Copeland states an obvious fact. It is no secret that Canada’s influence abroad has waned. Yet who seriously cares? He affirms that reduced diplomatic influence will have grave consequences for Canada. Yet he does not state them, nor propose what can be done to counter such a trend.
Moreover, DFAIT’s stance on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, on cooperation in the Arctic and on the environment has been criticized by many as being counterproductive. Can someone tell me what benefit Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan has brought to the country? It has given us some more importance within NATO and given our armed forces some valuable experience. Yet where has more than one billion of our dollars gone? Was it worth the lives of our soldiers? Libya apparently was a success, but much needs to be done and the mission seems to have been steered by DND, not by DFAIT.
I simply believe that Foreign Affairs has little constructive work to show for its work during the last five years. It is seems, as Copeland affirms, subordinate to the centralized policy of the Conservatives with the PMO calling the shots. It is therefore normal that it is not receiving as much funds as it would like to.
If it really wants to prove its worth, shouldn’t it concentrate on more involvement in the international community? Create and participate in the shaping of future policy and concepts? Or if it has trouble justifying its role with the Canadian electorate, why not engage the public to a greater extent, or collaborate with domestic universities, social groups and NGO’s?
Flexibility is not the strong suit of government, yet if it really wants to prove its worth, DFAIT must get out of and play in the real world more often.
But it will depend on if the Conservatives really want Canada to have a constructive, and not a obstructionist, role in international affairs.