Final Report


A Message from the Honourable Bill Graham,
Minister of Foreign Affairs

June 2003

The future of Canada's foreign policy lies in building on our distinctive advantages in a time of great change and uncertainty. Our diverse population makes us a microcosm of the world's peoples; our geography and population give us broad global interests; our economy is the most trade-oriented among the G7 nations; and our relationship with the United States is extensive and deep. With these and other assets, Canadians recognize that we have a unique basis for asserting a distinctive presence in the world. They also believe that in these times of enormous change, Canada must take stock of how we want to approach new and continuing international challenges. To represent the values, interests and aspirations of Canadians as we confront these challenges, our country's foreign policy must draw as broadly as possible on the views of our citizens.

To this end, I launched A Dialogue on Foreign Policy in January in the form of a public discussion paper and an extensive program of consultations. The first result of the Dialogue consists in this report, which presents a summary of what we have heard from Canadians across the country over the past months. The views and expertise that citizens have shared have been extremely valuable in informing me and my government colleagues of citizens' concerns, their priorities, and how they want Canada to act in making a better world for ourselves and for others beyond our borders. These perspectives will inform the discussions I am having with my Cabinet colleagues and departmental officials as we proceed with the work of policy development, and our commitment to set out foreign policy directions and priorities for the years ahead. In presenting this report to Canadians, I am grateful to the thousands of people who took time to contribute.

During the consultations, my own activities included leading town hall meetings across Canada, a session of the National Forum for Youth, and many expert roundtables. I also appeared before the House Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade, which has produced a significant contribution to the Dialogue as well as a report on the future of North American relations and a forthcoming report on Canada's relations with the Muslim world. Through additional community discussions and written submissions, views were received from parliamentarians, provincial and territorial governments, academics, civil-society organizations, business organizations, and individual Canadians from across the country. On the Dialogue Web site, thousands of visitors downloaded the Dialogue Paper, submitted their views, participated in interactive discussions, and read weekly summaries of submissions.

The advice we received reflects both the far-reaching scope of the consultations and the heightened interest of Canadians in foreign policy, particularly amid the months of international tension surrounding the war in Iraq and its aftermath. Views differ, of course, on this and many other major issues noted in this report; yet there is also much common ground. A large majority of participants strongly believe that the best way that Canada can advance global security is to continue working within the framework of the United Nations to strengthen a multilateral system based on the rule of law. Yet Canadians also call for reforming international organizations, including the United Nations, in recognition of the need for effective multilateral institutions to serve our own long-term interests and to realize the shared global goods of security, prosperity, justice and environmental sustainability.

Most Dialogue contributors also stress that Canada's position as long-standing friend, neighbour and ally of the world's only superpower makes close relations with the United States a fundamental foreign policy priority. Views diverge about how best to preserve our sovereign ability to act in accordance with Canadians' values and interests while realizing the advantages of North American ties. However, citizens recognize that skilfully managing Canada's occasional differences with the U.S. must be part of a long-term commitment to strengthening our continental relationship in ways that advance the many shared goals of our two countries.

The following report reflects the guiding impetus behind the Dialogue itself: that Canada's foreign policy must be informed by public advice fully representative of our country's diverse population and regions. This conviction informed our consultations, and it is reflected in this report as well. In synthesizing the very large volume and variety of advice we received, we have aimed to give a balanced and accurate account of what we heard from Canadians. While not every suggestion or perspective could be represented here in this report, they will all contribute as we proceed to develop Canadian foreign policy in the months and years to come.

It has been a privilege for me to learn from the knowledge and experience that Canadians brought to the Dialogue discussions. I have been particularly struck by certain themes raised repeatedly across the country. In the new security environment in which we live, Canadians strongly endorse a broad notion of security—one that sees our own security at home as dependent on the stability, order and prosperity of the global community, and with the human rights and democratic development of people around the world. They want to see Canada active abroad in ways that reflect the realities of global interdependence, the complex nature of the threats facing us in the 21st century, and the need for an integrated approach in which diplomacy, defence capability and development assistance work together in advancing Canadian goals.

Across the country, I have heard Canadian voices urging that the benefits of globalization must be shared more widely within and between countries in order to fulfill the promises of market economies, democracy and free trade that have so reshaped the global order in recent decades. Both our values and our long-term interests in prosperity and stability, citizens have told me, require Canada to be more active in ensuring that millions of people around the world come to share in the rewards of the new global economic system.

I have also been struck by the strong desire among Canadians to make our country better known abroad in all of its diversity, opportunity and expertise: through educational and cultural channels, through trade promotion and diplomatic outreach, and through the concrete achievements of a reinvigorated foreign agenda. And finally, the widespread engagement in town halls, on the Web site and in written submissions reaffirmed for me how strongly Canadians believe that direct citizen involvement must remain central to sound government, in the making of our country's foreign policy as well as in the reform and renewal of multilateral forms of governance.

The advice summarized in this report will be vital to the work of policy development that will proceed in the months ahead. At a critical time in global affairs, your contributions will help guide our foreign policy and strengthen Canada's voice abroad. I am grateful to everyone who participated in the Dialogue, and look forward to pursuing further conversations with Canadians about our country's engagement in the world. Our democracy and our foreign policy are stronger and healthier because of your participation.


About the Dialogue

It is a great opportunity to have a say as a Canadian. This is one of the many benefits of living in a free democratic society. In responding, I have felt like I can express my views and feel like someone is listening.
- Dialogue participant

A Dialogue on Foreign Policy was launched on January 22, 2003 with the publication of a Dialogue Paper, which reviewed key developments since the Government's last foreign policy statement in 1995, outlined the three "pillars" of security, prosperity and values, and culture, and posed 12 questions for discussion. Also launched was an Internet site ( where visitors could download the Dialogue Paper, submit on-line responses, access information resources, and participate in an electronic discussion forum.

Public consultations were conducted in a wide range of forums:

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham participated in 15 town hall meetings across Canada attended by more than 3,000 people.
  • More than 12,000 copies of the Dialogue Paper booklet were distributed, and on-line access to the paper was provided throughout the process, with more than 60,000 visits to the Web site and 28,000 copies of the paper downloaded from the site. Contributions responding to discussion questions or referring to other comments could be sent by e-mail or mailed in. Several thousand responses were received, and nearly 2,000 people registered to engage in the on-line Web forum.
  • Nineteen expert roundtables were convened in different parts of the country on subjects related to the Dialogue. Material from these was posted to the Dialogue Web site, which also provided on-line access to weekly summaries of contributions, as well as video interviews with experts.
  • Meetings were held formally for the first time with provincial and territorial governments, some of which also submitted reports to the Dialogue. All welcomed their inclusion and emphasized the need for continuing recognition of their role.
  • Parliamentarians played an important role in the public discussion through meetings held in individual constituencies. Hearings by the House Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade resulted in a contribution to the Dialogue as well as Partners in North America, a major report on Canada's relations with the United States and Mexico; a report on Canada's relations with the Muslim world is forthcoming.
  • Written submissions were received from a wide variety of interested individuals, civil-society organizations and business organizations. Those submitted in electronic form are accessible from the Dialogue Web site.
  • Reports were submitted from community discussions on foreign policy held in some cities.
  • In addition to Minister Graham, Ministers Pettigrew, Whelan, McCallum, Anderson and Augustine participated in meetings on issues related to trade, international assistance, environment, defence, and interfaith relations. Ministers Whelan and Anderson also participated in town halls.
  • A National Forum for Youth was held in March on the theme The Next Canada: The World We Want.

Several aspects of the Dialogue, notably the Minister's town halls and the Dialogue Web site, were innovations new to Canadian foreign policy consultations. The scope of the Dialogue was criticized by some contributors who called for broader and deeper reviews over an extended time frame; other respondents called for combined foreign, defence and security policy reviews, more focus on different regions of the world, or more sensitivity to regional concerns within Canada. However, most contributors did recognize and welcome the unprecedented opportunities the Dialogue offered for direct citizen involvement in foreign policy development. In order to reflect these contributions, excerpts are presented in italicized quotations throughout this report.

Directions for the Future

Questions the Dialogue Paper asked:

  • Which values and interests bear most fundamentally on Canada's foreign policy? How can Canada's foreign policy better reflect the concerns and priorities of Canadians?
  • Amid recent global changes, should Canada continue to endorse a "three pillars" approach to its foreign policy objectives, or should the current balance be adjusted?
  • Canada is a member of many international organizations, including the G8, NATO, the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Arctic Council. Should our participation in any of these be strengthened, or adjusted?

Dialogue participants framed much of their advice against the background of international circumstances now facing Canada as it sets its foreign policy priorities for the coming years. Some of these circumstances reflect recent or emerging trends; others represent persistent or cumulative challenges that call for attention just as much as headline events. Many millions of people around the globe live in extreme poverty or violent insecurity, and Canadians recognize that behind sudden international crises—September 11, 2001 being the most dramatic example in this new century—are long-standing and complex underlying conditions. Hence, a sound foreign policy approach must be one which, by making far-sighted investments in global security and prosperity, contributes to the security and prosperity of Canadians at home.

Another much-discussed theme among Dialogue respondents is the phenomenon of globalization, which many associate with issues of distributional equity, democratic governance and ecological sustainability. Others note that expanding markets, advances in communications, and more open societies can bring immense benefits to the lives of millions; and growing global interconnections promote knowledge and facilitate transnational networking of many kinds, including media and civil-society activism. On the other hand, borders increasingly open to the spread of ideas and goods may also provoke social tensions or fuel concerns over the erosion of political and cultural sovereignty. Moreover, global openness and interconnections also enable the spread of new forms of terrorism, criminal activity, infectious diseases and economic instability. As Canadians recognize, the resultant blurring of conventional distinctions between "foreign" and "domestic" matters requires foreign policy approaches to be updated and adapted accordingly.

In addressing the overall shape and effectiveness of Canadian foreign policy, some Dialogue participants urge that the "three pillars" currently used to conceptualize foreign policy directions be redefined, or that they be reconceptualized to highlight their integration. Dialogue contributions indicate an underlying desire for a more integrated foreign policy framework that clearly articulates Canadian values and interests, that is capable of achieving core objectives, and that is fully cognizant of Canada's international situation and responsibilities. Some respondents challenge current assumptions, arguing for the inclusion of currently neglected agenda items. However, there is a large measure of agreement with much of the broad thrust of Canadian foreign policy since 1995. Criticisms of weaknesses or gaps rarely suggest that Canada should play a lesser role or radically shift direction; to the contrary, many worry that Canada is losing influence, and want our international role strengthened. Many contributors call for Canada to establish and sustain a more substantive international presence, to work on implementing stated principles, and to improve policy coherence.

