Foreign Affairs Minister Graham launched A Dialogue on Foreign Policy on January 22, 2003 with the release of a discussion paper. The Dialogue seeks to engage Canadians in reflections about choices and priorities in Canada's foreign policy.
Internet Responses to the Minister's Discussion Paper:
Replies to questions
Quotes of the week
"Canada, as a nation, must also maintain a broad presence on the world stage in every issue and rebuild its reputation as a formidable and respectable voice in world affairs. I want to be proud of a strong nation whose voice is heard loudly from every issue ranging from sustainable development to universal access to reproductive rights."
"We should further strengthen our ties to the USA. I would hope that we could have a perimeter security between our two nations. It should be easier to go from Windsor Ontario to Detroit Michigan, than it is to go from Berlin to Paris."
"Canada upholds a vision of true acceptance of peoples and cultures from abroad. That needs to be strengthened, not weakened because of veiled threats from our friends."
"Our government's present position on the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq is a welcome step toward re-establishing Canada as a defender of international law. We should never support those who breach international law, and we must never condone their action."
"The only way to achieve security is to work with other countries to identify and collaboratively remedy the root causes that give rise to war, terrorism and aggression, namely poverty, ignorance, inequity and injustice."
"I fear SARS more than I fear any attacks from foreign nations."
"The United States did not abandon the UN. The UN abandoned the world and the true intent of its charter."
"We are looked at as 'poor cousins' by both the U.K. and the U.S. and depend far too much on their handouts. The only thing that gets us any respect are the fine people in uniform who risk their family relationships and an escalating divorce rate to try and make an impractical commitment gap look reasonable. Our support to them is pathetic and shameful."
"In 1994, if we had been blessed with the military capacity and the desire to use it, we might have intervened to save the Rwandans. Our soldiers - and my son is one - are not afraid to be put in harm's way."
"I feel that Jean Creation's decision to keep Canadian troops out of Iraq was made not only to please the voters, but also because we had no other choice. The bottom line is that we (the Canadian Armed Forces) don't have the men or the equipment to make a real contribution to an offensive attack such as the attack in Iraq"
"Canada must show itself peaceful in all the conflicts and the government must show ingenuity and logic to create doubts in the minds of the other leaders that support armed conflict."
"I realize that we do a lot of trade with the US, but we also did a lot of trade with them before NAFTA. Then we were free to make our own decisions concerning our economic future, now we are not."
"In my opinion the most significant issue to be considered when developing foreign policy is the economic interest of Canadians. We need to bear in mind that prosperity allows us the luxury of being benefactors to the less fortunate of the world."
"Canada needs to be more assertive in trade negotiations, particularly with cultural products and natural resources."
"What Canada should not do is try to force the WTO to equalize the world's uneven distribution of money and resources as this would only undermine this valuable trade instrument."
"While there are those who argue that Canada should not cultivate economic relationships with countries which have poor human rights records (China for example), there should be an effort to diminish our dependency on the U.S. - Canada would benefit from widening the scope of its economic partnerships."
"Canada has to support the continued fight of all people for freedom and basic rights, even if this seems to or actually conflicts with economic goals."
"Values are expensive."
"In order to live up to our values we need to acknowledge dissent."
"We can be a role model of tolerance, the peaceful coexistence of cultures and people. We can encourage other nations to define their own future, appropriate for their own people, respecting together the shared values such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Charter, and international law."
"The promotion of 'the values and culture that Canadians cherish' should perhaps be identified to Canadians before they can be used as a pillar for foreign policy."
PUBLIC RESPONSE TO THE DIALOGUE
"I appreciate this opportunity to participate in the Dialogue on Foreign Policy. It is remarkable that our country has such forums for public participation in governance. The quality of our future can only improve through such sharing of thought and experience."
"I would like to congratulate you on initiating the Dialogue on Foreign Policy. I am pleased that I will have an opportunity to contribute my opinions through such a framework."
"Dear Minister Graham, I just wanted to thank you for coming to PEI and listening with grace and intelligence to the various opinions thrown at you during the Dialogue on Foreign Policy. Things are just as scary today as they have been the past few weeks, but I felt real confidence in you and your ability to command respect. You certainly commanded my respect."
COMMENTS ON FOREIGN POLICY
"Domestic policy does not, cannot and should not shape foreign policy. How could it? Most Canadians are not interested in foreign policy. Would we have gone to Suez in 1956 and intervened if it had been up to domestic opinion? Would we have been involved in the Medak Pocket or defended Srebrenica if our soldiers might have come back in body bags? Decisions cannot be based on the political swing from day to day, month to month or even year to year of the media or the public."
"We now face the challenge of having two foreign policies, one continental and one global."
"Since September 11, 2001, we have witnessed increased interest among Canadians in international issues. DFAIT needs additional resources to address this. The mandate of the Department is growing."
"Canada's foreign policy should encourage peace, prosperity and democracy in lands outside our borders. It should also be used as a tool to ensure our peace, prosperity and democracy at home."
