Resusitating Defence and Foreign Policies

Canadian Speeches, November-December 2001 | Go to article overview

Resusitating Defence and Foreign Policies


Canada does not need to redefine its foreign or defence policies -- it just needs to make them come alive.

I wish, like Andrew, to speak on the subject of Canadian foreign policy priorities in their full globalite, but come to the Canada-U.S. relationship, the question of North American integration, with a particular focus on two international institutions [think are of central consequence--the NAFTA family and the G-7, G-8.

First is the big question, does September 11 require a rethinking and a redefinition of Canadian foreign policy priorities? Here my answer is an unequivocal no. Go back to February 7, 1995, the definitive statement on foreign policy. Read the opening passages. It speaks more boldly than ever before about the capacity and need for a Canadian leadership, in part through its hosting of consequential international institutions, such as the G-7. Go to November 1994, the defence white paper, produced after a very vigorous debate, which said unequivocally that the Canadian Armed Forces would be multipurpose, combat-capable forces, able to fight against the best and alongside the best, and there were no footnotes exempting particular classes of equipment where it was said we would settle for second or third best. So the policy and the priorities, I think, are just fine. The issue now is to reaffirm them, to revitalize them, to invest the resources in making them come alive.

How do we do it in the wake of September 11? Let me suggest in my remaining three and a half minutes eight particular points.

First, as the starting point, I think we have to affirm at the highest level in Canada the basic fact that this is our war, even more than the campaign to liberate Kosovo in 1999 was. The number of innocent Canadians knowingly killed at the World Trade Center, the second-largest premeditated mass murder of innocent Canadian civilians in our history, was not a matter of collateral damage, it was quite deliberate, a public campaign to exterminate Americans, their allies -- that's us -- and the Jews, that is, in part, us. So I think it's wrong to see this as America's war for our starting point and turn the question into that of how we manage our relations with the United States.

Second, if it's our war, Canadian leadership is required; proactive, assertive, strategic leadership, rather than waiting for the United States to define the issue and then call up with specific options and requests. I'll set aside the lost opportunities of the first few months to look ahead, because we do have to realize, I think, this is a long campaign, with an appropriate objective in the extermination of global terrorism and its causes, and we have to think seriously about how that campaign will unfold, both in the military operations at present and in the conflict prevention program that comes next.

Third, Canada should make a distinctive contribution, and here, I think, we can define very clearly the parameters of what it is. It means using our classic instruments, professional diplomacy, international institutional leadership, and summit diplomacy, rather than rushing into creating alien add-ons, such as a separate overseas offensive intelligence service of the sort, for example, that France has and has used. It means affirming such values as the rights of minorities, abroad as well as at home, global environmental protection, debt relief for the poorest, generous official development assistance, refugee relief, and resettlement. It means saying to our coalition partners, now that you have, as it were, our significant and distinctive contribution, you must call us to your councils, so we can collectively define in an effective way the overall progression of the campaign. That collective council, I think, is the greatest lacuna in a piece of diplomacy that is all too centred on Washington and separated bilateral consultations.

Fourth, the basic premise for the management of Canadian-American relations is to treat Canadians and Americans equally, for our sake as well as theirs. …

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