What Canada Stands For

Our domestic values of multiculturalism, bilingualism, federalism, and our commitment to strive—even though we often fall short—toward tolerance as a society, are ones that we should be proud of internationally. These values translate well into what I believe should be Canada's primary underlying value in foreign policy, which is the value of multilateralism and the development of international institutions for security, human rights, environmental protection, and fair trade.
- Dialogue participant

Almost all participants state that Canada's foreign policy should be strongly grounded in a complementary basis of values and an internationalist vision of our country's long-term interests. Peacebuilding, human rights, socio-economic justice, sharing with those in need, environmental stewardship, democratic pluralism and cultural diversity are among the commitments often mentioned in this respect. As many respondents observe, these are long-standing and broadly shared Canadian commitments, which underpin many international institutions and agreements. In this light, Canadian values should be considered not only a "third pillar" component projecting Canada's identity abroad, but a fundamental underpinning of our foreign policy as a whole. The values articulated through our international actions, some respondents urge, must reflect the diversity of our democratic society, must not be imposed on others, and must be applied with equal consistency to our domestic and international performance. As one respondent puts it:

In order to claim the moral high ground in our international relationships, we must secure our commitment to these ideals at home. We must practice what we preach.
- Dialogue participant

Most participants see the pursuit of values and interests as being complementary: taking principled stands is in Canada's long-term best interest as a responsible and respected member of the international community. However, some participants emphasize that the values and interests Canada espouses abroad need to be informed by a realistic appraisal of our international position and capacities for action.

Human Security and Human Rights

Global developments in the last decade, underscored by events of recent months, confirm that our national economic prosperity cannot be achieved nor sustained in isolation and without parallel attention being paid to the promotion of human security in the world. It is appropriate that Canadian foreign policy reflect Canadian beliefs in the respect for human rights, gender equality, economic and social justice, and environmental sustainability. Canadians care about ensuring that people in other parts of the world enjoy improvements in living standards, freedom of expression, and peace and security. And increasingly, they recognize that these are public goods—without improvements elsewhere, the well-being of Canadians is diminished.
- Dialogue participant
Canada should endorse and actively champion the principle that it is only by unequivocally and consistently embracing the full range of universal human rights standards that governments will provide true and sustainable security for their people.
- Dialogue participant

Dialogue respondents strongly urge that the security of individuals as well as states should be an ongoing priority of Canadian foreign policy. They recognize that Canada already has a significant international record in human security, notably through the campaigns for a ban on antipersonnel landmines and for the creation of the International Criminal Court. A broad conception of security as a human-centred protection of basic rights resonates strongly with Canadians, and respondents often urge Canada to act vigorously in the cause of international human rights and democratic freedoms. They also emphasize that the security needs and rights of women and children must be given special attention.

Many contributors stress that the defence of human security and rights should go beyond civil and political protections (peacekeeping forces, police, etc.) to address underlying socio-economic, cultural, environmental and other conditions associated with serious rights violations and violent instability in some regions of the world. There is broad support for Canada to be active in helping to bring about the development of stable democratic civil societies.

Relations with the United States

Canada is dependent on our closest ally, and yes these strong ties should be maintained.
Canada must, however, remain true to the values and beliefs of its own people.
- Dialogue participant

Most Dialogue participants recognize that our relations with the United States are a fundamental foreign policy priority in virtue of our geography and the countless social, economic and security ties binding our countries. Views diverge on the extent to which Canada should support U.S. positions internationally or chart a more distinctly Canadian course. Views also diverge on how much "margin of manoeuvre" is needed to maintain our sovereign capacity for choice—though Canada's choices should not be defined either as simply following U.S. policies or diverging out of a specious independence.

Most participants recognize that our two countries share many cooperative goals within and beyond North America, and there are many occasions when our two countries' values and interests coincide; but there are some issues (examples frequently cited were the Kyoto Accord and the International Criminal Court) on which Canada must set its own course. Many contributors express confidence that the close Canada-U.S. relationship can cope with occasional disputes or strains as long as differences are clearly and respectfully presented; this point is especially emphasized by private-sector and provincial government respondents, who express concerns about economic access and security issues.

Some participants raise concerns about the degree of Canada's dependence on U.S. markets, and about military and other aspects of continental integration. Others argue that Canada should use its geographic position to build a North American partnership that can be an influential asset in wider aspects of international relations.

Effective Multilateralism and Governance

Canadians, in orientation, as well as increasingly in demographics, are internationalists. ... it is essential that Canada work with others to enhance multilateral frameworks and institutions, both contributing energetically to the further development of global norms and investing in renewed institutions. The first priority is to restore the credibility and effectiveness of the UN and its agencies.
- Dialogue participant
Canada, with its multilateralist credentials and potential to influence the United States, is uniquely placed to redefine the basis for "collective action" in the 21st century.
- Dialogue participant

Another topic attracting much comment from Dialogue participants is the strained state of the international order and multilateral institutions following the tensions over the Iraq crisis—particularly the United Nations and the NATO alliance. While Canadians are strongly in favour of multilateral approaches and institutions built on foundations of international law, many believe that existing organizations need major renewal and reform. Concerns focus on the UN Security Council and the UN Commission on Human Rights, but are also directed at international economic organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank (WB) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). Some participants urge Canada to provide leadership, as a mediating middle-power country, in efforts to renew the multilateral system and make it more effective in addressing global problems that have only collective solutions.

