Whether it is the climate crisis, the growing prospect of nuclear Armageddon, ever-more destabilizing arms exports, or the seemingly bottomless pit of global military spending on anti-terrorist campaigns that only fan the flames of inequity and insecurity, there is no shortage of daunting global challenges ahead.
And despite the vested interests that stand in the way, the fact remains that global problems require global solutions, underpinned by international law that is fairly applied.
Never has a commitment to global peace and justice been more important.
In 2015 the Justin Trudeau Liberals promised to advance the global rule of law, to strengthen the United Nations’ capacity for peacekeeping and peacebuilding, to fearlessly champion global human rights, to return to a “balanced” policy on Israel–Palestine, to constructively re-engage with Russia and Iran, and to adopt meaningful oversight mechanisms to ensure Canadian business practices abroad respect human rights and environmental justice.
A Justin Trudeau international policy for Canada must practice what it preaches.
But that was four years ago. Now, it is election 2019, and while the rhetoric in favour of global peace and justice has been maintained, the Liberals have a lot of work to do to put their oft-stated multilateral principles into concrete action. A few examples:
• Our policy on Israel–Palestine is, shockingly, even more unbalanced than that of the Harper Conservatives, with concerned Canadians being forced to take the Government of Canada to court to ensure it complies with binding UN Security Council resolutions on the accurate labelling of goods from the Occupied Territories.
• We have gone from being one of the creators and most stalwart champions of the International Criminal Court to membership in a “cabal” of states seeking to restrict the ability of the Court to prosecute the crime of aggression.
• Our participation in UN peacekeeping, following our exemplary but unduly short one-year stint in the MINUSMA mission in Mali, has fallen to our lowest personnel contribution ever.
• With respect to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, we have chosen military posturing and domestic pandering over diplomatic support for the Minsk peace process, despite the election of a new Ukrainian President who has chosen negotiations as the only way forward.
• As for ensuring Canadian corporate social responsibility abroad, a toothless ombudsperson, lacking investigative powers, surely cannot deliver.
Perhaps most disconcerting of all is the continued month by month export of massive quantities of Canadian-made military equipment to Saudi Arabia — pushing Canada into the top five arms exporters to the Middle East in 2018 — even as the clock ticked down to Canada’s formal accession to the global Arms Trade Treaty on 17 September 2019.
Our task is to ensure not only that a progressive foreign policy for Canada is on the 2019 election agenda, but also that parties commit to the practical steps needed to put that vision into practice.
Since my last letter in April 2019, we have intensified our work with likeminded groups, our outreach to parliamentarians and our public advocacy through every form of media, traditional and new. This has included significant upgrades to the Ceasefire.ca website and a complete overhaul of the Rideau Institute site.
And much more is planned!
On 17 September I joined a host of other civil society leaders and legal experts at a press conference on Parliament Hill. McGill law professor Daniel Turp announced his intention to launch a new lawsuit under Canada’s brand-new, tougher arms export regime if Canada does not immediately — finally — end our complicity in the ongoing carnage in Yemen.
Rideau Institute, as an independent non-profit, has a unique role to play in this election.
We are virtually the only Canadian foreign policy NGO that is not also a charitable organization. This means we are unrestrained by the outdated, arcane and, frankly, downright anti-democratic restrictions on charitable organizations regarding their right to publicly comment during the election period on the government’s record and the election platforms of all the parties.
With our unique role — and the responsibility it entails — in mind, on October 1st we will be launching our Canadian Foreign Policy Report Card, setting out the government and opposition party records, their new promises and, most important of all, our vision for a Canadian foreign policy that delivers principled, progressive and pragmatic action in the best tradition of Canadian global diplomacy.
Electing a progressive Canadian government could not be more important.
We need a committed, compassionate, credible Canadian government to work with what we fervently hope will be a new progressive American administration (from January 2021) to address the myriad global challenges before us, whether this be an effective response to the climate crisis, strengthening international peace and security or re-instilling fairness in the global trading system.
Alternatively, if the worst happens and Donald Trump is re-elected as U.S. President, then it will be even more important to have an avowed multilateralist political leadership in Ottawa, committed to working with other global leaders to limit the almost unthinkable damage that an unchecked Trumpian second term could cause.
Your support is essential if we are to elect a government that is unequivocally committed to helping find lasting global solutions to the rising insecurity and injustice now upon us.
Our 2019 Foreign Policy Report Card will be an invaluable tool to highlight a progressive, action-oriented foreign policy for Canada during the 2019 federal election campaign. It will be the centrepiece of our efforts to use every advocacy and outreach tool at our disposal to get our message out and debated by party leaders and individual candidates alike.
To help us put Canada’s role as a global peacebuilder squarely on the 2019 election agenda, could you please make a donation of $45?Donate to Ceasefire.ca
Or join our Peacekeepers Monthly Donor Club, and make a monthly donation of $9. If you join with a minimum monthly donation of $12, you will be eligible to receive a free copy of Naomi Klein’s On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, a $20.00 value. (Available until 30 November 2019).
Peggy Mason, President
(Peggy Mason is Canada’s former UN Ambassador for Disarmament)
P.S. Please pledge a donation of $45 or join our Peacekeepers Monthly Donor Club. With a minimum $12 per month donation, new members can choose to receive a free copy of Naomi Klein’s On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal, a $20 value (until 30 November 2019).
Photo credit: fasken.azureedge.net (media)