of Canada becoming marginalized by the rest of the world if we continue to support, overtly or by default, countries whose military and foreign policies defy international law, relying instead on intimidation and brute force.
I believe that our relationship with "old Europe" was a healthy one for our independance generally and, for a time, it kept us from the clutches of the eagle. The political leadership of the eighties took us firmly into a North American economic and administrative union, especially along the routes of trade & commerce, energy, communication, and transport. As a consequence, the "longest undefended border" has been largely invisible through most of our history. At this time the voices for total "harmonization" seem inexorable, although the chorus has switched from the effusive "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling", to the starker realities of economies near the limits of human austerity. Ambassador Celluci is meanwhile travelling about the country trying to lead the assembled politicians, experts, and business barons in a strident, unison reprise of "manifest destiny". I am concerned that successive governments have failed to act decisively on the increasing number of social and economic fractures resulting from the NAFTA. Thousands of jobs have been lost, small, isolated communities have lost their only industries and means of suppport, and the Canadian economy has been choked into submissive defence of our remaining assets, future, and way of life. We are on the eve of a new world order which is dramatically different than the one envisaged when this treaty was signed. The present government should begin the process of rescinding NAFTA, as promised before the previous election, or at least declare a moratorium on any new agreements or amendments until a substantive, critical public review has taken place. The Canadian government must take a much more assertive role in our relationship with Washington, to assure our long-term political, economic, and geographic viability.
Canada's foreign policy should reflect the broad, long-term values and interests of the Canadian territory and people, and not function just as an extension of our trading, economic, and regional interests. It should embody the principles of freedom and fairness that many people around the world have long admired in us. In reality, Canada has supplanted the US as a respected democratic model and safe place to live.
The United Nations has had successive extraordinary challenges in the maintenance of world order and security. During the past decade, the UN's inability to resolve humanitarian, political, and military crises has itself become a crisis. Given the recent experience over Iraq, even security council veto and abstention rights could not alter the course of the so-called coalition occupation of Baghdad, nor the tragic loss of civilian and defence forces lives. The fact that occupation troops permitted the ransacking and desecration of timeless and priceless historical antiquities and documents from the cradle of civilization, was an obscenity beyond imagination, even for barbarians. Why was there no discussion of this obvious issue before the invasion, especially since high-ranking arts and antiquities experts had been consulted by the US administration?
The United Nations is not irrelevant. On the contrary, it is the only chance we have as a species, to move beyond the hubris of the mighty in the governance of this planet. I believe that Canada should continue to demonstrate the courage of its convictions by calling for a complete review of the UN's role, structure, and mandate, with a view to further democratizing that organization. Some means must be found to resolve Security Council deadlocks. Some limitations should be placed on the power of permanent members to "wag the dog" through their use of the veto . Some means must be established, of imposing effective sanctions on member states who refuse to comply with their UN resolutions and obligations .
Canadian military forces should not enter any international engagement without UN sanction, except in direct defence of a clear threat of imminent attack upon Canada or its allies. This, and other defensive and support roles should determine our military policies and priorities, not pressure from nor manipulation by foreign governments. At the highest level, including Senate and Commons committees, the long-term consequences vis a vis Canadian independance and sovereignty should always inform the debate and decision-making on defence matters.
Much of our continued participation in NATO and NORAD is "grandfathered in" through our postwar treaties and committments -committments which may now impinge upon our ability to act independently from the US, especially when involving challenges to our own sovereignty, or disagreements in foreign affairs. Our contributions to these organizations should be commensurate with our national means and priorities, and should never diminish our ability to effectively monitor and defend our own territory. In this regard, I would advocate establishment of a "Canadian Guard" who, charged with domestic and frontier security, coastal, territorial, and environmental surveillance tasks, could also respond to SAR and civil disaster-relief situations. In times of national emergency or attack these employees could be readily integrated into the military structure.
Recent efforts by your government, to assert an independent foreign policy regarding the UN and Iraq, and to assist Canadian citizens outside their own country are critically important to us all and to our future. I am especially grateful to your Ministry for the opportunity to express my own views on Canada's foreign policy today.
Date: 2003-04-17 21:56:02
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Well, since it is posted here I assume you are looking for thoughts so just remember this is just my personal humble off the cuff opinion.
I thought the letter was well said at the beginning but it lost me at this point.