Sustainable Development

If foreign policy is, in part, a statement about the kind of world we want to live in, then surely sustainable development is at the core of it.
- Dialogue participant
Canada should, in future, commit more firmly to promoting international agreements aimed at protecting the environment. I am thinking more specifically here of agreements protecting biodiversity. So economic promotion, yes, but in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Dialogue participant

Many participants see environmental and sustainable development issues as central to the future of both Canada and the global community, some to the extent of calling for sustainable development to be a "pillar" in its own right, or even the overarching principle of Canadian foreign policy. The promotion of sustainable patterns of production and consumption in developed and developing countries, attention to climate change and ratification of the Kyoto Accord, conservation of biodiversity, and management of renewable resources and risks to human health are all strongly advocated in Dialogue submissions. Some respondents also urge Canada to be more active in supporting clean technologies and other practical sustainable development solutions.

Coherence and Capacities

In today's complex and interdependent world, security, prosperity and culture all impact each other. For instance, countries that cannot provide their citizens with a decent standard of living or regimes that refuse to do so are often among the most physically insecure and war-prone. It is time to acknowledge these interdependencies by using a new metaphor: perhaps that of a "lens" through which we view interlocking issues.
- Dialogue participant

While the 1995 statement Canada in the World described the three pillars as "interrelated and mutually reinforcing," many Dialogue participants urge that foreign policy integration be taken further, both in understanding international challenges and in improving coordination of governmental and non-governmental partners within Canada, as well as internationally. A significant number of contributors also call for increased investment in diplomacy, defence and development assistance in order to strengthen Canada's capacities to act effectively and significantly in the world.


I. Ensuring Global Security and the Security of Canadians

Questions the Dialogue Paper asked:

  • In promoting the security of Canadians, where should our priorities lie? Should Canada give a higher priority to military combat operations? To sectors such as intelligence gathering and analysis? Or should we focus on broader security measures, such as combatting environmental degradation and the spread of infectious disease? What should be our distinctive role in promoting global security?
  • How does the military best serve Canada's foreign policy objectives: through national and continental defence; combat missions in support of international coalitions; peacekeeping; all of the above?
  • Should Canada do more to address conditions giving rise to conflict and insecurity beyond our borders? If so, where?

Toward a Broad Vision of Shared Global Security

Our notion of security must be based on the premise that if "the world" is not secure, Canada will not be secure. ... We must not define security narrowly, but must understand it to mean that there are social, economic, military, political and human dimensions.
- Dialogue participant

The Dialogue has taken place during a period of high international tensions, with questions of war and peace very much on the minds of Canadians. Particularly in town hall meetings, passionate differences of view emerged over the merits of Canada's decision not to join the U.S.-led military coalition in the war in Iraq. A clear majority of Dialogue respondents applaud the decision taken, and support Canada's efforts to work through the United Nations. Many people want Canada to play a leading part in ensuring that multilateral institutions, particularly the UN, are fully re-engaged in those post-war tasks of "winning the peace"—though some express reservations that such measures should not legitimize a resort to "preventive" war in the absence of international sanction. Many also want Canada to be more engaged in working to solve longer-term obstacles to regional stability in the Middle East, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Although our country has not been a direct target of terrorism on the massive scale of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Canadians understand that the threat of terrorism is real and its impact extensive. Given Canada's vast territory, international exposure and reliance on trade flows, concerns about our physical safety and welfare lead some participants to call for increasing Canada's capacity to defend its land, air and sea borders from such external threats, and for cooperating in regional and global efforts to combat terrorism.

At the same time, a majority of Dialogue participants strongly urge making comprehensive human security, pursued through multilateral cooperation, an overarching objective of Canadian foreign policy. In the words of one contributor:

Human security and peace must be defined in much broader terms than the absence of violence and war. Security includes meeting the goals of equality, health, education, employment and democracy. The cornerstone of security is inextricably linked to meeting the social, political and economic needs of people and their environment.

Many people made the point that Canadians cannot expect to be secure within our borders unless more is done to address the conditions of insecurity experienced by so many around the globe. In the words of another participant:

The only way to achieve security is to work with other countries to identify and collaboratively remedy the root causes that give rise to war, terrorism and aggression, namely poverty, ignorance, inequity and injustice.

Participants also highlight the importance of children's and women's rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, and environmental concerns within the broader security agenda.

There is a range of views about how Canada can best promote human security globally through our limited resources. Some want more concentrated efforts in fewer areas; some argue for Canada to expand its capacity with military means when necessary in cases where human security and rights are gravely at risk; and still others call for more resources to be directed toward Canada's human security program and our international agenda through the Human Security Network.

Notwithstanding different views about priorities, the main message is that Canadians broadly support a multifaceted approach to security that works on both domestic and international fronts. Most respondents recognize that Canada needs effective tools such as intelligence gathering and border management in order to protect our population and economic activity. Yet such measures must also be accompanied by more investment in human security beyond our borders. Wanting to remain an open society engaged in an interdependent world, Canadians emphasize outward-looking international peace and security policies that avoid the illusion of seeking safety behind walls.

Capable Armed Forces

Our country is not about war, but we are definitely not about dodging responsibility. The soldiers, sailors and airmen are willing to sacrifice greatly and we must at least provide them with the equipment they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.
- Dialogue participant
Military strength must be credible, modern and combat-capable. It is from this strength that we can provide for international peace: Canada's military must have the professional soldiers trained to fight and win, but only when necessary. When not required for fighting and winning, we must respect the Pearsonian peacekeeping model and stabilize the international peace within a strong UN and alliance framework.
- Dialogue participant

Dialogue participants generally express strong support for Canada's participation in internationally sanctioned peacekeeping missions, and, to a lesser extent, for participation in ongoing stabilization or anti-terrorist operations (as in Afghanistan). Some point out that Canada's long military service in the cause of peace and freedom has not always demanded a UN mandate before sending our forces into action. There are widely shared concerns about the state of Canada's armed forces, which most participants see as an indispensable component of our security at home and abroad, and an important contributor to multilateral peacekeeping efforts. A large majority of respondents support increased resources to ensure that the Canadian forces are adequately equipped for the missions they are asked to undertake.

