“I think if Lester B. Pearson were here with us today, he would say, ‘Go on,’ said Champagne.
Yet after Wednesday’s loss, Canada’s second in a row after Stephen Harper’s government failed to secure a seat in 2010, experts warn that the real question now is which way to go?
READ MORE: Canada Loses Leading Candidate for United Nations Security Council Seat
Canada lost to Norway and Ireland in a vote that saw its bid for one of the two rotating seats in the “Western bloc” receive even fewer votes than its failed 2010 bid former Conservative government.
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It is a blow to foreign policy experts which is “personally embarrassing” for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
But he is also the one who they say signals an urgent need for a top-down review of foreign policy, as officials wrestle with the challenge of figuring out where Canada is in a world where Traditional diplomacy and the rule of law sometimes seem to go the way of the dodo bird.
“I think there is a tendency to look at the world with the same eyes as Lester B. Pearson,” said Stephanie Carvin, assistant professor of international relations at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs at Carleton University.
“He was realistic in many ways, but we have this idealized version of his foreign policy.”
Champagne says ready for foreign policy review after Canada loses UN Security Council candidacy
Canadians love to talk about Pearson. They highlight his achievements, his leadership, his vision. Over the course of successive governments, his name has honored the headquarters of the Canadian foreign service in Ottawa, the Lester B. Pearson Building.
Pearson did a lot with a little: he led two back-to-back minority governments that produced many of the policies and social systems that Canadians rely on today. Universal health care, unified military branches, the Canada Pension Plan and the familiar maple leaf flag are just a few examples.
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Immediately after World War II, Pearson almost became the first head of the United Nations before the Soviet Union blocked it, and he is widely regarded as the father of the traditional peacekeeping model.
He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force, which separated the belligerents during the 1956 Suez Crisis.
However, the world was very different from the world today.
Traditional peacekeeping is largely dead. For many, the credibility of the United Nations and other international institutions created after the end of the Second World War is in tatters. The rules, for emerging and established world powers, are actually more suggestions that they risk little consequence in the event of a breach.
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But Canada can still learn from the past, says an expert.
” In some ways, the world looks more like it was then because we had a big global energy competition – it was just between two states, not many states, “said Andrea Charron , member of the Canadian Institute of Global Affairs and director of the Center for Defense and Security Studies at the University of Manitoba.
Canada has always advocated a foreign policy based on principles such as the rule of law. But Charron said that Canada will have to adapt to a world in which the powers that lead the global agenda, such as Russia and China, do not follow standard international rules in favor of their own interests.
“What we are going to achieve is that Canada has to deal with every problem through like-minded coalitions rather than trying to put everyone under a big tent,” she said.
“It will depend on the great power that runs the agenda on this issue. “
The Liberal government has already done major policy reviews. After winning the election in 2015, he launched a redesign of Canada’s national security and defense policies, which he proposed as a way to ask big questions about world leadership and what Canada should do to follow.
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It has not been the same for foreign policy since 2005, when the government finally published a review it started writing in 2001.
The 2005 review concluded that Canada was prioritizing its ties with the United States, then our most important ally, and focusing on targeted forms of multilateral foreign diplomacy.
Go ahead 15, and the world is a different place. US administration no longer a reliable Canadian ally, a single ministerial tweet can trigger a diplomatic crisis, and Canada is regularly criticized for not putting where it is when it comes to backing up its rhetoric Politics.
“We can’t count on the things we were counting on,” said Carvin.
“We don’t really have a foreign policy at the moment,” she said. Since the Harper government, Global Affairs Canada has not really innovated and has lost a lot of its audacity and ideas, she said, adding that there is “a very strong culture of risk management in this moment.”
Bessma Momani, professor of international relations at the University of Waterloo and principal fellow at the Center for International Governance Innovation, said that the culture of risk aversion at Global Affairs Canada makes it difficult to present a new vision of how Canada can exert influence in a volatile and changing world.
“John Baird’s legacy as Minister of Foreign Affairs (of Stephen Harper) was that people did not want to lift their heads – it could be cut,” said Momani. It changes behavior, she said.
“People stop looking up, or they retire, or they leave. ”
This risk-averse attitude has not changed under the Trudeau government, said Momani, noting a bureaucratic system that rewards people who keep their heads down and chronic underfunding which means that many young, promising service workers outside find themselves back to back. , short-term contracts that can end at any time.
“It’s rhetoric and without substance ” Said Momani.
She said she did not expect to see any concrete proposals for revising foreign policy until there was some sort of majority government.
Charron said using rhetoric means Canada often tries to add its voice to all issues and be everything on the world stage instead of standing out on the world stage by selecting niche problems specific that advance Canada’s national interest and excel in those.
Pearson, she said, did just that by focusing on the problems of her time that were well within Canada’s expertise. Canada must now do the same for the volatile modern era, she said.
“(That’s) why it was the golden age. We used this theory of functionalism to create foreign policy – what is in our capacity and what is in our national interest – and we went question by question, “she said.
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“We want to take a shortcut now. “
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