Canada should be more targeted and results-oriented in its foreign policy. It should focus on Canadian strengths to avoid "spreading ourselves to thin."
Government departments and agencies with a foreign dimension, including DFAIT, DND and CIDA, must improve their coordination in policies and activities.
- Contributors to the electronic discussion responded to the comments of U.S. Ambassador Cellucci on March 25, 2003. While some participants argued that his statements were undiplomatic, others suggested that the comments were justified and Cellucci's job gives him the right to comment.
- The increase in American investment and the prevalence of American cultural products in Canada are a threat to Canadian identity. They lead Canadians to expect institutions and policies that replicate those of the U.S. rather than being representative of Canada.
- Canada should avoid a "holier than thou" approach to relations with the U.S. and treat its relationship with the United States with greater respect.
- Canada should be seeking common ground with U.S. Working to maintain stable relationship with the U.S. is in Canada's economic and security interests.
- Canada should reduce its economic dependence on the U.S. and stop using the U.S. as a reference point in defining Canadian culture.
- The security of the Canada-U.S. border should be maintained, but not at the expense of trade.
- U.S. foreign policy positions are constantly evolving. Canadian policy toward the U.S. should not be based solely on the realities of the current administration. Policies should be created with the long term in mind.
INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY
- The majority of Dialogue participants support the decision to not participate in the war in Iraq. However, a strong minority have suggested that Canada should not have abandoned its traditional allies and its military history.
- From the perspective of international law, the use of force may be inappropriate, but it cannot be judged as either lawful or unlawful.
- Participants suggest that Canada has an important role to play in re-building Iraqi institutions and infrastructure after the war. Concern was expressed that an interim administration run by the U.S. military would not be appropriate, and would likely increase tensions in the region and lead to further instability.
- Canada should be cautious of diverting resources and assistance from other countries/regions to Iraq.
Additional conflicts mentioned: India/Pakistan, Israel, Korea
Terrorism and International Crime
- Canada should increase those activities that have kept it from being a terrorist target previously: development assistance, tolerance for diversity, and peacekeeping rather than military intervention. If Canada becomes more active in military roles, it will risk becoming a target for terrorists.
- Canada should strengthen its ability to respond to terrorist attacks (biological, nuclear, and chemical). In addition, Canada should increase its ability to prevent attacks through the creation of an international intelligence agency.
- Canada should take advantage of its good reputation and offer its services as a mediator in international disputes.
- The best way to prevent conflict is to encourage democratization, as democracies are more likely to use non-violent methods of conflict resolution.
- Failure by Canadians and the government to respect the environment provides a poor example to developing countries. It undermines sustainable development and suggests that Canadians are self-centred consumers.
- Canada should end the transport of garbage to and from the U.S.
- There is a 'peace and security' aspect to environmental degradation and resource management, particularly water management.
- SARS cases in Canada highlight the vulnerability of humans to infectious disease. Canada should increase support for prevention and monitoring of new diseases.
- Canada should be more aggressive in its promotion of human rights, including speaking against Libya's chairmanship in the UN Human Rights Commission.
- New challenges to security, prosperity, and health are global, therefore a coordinated response is necessary. Canada should continue to work through multilateral institutions, but ensure that its voice is not lost within them.
- Canada should protest against U.S. attempts to undermine the United Nations, including recent attempts to spy on members of the UN Security Council.
- Canada should continue its support for the activities and resolutions of the UN. Several contributors suggest that Canadian resources should be focussed on the G8 and NATO, as their smaller membership allows them to be more effective.
- While, some participants suggest that the UN is inefficient. Several contributors argue that Canada should leave NATO in favour of the UN.
- While Canada should work to strengthen multilateral institutions, foreign policy must recognize that decisions are still made in capital cities; "We must work to influence decision makers based in the capitals."
- Disarmament - Canada should encourage the development of more stringent rules on arms transfers to countries with histories of human rights abuses, and enhance mechanisms for enforcement.
INTERNATIONAL LAW AND NORMS
- While Canada has been a strong supporter of international organizations and international law, its support has not been uniform and is often influenced by national interest.
- International legal institutions are created to address specific needs and in a particular context. These institutions may be unable to adapt to changes in needs and context, leaving the international system with out-dated institutions that have too much discretion to act as they choose.
- Canada should question its record on multilateralism and ask whether it has been as supportive of international law and norms as it claims to be.
- Existing institutions should be maintained, but their mandates should be clearly defined in order to improve coherence and de-politicize the system. Countries should agree on what they want the role and scope of action of international legal bodies to be.
- Canada should work to strengthen international law and compliance mechanisms. This could be accomplished by permitting international institutions to develop international law.
- The majority support peacekeeping as the primary role of the Canadian Forces. A significant minority argue for a multiplicity of roles or an increase in combat capabilities.
- Several contributors who view the organization as directionless or an instrument of U.S. foreign policy called involvement in NATO into question. Others suggest that Canada does not have the resources to commit to NATO and should therefore focus on UN-lead peacekeeping operations.
