Wednesday, February 04, 2009

As Obama bestrides the world stage, Canada has nothing to say

Great OpEd on Canada's absent foreign policy.

Here’s a key point:
On the military side, we continue to pull more than our weight in Afghanistan. But who believes Canada will contribute significantly to shaping the future of that benighted country, or its relations with Pakistan - or Pakistan's relations with India, even though millions of South Asians have flocked to our shores?

I take this point even outside of the Afghanistan context. Canada’s immigrant population is a huge and valuable resource. We should be tapping newly arrived and first generation immigrant Canadians to help the country forge stronger political, economic, trade and security ties with their home countries.

And I think the article lets Canadian foreign policy off a little easy. Sure, the musical chairs that is the government has put a strain on trying to develop a coherent long-term foreign policy; but I think the problem is deeper than that. I think there is a fundamental lack of vision on what a Canadian foreign policy should look like.

In a globalized world (and the nature of global intertwined economy could not be more clear as it is now) foreign policy is not just a tool of diplomacy and security. Foreign policy plays a key role in trade and economic growth. A new vision is needed to bring Canada our of its Lester Pearson “we’re the world’s peacekeepers” view on our foreign policy (which was never true anyway) to a more sophisticated vision that encapsulates the complex relation between economics, technology and security.

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