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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.

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Protect liberty, pursue military and economic independence

Contributor: jj

Date: 2003-02-17 17:16:18

From the dialogue:
Three related aims or “pillars” for our foreign policy are: the protection of our *security* within a stable global framework; the promotion of *prosperity and employment*; and the promotion of the *values and culture* that Canadians cherish [*emphasis mine]

Much of this "international policy dialogue" revolves around the Canada-U.S. relationship. Security, it is said, requires heightened cooperation with the States -- but to what degree? At what point does the States' foreign policy become ours? How will we maintain a true border between our countries and maintain our culture if we blindly comply with the States' wishes? How will we protect individual rights to privacy?

From the dialogue: "[Terrorism requires] vigilance and cooperation by our two countries, in partnership with other nations and international institutions. Ultimately, our expressed resolve to address these threats may require firm action, with multilateral
support. . . ."

Several aspects of proposed legislation to ensure cooperation with the States would infringe on personal privacy. Yet we are assured by Transport Minister David Collenette in a Toronto Star article that "There has to be a tradeoff between the rights of privacy for individual Canadians and public safety." These tradeoffs are simply too costly in terms of civil liberties.

The following is from a recent _Toronto Star_ editorial and bears repeating:

"In his 2001-02 annual report to Parliament released yesterday, the federally appointed watchdog delivered an 'urgent warning' about five initiatives already under way or under active consideration by the federal government in the name of anti-terrorism or public security.

"[Federal Privacy Commisioner] Radwanski denounced Ottawa's intention to collect, retain for six years, and share air passenger information; proposals to allow police to troll through passenger data for other wanted criminal suspects, not just terrorists; proposals for wider police powers to monitor e-mail traffic, Internet browsing and other electronic communications; a proposed new national ID card encrypted with fingerprints or eye scans; and finally Ottawa's approval of RCMP video surveillance cameras on the streets of Kelowna, B.C.

"'Each of these measures establishes a devastatingly dangerous new principle of acceptable privacy invasion,' he wrote.

"'The government is, quite simply, using Sept. 11 as an excuse for new collections and uses of personal information about all of us Canadians that cannot be justified by the requirements of anti-terrorism and that, indeed, have no place in a free and democratic society.'"

** Military -- we need to develop our own. We are, in reality, dependent on the U.S. to defend us from invasion, which means we owe them, and they expect us to repay them by being willing to sign over everything of value to us as an independent nation. We should invest to bring our military up to acceptable standards, which should encompass the ability to meet the
needs of self-defence -- maintaining Canada's safety from invading countries within its borders -- and peacekeeping only.

The danger of free trade deals is clauses whose bottom line is to benefit big business and which, ultimately, undermine democracy. It is apparent that the legacy of existing free trade deals is a growing gap between rich and poor, environmental protections becoming ever more tenuous, and the acceleration of private sector influence.

Under NAFTA, 75% of Canadians saw a decrease in real income (1990 to 2000; Statistics Canada), labour unions are being seriously undermined (particularly as factories close shop in favour of cheaper labour abroad), and our health and our environment have been forced to take a back seat to corporate profits (e.g. Crompton Corporation recently filed a hundred
million dollar suit against Canada for banning a pesticide which is widely suspected of causing birth defects and of being a carcinogen).

Despite the insistence of Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of International Trade and Canada's main political proponent of the FTAA agreement, to the contrary, profits are *not* the lifeblood of society. We also need provisions to help ensure that environmental, health, and labour considerations are not subordinated to (or even tempered by) the corporate agenda. Money is *not* the bottom line. Nor is playing by Uncle Sam's rules. Few would concur with Pettigrew's colonialist assertion (as published in "The New Politics of Confidence") that it is better to be exploited than to be excluded.

When corporations have the right to sue the government because their method of making a profit conflicts with government regulations, the trade agreement clearly does not serve the interests of the average Canadian, nor the country as a whole. Corporate profit must not be allowed to win out. Government must not be hampered in drafting and enforcing legislation that
protects its citizens and their enviroment from corporate abuses.

To that end, we should broaden trading relationships with other countries rather than increase our dependence on the U.S. Let us deal from a position of strength, not subservience, when negotiating treaties and trade agreements and when setting political
policy. Among our commodities of value to the States: oil and natural gas, perceived to be vital in the U.S. securing its long-term survival and prosperity. We have power behind us; use it or lose it.

*Canadian values and culture*
Unless we lessen our dependence on the States both economically and militarily, the Canada we cherish will be but a fond memory. Our foreign policy must never sacrifice the individual's rights in the name of security (and appeasing a trading partner), heed the warnings about free trade flaws, strengthen our trading relationships with the U.S. and other countries, and assume responsibility for protecting its own borders and peacekeeping in the rest of the world.

J. Haskins

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