…” the Canadian economy has been choked into submissive defense of our remaining assets, future, and way of life.
I thought the Chrétien government has done a super job with the economy; currently we lead the G8.
Our water resources are protected, we have some pollution problems out east but we are dealing with them.
As far as way of life, it has always been in change, we don’t ride buggies on horse back into town anymore and our cities are more diversified and colourfull, plus cleaner then many other non-Canadian cities.
…” Canada has supplanted the US as a respected democratic model and safe place to live”.
I would agree with that if we had an elected EEE senate, also I wonder if we are starting to look like a weak nation, we couldn’t even do anything about Rwanda…? Where as in the past we got right involved in Cypress and made a major difference and an internationally respected military name for Canada.
…” convictions by calling for a complete review of the UN's role, structure, and mandate, with a view to further democratizing that organization”…
Bravo, well said. IMO.
…” Canadian military forces should not enter any international engagement without UN sanction”…
I have to ask about our involvement in NATO against Serbia? Perhaps some day we can defer to the U.N. but sadly that day isn’t here yet. IMO.
…” or attack these employees could be readily integrated into the military structure.”…
That may have been true in the old war days, but current warfare demands full time skilled military people. It is not like WWII where we could take people off the street and turn them into troops in 2 weeks. The effectiveness of professional troops has been clearly demonstrated in the last 10 years, but don’t take my word for it, ask our allies.
Well, that's my 2-cents.
Have a good Easter fellows.
Date: 2003-04-17 23:38:28
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Well said. Regarding the destruction of valuable museum pieces in Iraq; 2 US Cultural advisers to the Bush government resigned today for the failure to protect this priceless Iraqi treasures as they had been promised would be done
Date: 2003-04-18 08:49:36
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Yes, i understand this is bad, especially since the ministry of oil is protected like Fort Knox (exact words of The guardian newspaper)...
I just want to make sure you understand that the US should not have stopped the looting in the first few days (except maybe looting of hospitals and embassies), since Iraqis lived under pressure for such a long time, its normal that there was looting to vent out their anger... But the US should have stepped in after a few days (which did not do entirely, they did not seem prepared)...
Date: 2003-04-18 11:18:26
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I do not believe there is any reason to condone any looting by Iraqi's. The damage and destruction by these criminal types hurts all Iraqis. Other than Sadaam's personal residences, Sadaam statues or for food or necessities. These looters are not representittive of the general public. Most intelligent Iraqi citizens were staying in their homes and keeping their children indoors to protect them from "accidental or collateral" attacks. Some of the looters claim they were encouraged by the soldiers. The museums were discussed prior to the war and were promised to be protected. I do realize though that the military were preoccupied with other tasks to be able to completely control any looting.
I find it hard to believe the normal Iraqi people are the ones rejoicing in the streets with a foreign military presence; I think these would be mainly Kurds and opportunists performing for the cameras in return for looting rights or other selfish considerations. The Normal reaction (even if they support the overthrow of Sadaam) would be to stay indoors out of harms way, especially the children.
Date: 2003-04-21 13:09:11
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Like others said, if its posted here, its to garner reaction - so here's mine:
1) I think its altogether false to say that NAFTA has hurt our economy. There really isn't much in the way of data to support such a conclusions.
2) Our relationship with "Old Europe" has been a good one? In the case of Germany, Canada has been to war with this country twice in the last century. In the case of France, since de Gaulle, the French government has worked to dismantle Canada so they can see a departement Francaise on the continent.
3) The UN security council did not stop the "tragic loss of civilian lives" at the hands of the coalition. But, NO ONE, not A SINGLE UN OR CANADIAN OFFICIAL, did anything to stop the loss of civilian lives during Saddam's regime. As long as Iraq paid its membership dues, the UN was happy. The Canadian military should not become a proxy army for the UN, there to do the bidding of dictators and despots.
In general, I don't think we PROVE UP our independence by disagreeing with the US any time we get the chance. Our independence would be more credible if we actually AGREED with them - instead of reflexive anti-americanism when we agreed.
Date: 2003-04-21 15:55:10
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As a young Canadian I was always concerned and even a little distraught to think that many of our foreign policy decisions are forced upon us by larger Western powers. It completely undermines a true democracy. I did not agree with the decision to bomb Afghanistan.I did not believe destroying the structure of government in one country would not (and it did not) defeat an international terrorist organization. I am not anti-American, on the contrary I have many American friends and I believe with a few minor but nevertheless significant changes they can truly lead this world into a peace time. I also realize the economic lifeline they represent to Canada.