Most respondents also stress the need for forces that are capable of responding flexibly to a range of assignments. As one contributor observes:

Humanitarian efforts and military operations are not mutually exclusive. For example, responses to humanitarian crises in high-threat environments, such as in failed states, require combat-capable forces as much as aid workers and humanitarian organizations.

Another contributor suggests that:

... it is important to reinvest in the Canadian Forces to ensure that they have the capacity to patrol and protect our borders on their own. This requires conventional military preparedness appropriate to Canada's geographic situation and a realistic assessment of external threats, and carefully managing the delicate relationship with the U.S. in the context of continental and North Atlantic defence arrangements. ... These measures should not be adopted at the expense of continued investment in the equipment and training required to contribute actively to UN peace operations.

Respondents concerned about the militarization of international affairs urge Canada to focus on alternatives to military solutions. Some express concerns as well about Canada's potential involvement in U.S. military plans for the possible weaponization of space; and many urge devoting more effort to further, faster disarmament.

In terms of coordination and guidance for Canada's military, some respondents are concerned that decisions about resources needed for military modernization presuppose a clear statement of the Government's foreign policy priorities related to international peace and security, and to the kinds of missions forces will be expected to undertake. Another concern often expressed is that the defence and international assistance arms of Canadian foreign policy be better integrated when both are engaged in peace-supporting operations in conflict zones.

Peacebuilding, Disarmament, and Conflict Prevention

Canada can play a more active and visible role in the peaceful resolution and transformation of conflicts by focusing more closely on a limited number of specific conflicts and demonstrating the political will and committing the necessary resources to sustain engagement.
- Dialogue participant

Dialogue participants identified various key concerns in this area, noting regional hot spots in the Korean peninsula, Chechnya, the Congo and Colombia, as well as the existence of new kinds of post-Cold War threats arising from the proliferation of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles among hostile regimes or potential terrorist networks. More effective Canadian leadership in peacebuilding and disarmament objectives is urged on issues including small arms, war-affected children, and nuclear non-proliferation. Participants also call on Canada to work on improving collaboration with civil-society groups and multilateral organizations on policy development and in field effectiveness, particularly with respect to post-conflict peace operations where many actors and agencies are typically involved. Policing, justice reform, human rights and governance are mentioned as areas in which Canada has a demonstrated track record and could do more in international peacebuilding efforts.

Amid some disagreement about the use of Canadian military forces in post-conflict peacebuilding, some participants stress that more attention needs to be paid to strategies for the prevention of deadly conflicts. Early warning systems, conflict management and resolution processes, and development assistance addressing sources of conflict are mentioned as meriting more support. There are also appeals to further involve knowledgeable non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in peace and disarmament activities in order to design more effective, coherent and collaborative approaches.

Multilateral Cooperation and International Law

The very nature of our country, and the values we hold dear, demand that our government pursue a foreign policy that provides full support for the preservation and advancement of international law along with increasingly progressive and democratic multilateral institutions.
- Dialogue participant
Supremacy of international law and diplomatic negotiation within multilateral bodies is the key to security, not only for Canada, but for the entire planet.
- Dialogue participant

One of the most consistent themes among Dialogue participants is that despite the problems highlighted by the Iraq crisis, multilateral cooperation based on international law must remain a foundation of Canadian foreign policy. Because many global problems can be addressed only through the cooperative efforts of all nations, participants underscored the importance of an effective UN system to the broader dimensions of global human security.

On the other hand, many participants note the demonstrable weaknesses and failures of the UN Security Council in the arena of collective security, as well as evident flaws in UN bodies dealing with human rights and disarmament (though some note that the UN's member states are more at fault for these failures than the institution). Participants suggest that Canada's deep knowledge of the UN system and our respected multilateral diplomacy could help to repair rifts, re-engage the United States in the UN, and push for institutional changes.

NATO is another multilateral security organization that is attracting considerable critical attention. While some see it as increasingly less relevant, others are concerned about damaging tensions within an alliance important to Canada's multilateral interests. Again, our proximity to the United States, close relations with many like-minded European countries, and diplomatic skills are invoked as reasons for us to take a leading part in discussions about the future role and operations of the alliance. To do this effectively, some argue, Canada must bolster its military and other international capabilities in order to gain credibility among its NATO peers.

Many participants focus more on Canada's role in non-military aspects of collective security. There is strong support for our part in creating the International Criminal Court, and concerns about dealing with continued U.S. opposition to this as well as to other international treaties. Canada is seen to have much to offer in the development of effective international legal norms incorporating cross-cultural values and inclusive processes. Canada is also urged to do more to support the implementation and enforcement of existing international law obligations (particularly those bearing on human rights), both by living up to our own obligations and by taking action to pressure or assist other countries in undertaking human rights and democratic governance reforms. There is wide agreement among participants that multilateral progress in these areas is important to both Canadian and global security in the long term.

II. Promoting the Prosperity of Canadians and Global Prosperity

Questions the Dialogue Paper asked:

  • How should Canada take advantage of its location in North America to increase prosperity while promoting our distinctive identity?
  • What should Canada do to help make the benefits of globalization more widely shared within and among all countries?
  • Should Canada focus on cultivating new economic partnerships with emerging powers such as China, India, Mexico and Brazil?

