This paper is a contribution to discussions concerning Canada’s critical role in the world, initiated by the Hon.Bill Graham, Minister of Foreign Affairs, in his call for a “Dialogue on Foreign Affairs” in late January, 2003. The reflections in this paper emerge from Inter Pares’ direct international experience over almost thirty years.
As a general framework for Canada’s action in the world, A Dialogue on Foreign Policy, is a document about values and goals. Canadians may find much in the document which, if acted on, would make them proud; they may as easily find considerations that will raise concern that it may not always be principle that will guide Canada’s choices.
The dialogue is explicitly premised on the particular values and culture that Canadians cherish, and upon which Canada’s actions in the world are based. The values include shared security and prosperity, tolerance and respect for diversity, democracy and the realization of human rights, and opportunity and equal justice for all. These are certainly values that most Canadians like to see as being at the core of Canadian society, and our actions in the world. From Inter Pares’ experience in Africa, Asia and Latin America over many years, we know of course that these values are ideals as often betrayed as honoured. Still, they remain important guides for all of us struggling to find a principled way in the world.