Continuing my search for a Federal candidate or a Party, I’m looking at our role within the global community. Finding out what Global Affairs Canada (GAC) is about at its foundation is not easy until you find the Departmental Plan 2018-19 and then you get an abundance of detail well laid out and easily read. Until you find the Plan, the GAC web site is difficult to navigate and not very user friendly.
In the Plan, you find the five Core Responsibilities and, with a little digging, the associated budget: international advocacy and diplomacy, trade and investment, development, peace, and security programming, help for Canadians abroad, and support for Canada’s presence abroad. The emphasis is on development, peace, and security – and trade.
You also find four Priorities: strengthening the rules-based international order, advancing Canada’s feminist foreign policy, pursuing a progressive trade agenda, and maintaining constructive relations with the United States. Same emphasis – development, peace, and security – and trade.
You also find their Risk Management Context: “Fragility and instability (eg terrorism, civil unrest) … may adversely affect the delivery of Canada’s international objectives”, “A cyber-attack … could compromise … ability to deliver programs and services, damage international relations and violate privacy rights”, “simultaneous emergencies … abroad or domestically” would strain delivery, and “Poor management … of funds could lead to misuse of taxpayers’ dollars”.
Now I get it. GAC is all about showing the world the Canadian personality and helping them become more like us – and, while doing that, promoting two-way trade. For that we spend about $6,000 MM.
How does this affect my search for a Federal candidate or a Party?
First and foremost, having read the Party platforms, I doubt that GAC would change significantly under either a Liberal or Conservative government. Minor differences maybe, but overall both Parties are experienced realists. The world would see a familiar, reassuring face. Canadians would be recognizable.
Much of the NDP platform for foreign affairs is surprisingly similar to that of the Conservatives and the Liberals. But they also say, “It’s time for a different approach” because “Canada is often on the wrong side of important global issues”. The NDP emphasizes nuclear disarmament, peacekeeping, international development assistance, global health, women and girls, gender equality, corporate social responsibility, and the climate crisis. I find them unfocussed, inexperienced, and in no way unique. Wide and shallow.
Part 5 of the Green Agenda, strangely titled “The Planet needs Canada – and Vice Versa”, is all about “nuclear disarmament”, shifting “military budgets to peacekeeping”, and ensuring “the education, health protection, and economic autonomy of women and girls around the world to address poverty and over-population”. I find the Greens naïve, narrow, and inexperienced – but focussed.
On the basis of Foreign Policy alone, given policy, platform, and past performance, I should not vote for either the NDP or the Greens and see little difference between the Liberals and Conservatives.
Like I have emphasized so many times, Canadian political Parties are neither left nor right. Instead, they fight over the middle ground. They slice and dice. The differences are in the details. That makes it easy for the candidate but difficult for the voter.
I’m still looking … at issues that are within the Federal jurisdiction. After all, it is a Federal election.