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For generations Canadians have taken pride in our role in the world, and our reputation for balance, tolerance, and ability to work with others to solve problems. But that reputation has suffered badly.
It is now essential that we reapply those qualities on a new and rapidly changing global landscape. Few countries are as well-equipped as Canada to thrive in today’s networked world. We should approach it with ambition, not suspicion.
Our skilled diplomats, and battle-hardened armed forces matter enormously, as do Canadian business people, diaspora communities, artists and entertainers, scientists and academics, and non-governmental organizations. They all reflect Canadian ambition around the globe.
That presence in the world directly impacts job creation and our standard of living at home. Today, the economy, climate, and security are more global than ever before. The world matters to Canada. Canada should, once again, matter to the world.
That means we must return to constructive multilateralism in the United Nations and other bodies. It means we should be innovative in deepening people-to-people relationships at all levels with major emerging powers like China and India. We should be leaders in the Arctic, and partners in Africa.
Canada should use all its human connections to manage relations with the United States, our most important partner, and seize new opportunities with Mexico and others in Latin America.
This “whole of Canada” approach to the world will require a confident and collaborative new brand of leadership from Canada’s federal government.
We have made a difference for the benefit of others and ourselves: the invention of peacekeeping, the early opening to China, a strong contributor to development assistance and trade relations, the founding of the G-20, and major contributions to many multilateral institutions.
Unfortunately, the Harper government has lost ground on the world stage. This has led to a long and growing list of embarrassments and missed opportunities, including:
This parochial approach is in sharp contrast with the modern reality of Canada. We are among the most trade-reliant nations on the planet. Canadians are people of the world: by 2020, one-quarter of our population will have been born in another country. Our cities are brimming with talented and hard working immigrants from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
Canadians are also spread widely across the globe, with nearly three million living, working and traveling abroad, more than half a million of these in Asia. Nearly four million Canadians are of Asian descent. More than one million Canadians live in the United States. Our artists and scientists compete successfully and collaborate confidently with their peers among the world’s best.
Today, influence is concentrated at the centres of globe-spanning networks, much more than at the top of old hierarchies. In the networked world, the best connected are the most successful. Those able to work across borders, within global partnerships, connecting between governments, business, and civil society, bridging cultures, speaking languages, embracing diversity and mediating difference – those people will excel in this century. And those people are Canadians.
A new Liberal government will implement Canada’s first Global Networks Strategy, cutting across what previous governments have treated as the separate silos of diplomacy, trade, defence and overseas development.
The Global Networks Strategy will require a new kind of leadership from the federal government both at home and abroad. The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade no longer has a monopoly on Canada’s interests abroad, or on international economic relations. Today, many actors contribute to Canada’s presence in the world, from transportation executives selling mass transit rolling stock to China, to Waterloo software engineers conquering foreign markets; from the Canadian doctor who headed Médecins Sans Frontières to the global artistic genius of Cirque du Soleil. All reflect Canadian interests and values. They all succeed by understanding the needs and desires of people in other lands, and mastering global networks of human relationships to get things done.
Yet none of these private sector, civil society or cultural leaders has the legitimacy to lead and articulate the country’s overall priorities and objectives in the world. That’s what a Liberal government will do through the Global Networks Strategy.
Canada is an Asia-Pacific nation, and yet we are the only member of NAFTA without a trade agreement with an Asian country. We have to take action to deepen relationships with the major emerging economies that are shaping the future. A Liberal government will pursue new bilateral agreements with China, India, and other emerging powers. A new model is needed to reflect how the world works today. Boosting trade will be a major part of new “Global Network Agreements”, but they will go far beyond exports and imports.
The new agreements would mandate greatly enhanced people-to-people cooperation, exchanges, and collaborative projects in key sectors such as higher education, clean technologies, culture, tourism, financial services, public health, food safety and security, transportation, trade logistics and governance. Instead of an ad hoc and piecemeal approach, we would set coherent objectives across the whole relationship, and establish specific mandates from the highest levels for action. Success will mean going well beyond government-to-government contacts and leveraging relationships at all levels, including in the private sector, academia, arts and culture and civil society.
At home, Global Network Agreements will embody a Liberal government’s strong commitment to national leadership and partnership, encouraging collaboration between all levels of government, the private sector, academia and civil society. In particular, we will engage diaspora communities in Canada, as well as Canadians living abroad, as key partners in promoting the human networks that generate economic opportunities.
Renewed Team Canada missions will also be part of the Global Network Agreements. We will modernize the previous, successful model, focusing each mission on one or more key sectors, like those highlighted above. Missions will be part of a program of sustained interaction, rather than one-off events, and will promote reciprocal visits by a similar range of leaders from the partner country to Canada.
Global Network Agreements will advance human rights by deepening and broadening human interactions and building more mature relationships in which dialogue and problem-solving flourish over time.
Canada’s geographic, economic and cultural advantages in a North American market of nearly 500 million people will remain among our major strategic assets in a rapidly changing world. Over $1.5 billion worth of goods and services cross the Canada-US border every day as part of the largest commercial relationship between any two countries in the world. There are 200 million border crossings between our two countries each year. And Canadians and Americans are increasingly making things together and selling them to the world.
Regrettably, as a result of numerous security-related measures in the US in the wake of September 11, 2001, the “thickening” Canada-US border is impeding cross-border trade flows and undermining the vitality of our economic relationship.
As part of the Global Networks Strategy, a Liberal government will lead and collaborate with partners at home, as well as the more than one million Canadians who live and work in the United States, to raise the profile of the vast and rich Canada-US relationship in America.
We will explore the possibility of new, smarter administrative arrangements for managing our shared border, in order to contain and reverse its recent “thickening”, while maintaining effective security. Transparency and informed dialogue with the Canadian public will be essential, in contrast with the Harper government’s secretive dealings on “perimeter security”.
We will work collaboratively with the United States, and other likeminded nations, in multilateral settings to advance progress on major international issues.
Rather than wait for the US Congress to decide Canadian policy as the Harper government is doing, a Liberal government will engage the Obama Administration proactively on clean energy issues including renewable energy, clean technologies, and energy efficiency.
Building Canada’s relationships with Mexico is also vital. A neighbour and partner in North America, Mexico’s further success matters to Canada. We share a range of interests and opportunities including fighting protectionism, collaborating on climate change and supporting Mexico’s progress on domestic security. A Liberal government will also work with Mexico towards phasing out the visa requirement for Mexican citizens visiting Canada, while addressing Canada’s concerns regarding refugee claims.
The Liberal approach to Canada’s North and the international Arctic region will move beyond military photo-ops and grandstanding. A Liberal government will focus on the peoples of Canada’s north, as well as their knowledge, ideas, and energy. The best path to strengthening Arctic sovereignty involves partnering with those Canadians who know the region best, and are the most able to shape its future.
The Canadian government must strengthen relations with other Arctic Nations, fostering shared interests, building and strengthening multilateral institutions. The Arctic is an excellent example of the Canadian interest being most effectively pursued from the centre of a network, rather than through an attempt to dictate terms from the top of an old-fashioned hierarchy.
A Liberal Government will reverse the mistakes of the Harper Conservatives, by appointing a new Ambassador for Circumpolar Affairs, and energizing Canada’s participation in the Arctic Council. We will work to bring together all members of the Arctic Council, including indigenous leadership, to formalize cooperation on environmental stewardship, economic and social development, transportation, search and rescue, and security. We will also pursue a joint Arctic mapping exercise to help establish international protected lands, oceans, fisheries and wildlife, sacred indigenous sites, and further cooperation on security. A Liberal government will also act to establish a permanent secretariat for the Arctic Council in Canada to support negotiations, and build capacity for full participation.
The Liberal approach on Canada’s North will be about action on Northern issues like education, jobs, natural resource development, healthcare, infrastructure, environment and climate change, and preserving traditional ways of life in a turbulent modern world. These are the challenges and opportunities that will measure Canada’s success in making Arctic sovereignty serve Arctic people. A strong Canadian military must play an important role in the North, but as one element of a broader approach to leadership and partnership with Northerners, and our northern neighbours.
Canada’s ties to Europe are deeply rooted in our past, and important for our future. Our $50 billion in exports to the European Union underline the economic significance of our trans-Atlantic connections, and our two Official Languages are a testament to shared history and cultural affinities. Healthy relations with Europeans in NATO and a range of multilateral bodies are key to Canada’s interests and will continue to be essential to Canada’s prosperity at home and our presence in the world.
The Global Networks Strategy will also take a highly integrated approach to human development, not only spanning the traditional silos of defence, diplomacy and development within government, but also leveraging the strengths of Canadians at home and abroad.
In emerging democracies and fragile states, the most profound need is often stable and transparent governance, based on the rule of law and respect for human rights. We know from experience that vast quantities of foreign aid achieve little lasting change for people suffering corrupt, unstable or oppressive governance. Aid funds are not enough. Unstable countries need help with running elections, policing, financial administration, justice and healthcare systems. Canada has a strong track record and expertise in a wide range of civilian and public administration fields that are essential for building stable democracies.
A Liberal government will use “Peace Order and Good Government,” the highly practical doctrine that underpins Canada’s own Constitution, as a frame of reference for not just a “whole-of-government” program, but a “whole-of-Canada” effort to marshal our governance expertise. We will establish a Canada Democracy Agency, with capacity to broker, coordinate and support deployments of Canadian governance expertise, from both within federal agencies, and beyond – including other governments, retired professionals, the private sector and NGOs. This will include fostering innovation, providing training, harvesting lessons learned and sharing best practices from deployments. These efforts will channel Canadian good will and expertise more effectively, and contribute substantively to preventing and resolving conflict, developing leadership, building democratic institutions, and spreading respect for human rights and economic stability in post-conflict states, and emerging democracies.
Under the Global Networks Strategy, a Liberal government will renew partnerships with the many Canadian organizations actively working to improve the lives of those most in need. There is no justification for imposing a chill on democratic dialogue about international policy through intimidation, threats and politically motivated withdrawal of funding as the Harper government has done.
In the 2010 Budget, the Harper government froze Canada’s development assistance, removing billions from planned investments. This brought Canada’s steady improvements in support levels to a standstill and has jeopardized long-term program achievement. To restore some of the ground that has been lost under the Conservatives, Liberals will re-invest in development assistance, as we re-balance the spending in our international priorities.
Still, we must move beyond stale debates about the desired amount of foreign aid. Although more money for the poorest countries can help, experts are increasingly looking at new ideas and alternative methods of supporting growth in the developing world. The key is not how much more money to spend, but how to empower people.
Canadian aid will be guided by an overarching emphasis on the massive untapped potential of women in the developing world. Empowering women is often the key factor in small-holder farming, health initiatives and education that leads to economic development. Vast human potential in many developing countries can be unlocked by focusing on the role of women. This will be central to a Liberal government’s approach to development assistance.
It is time to reverse Canada’s slide away from Africa. The Global Networks Strategy will extend the hand of partnership to those most in need. That means focusing first where extreme poverty – not short-term commercial opportunity – exists. It also means encouraging private investment and building the capacity of African states to serve their own people.
In 2009 the Harper government changed Canada’s international aid targets dramatically, with virtually no consultation. The government shifted aid away from sub-Saharan Africa, removing eight African countries from the list of priority aid recipients.
A Liberal government will return Africa to the top of our aid priorities, matching Canadian resources, capacities, and economic interests with the greatest needs. The continent is the location of a disproportionate number of the world’s poor, the world’s conflicts, and crushing diseases like HIV-AIDS and malaria. Africa will also bear the brunt of climate change. Canada must lead in advancing innovative new ways of assisting African states to confront these challenges, while helping to develop their economies, attract private investment, and deliver services to their citizens. The real issues in Africa are about opportunity, not charity, and a Liberal government will build partnerships with that fundamental fact in mind.
Before 2006 Canada was known as a voice of reason in the Middle East, respected by both sides in the Arab-Israeli conflict. That matters because the objective of serious diplomacy is to advance Canada’s interests and those of our allies. But the Harper government has squandered Canada’s influence in the region, and polarized debate in Canada for partisan reasons, diminishing our ability to contribute to progress.
Canada’s ultimate objective must be peace in the region. In the short-term, we should aim for a reduction in hostilities, economic growth for the most vulnerable, and a de-escalation of inflammatory rhetoric.
On the ground, Canada has played a constructive role assisting Palestinian authorities with governance and policing capacity, and must continue doing so. We should facilitate dialogue between Israel, the Arab world and Palestinian leadership.
Iran is the major threat to peace in the region, and Canada should be forthright in condemning its menacing rhetoric, and should support international efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.
On these fundamental questions, our political leaders must say the same thing whether they are in a mosque in Calgary or a synagogue in Montreal. Politicians also have a duty to discourage communities from importing tensions and hostility into Canada. Instead, we should bring the Canadian values of tolerance, diversity and principled compromise to the search for solutions overseas.
The Canadian Forces do extraordinary work around the world, as well as defending our security and sovereignty at home, undertaking search and rescue operations, and responding to civilian emergencies. The Forces ably serve Canada in our major alliances, NATO and NORAD, safeguarding peace and security and fighting terrorism. After years serving bravely and effectively in Afghanistan, Canada`s military is an experienced, battle-hardened force, respected internationally. That force will be indispensible to a renewed concept of Canada’s role in the world.
In 2009, the United Nations deployed more peacekeepers than ever before – five times the number of ten years ago – with almost 100,000 military and police personnel in 15 UN missions around the globe. Yet, while the number and the need for UN peacekeepers has never been greater, Canada’s contribution has never been smaller. While we were once the world’s single greatest contributor of UN peacekeepers, in 2009 we were 56th.
Traditional peacekeeping has changed significantly since Canada vacated the field. Increasingly, deployments are undertaken to more complex and often dangerous situations, better described as peace-making missions. These increasingly involve combat. Based on the hard-earned experience in Afghanistan, a Liberal government will develop a new leadership role for Canada in today’s peace operations. It will include training, commanding and deploying personnel where it’s clear that a mission is consistent with Canada’s interests, values and capabilities. And while at present only a small fraction of Canada’s defence budget is dedicated to the incremental cost of United Nations operations, Liberals will ensure that the Canadian Forces have the resources they need to engage in additional Peace Operations.
Under the umbrella of Peace, Order and Good Government, the doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) will provide a rigorous framework for renewed Canadian leadership in preventing and addressing conflict and mass-scale human rights abuse. Michael Ignatieff played a key role in developing R2P, as part of the Canadian-initiated, and UN-endorsed, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty.
The doctrine emphasizes that sovereign states have an obligation to protect their citizens from harm, and when they do not, the international community must make every possible diplomatic effort to persuade them to do so. When a sovereign state will not or cannot protect its people, R2P requires intervention of the international community, including military intervention as a last resort, in UN-mandated operations to stop large-scale loss of innocent lives, such as in genocide or ethnic cleansing.
R2P was formally adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, with strong Canadian leadership. Since then, the Harper government has hardly mentioned it. Canada could have advocated R2P – from a seat on the UN Security Council – to help advance a coherent international response to the violence in Libya, for example. A Liberal government will work with the international community to solidify the doctrine’s acceptance and implementation. This does not mean Canada will be obliged to intervene in conflicts wherever they occur. It means that Canada will renew its leadership in conflict prevention, and that when the world must act to stop large-scale slaughter of innocent people, Canada will be able to contribute with military capacity experienced in the complexities of modern conflict.
Canada’s role with NATO in Afghanistan supports security and development in a troubled land previously governed by a repressive Taliban regime, which provided safe haven to Al-Qaeda to plot the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. More than 150 Canadian men and women have lost their lives, and many more face disabilities. The mission has been an honourable one in our national interest. Afghanistan must not revert to being a safe haven for terrorists.
The combat mission is ending in 2011. However, the basic objective will not be completed. The Afghan people will still not be fully able to govern themselves and maintain their own security.
That is why the Liberal Party supports the 2011-2014 training mission, and continued development work. The purpose is to help the Afghan people build a better future for themselves.
The post-combat presence for Canada must also include a substantive role in the diplomatic process and any political talks on Afghanistan’s future. A Liberal government will appoint a Special Envoy to the peace process for the region.
Canadian veterans deserve the best possible care and support, and an administrative structure mandated and organized to meet their needs in accordance with the lifelong social contract between the veteran and the nation. The New Veterans Charter has provided our veterans with many valuable tools to reintegrate into civilian life, but it’s not perfect. Veterans groups, advisory groups, Senate and House committees and individual injured veterans and their families, from the regulars and the reserves, have identified ways to the make the Charter more fair, responsive, family-focused, and veteran-friendly. A Liberal government will work with these groups to implement significant improvements, including re-visiting whether the disability award should continue to be a lump-sum payment.
A Liberal government will also implement a new Veterans’ Learning Benefit, supporting the costs of higher education after completion of service.
Bilingualism is among the many attributes that enable the Canadian Forces to both serve and reflect our country with pride and professionalism. The same is true of their emphasis on knowledge and learning. A renewed commitment to bilingual learning is now required. College Militaire Royal de St-Jean (CMRSJ) has played an important role through various phases of its history. A Liberal government will invest in CMRSJ to restore it to full university status.
This will add needed capacity for educating the next generation of officers within the military system, complementing RMC Kingston, which is operating at full capacity. CMRSJ will build on its traditional strength in the liberal arts, which become more important in military education as modern conflict grows more complex, and more entangled with socio-political dynamics playing out beneath the level of traditional state-to-state clashes. Most importantly, the francophone milieu of CMRSJ will help attract motivated young francophones to the Canadian Forces, and offer Anglophone officer-students enhanced opportunities to master their second official language while advancing their studies in the RMC system.
A Liberal government will have a very different vision of Canada’s role in the world. Naturally, the entire procurement programme in the Department of National Defence will have to be reviewed in the context of that changing role. A well-resourced military will be essential under a Liberal government. Procurement decisions will flow from mission needs in a straightforward and transparent manner. They also need to secure the best value for money and industrial benefits.
A Liberal government will immediately cancel the mismanaged $30 billion sole-source deal for F-35 stealth fighter jets, and save billions of dollars. In the largest procurement in Canadian history, the Harper government never explained why that plane is essential at this time. It still cannot say what the actual price will be, and secured no guarantee for industrial benefits. Other countries, including the United States, are scaling back orders for an aircraft still under development, but the Conservatives charged ahead, despite the facts. There is a more responsible way to proceed.
After cancelling the Harper deal, a Liberal government will put further steps on hold during a review of all military procurement in light of the new international policy described in this Global Networks Strategy. This review will include Canada’s search and rescue requirements as well as the needs of our air, naval and land forces. When Canada purchases new fighter planes, we will have a transparent, competitive process to procure equipment that best meets our needs, achieves best value for money, secures maximum industrial benefits, and fits a realistic budget.
Canada is a founding member of the United Nations and NATO, a leader in la Francophonie, the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, NAFTA and APEC, and a founder of the G20. Multilateralism has been fundamental to the pursuit of Canadian interests and our contribution in the past. In new ways, it must also be key to our future. That means dedicating sufficient resources to Canadian engagement in these institutions, as well as many specialized, multilateral agencies dealing with a range of issues where Canada has both an interest and an opportunity. Canadian leadership can make a difference in multilateral efforts on issues like child soldiers, nuclear proliferation, and banning cluster munitions.
Renewed multilateralism will require realistic and determined leadership in the reform of established institutions, especially the United Nations. Liberals are realistic about the limitations of global bodies like the UN and will pursue new platforms and partnerships alongside the old ones. Multilateral deliberation will remain indispensible in world affairs.
A Liberal government will be active in further solidifying the G20. It is replacing the G8 as the world’s pre-eminent body for global cooperation. The members of the G20 represent 90 percent of the world’s gross national product. No leader serious about the future can believe anymore that global challenges ranging from economic stability to climate change, food insecurity to poverty can be adequately addressed without countries like Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, Indonesia, South Korea, China and India at the table.
The Harper government missed a unique opportunity in 2010 with its incompetent organization of the G20 and G8 summits. Instead of careful planning, consultation and statesmanship, their approach was driven by partisan calculation and self-promotion. The unfortunate result for taxpayers was embarrassment and an astronomical cost – roughly $1 billion, an expense unheard of at previous – and subsequent – summits around the world. It was dubbed by The Economist, Canada’s “loonie boondoggle.”
