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The Three Pillars

Thank you for participating in the Dialogue on Foreign Policy. The interactive web site is now closed. The Minister's report will appear on this web site once it is released.

This Forum is bilingual, and participants post messages in their language of choice.

The Dialogue Paper

Contributor: cjw

Date: 2003-02-11 17:14:43

The dialogue site is crisp and well organized.

I was rather disappointed by the Dialogue Paper. The prose is turgid and uninspiring.

It lacks any clear effort at neutrality. Globalization is assumed to be a good thing, not something which is open for debate. I searched in one of the documents on "united" and found four references to the United Nations and six to the United States. We are allowing ourselves to become obsessed with our powerful neighbour.

There is no exploration of the possibility that our trading arrangements with the United States need to be modified. Chrétien indicated that this was an urgent matter in 1993.

The paper recognizes that Softwood Lumber is our most important trade dispute with our neighbour. For four years, we had relative peace, using an export tax. There is no explanation of why that was abandoned.

Instead we have this patent nonsense:

The softwood lumber dispute shows that challenges to Canadian exporters posed by special-interest lobbies may be countered by targeted communications and sustained cross-border alliances.

The only thing this dispute shows is that we should have restored the export tax a long time ago and applied a similar tax on the export of raw material with a low value added.

Question 3 deals with various multilateral relationships but does not mention the United Nations.

I don't recollect any reference to the sort of GATS which we should strive for.

Mention is made of "the threat posed by Iraq", but browsing through the resources, I can find no indication as to who is threatened or in what way.

Surely, these are basic questions which should be answered at this time.

Supposing that there is evidence that there is a threat from Iraq, one would expect to see an exploration of possible ways of addressing the problem. The slaughter of many Iraqis is one option. President Chiraq has offered another which appears more effective and
certainly less expensive, in terms of the human life lost and the resources committed.

It is not clear when the Dialogue Paper was completed. The Minister's Message is undated. Presumably it was after Resolution 1441. If so, I would have expected there to be some discussion of whether that resolution authorized any power to attack Iraq. From my reading of the resolution, the answer is clearly "No". Our Prime Minister has waffled.

To sum up. The site layout is excellent. The content is disappointing.

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Re: softwood issue

Contributor: simms

Date: 2003-03-04 13:55:03

The current softwood debacle proves only that our biggest trading partner is only interested in free trade when it is to its benefit. This is made even more obvious by the US position on steel import tarriffs with regard to the EU.

It is obviously imperative that Canada should be involved in "various multilateral relationships" -- indeed, as a small nation, we have little choice.

However, it is equally obvious that we should avoid entering into relationships in which effective decision-making power is largely in the hands of a single gigantic "partner". The FTAA is one example of such a relationship.

As for the "threat" of Iraq ... my personal opinion is that our government should avoid taking cues from the American corporate media system when assessing geopolitical issues. Any reasonable person can see that the "threat" posed by Iraq is entirely a media construct, carefully crafted to scare the American populace into accepting the Bush administration's plan for the effective takeover of the world's 2nd largest oil reserves.

On the Iraq issue, as on all important issues of global scope, Canada should act within the framework of the largest "multilateral relationship" ever established, namely the United Nations.

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Re: softwood issue

Contributor: cfallon

Date: 2003-03-04 16:20:25

1) Of course, the softwood lumber dispute hurts the US construction industry. So, the question here seems to be whose lobby is more influential here. Its not really the US bullying Canada, but parts of the US bullying parts of Canada and parts of the US.

2) I don't think its obvious that the FTAA has been a bad deal for us.

3) I don't think that Bush et company want control of Iraqi oil reserves. Perhaps they don't want those reserves in the hands of people who will use them for destructive purposes, but that's entirely different.

4) If the UN is multilateral but undemocratic - why should Canada be involved? I mean, if 5 countries are permanent members of the Security Council from 1947 to the end of time, regardless of how other countries develop and grow, there's nothing democratic or fair about it. Why is France a permanent member of the Security Council for the next 300 years? Doesn't India warrant a seat? Or Brazil?

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Re: softwood issue

Contributor: codc01

Date: 2003-03-05 06:21:22

>Why is France a permanent member of >the Security Council for the next 300 >years? Doesn't India warrant a seat? >Or Brazil?

We could say the same thing with all permanent members of the security council, why do you concentrate on France?? Why not the UK, or the US? Why Russia? Russia is no longer a power in the world... As for France and the UK, they are at the same level (GNP, military spending, etc..), so if France goes, why not the UK?

I think if the security council must be changed one day, it should be done by completely removing all permanent members - or changing the vote system where these countries would have more than one voice, but could no longer do a veto, not by removing only some countries...

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Re: softwood issue

Contributor: cfallon

Date: 2003-03-05 09:56:55

You are correct - I shouldn't focus purely on France. The UK is questionable too. Maybe it should be 1 permanent member per continent with a veto power and that each continent gets to elect the member every 10 years or something.

Also, I agree, maybe its not so much the membership, but the powers they could exercise.

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Re: softwood issue

Contributor: codc01

Date: 2003-03-05 17:03:18

I agree with you on that, one veto per contient would be a good balence.

I must also admit that my facts were wrong (I think not a lot of people know about this) ... I was watching a documentary a few hours ago on the UN, and I found out that the UN general assembly also has the power of the security council (with a 2/3 majority vote)!

So its more democratic than i thought!
This is taken directly from the UN site

Under the "Uniting for peace" resolution adopted by the General Assembly in November 1950, the Assembly may take action if the Security Council, because of a lack of unanimity of its permanent members, fails to act in a case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression. The Assembly is empowered to consider the matter immediately with a view to making recommendations to Members for collective measures, including, in the case of a breach of the peace or act of aggression, the use of armed force when necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security.

p.s : This resolution was proposed by the US being they were tired of always being vetoed by the USSR.

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