However, I could not help but applaud my Prime Minister's bold decision to not engage in a "pre-emptive" (or... reasonless) strike against Iraq. What a precedent this sets!
Am I to kill my neighbour over suspision he might hurt my family? This Liberal government is demonstrating the kind of thinking and reasoning that makes me believe Canadian democracy and sovereignty is alive and strong and will be for a time to come. I am only 22, but 2 years ago I was not so optimistic about this country's future and I would like to thank you for representing the thoughts and wishes of Canadians and giving me hope for the future.
Your fellow Countryman,
Date: 2003-04-21 16:10:03
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April 19, 2003
The aim of any country s foreign policy should be to enhance the security and the prosperity of its citizens. Unfortunately, some heads of state believe those goals are best obtained at the expense of other nations. Canada s diplomatic posture should take that into account.
Security: I applaud the stance taken by our Prime Minister and the Department of Foreign Affairs during the recent Iraq war. It took courage to differ with our powerful friends on a matter of principle. All countries, but especially less powerful ones like Canada, benefit from the supranational authority provided by the UN for the settlement of differences within accepted international law. However, although our security may be increased by the UN and through strategic alliances, the defence of a nation depends ultimately on its own military resources. Those who rely on the good will of others, it has been demonstrated time and again throughout history, may find that former friends and allies have deserted them in time of need or, in numerous examples, have actually turned against them.
Membership in NATO has made a useful contribution to Canada s security in spite of our limited participation. The combined NATO force including the might of the US, held the expansionist ambitions of former Soviet leaders in check until that country imploded politically beneath the unsustainable burden of an enormous military force. Our NORAD cooperation with the US also, was a successful counter to the menace of attack by Soviet bombers. Happily both those threats are greatly diminished if not totally eliminated with the replacement of the former Communist regime by a more friendly, more democratic Russia. NATO should become an even more valuable alliance for Canada with the expansion of its membership, even though that may present added potential for drawing us into conflicts which are not in our best interest. In that regard, it should not be forgotten that Canada s participation in foreign disputes may have an impact on our growing unassimilated ethnic populations with resulting threats to our internal security. Our loose association with the British Commonwealth and La Francophonie, for all their nostalgic appeal, carry a lot of imperialist baggage with them, have the potential to involve Canada in a wide range of disputes, and contribute less to our safety.
Ironically, perhaps the greatest threat to Canadian sovereignty comes from our closest friend and ally. The USA does not yet recognize Canadian title to the Arctic Archipelago and the adjacent seas and channels, nor has she been forthcoming with prior announcements of penetration of Canadian waters by USN submarines. If we do not commission an icebreaker to open those channels and find effective ways to patrol them, we may be sure that the Americans will. In the event of an upheaval on the Canadian political scene such as attempted secession by Quebec or some other province, I have no doubt that the US would use military force to protect its Canadian energy sources and any other American interests they deemed to be in peril. Once they crossed our border in force, I doubt if we could persuade them to leave.
For all its faults, and they are many, the UN provides a forum wherein less powerful nations such as Canada may exert a restraining influence on the ambitions of the mighty. Canada should maintain her historic support for the UN and make efforts to strengthen both that organization and the rule of international law, through bodies such as the World Court.
Canada should also maintain her alliance with NATO but guard against becoming embroiled in disputes of individual members; in other words, play with the team but don t support internal feuds or get involved in off-ice brawls initiated by unruly players. We should try also, to minimize our defensive alliance with the US, relying more on a broad-based association with countries sharing Canada s concerns. The US has intruded frequently in the affairs of other nations in support of its own perceived interest. As a result America has earned great enmity. By identifying Canada too closely with the US we risk tarnishing our reputation for impartiality and our usefulness in resolving disputes peacefully.
Contd... in next post
Date: 2003-04-21 16:11:20
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National Defence. Because trade, foreign policy and national defence are linked, a few words on our defence posture are appropriate.
