Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal
Canada's Foreign Policy Review

A Chance at<br>Redemptive Change
Montreal 20 February 2004  

“The purpose of  foreign policy is not to provide an outlet for our own sentiments of indignation but to channel hope into the real events of  the real world.”

-John F. Kennedy 



Prime Minister Martin has instituted the first Foreign and Defense Policy review in over a decade. It is a chance for this country to restore many of our compromised diplomatic, military and intelligence partnerships with our traditional allies and manifest an unambiguous commitment to the global war on terror. As importantly, we have a chance to end DFAIT’s mindless pursuit of moral relativism and multilateralism that has led to shameful Canadian double-standards in its Mid-East policy as well as senseless engagements with retrograde regimes in various parts of the world. Long overdue, it is also the time to restore Canada’s military to levels necessary both for domestic needs and our international commitments. In short, this is the time to set priorities to protect core Canadian interests and propagate historic Canadian values



The fundamental tenet of a democratic nation's foreign policy is that it must serve to protect and progress the inherent interests and characteristics of that state, while balancing the need for physical protection of its citizens with minimum prejudice to individual liberties. This central aspect of "protection" therefore implies that realistic and effective foreign policy-making cannot be divorced from defense policies and national security concerns considered in the context of international pressures. This integrated approach has been recognized by the Martin Government in its creation of a new Ministry of Public Security to meet the challenge of the global terror threat the West faces  and to align certain broad imperatives with those of the United States, particularly with respect to the latter's Department of Homeland Security.


In order to be relevant, however, and to be immediately and practically useful, our policy-makers must recognize that even without the institutionalized reality of the MPS, the new initiatives proposed must put aside Canada’s frequent narcissisms of petty pride and with clarity, candour and courage state to our nation, and to the world, that we are an integral part of the family of freedom now under attack by Islamic fundamentalism and that this is the  fulcrum around which foreign, defense and security policies will be structured for the foreseeable future.


We must make it clear that Canada recognizes that this "ism" is as dangerous as any other we have faced in the past century and has foundationally put the West on a war footing causing a generationally disruptive shift in our traditional assumptions and requires a reconstituted method and message of foreign and defense policy-making that must be reflected in ,and served by, a new imagery and iconography.


Canada is not immune from the new international reality as we are the gateway country into North America for many of the leading  organized purveyors of terror and their fellow travellers. We no longer have the luxury of multilateral approaches  with retrograde regimes in the hope that we will be a "bon pere de famille" back channel, because today these regimes can blow up in our faces like a bomb on a Jerusalem bus.


The new centralized Public Security apparat, which will have an affect on the priorities and planning of all foreign and defence  policies, must be properly co-ordinated with, integrated to  and educated on the great and urgent matters of state on the Foreign & Defense agendas. The Review must recognize the proposition that the Department of National Defense, from its experience of unification of services, has the singularly unique expertise, that the MPS still lacks, necessary to successfully integrate the many departments and agencies that will form the new national security structure of Canada, and as such should play a key role in this planning from the beginning. 



DND should be involved, from the start, in the discussions on re-allocation of security assets and budgets, that will soon begin, on our entire security apparatus, so that the urgent upgrading of men, materiel and money necessary for Canada's Forces be considered immediately and not as an afterthought. Without the recognition that DND is the frontline asset in security, any national policy in this area is bound to fail. Without the recognition that expansion of DND's military and intelligence assets, at home and abroad, is the necessary precursor to a realistic and effective overall strategy, Canada will continue to operate in a vacuum never understanding why our best efforts fail.


We must make it explicit to the world that it will be a central point of policy that Canada intends to be intimately co-operative with our traditional allies who have made the strongest military commitments to the global war on terror, namely the United States and Great Britain, and that we will have a role in their corridors of power at least on a par with Australia’s. Additionally, Canada should co-ordinate bi-lateral agreements with smaller powers who have demonstrated a more active engagement in specialized initiatives, such as  Italy, Norway, Poland and Australia that will form the basis of a more vigorous involvement for Canada in democratic development around the world.


Perhaps most importantly, as a pro-active policy, DFAIT,DND and PS should sign bi-lateral agreements that will provide us with the most accurate frontline intelligence on radical Islamic groups and terrorist threats. Though this might cause convulsive contortions among the Arabists at DFAIT who look at 24 Arab capitals for career advancement, Israeli intelligence will be crucial to an effective national security policy being based on reliable information. 


As difficult as it may be to accept, given our past fifteen years of comparatively open immigration policies, we need to recognize that it is in the national security interest to tighten our immigration rules on  entry into Canada from Islamist states in the Middle Rim from the borders of India to the Atlantic. The reality is, with overwhelming documentation, that our current Foreign and Immigration policies have made us vulnerable to infiltration by some of the most unacceptable elements stemming from autocratic and theocratic regimes in that area.


 Finally, DFAIT should prepare comprehensive policies, applicable inter-departmentally from Industry Canada through CIDA, that the amount of Canadian government financial supports, whether as export insurance, credits, corporate subsidies or foreign aid, be dependant on the quality and quantity of transparency and liberalism in evidence in the beneficiary country abroad.  


The Martin administration has a singularly unique opportunity to effect a profound redemptive change in Canada's Foreign, Defense & Security policies reflective of our nation's inherent values of integrity and decency and to recapture our authentic and legitimate moral stature in the world. We must all work to assure that this opportunity is not lost.


Beryl P. Wajsman


Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal