Canadian Official Cites `Useful Mechanisms' for Race Relations

Article excerpt

Lloyd Axworthy, Canada's foreign minister, spoke yesterday with Foreign Editor David W. Jones.

Question: What is the status of race relations in Canada, and is there anything that Canada is doing right that the United States could learn from?

Answer: We certainly face a lot of the same kinds of pressures. We have a highly diverse society. We have had large-scale movements of people in the last 20 to 30 years from different parts of the world.

We have some useful mechanisms [such as] human rights commissions and race relations commissions. We have a pretty active multicultural policy and have supported some different multicultural groups to further develop our own heritage and to develop skills and training. . . . We also have very strong laws.

Q: Canada is promoting the concept of "peace-building" in places like Zaire, Bosnia and Haiti. How is this different from the largely discredited notion of nation-building?

A: I think that it's like the example of the triage, the casualty is taken to the hospital and the first responsibility of the doctors is to restore your stable signs, get your blood pressure up and running before anything else can happen, especially in new kinds of conflicts where so much is generated in terms of ethnic reasons.

For example, in Haiti there's a lack of an international police force, so while the military are there to provide the security framework, there's [a need] to develop a judicial system that will give some degree of objective judgment as well as an enforcement system so people cannot be whisked away in the dark of night.

As soon as the country's vital signs are restored, we bring people in right away so that the building can begin. That's the concept, and we want to do it more effectively in developing countries. …