The Prime Minister of Canada must lead by supporting the efforts of fellow leaders, and many other players in the private sector and civil society, to advance Canada’s interests in the world. A Liberal government will recognize the interests and expertise of provinces in many subjects of multilateral discussion, and put in place the structures and processes necessary to engage them in preparing for relevant multilateral events. We will also ensure personnel are in place in key posts abroad, mandated to liaise with provinces on issues of substantive interest to them. None of this will compromise the responsibility of the federal government to speak for Canada internationally. On the contrary, it will allow Canada to speak more effectively to the world, with the coherence of an effectively-led team.
A Liberal government will launch a new Branding Canada initiative in key markets around the world, working in collaboration with the private sector, leading artists and academia. By making Canadian strengths more widely understood abroad, we will bolster the Global Networks Strategy, and all efforts to advance Canadian interests and values. This will help boost trade, investment and other strategic sectors highlighted under new Global Network Agreements. Canada’s embassies and consulates will play a leading role in Branding Canada and reaching broad audiences overseas.
Knowledge fuels global networks, and learning and higher education are becoming increasingly international endeavours as a result. We have some of the best universities in the world, but in recent years Canada has fallen behind other nations, such as Australia and the United Kingdom, that are expanding their presence in international education significantly.
A Liberal government will work with provinces, post-secondary institutions and associations, and the private sector to support efforts by major Canadian institutions to establish presence in major emerging markets, and student exchanges that provide Canadians greater access to opportunities for foreign study.
Canadian culture will also be a major focus of the new Branding Canada initiative. Canadian creators working in French, English and other languages, contribute to Canadian prosperity and identity, while deepening our connections in a networked world.
Canadian businesses are active players in the global economy. They invest everywhere in the world, across the full range of economic activity. Canada is home, for example, to 75 percent of the world’s exploration and mining companies. The vast majority of these companies enjoy strong reputations and operate responsibly in the developing world. But periodically a small number are accused of human rights and environmental abuses. A Liberal government will take steps to support Canadian international investment by promoting the highest standards of Canadian Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”).
In 2007, a CSR Advisory Group representing the mining industry, labour, civil society and academics reached a consensus. Unfortunately, the Harper government has done nothing on these recommendations.
A Liberal government will act on the Advisory Group’s recommendations, including adopting Canadian CSR standards, and setting up an independent ombudsman office to advise Canadian companies, consider complaints made against them, and investigate those complaints where it is deemed warranted.
Canadian youth are a potent force in shaping Canada’s presence in the world. Many are passionate about making a difference, ambitious about what can be achieved abroad, and curious about other cultures and places. They’ve grown up with the pervasive power of the Internet and know how to use it to bridge distance. Experience in the world benefits young Canadians by broadening their horizons. Their humanitarian efforts benefit people in less fortunate countries, and benefit Canada when they return home enriched with ideas, inspiration and practical experience with the world’s diversity and its challenges.
That’s why a Liberal government will implement a Canada Service Corps. It will leverage the energy and engagement of Canadian youth by financially supporting their volunteer service abroad, bringing international experience within reach for greater numbers of young Canadians.
Carrying out the federal government’s work under the Global Networks Strategy will require revitalized public service capacity. Five years of neglect and mismanagement of Canada’s diplomatic corps, Trade Commissioner Service, embassies and international capacity across the government must be corrected.
For the Department of National Defence, the story has been somewhat different. Since 2005-06, as a result of both Liberal and Conservative budget decisions, Canada’s defence spending has risen nearly 50 percent and is set to continue growing even after the combat mission in Afghanistan has concluded. Liberals support the recent investments in the Canadian Forces, but the trajectory for future years must be re-evaluated. A properly-resourced military is essential to our sovereignty and our constructive role in the world, but is not sufficient on its own.
The government reports that the annual incremental cost of the combat mission in Afghanistan is nearly $1.7 billion. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has reported that the incremental costs are even higher than what’s been disclosed. The incremental cost of the 2011-2014 training mission will reportedly be $500 million annually. That leaves more than $1 billion to be reallocated by a Liberal government in a balanced manner across the full spectrum of defence, development and diplomacy.
This change will free up resources to reinvigorate other international capacities across the federal system, better reflecting the full range of integrated functions and forward-looking engagement that define this Global Networks Strategy.