Global and Regional Opportunities

A country so substantively tied to the global marketplace must not overlook the opportunity to develop alternative destinations for our goods and services. ... Canadians must take advantage of opportunities wherever they are ... but [Canada] should be careful to ensure that these opportunities are not at the expense of a proven customer such as the United States.
- Dialogue participant

Most participants recognize that as a trading nation, Canada depends for its prosperity on an open and stable rules-based international economic system. The question of whether, and to what extent, Canada should pursue further liberalization of international trade and investment flows is contested. Many participants urge fundamental reforms in international economic systems and institutions are needed in order to ensure that the benefits of a globalized economy are fairly shared. And while many urge stronger strategic links in foreign and trade policy, concerns are frequently expressed about commercial considerations dominating and constraining the independence of our foreign policy. Overall, however, there is widespread recognition of the importance of continental economic relationships. Equally, there is strong advocacy of expanding and diversifying Canada's economic ties beyond North America, both because over-dependence on the U.S. market is seen as an unwise long-term strategy and also because we should not lose out on potential gains from wider connections.

While a number of respondents note that diversified trade is more easily advocated than accomplished, there is a clear desire to promote a stronger Canadian presence in Europe and in important emerging countries of the developing world (with China, India, Brazil and Mexico among those most frequently mentioned). Canada, including the Canadian private sector working with governments at all levels, is urged to do more to take advantage of trade opportunities overseas.

Views on where additional trade and investment options should be pursued vary somewhat by region, with more focus on Euro-Atlantic relations in eastern Canada and on Asia-Pacific relations in western Canada. Many submissions detail how Canada should build on existing ties in these regions as well as with the rest of the Americas. For instance:

We should pursue our own trade agreements with Asian partners ... to constantly signal to sceptical Asians that we want to do business in Asia and with Asians. Our interest should be centred on next-generation bilateral agreements that focus not on tariffs and trade barriers, but on comprehensive liberalization that includes investment, services and the various facets of the knowledge economy.

Or in the words of another respondent:

Canada is a country that matters in the Americas and this advantage should not be forgotten. ... To turn away from the Americas would be a mistake at the strategic level.

Beyond regional concerns, a number of contributions emphasize the need for coherent domestic as well as international policies on issues from immigration to innovation, in order to ensure that Canada will have the educated and skilled work force needed in the competitive knowledge-based global economy of the future. Many argue strongly that we cannot afford to take a passive approach to this issue.

North American Economic Partnership

Canada is already taking tremendous advantage of our North American location as our trade with the U.S. proves. This should not be taken for granted, but rather looked upon as something to improve. Enhancing border security while allowing for the expeditious movement of goods and materials, should be our goal.
- Dialogue participant
Canada should take the initiative in proposing a North American strategy to Washington, because U.S. interest is currently focused elsewhere. ... Canada should work with Mexico as well as the United States in moving beyond the current plateau in the North American relationship. ...To what extent can we preserve our own freedom of action in light of our overwhelming reliance on trade with our southern neighbour?
- Dialogue participant

Participants acknowledge the importance to Canada's prosperity of the Canada-U.S. commercial flows governed by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and agree that strongly managed North American relations must be a central priority of Canadian foreign policy. Yet Canadians also express apprehensions about closer economic integration. While only a few would pull out of existing trade treaties, a considerable number believe that certain aspects of trade agreements (notably private investor rights, and impacts on labour, agriculture and environment) need to be more prominently considered in future negotiations. There are also concerns about perceived bilateral compromises being made on border or immigration policies. Business and provincial contributions tend to urge a more proactive approach to Canada-U.S. dealings, with some arguing for next steps beyond the NAFTA. While there is little consensus on "grand bargain" versus incremental approaches, many participants are concerned that the U.S. market not be taken for granted, and urge that Canada needs to work intensively on the diplomatic and trade fronts with its biggest partner and client.

Comments from provinces and territories urge closer consultation with the federal government on bilateral as well as multilateral trade files and negotiations, especially as these increasingly bear on areas of provincial jurisdiction such as environment, education and health. Some private-sector participants argue that Canada should do more to tackle domestic competitiveness and innovation issues, as well as trade and investment promotion, in order to advance further in North American and global markets.

A Fairer Global Economy

Fair trade, respect for international standards of human rights, and the protection of the natural environment should always govern international trade. ... The objective of foreign policy should always be to raise the standards of our trading partners, rather than lowering Canadian standards to meet theirs.
- Dialogue participant

Many participants argue strongly that just as Canadians' security must be understood as increasingly linked to the security of states and individuals beyond our borders, so too should our prosperity be envisioned within a global perspective on economic well-being. As one submission says:

Canadian foreign policy, particularly trade and aid policy, must systematically address the lack of prosperity of the world's poor. It must address the insecurity caused by poverty. And it must promote values that build global social justice, peace, and respect for the world's ecosystems.
- Dialogue participant

Suggestions concerning international economic reforms urge attention to "fair trade" through more equitable and democratically accountable trade institutions, rules and practices; food security and access to resources; reforms to the international financial institutions and structural adjustment policies; and financial stabilization and relief of debt burdens of the poorest countries. Canada's initiative to open market access to least-developed country imports is welcomed, though Canadian practices come in for criticism with respect to issues such as arms exports, socially responsible practices of corporations operating abroad (especially in conflict zones), and the application of human rights, labour, and environmental standards to our relations with other countries. Some participants argue for constructive engagement as the most realistic way to make progress, though many others want Canada to be firmer in insisting that our own governments, export agencies and businesses, as well as our partners, adhere to internationally agreed norms.

Views diverge on overall directions for the global economy, with some asserting that a continued course of economic liberalization would boost prosperity in Canada and contribute to global economic growth in a manner compatible with social and environmental needs. A large number disagree, however, wanting assurances that international economic agreements be consistent with human rights, cultural diversity and ecological sustainability, and that they explicitly protect essential public services (notably medicare and education) within Canada. Indeed, some respondents urge that we examine all international economic relationships from the perspective of human rights and democratic development, in recognition of the view that public confidence in the value of globalization will be sustained only if its benefits are fairly shared.

Effective International Assistance and Development Cooperation

As a minimal starting point, Canada should work to achieve United Nations targets known as the Millennium Development Goals, including reducing the proportion of those living in poverty by half by 2015. ...Canada should meet its own foreign aid commitments with targets and time lines, while encouraging that other industrialized nations to do the same. ... Canada must ensure that its policies on international trade and ODA take into account the perspectives of locally based civil-society organizations as well as state agencies in preserving local economies and services.
- Dialogue participant

Overall there is strong support from Dialogue participants for boosting Canada's official development assistance (ODA), and an appreciation for the Government's reinvestment in aid. Amid the past decades' decline of Canadian ODA levels in comparison with other donor countries, some urge larger and faster increases to rebuild our aid program. Among the goals of Canada's ODA, poverty eradication, social justice, human rights, good governance and sustainable development are highlighted as most important. Responses favour more concentration matched to areas of Canadian strength, such as education and training, health, agriculture, infrastructure and environmental technologies. There is continuing criticism that Canada's aid is still too "tied" to domestic economic considerations and structural adjustment conditions, rather than to normative standards and human-centred priorities determined jointly with developing countries and civil-society partners. Some participants recommend that more aid be directed to urgent human needs such public health; and it is noted that the Millennium Development Goals and initiatives such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) cannot succeed if the AIDS pandemic is not addressed more forcefully through channels such as the Global Fund and through action at the WTO to make medicines affordable in poor countries.

Canada's efforts to improve market access for imports from developing countries and to provide trade-related financial assistance are welcomed as positive steps in sharing the benefits of global trade. However, some participants are concerned that the WTO's "Doha Development Agenda" falls short of meeting developing countries' needs and has become bogged down. Progress in reducing the harm done by rich-country agricultural subsidies while addressing the food security needs of poor countries is seen as a critical test for the Doha Round. Finally, many comments argue that Canada needs a more coherent framework for international development cooperation, one establishing aid and trade priorities and tying together policy elements and instruments so that Canadian actions are not at cross purposes.

Globalizing Sustainable Development

Prosperity must be understood in the long term. We cannot have everything we want at the expense of the things that we need. The alternative is total social and environmental disintegration. Canadians must hear and understand this and then change their behaviour. This is integral to Canadian global relations. In a single global village we cannot go on despoiling the Commons. Sustainability is no longer somebody else's problem.
- Dialogue participant

Many Dialogue respondents urge that sustainable development be more fully integrated into Canada's foreign policy, since stresses on global ecosystems raise fundamental questions about the sustainability of a conventional growth-driven economic paradigm. As one submission says:

The "pillar" of prosperity must be made congruent with what we know of the limits to growth in an ecologically finite planet.

In face of climate change and the over-exploitation of natural resources, production and consumption patterns must be managed more sustainably. A case in point cited is the current impact of climate change in the Canadian Arctic, which has led to circumpolar cooperation involving aboriginal peoples through the Arctic Council, and has inspired the sustainable development values at the core of the Northern Dimension of Canada's Foreign Policy. Others suggest that Canada take a leading role in ensuring that trade agreements uphold sustainability principles, and that they profit from the development of new environmental technologies.

III. Projecting Canada's Values and Culture

Questions the Dialogue Paper asked:

  • Are values such as human rights, democracy, respect for diversity and gender equality ones that Canada should continue to advocate in all parts of the world? If so, what are the best ways of doing this?
  • Should Canada seek out opportunities for fostering global intercultural dialogue and interfaith understanding?
  • What are the best means for Canada to make its culture and experience known abroad?

Sharing our Values and Experience

We cannot sustain our values and quality of life if we do not defend these values across the globe. Canada is not an "island." We cannot stand alone. We have to be more aware of our total interdependence and work within various global agencies to promote Canadian values abroad.
- Dialogue participant
At a time when Canada is struggling to assert our priorities in a world dominated by an increasingly isolated U.S., a new Canadian emphasis on the principles of democracy—accountability, transparency, tolerance, multi-party competition, fair elections, gender equality and respect for human rights—could set Canada apart and provide a conceptual and organizational framework for many of Canada's existing initiatives and programs. Canada's unique and successful federal system should also be discussed and promoted abroad.
- Dialogue participant

A large majority of Dialogue participants want Canada's international presence to reflect the values and diverse character of our society. This "third pillar" of Canada's foreign policy, it is argued, should be strengthened in face of current global transformations:

Canadian values could well be viewed as a unique asset and model that Canada could offer in a world growing increasingly insecure due to religious, cultural, social and economic divisions.

Some emphasize Canada's complex federal character and increasingly heterogeneous population, suggesting that our experience of democratic pluralism might be able to provide ways forward for multi-ethnic societies seeking to overcome violent divisions; Sri Lanka is cited as a place where Canada has already begun to play such a role. On the whole, participants want Canadian values integrated into a foreign policy that is fully open to both our own domestic diversity and the world's, and engaged in respectful dialogue with other countries and cultures. Many also observe that our international influence will be more credible and effective through stronger domestic performance in enhancing the place of women, visible minorities, disabled persons, first nations peoples and immigrant communities in Canadian society. Most respondents welcome interfaith dialogue as a way of fostering reflection within and outside Canada on matters of acute global concern.

Promoting our Culture and International Education

Film, song, theatre and visual arts are all calling cards, each more original than the next. The artists who have created them are representatives of our peaceful, multicultural, respectful and accepting society. International promotion of art produced by Canadians is a non-intrusive way to showcase our society.
- Dialogue participant
Higher education and research cooperation at an international level turns the forces of globalization to societies' advantage.
- Dialogue participant

Many participants recognize the value of cultural diplomacy to Canada's international relations, and say that awareness of Canadian artists around the world can open doors to many new opportunities of long-term benefit to Canadians. In the words of one contributor, such cultural diplomacy is: of the most effective ways of enabling the Canadian voice to be heard abroad ... creating a positive high profile for Canada in the foreign media and among opinion leaders and decision makers from business, government, politics, academe and the arts.

The arts and public broadcasting, along with academic, youth, student and other "people-to-people" exchanges, are seen as important vehicles for promoting Canada to the world and bringing the world to Canadians. At the same time, there are calls for substantially more resources to be devoted to the promotion of arts activities and organizations abroad, including from Canada's aboriginal and culturally diverse communities; and such expanded support needs to be "repositioned" in the priorities, organization and operations of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) in order to highlight its integral place among Canada's foreign policy objectives.

With respect to the promotion of international education and knowledge, a contributor notes that a two-way flow of students:

... promotes greater intercultural and interfaith understanding; disseminates Canadian values; builds future trade and business connections; and conveys a more modern image of Canada.

However, Dialogue participants are concerned about affordability and levels of financial support, scholarship funding, and the damage of "brain drain" from developing countries or to other developed countries. There are valuable suggestions for doing more to support Canadian studies abroad and international development studies within Canada, promoting access to Canadian educational and cultural products, and undertaking joint activities with various international educational organizations. International academic and research cooperation are also advocated as means of deepening our understanding of the challenges Canada's foreign policy must address, and as means of forging ties around the world. Educational exchange programs for enhancing mutual understanding of the United States and Canada among academics are recommended; and multilateral bodies such as the Inter-American Organization for Higher Education could be used to increase mobility of students and faculty, cross-cultural knowledge and language skills.

Making Canada Better Known to the World

Stereotypes exist, all limiting the breadth of Canada's image. There is a patent need to maintain and develop a broad reflection of Canada, in order that its models of values and cultures continue to be viewed and understood by the world.
- Dialogue participant

While Canada's international image is largely positive, many respondents are concerned about low or outdated public knowledge of Canada is abroad, arguing that we need to update our image and define more clearly what we want to project. There are calls for targeting educational and promotional campaigns in key markets, and for creativity in presenting our values and culture. This point is also underlined by provincial government contributions encouraging the "branding" of Canada as a location for economic partners, visitors, students and skilled immigrants. Among other suggestions is a proposal to improve international knowledge of Canada by reaching out to the more than 7,000 Canadian Studies scholars around the world who influence large numbers of students, foreign media and publics. It is also suggested that there be an expansion of internships, partnerships, exchanges and other outreach programs working in collaboration with government, parliamentarians, private-sector associations and NGOs.

Strengthening Canada's International Voice

Canada continues to have an excellent international reputation. But increasingly, this reputation is being jeopardized if we do not devote the resources to make substantive contributions in such areas as military capacity, development assistance or policy-making capacity.
- Dialogue participant
We need to define the "Canadian advantage." Canada must overcome the current fragmentation of messages and activities, with different federal departments and provinces making their own global sales pitches and pursuing uncoordinated policies. It is especially ironic that in an era of international interdependence, so many of our domestic initiatives are pursued in isolation from each other.
- Dialogue participant

Some Dialogue participants, concerned that Canada's overall international role be strengthened, warn that substantially greater capacities and resources are needed to advance Canadian values and interests, and to sustain credible bilateral and multilateral partnerships. Since the cumulative effects of earlier budget cutbacks have yet to be rectified, it is argued that Canadian foreign policy cannot succeed in its aims without substantial reinvestment in diplomacy, defence and development assistance. Responses observe that DFAIT itself should be bolstered in its resources and its policy development capacities, as well as in its missions abroad.

Many participants also encourage the Government to pursue improved policy coherence among the many departments and agencies that support Canada's affairs abroad. Objects of particular attention here are relations between DFAIT, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the Department of National Defence (DND); more coherence is also urged among policies on international trade, development assistance, environment, and sustainable development. The importance of cultivating domestic partnerships with other levels of government and with civil-society organizations is also stressed. Provincial and territorial contributions emphasize the need for cooperative federalism mechanisms in developing effective international strategies. More coordination of these multiple instruments and actors is seen as integral to strengthening Canada's ability to speak with a unified voice and carry weight internationally.

Finally, Canadians emphasize that they expect leadership from the Government in defining clear policies and in ensuring adequate capacities and coordination to support these policies. Several governmental initiatives are currently under way to improve coherence across federal departments for all aspects of Canada's international affairs. Reviews of resources and allocations within DFAIT are also ongoing.

Over the next months, the advice that citizens have given will inform the development of long-term foreign policy directions for Canada in the years ahead. The volume and variety of the contributions testify to the engagement of Canadians in international affairs, and to the strength of our democracy. Participants in the Dialogue have done much to help guide a secure and prosperous course for Canada and the world.