Canada's strength is not in its fleet of aircraft carriers, but in its moral capital. When our foreign policy reflects our core values, pluralism, diversity, tolerance and empathy then we can expect amplification of our influence around the world. Hearts and minds of population, tired of perpetual violence, is not won through military muscle, but by the ability to defuse conflict and tireless effort to establish and maintain peace.
What will Trudeau face in his first 100 days? What is certain, he will have a busy first month abroad as he will be attending the G20 Summit in Turkey, followed a few days later by the APEC Summit in the Philippines and a major UN climate conference in Paris soon after. Indeed, on foreign policy, the new prime minister will have plenty of opportunities to mark Canada's return to the world.
Stephen Harper's decisions on Iran, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and the United States have officially shut the last nails on the coffin of Canadian relevance in global governance. The Conservative government's hard power strategy officially commits Canada to the role of a fireman in an incandescent region, at the taxpayer's expense, with zero influence on the regional levers at the core of the Middle East's most pressing fires today. It is time for the opposition parties to fine-tune their foreign policy chops in the coming official campaign period in order for Canada to chart its way back to the world's bargaining table.
Will the Government of Canada support the threatened peace talks in Addis Ababa by offering mediators to the warring parties and other stakeholders? Will it support civil society coalitions, which are working for reconciliation inside South Sudan? If the violence does not stop, South Sudan could slip further into ethnic conflict.
The occupation contradicts the values and wishes of most Israelis. There is no need for incitement to drive a wedge of hate between Palestinians and Israelis. The policy of occupation and the behaviour of the settlers is enough. I condemn terrorism and incitement, but the truth must be said: some of us, Israelis, engage in incitement.
Taken overall, the Harper government's response to the Iranian deal is symptomatic of its wider foreign policy, which has abandoned any sense of realism. Instead of welcoming the accord as a major breakthrough and a potential chance to help stabilize the Middle East, Canada appears intent on mirroring Netanyahu's futile zero-sum, intensely hostile approach to Iran.
Only 1,300 is an extremely low number during a crisis that has generated over 2 million registered refugees. Remember when Canadians rallied to resettle over 60,000 Southeast Asians after the Vietnam War? Canadians were once able to sponsor refugees almost without limit under the Private Sponsorship program if they could commit to certain responsibilities.
Our government may say that we're engaging the Saudis to foster reform in the kingdom. Apartheid South Africa's allies made similar arguments, calling for "constructive engagement" with the racist regime. Thankfully, Canada rejected that approach and led the world on sanctions, which hastened the end of apartheid.
In the space of a few years, the world's perception of Canada has changed dramatically. Under the Harper Conservatives, this country has become a climate change pariah and lost its reputation as a peace-keeper and honest broker. We need to return to an international role that emphasizes humanitarianism.
On Canadian Thanksgiving Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney gave a major foreign policy address to the faculty and students of the Virginia Military Institute. He did not mention Canada once despite the fact that his vision of U.S. global leadership is like the Hollywood-budget version of Canada's indie foreign policy sensation. Should Romney become the 45th president of the United States, it will be essential, though, for him to recognize that U.S. leadership must be exercised in a spirit of partnership for it to be successful. The message to Ottawa in January can't be "Thanks Canada for doing the right things in world affairs -- we'll take it from here."