Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 3, 2000
Canada decides to make its own foreign policy
The Harker report implicates Talisman Energy of Calgary in prolonging a war in Sudan between Muslims and Christians that has claimed two million lives. Oil exploration provides hard currency to a regime accused of massive human rights abuses.
Madame Albright applied sanctions against the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company in which Talisman has a 25 per cent share, with China and Malaysia holding a 40 per cent and 35 per cent respectively, (WCR, Feb. 28).
Axworthy responded, "We make our own policy in Canada, based on Canadian values." The phrase echoes almost word for word one of the three key objectives of Canadian foreign policy formulated in Canada In The World: "The projection of Canadian values and culture." The other two objectives deal with promotion of prosperity and protection of security.
The assertion that Canada wants to make its own foreign policy is fair enough. U.S. foreign policy is hardly the model to follow.
Foreign policy makers are primarily motivated by self-interest, I mean national interest. The U.S. appears to come down hard on Greater Nile but no U.S. suppliers are involved. Exempted from the ban on Sudan are U.S. firms importing large quantities of gum arabic, an essential ingredient in Coca Cola.
The U.S. has also been careful not to offend China and Malaysia in its firm stand against Greater Nile because Coke is obviously one of the values that the U.S. is trying to project in Asia, along with Disney and McDonalds.
But what are the Canadian values that we feel obligated to proselytize and export to every corner of the globe? Could it be hockey? Surely not. The game has elicited more shame than pride of late.
So if it isn't hockey, could it be maple syrup?
No, no, no. Our policy makers are thinking of much profounder symbols which represent the essence of Canadianism.
Envisioning what it really means to be Canadian, we slowly drift off to a mythical past as we conjure up images of daring voyageurs portaging their birchbark canoes through landscapes that might have been painted by the Group of Seven.
Ah, and there is a befeathered proud Indian chief, eternally grateful to his red-coated Mountie friend for bringing law and order to the wild West.
Further down we see hardy pioneer women pull a plow and turn buffalo pastures into the breadbasket of the world. Peace, hard work, tolerance and respect for the law - those are the superior values we want to share with the rest of the world.
Of course, human frailty the way it is, we don't always measure up to our own lofty standards. There is the nasty business of deporting a Filipino nanny for working too hard, law enforcers abandoning First Nations people at the outskirts of Saskatoon, a failure to respond to Metis women crying for help in Winnipeg, United Pipeline passing its responsibilities to its employees on to the WCB, the shady business of Canadian diamond mines in Sierra Leone and that unfortunate murder in Somalia a few years ago.
Now our peacekeepers who've returned from defending our values in foreign war zones are told the radiation and toxins in their bones are the result of frontline stress.
We might not always look after our own people, surplus budgets notwithstanding, but we have the best intentions for foreigners who could benefit from a good dose of Canuck values.
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