A Dialogue on Foreign Policy
This paper seeks to engage Canadians in a dialogue on our foreign policy priorities
in the face of new global realities. Long-standing goals that have shaped Canadian
foreign policy over the years remain central: protecting the security of our
nation and contributing to global security; increasing prosperity in Canada and
expanding global prosperity; and promoting the values and culture that Canadians
cherish, to help make a better Canada and a better world. Yet even as these goals
remain, significant changes in the world make it important for the citizens and
Government of Canada to reflect on some critical issues. Global changes are creating
challenges and opportunities that call for a renewed assessment of how Canada
should pursue its foreign policy goals. Since we cannot be everywhere and do
all things internationally, we must be prepared to make choices about how our
efforts and resources can best promote Canadian values and interests.
You are invited to use this paper as a springboard for reflection and discussion.
Its purpose is to provide an overview of some areas of Canadian foreign policy
in which recent changes have made new thinking particularly important. Beginning
with general comments on Canada's current approach to foreign policy and
its relation to a changing world, the paper proceeds to identify some major topics
on which we would like to hear your views. Some background information is provided
to highlight challenges and opportunities; and some examples are given of recent
Canadian foreign policy commitments and initiatives in these areas. Of course,
the paper does not provide all of the facts and perspectives that will inform your
reflections. We know that Canadians will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience
to these matters, and we encourage you to consult the extensive information resources
available on our Internet site (www.foreign-policy-dialogue.ca).
We hope that you will respond, as fully as you choose, to the questions posed throughout
the paper. By contributing your perspectives, you will help us to ensure that Canadian
foreign policy truly represents the views of Canadians.
A Better Canada, a Better World
A better world might look like a better Canada: a place of shared security and
prosperity, of tolerance and respect for diversity, of democracy and the realization
of human rights, of opportunity and equal justice for all. In an increasingly integrated
world, there are new possibilities for Canada to make a difference through our
influence and our actions. It is equally true that events abroad affect our lives
here at home ever more directly, shaping the choices Canadians make. The world
confronts many dangers and uncertainties, from endemic poverty, disease and climate
change to organized crime and terrorism. In all this, Canadians recognize that
doing what is right for others is most often in our own long-term self-interest.
A cleaner, safer and healthier world will contribute to a cleaner, safer and healthier
Canada. An open and prosperous global community will create new opportunities for
Canadians. Our future is inextricably linked to the future of others beyond our
Success in foreign policy depends in large part on how countries conduct themselves
and how they are perceived abroad. In this respect, Canada's foreign policy
has a wealth of assets to draw on. Canadians are welcomed around the world because
of who we are and what we represent. We are a democratic, bilingual, multicultural,
free and open society that respects and celebrates its diversity. We are a country
that strives for the universal realization of human rights and a high standard
of living for all. Canada's federal system is one in which, by and large,
our levels of government cooperate successfully.
This effort to update Canada's foreign policy demands a focus on challenges
as well as opportunities before us. The Government is committed to doing what is
right for Canadians in managing our national policies and resources. Often this
is best done by joining forces with other nations. Many problems are too large
for any one country to tackle by itself: poverty, environmental degradation, infectious
disease, and the threat of international terrorism and organized crime, to name
a few. Global interdependence makes it imperative that Canada work with other nations
in strong multilateral institutions capable of promoting our collective interests.