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Dialogue Paper

A Dialogue on Foreign Policy

A Dialogue on Foreign Policy
A Better Canada, a Better World
The 1995 Policy Review and Since
The three pillars
Interdependence and multilateralism
The Canada-U.S. relationship
Recent global changes
Security cooperation
Canada's military security
Approaches to non-military security
Canada and North America
Globalizing prosperity
Canadian prosperity and global vision
Values and Culture
Sharing our values and experience
Promoting our culture
A request to Canadians

A Dialogue on Foreign Policy

This paper seeks to engage Canadians in a dialogue on our foreign policy priorities in the face of new global realities. Long-standing goals that have shaped Canadian foreign policy over the years remain central: protecting the security of our nation and contributing to global security; increasing prosperity in Canada and expanding global prosperity; and promoting the values and culture that Canadians cherish, to help make a better Canada and a better world. Yet even as these goals remain, significant changes in the world make it important for the citizens and Government of Canada to reflect on some critical issues. Global changes are creating challenges and opportunities that call for a renewed assessment of how Canada should pursue its foreign policy goals. Since we cannot be everywhere and do all things internationally, we must be prepared to make choices about how our efforts and resources can best promote Canadian values and interests.

You are invited to use this paper as a springboard for reflection and discussion. Its purpose is to provide an overview of some areas of Canadian foreign policy in which recent changes have made new thinking particularly important. Beginning with general comments on Canada's current approach to foreign policy and its relation to a changing world, the paper proceeds to identify some major topics on which we would like to hear your views. Some background information is provided to highlight challenges and opportunities; and some examples are given of recent Canadian foreign policy commitments and initiatives in these areas. Of course, the paper does not provide all of the facts and perspectives that will inform your reflections. We know that Canadians will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to these matters, and we encourage you to consult the extensive information resources available on our Internet site ( We hope that you will respond, as fully as you choose, to the questions posed throughout the paper. By contributing your perspectives, you will help us to ensure that Canadian foreign policy truly represents the views of Canadians.

A Better Canada, a Better World

A better world might look like a better Canada: a place of shared security and prosperity, of tolerance and respect for diversity, of democracy and the realization of human rights, of opportunity and equal justice for all. In an increasingly integrated world, there are new possibilities for Canada to make a difference through our influence and our actions. It is equally true that events abroad affect our lives here at home ever more directly, shaping the choices Canadians make. The world confronts many dangers and uncertainties, from endemic poverty, disease and climate change to organized crime and terrorism. In all this, Canadians recognize that doing what is right for others is most often in our own long-term self-interest. A cleaner, safer and healthier world will contribute to a cleaner, safer and healthier Canada. An open and prosperous global community will create new opportunities for Canadians. Our future is inextricably linked to the future of others beyond our borders.

Success in foreign policy depends in large part on how countries conduct themselves and how they are perceived abroad. In this respect, Canada's foreign policy has a wealth of assets to draw on. Canadians are welcomed around the world because of who we are and what we represent. We are a democratic, bilingual, multicultural, free and open society that respects and celebrates its diversity. We are a country that strives for the universal realization of human rights and a high standard of living for all. Canada's federal system is one in which, by and large, our levels of government cooperate successfully.

This effort to update Canada's foreign policy demands a focus on challenges as well as opportunities before us. The Government is committed to doing what is right for Canadians in managing our national policies and resources. Often this is best done by joining forces with other nations. Many problems are too large for any one country to tackle by itself: poverty, environmental degradation, infectious disease, and the threat of international terrorism and organized crime, to name a few. Global interdependence makes it imperative that Canada work with other nations in strong multilateral institutions capable of promoting our collective interests.

  • Current: Introduction
  • Next: The 1995 Policy Review and Since
  • Security
  • Prosperity
  • Values and Culture
  • Conclusion