Although it may be tempting to nestle beneath the wing of the American eagle, as we formerly did between the paws of the British lion, that would be ill-advised. Conventional thought suggests that Canada s limited military resources should be employed as an adjunct to those of the USA and NATO. That is a dangerous policy. Canadians have learned, to their sorrow, that foreign commanders are not always competent, and Canadian blood may be shed needlessly in futile operations such as General Haig s mad frontal assaults in the massacres of the Somme and Mountbatten s costly fiasco at Dieppe. Although we gain some valuable expertise and access to advanced technology by a close association with the superpowers, and I do not recommend severing those ties completely, if we become totally integrated we lose the autonomy which comes from having an independent military force.
The current supremacy of American military power rests on command of the air through use of superior technology. If infantry is the Queen of battles several recent wars have shown that air power is the King of Wars. There will always be a need for foot soldiers. However, without air cover, even the best trained and most courageous ground forces are doomed to fail.
Accordingly, if Canada is to be defended effectively, we must find ways to blunt or defeat an enemy s ability to dominate the aerospace above our land. I believe that Canadians have both the scientific know-how and the resources needed to develop weapons capable of blinding GPS satellites, jamming radar systems and disrupting electronic communications. Those are areas where we already have great expertise; we should strive to improve our capabilities. If we do not, we may be sure that Russia, China and several other nations will, leaving both our now friendly ally to the south and ourselves naked and vulnerable.
A Canadian aerospace force with the capability to counter the most advanced electronic technology would contribute far more to our security than a new fleet of destroyers, or another armoured regiment acting under foreign control. I do not suggest that we need to make vast expenditures to equip squadrons with the latest air superiority fighters developed by the Americans. Instead, Canada should develop laser weapons, electromagnetic pulse devices, anti-aircraft rocketry, night-vision equipment and camouflage, as well as electronic, acoustic and optical sensors and jamming equipment, which could be deployed in innovative ways both on the ground and aboard less-expensive aerial and marine platforms, including unmanned drones. We may not be able to bite like lions, nor can we hope for an eagle s talons, but we can adopt the strategy of hornets and killer bees, combining with others to repel invaders with myriad stings.
One of the fundamental rules of defence is: Know your enemy. Although we already benefit from some data provided by satellites and spy networks of the USA and other powers, Canada must maintain and improve her own surveillance capability. There have already been more than a few hints that some US agencies use intelligence data to gain an upper hand in trade and other negotiations; certainly, other nations have done so. Terrorists also, have proven their ability to penetrate our country s defences; we need the means to infiltrate and deter such militant groups. And that can only be done by agents. Canada has a wealth of ethnic minorities from which to draw for that task. Technical means, such as drone reconnaissance aircraft, may provide a relatively economical way of patrolling our vast northern regions. Not only should we design our own surveillance drones, and improve our methods of eavesdropping on potential enemies, but we must devise ways to frustrate the spying ability of other nations. The expenditures needed to provide an effective intelligence/counter-intelligence capability, need not be large and would give us far more protection per dollar spent, than military hardware such as tanks, ships and fighter planes.
In sum, an appropriate defence policy for Canada should be one that focuses on force-multipliers that include specialist troops such as JTF2, sophisticated weaponry, and superior intelligence gathering. We should avoid attempts to produce powerful conventional forces involving tanks, fighter aircraft and warships, which would, at best, provide limited support for stronger allies, and at worst, overwhelm our economy. If America s current pace of arms construction continues, the economy of that country runs the risk of collapsing like the steed of a crusader crumpling beneath the surcharge of a gigantic heavily armed knight.
Date: 2003-04-21 16:12:17
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Prosperity: In spite of repeated uncritical claims, including one echoed recently by Foreign Minister Graham, after more than a decade of FTA and her daughter NAFTA, Canada s trade with the US has not resulted in a significant improvement in the standard of living of the median Canadian family. Meanwhile, the take home pay of the average American has soared. I realize that assertion defies conventional wisdom, however, I do not believe that advocates of those unfortunate deals have done their homework or presented the facts objectively. I don t deny that trade volumes have increased greatly since the introduction of the FTA, but the average Canadian has derived little or no resulting benefit.
The number of homeless people is at an all time high, there are more impoverished children and single mothers than ever, our health care system is struggling to fend off attempts at privatization, our agricultural industry is being taken over by American giants such as Monsanto and DeKalb, head offices of our high tech industry and several auto assembly plants have migrated toward lower paid labour markets in the US and Mexico and Europe, and our stores are flooded with the products of sweat-shop Asian labour, to name just some of the harmful effects of those deals. Clearly, many of the positive results claimed for NAFTA and the FTA are illusory.
