Canada Needs to Act with Conviction on the World Stage

October 22, 2016

A characteristic of the Justin Trudeau government is that it tries to be all things to all people. While this may create opportunities for abundant announcements and photo-ops, eventually people will start to look back at this Liberal government’s record and they’ll have to really think hard about what it accomplished on the world stage.  That’s because all of its announcements lack two crucial things: focus and conviction.

First there was over $2.5 billion sent to help developing nations to fight climate change.  There was also $15 million given to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which has proven ties to the terrorist group Hamas  - who has used UNRWA schools and hospitals to store rockets and weapons designed to kill Israeli citizens.  As well, don't forget the $450 million and 600 troops to be dedicated to an as-yet-to-be-determined peacekeeping mission or the blank cheque that was given to China for Canada’s membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which funds
infrastructure projects of China’s choosing.

Each of these foreign funding announcements may well boost the Prime Minister’s image of himself to Liberal party faithful, but they do very little to show the world that Canada is a country of conviction and priorities.  The same government that sent this money overseas is the same government that is trying to force Canadian provinces to adopt a carbon tax with little extra funding to help develop other climate change initiatives such as carbon capture and sequestration technology. It is the same government that failed to stand with our allies against ISIS and commit to saving the Yazidi and other persecuted minorities in Iraq and Syria, yet it continues to look to commit our armed
forces to another dangerous conflict elsewhere.  It is the same government that appears to be backing away from funding important national infrastructure projects, but is willing to fund expensive projects in other countries.

Do not mistake my meaning here - Canada has a duty and an obligation to be a responsible world actor.  It is often said that to whom much is given, much is expected; and we are very blessed to live in a country like Canada.  But Canada’s aid to foreign countries needs to be well-reasoned and delivered with conviction so that real results can be achieved and that our
voice on issues is respected.

Take for example Former Prime Minister Harper’s world-renowned Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Initiative.  It was a cause he championed at many global forums such as the G-8, United Nations and the World Bank.  The result was billions in dollars from developed nations around the world devoted to things like vaccines for children aimed at eradicating polio and tetanus in Africa, as well as seemingly simple things like providing prenatal vitamins to expectant
mothers.  Much of our country’s foreign aid during that time was dedicated to programs under this initiative; and as a result, Canada became a world leader in ensuring that all women and children could live healthy and productive lives.  Since 2010, the lives of more than five million mothers and children have been saved in developing countries due in large part to the global effort to improve maternal, newborn and child health.

In recognition that societies that protect religious freedom are more likely to protect all other fundamental freedoms, the previous government also opened the Office of Religious Freedom.  It was housed in the Department of Foreign Affairs to build the department’s capacity to address threats to religious freedom. and to directly promote peace, freedom, tolerance and religious harmony.  Unfortunately, the Liberal government closed this office. However, leaders in Christian, Sikh, Jewish and Muslim communities across Canada continue to call for it to be reopened.  As a result of the office’s closure, Canada’s voice on issues of religious tolerance in an increasingly-intolerant world is now severely diminished.

Being all things to everyone may make a government like Justin Trudeau’s liked among his supporters, but it hinders it from becoming a respected world leader in global issues.  Canada used to be that for women and children’s health and religious freedom.  I don’t know that we are now.