- Contributors suggest membership in NATO and alliances with the U.S. allow the Canadian Forces to be more effective than they could otherwise be alone.
- Strengths of the Canadian Forces were listed as: its highly trained and well-educated soldiers, advanced navy frigates, and a good international reputation both in peacekeeping and combat operations. Weaknesses include: outdated equipment (Sea King helicopters) and soldier fatigue.
- Emphasize CF role as peacekeepers and provide necessary funding and specialized training (physical and psychological) for them to fulfill their mandate. Canada could share its expertise in this area by establishing a mobile training facility to train peacekeepers from other countries.
- Canada should support the creation of a multinational rapid reaction force which "could respond to those crises were governance has broken down, civilian populations are at risk, and traditional peacekeeping is inadequate." These forces would be dedicated to use in multilateral missions, under the auspices of the UN or NATO.
- A significant minority argued that Canada should do more to support its traditional allies the U.S. and U.K. and increase the size and funding of the Canadian Forces. Canada should "pull its weight" in the security of North America and the world.
- Several contributors suggested that Canada should not involve itself in foreign conflicts, instead focussing on defending the sovereignty of Canada. Domestic activities, including the provision of search and rescue support and the monitoring of resources, would become the primary responsibility of the Canadian Forces.
TRADE AND PROSPERITY
- Despite the significance of the trade relationship between Canada and the U.S. and the legal framework of NAFTA, Canada continues to have regular trade disputes with the United States and its producers are unable to feel secure in their access to the U.S. market.
- Dialogue contributors express negative opinions regarding the activities of multinational corporations and the impact they have on developing countries.
- Several contributors suggest that the export of raw materials from Canada is detrimental to our economic prosperity.
- To bring about real prosperity and sustainability, the environmental and social costs of goods must be reflected in their price.
- Canada should promote the cooperative model to developing countries as it creates sustainable local wealth, increases the size of the middle class, reduces income inequalities, and environmentally friendly principles.
- Increase Canada's manufacturing base. Reduce the export of raw materials and unfinished goods from Canada.
- Canada should develop new trade relationships with a diversity of countries, not just the largest of the emerging economies. The promotion of "success stories" would make Canadian businesses more aware of opportunities which non-traditional trading partners. The government could also do more to make businesses aware of the risks of investing in certain countries.
- Canada could draw upon its resources as a multicultural society to overcome cultural differences in business.
- Restrict Canadian companies investing in countries with known human rights abuses (e.g. Sudan) and promote codes of conduct for business.
- Introduce a flat tax on income and incentives to reduce the flow of educated professional to the U.S.
- Canada should encourage developing countries to focus on goods for domestic consumption, rather than a global market. International trade regulation should be modified to permit this.
- Canada should target aid toward areas such as water management, sanitation, or immunization in Africa or South Asia.
- Encourage Canadian companies investing in developing countries to contribute to the development of local infrastructure.
- Canada should help developing countries to help themselves by promoting education, health, and infrastructure planning that will prepare developing countries to participate in the global economy and empower their citizenry.
- CIDA should be recognized as an extension of Canadian foreign policy. Assistance should be tied to accountability and anti-corruption measures should be emphasized.
VALUES AND CULTURE
- Dialogue contributors continue to support the advocacy of Canadian values abroad, though some note that this promotion must be respectful of cultural differences. Canadians should not suggest that our values are superior to those of others.
- Cultural products, such as Canadian films, are unable to compete against American products that have more money to support them. This is seen as a threat to Canadian identity.
- The government should not worry about promoting a "distinctive identity," as it is the promotion of values that is important, and Canada is not alone in defending human rights and respect for diversity.
- Our adherence to core Canadian values is not well known internationally: "We have become preachers because people do not see how we live our values at home." Canadian foreign policy should project an identity that is consistent with our domestic policies.
- Canadians should be better educated to participate in global debates - more geography, history, and politics should be included in school curricula.
- Educate the world about Canada through increased funding for the international service of the CBC.
- The number of student exchanges should be increased. Canada should bring more students from developing countries and potential conflicts zones to Canada so that they may return with and spread the belief that conflict can be managed through non-violent means.
- Canada must demonstrate values domestically before it can speak internationally with any legitimacy.
- Canada should not "promote" its culture of values, rather "share" it with the world. "If others follow us, that is wonderful, but it is not something that we can or should be proactive in encouraging."
- Cooperatives are a positive expression of Canadian values. The government should recognize that business could promote Canadian values as well.
- Canada should take advantage of its multi-ethnic makeup to build bridges between cultures and ethnicities in Canada. The example of tolerance could then be held up as a positive example to groups in conflict overseas.
- Education against racism should be a higher priority in Canada.
- The government should participate and encourage intercultural dialogue, but involvement in interfaith discussions is not appropriate. Efforts in this area should be increased, but only after other domestic priorities have been met.