Trade in automobiles and auto parts were already exempt as part of the auto pact, so that commerce should not be counted in the increased trade figure. Energy, another major portion of Canada s trade with the USA, would have gone south regardless of the FTA or NAFTA. Provincial governments have collaborated in a prodigal way to sell a very large part of our oil and gas industry to our major competitor, at the expense of long-term jobs and energy security at home. We did sell a large number of subsidized aircraft, but anyone can sell at a loss. Canadian unemployment remains unacceptably high, in spite of a deliberate policy of weakening the Canadian dollar by more than twenty per cent since the FTA was introduced a major factor behind larger trade volumes. Most of that increase has come from the weaker loony and lower Canadian wages, while the profits have gone to the wealthy. On a number of vital Canadian trade issues including; softwood lumber, steel, and grain, the US has simply ignored the rules or else introduced litigation to thwart them. There is no reason to believe the Americans will change their ways.
Mr. Chretien, as part of his election campaign, promised to renegotiate the FTA to protect Canada s interests. Instead he has broadened that pact to Canada s disadvantage. As a result Canadians are working harder, for longer hours, with less security than during the pre-FTA period. That insecurity is shown in a birth rate which cannot sustain the existing population, and the migration of talented professionals to the USA.
A further undesirable feature of our trade agreement with the US has been a loss in Canadian sovereignty. As a result of that trade policy, we now are compelled to share our energy with the US regardless of the needs of Canadians. With the dwindling supply of natural gas and oil, we could be left freezing in the dark, as the Alberta premier once threatened. Our drinking water may well be the next target of global traders, and our cultural sector is already under constant siege from American producers.
In the age of industrialization, the unregulated competition of laissez-faire capitalism amongst the great powers seeking colonies and markets, led ultimately to World War I. In the absence of an effective governing body, the current trend toward globalization and unfettered trade will just as surely lead to conflict and wars of many kinds.
Finally, with respect to trade, we should recognize that the US economy is increasingly vulnerable because of trade and budget deficits and an administration which is ready to fund enormous expenditures on defence while cutting taxes. The eagle will not lay golden eggs forever. Unless we can get a more equitable deal we should back away from NAFTA; the USA does not seem willing to abide by that agreement in any case. In its stead, Canadian industries should make a determined effort to diversify our trade, and the government should play an active role in cultivating trading opportunities abroad. Nations such as Russia, and the eastern European bloc, may be faltering, but they have the potential to become strong economic powers and could be profitable markets for Canadian producers. Although it is alluring to grow our trade with South America, China, and other Asian nations, and we should do so, such commerce should not be undertaken at the expense of Canadian standards. We should insist on more respect for human rights, more care for the environment and reasonable wages for the working forces of all our trading partners. If we do not, we may have a thriving economy but a sicker world and a weak and ailing population. Let us seek Fair Trade, rather than unbridled exploitation under the name of Free Trade.
Date: 2003-04-21 16:13:04
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Promotion of Canada s Image Abroad.
CBC Radio International, peace keeping activities, and our participation in international treaties such as Kyoto, as well as our initiatives in banning the use of land mines, and similar efforts such as outlawing the use of child soldiers, are excellent ways to promote Canadian values abroad.
The CBC, despite a miserly budget, has had some success marketing its programs overseas. Many Americans are also regular viewers and listeners. With adequate funding and good management the CBC could compete toe to toe with the best the world has to offer. CBC News programming is already far ahead of any North American competitor, in providing informative and balanced coverage. I am less convinced that CIDA has done a good job. Many see that organization as a pork barrel for political friends. Certainly, some of its programs have proven to be colossal and expensive blunders, harming instead of helping the intended beneficiaries. Like all such government organizations, CIDA should be subject to an ongoing independent audit.
The USA has been very successful in promoting American culture and values abroad through a deluge of advertising and cheap entertainment programming. With a large domestic market for TV and other media, American corporations can afford to dump such programs in Canada and elsewhere at prices with which our own producers cannot compete. It would seem fair and reasonable to impose an import tax on all foreign programming and print media presented in Canada and to use the proceeds to promote our own cultural offerings.
A high profile in the international arena as Dudley Do-Right does no harm at all to our international image and can t help but have positive benefits for both trade and security. Accordingly, our small conventional military force, which we must maintain to protect the civil power in any case, should be large enough to contribute to peace keeping operations, and help in natural disasters. If a standing UN military force is established, Canada should make a significant contribution.
In summary: Our diplomatic posture, especially vis a vis more powerful nations such as the US, should be one of cooperation rather than collaboration, of partnership rather than integration. In a recent speech, Foreign Affairs Minister Graham quoted an expression stating that diplomatic speech is a nice balance between sounding trite and indiscrete. I too recommend such an equilibrium. Instead of cozying up to our American neighbours we should give and demand dignified respect from each other. Rather than bewailing the increased security along our mutual border we should celebrate it. That barrier may serve to protect us from the assault on human rights being perpetrated in a hysterical overreaction by the Americans in their search for security. Good fences make good neighbours, a truism which I am sure even Mr. Graham would appreciate. I suggest that our diplomatic relations with our US neighbour should be conducted like a dance with a grizzly; using fancy footwork and a discreet distance so we may survive as an independent nation.
Date: 2003-04-22 08:58:17
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Overall i like very much your point of view, its quite realistic, logical and contains a lot of facts...
I also liked some of your passages:
"The USA does not yet recognize Canadian title to the Arctic Archipelago and "
I agree, and this make me feel very uneasy, what will happen when the ice melts away and the waterways can be navigated regularly - Will Canada bring the US to International Court (Not the ICC, I'm talking about the court resolving border disputes), and even if we win, will the US abide by the court decision?? As i said, I'm quite uneasy with this...
"should avoid attempts to produce powerful conventional forces involving tanks, fighter aircraft and "
I agree, even though we should have such capacity, it should be kept at the level it is currently, except maybe for our navy (having a strong navy for us is a good idea), I think our investments should emphasize small forces with great technological superiority (If i understand correctly from the DND/CF site, this is exactly what the DND wants to do with our ground forces)...
"Canada s trade with the US has not resulted in a significant improvement in the standard of living of the median Canadian family"
I disagree a with you, i think free-trade is a good idea, and protectionism should be avoided at all costs, everyone should have an equal chance. Of course i don't know the exact details of NAFTA, so I may not know all the facts. Of course the problem is that conflict resolution is simply too slow, and some countries simply don't respect the rules (EU and USA come to mind). I'm not sure we can do anything about this :(
But there should be exceptions, such as our water resources, our energy resources, they should be protected by our governments by limiting or even forbidding foreign involvment and exploitation.
"..with our US neighbour should be conducted like a dance with a grizzly; using fancy footwork and a discreet distance so we may survive as an independent nation. "
I love this sentence! My exact point of view!! But i don't think we should keep too much distance, it will all depend on the context, so its on a case per case basis...
Date: 2003-04-23 17:01:09
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Principles? What principles?
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Canadians should listen very carefully to the voices of Iraqi citizens who have been celebrating on the streets of Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk and Mosul, and then re-evaluate the "principles" Prime Minister Jean Chrétien is defending.
Canada's "principled" position encompasses three core tenets: 1) no support for regime change; 2) support for interventions that are sanctioned exclusively by multilateral consensus in the United Nations Security Council; and 3) independent control over our own foreign policy.
The Chrétien Doctrine fails on all three counts.
A principled position against "regime change" in Iraq would continue to oppose that policy especially when it succeeds. But the Prime Minister now fully supports the U.S.-UK-led coalition, "wants the U.S. to win" the war, and supports replacing Saddam Hussein with a more democratic regime. This is a policy in favour of regime change, so what principle are we defending? The Prime Minister voted in favour of a unanimous motion in Parliament to "bring to justice Saddam Hussein and all other Iraqi officials responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity." How will Canada help to bring Iraqi leaders to justice for war crimes if the Canadian commander of the naval task group in the Gulf follows his orders from Ottawa to avoid capturing Iraqis fleeing the war? That policy, as U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci noted, is "incomprehensible." It is also unprincipled.
What about the principle underlying Chrétien's unwavering support for a UN process in which multilateral consensus guides Canadian foreign policy? Canadians should consider a few recent cases before taking a position on this one.
The UN Security Council failed to generate the multilateral consensus that would have saved close to one million lives in Rwanda in 1994. A policy that demands multilateral consensus for the sake of "legitimacy" implies that the United States, France, Canada and dozens of other countries were right to avoid military intervention in Rwanda to stop the genocide. Is this really a principle Canada should be defending?
