CIIA and Canadian Interests

By Sullivan, Alan W. | Behind the Headlines, Fall 1996 | Go to article overview

CIIA and Canadian Interests


Sullivan, Alan W., Behind the Headlines


Most of you who read these lines will be aware that the next decades are going to be very tough on those intent on maintaining Canada's place in the world. To retain our global engagement, and to keep up our credentials as an active international player, Canadians will have to be alert to every possibility, and attuned to every opportunity to advance their interests. A continuing commitment to moving forward on all foreign policy fronts is an essential precondition just to stay in the game; much more will be required if we are to win a few hands.

These are indeed precarious days. Canada has never before been so in need of an active body of citizens interested in and informed about their country's international performance, particularly as we become more and more preoccupied with internal developments. Similarly, no one in a position of influence can be allowed to ignore the critical external linkages attached to most domestic issues - Canada-Quebec relations spring immediately to mind. World-wide media channels deal with foreign affairs but without any consideration of what these events mean for Canada and Canadians.

Herein lies the role of the Institute. There is no substitute for an examination of the world through a distinctively Canadian lens. The CIIA and its members, because of personal distinction or through well-publicized events that attract leading members of the community, can illuminate key global issues from a uniquely Canadian perspective.

The CIIA provides a view of the whole with no axe to grind. No other foreign policy-related institution in Canada, whatever its merits or capacity to bring a sharp focus to one or more particular aspects of our foreign relations, can match this institution's scope.

The CIIA is a global issues supermarket but, like all national merchandisers, we have all the speciality items as well; we examine both the particular and the general, and have no hesitation in tackling the broader question of `Where to now...?' It is not for the CIIA to take positions, but we can alert the community when alternatives seem to be required, examine what they might mean for Canada, and ensure that our fellow citizens and governments don't rely simply on old formulas when options exist and new approaches remain to be explored. A CIIA event is an ideal place to put all aspects of an issue on the table and to determine where the balance of Canadian interest lies.

At the national office, we are preparing to deliver on our mandate as never before. …

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