The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “diplomacy

Between Two Worlds

Posted on January 31, 2018

In a modern hurried-up world, they rank as some of the least understood or acknowledged forces for policy, diplomacy, human justice or humanitarianism.  There are less than 200 of them in a world of billions and inevitably become the face of their country. I’m speaking of ambassadors.  They are everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  They aren’t the celebrity type, appointed by UNICEF or other vast organizations because of their profile.  Instead, most have gone through years of foreign service training that includes a background in foreign aid, conflict management, military functioning, and communications. In Canada’s case, our international reputation owes much to the high quality of diplomatic acumen in key regions of the globe, especially during the formative years of the 1940s,…

Stephane Dion’s Opportunity for Renewal

Posted on April 12, 2016

This post is also available on National Newswatch here. IT PROVED TO BE A SEMINAL MOMENT FOR CANADA-AFRICAN RELATIONS – not just for me during my tenure as a Member of Parliament, but for Canadian politics and the work of the civil service. It was May 2009. The setting was Centre Block, where the Foreign Affairs Committee was facing 19 African ambassadors who had come together in support of 8 African nations – Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Kenya, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Zambia – who had recently learned through the media that their foreign development assistance was about to be severely cut by the Harper government. It’s all recent history now, but the effects of what appeared to be a betrayal of commitment lingers to…

Uneasy Lies the Head that Wears the Crown

Posted on November 17, 2015

AS JUSTIN TRUDEAU MOVES THROUGH A SERIES OF SUMMITS that will surely have an effect on global direction, I thought of John Kennedy describing the turbulent first few months of his presidency: “I knew that this country faced serious challenges, but I could not realize – nor could any man realize who does not bear the burdens of this office – how heavy and constant would be those burdens”  Both men were the second youngest to be elected to the highest office of their respective countries – Kennedy was 42, Trudeau one year older. International crises defined their first year, and, like Kennedy, Trudeau has fielded no shortage of opinions concerning how he should respond to the Paris attacks. Some think he should ramp…

Election 2015: What in the World?

Posted on September 29, 2015

IT WAS SUPPOSED TO REMAIN CONFIDENTIAL, and was even marked “secret” on its cover page, but the contents were obtained by the Globe and Mail. It wasn’t pretty. Neither was it inconsequential. In a presentation prepared by senior Foreign Affairs officials for a high level meeting two weeks ago, the analysis could be wrapped up in one sentence: “Despite Canada’s reputation as an active player on the world stage, by many measures, its relative influence has declined or is under threat.” It wasn’t a conclusion the government would have liked to hear, and so it sought to keep it quiet. And yet we know it; Canadians have felt the slippage over recent years, but because these issues are at a global level they have felt there…

Capitalist Diplomacy

Posted on November 29, 2013

This was my Huffington Post contribution for today on how Canada’s new foreign policy mandate has everything to do with business and little to do with diplomacy or development.  Here’s the link directly to the piece. At first blush, the recent decision of the Canadian government to shift its foreign affairs focus from diplomacy to servicing private industry came as something of a shock to many. What about our past record of being facilitators for peace? What became of our vaunted reputation in the quiet corridors of the United Nations, where we had once been effective collaborators for humanity and development? The reality is that those days have been gone for some time. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to link everything foreign to our…

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