The lack of multilateral consensus in the Balkans between 1990-95 resulted in 250,000 deaths, systematic rape and ethnic cleansing, one million refugees, and the massacre of 6,000 Muslims in the UN-controlled "safe haven" of Srebrenica. According to the Chrétien Doctrine, non-intervention was a "principled" policy because multilateral consensus to stop the war was missing. Is this really a principle Canada should be defending?
More recently, Secretary-General Kofi Annan was "deeply disturbed" by the 20 fresh mass graves found last week in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and demanded that "all concerned unconditionally respect the basic human rights of innocent civilians." But we know that the UN Security Council has not yet reached the multilateral consensus required to stop the killing. Reports by prominent human rights organizations estimate that approximately three million people have been killed in the DRC over the past four years.
Yet, according to the Chrétien Doctrine, non-intervention in the DRC is a principled position, because, like Rwanda, we have to wait for the automatic "legitimacy" that comes from multilateral consensus before we act. But a truly principled foreign policy would try to prevent these human rights atrocities from happening despite the absence of multilateral consensus.
The application of military power against Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo helped to stop and reverse the effects of ethnic cleansing, facilitated the return of hundreds of thousands of Kosovar refugees, and changed a regime in Serbia by sending Milosevic to the Hague for war crimes. All of this was supported by Canada and accomplished despite the absence of multilateral consensus in the UN Security Council and the threat of a Russian and Chinese veto. These are the principles our government should be defending today.
That leaves the third tenet of the Chrétien Doctrine -- independence. A commitment by Ottawa to rely exclusively on multilateral consensus does not establish independent control over our foreign policy. In fact it accomplishes the exact opposite -- subservience and subordination to any single member of the Security Council who decides to veto any consensus that does not support their own unilateral economic, political or military self interests. How exactly does any of this enhance Canada's capacity to act independently or in the interest of Canadians?
The refusal to acknowledge the deficiencies and dangers of contemporary multilateralism is morally suspect and decidedly unprincipled. The moral legitimacy of any policy, including military intervention, should be measured and defended in terms of its outcome. The process, whether unilateral or multilateral, should be irrelevant.
The sad truth is that Canadian foreign policy today lacks the very principles Iraqis are celebrating -- the Chrétien Doctrine would have prolonged their suffering, and, if followed, will prolong the suffering of many others.
Frank Harvey is a professor of political science and director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University.
Date: 2003-04-30 16:15:58
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Honorable Bill Graham
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Government of Canada
I want to thank you for this opportunity to express my opinions regarding the future of Canada's foreign relations. As a political scientist, scholar, a former military officer, and a committed friend of Canada, I find these issues to be especially pertinent. Canada enjoys a unique position in relation to the world and its powerful friend and neighbor to the south.
Therefore, the future of Canada's role in the world demands careful consideration, especially within the context of its proud traditions in this
area. Your willingness to solicit this sort of input, by itself, signals an
important distinction between Canadian and American approaches in this area
that is indicative of the nature of Canada's polity and should benefit
Canada and the world, greatly.
Canada's commitment to liberal democratic values should be the most
important guiding principles of its foreign policy, even when pursuing such
a commitment does not appear to be in its short-term interests. Canada's
foreign policy can best reflect that priority by emphasizing diplomatic
solutions to conflicts, a willingness to intervene (militarily, if
necessary) in defense of clearly articulated and substantiate violations of
international law, including in the area of human rights, and a commitment
to using its status as a member of NATO, the G-7, and other international
associations to achieve these goals.
The "three pillars" approach to foreign policy objectives offer a good
conceptual framework, but Canada should not, necessarily, treat them as each
having equal weight in importance. Canada must not simply become, for
example, a junior partner of the United States in pursuing matters of
security and prosperity that are most relevant only to these two countries,
but it must use its values to persuade the United States and other powers to
promote stability and justice throughout the world.
Canada's participation in all of its international organizations should be
strengthened. First, that participation will reinforce Canada's commitment
to a multilateral international system. Second, Canada's relationship with
the United States will enable it to influence that superpower toward
accepting the same multilateral approach, rather than using international
organizations as mere instruments of its own will that are abused and
abandoned when those organizations fail to submit to its will. Third,
Canada's participation in more specialized, yet still global, sytems
(especially the Commonwealth, la Francophonie, and APEC) will allow Canada
to serve as a bridge between its fellow industrial democracies and the
While Canada should maintain credible conventional military forces, its
emphasis should be different from its neighbor to the south. Intelligence
gathering and analysis has been an area that has needed special emphasis
(terrorism is a non-conventional threat that cannot be fought, ultimately,
by conventional means), but successful intelligence operations cannot be
done, effectively, without multilateral cooperation of the most profound and
sophisticated sort. Promoting matters such as environmental degradation and
human rights can reinforce that overall strategy of global cooperation in
security and persuade other countries of Canada's willingness to pursue
interests that are not just its own.
Dr. James T. McHugh
Professor of Political Science
Chair, Legal Studies Program
Date: 2003-04-30 16:16:44
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Canada should remain flexible in the way it deploys its military forces.
Nonetheless, a prominent role in peace keeping also provides a specific
focus that would be most appropriate, given Canada's resources and values in
this area. It should cooperate with the United States but not try merely to
emulate that country's superpower priorities, which would be both redundant
and fiscally implausible.
Canada's multilateral cooperation will provide it with increased
opportunities to influence those global conditions that promote instability
in the developing world and the sort of resentment that is at the root of
much, though not all, terrorist movements. A commitment to its core
democratic and human rights values will make Canada more credible to these
parts of the world, in this respect. Furthermore, it will both contrast
with, and complement, the realist approach of the United States, providing
options for its allies, as well as for its own foreign policy approaches.
That goal will be especially important in continents such as Africa, where
Canada can, and should, take advantage of its leadership role within
organizations such as the Commonwealth of Nations and La Francophonie.
NAFTA provides a forum for promoting Canada's prosperity. It also will
offer an important, competetive counterbalance to the continuing expansion
and intergration of the European Community. However, in keeping with
Canada's values, it should use that forum to promote economic justice for
the entire continent, especially Mexico. Canada's success in helping this
developing country to transform itself, both economically and politically,
will reinforce its positive international image and its role as a leader for
multilateral global diplomacy and cooperation. Meanwhile, Canada should
negotiate to protect its cultural market, especially in Quebec, in order to
prevent NAFTA from becoming the basis for the advancement of a mere
homogeneous continental marketplace.
Canada should promote, effectively, those democractic values that the United
States purports to do, in theory, but which it often fails to achieve, in
practice. Canada must accept that it cannot always support American methods
and goals when they contradict those fundamental values that both countries
claim to cherish. Instead, Canada must insist upon the continuing relevance
of the United Nations and other international organizations and be willing
to volunteer its services in projects that seek to advance global
development, gender equality, international understanding, and peace.
The danger that the world could become divided between an industrial
"Christian" world and a developing "Moslem" would needs to be counteracted,
especially, through Canada's active efforts in support of these
organizations. Canadian leaders need to be as visible as possible in
presenting this image to the world, though in a constructive way that is not
perceived as being, indulgently, anti-American, for it must avoid making the
United States doubt Canada's ultimate friendship.
Canada must renew its commitment to promote and support academic programs
abroad that disseminate knowledge and appreciation of Canada. The
proliferation of Canadian Studies programs that was, once, so successful
must become a priority, once again. It is through the educational systems
of the international community that Canada's culture and experience will
gain the prominence it deserves and reinforce conventional Canadian
diplomatic and public relations activities.
Canada's position as a major, but not a "super," power must be the basis for
all of its international relations. Canada must demonstrate an appreciation
for the position and goals of the United States and continue to foster its
close friendship and alliance with Americans. However, it must not submit
itself to the unilateral tendency of recent American foreign policy, nor can
it allow itself to be guided by the allure of a realist approach that can be
highly successful in the short-term but which fails to address the sort of
long-term problems that result in global instability and, even, terrorism.
Canada's liberal democratic values represent the best features of the
industrial world, and it must be unshakeable in promoting them and reminding
its neighbor to the south never to abandon its own stated commitment to
human rights and the "better angels of its nature."
Thank you for this opportunity. I wish you and the government every success
in preparing Canada's foreign policy for the twenty-first century. I trust
that Canada's image as a strong, compassionate, and admirable participant in
international relations will continue as a result of this process.
Dr. James T. McHugh
Professor of Political Science
Chair, Legal Studies Program