- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 12 Nov 1992, p. 110-120
- McDougall, The Hon. Barbara, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- A review of the current state of affairs, with a focus on what is happening in the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Somalia, and the EEC. The interdependence of the world now a "given." Canada's position in world trade. A list of the major forces influencing current affairs, and a discussion of what they could lead to. Social, economic, political, and environmental linkages. Solutions in co-operation or inclusive action to protect global stability. Human rights. Sovereignty. The nature of national boundaries. Canada's vision of the route to international stability and prosperity. The government's commitment to four underlying principles based on universal values. The intention implied in the four principles. Aims and goals. Multilateralism as a long-standing Canadian mantra. An international political will. The role of the United Nations, and Canada as part of that organization. The means and goals of peaceful settlement. The government's commitment to the expansion of Canadian trading opportunities. The links between democratic development and market reforms in other countries and Canada's economic prosperity. Examples and figures to illustrate these links. Canada's global role.
- Date of Original
- 12 Nov 1992
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- Full Text
- The Hon. Barbara McDougall Secretary of State for External Affairs
CANADA'S WORLD ROLE
Chairman: Robert L. Brooks
President, The Empire Club of Canada
The Chinese have a saying: "May you live in interesting times." Apparently, it's not so much a saying as a curse. But it's one that most Canadians can usually ignore, with the occasional exception.
I think it would be easy to argue that these are indeed interesting times. But for most of us, the problems of the world are very remote. It is far easier to change the channel from Prime Time News to Murphy Brown than to contemplate the fate of a Sarajevo or Somalia.
Our guest speaker today, however, does not have the luxury of using a TV remote control to tune out the world's problems. Every day, she has to try and decide not just how one person can make a difference, but how a whole country can.
Barbara McDougall is Canada's Secretary of State for External Affairs. Born in Toronto, she graduated from the University of Toronto in 1963 with an honours BA in political science and economics.
She moved out west where she worked as a business reporter for the Vancouver Sun and then as an analyst with Odium Brown. In 1976, she returned to join the then prestigious brokerage firm A. E. Ames, where she also became the company's first female vice-president. Since then, Ms. McDougall's career has moved steadily forward. The same cannot be said for the now defunct brokerage company.
Politics was more of a hobby than anything else throughout most of this period. But having spent a great deal of her childhood studying tap-dancing, it eventually became the obvious career choice. Certainly, it has proven the right one.
Since she was first elected to represent Toronto's St. Paul riding, Ms. McDougall has held many key cabinet positions including Minister of State (Finance), Minister for the Status of Women, and Minister of Employment and Immigration, and, most recently, Minister of External Affairs.
Talking about the new world as an "order" may be something of a contradiction in terms. Just how much so is what we look forward to learning over the next few minutes.
Ms. McDougall will be addressing major foreign policy challenges in the 90s. This is something she is well qualified to discuss. Almost immediately after taking office she was faced with the Al Mashat affair, followed shortly by an attempted coup in the U.S.S.R.--interesting times indeed. And, for good or for bad, she has been cursed with interesting times ever since.
Ladies and gentlemen please join me in welcoming Barbara McDougall.
This final decade of our century is already marked by extraordinary change and turmoil. We entered the 1990s on a wave of optimism as the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall crumbled. The 12 members of the European Economic Community (EEC) were marching lock step towards political union, thereby eliminating, perhaps forever, the possibility of a European war.
The most comprehensive assault on trade barriers ever, and the first to include developing countries--the Uruguay Round under the GATT was "this close" to a conclusion.
Today, a scant two years later, as chaos erupts in that great expanse of geography that once was the Soviet Union, our optimism is at home with a severe autumn cold.
Yugoslavia and Somalia present us daily with what have been termed serial horrors, screaming at us of the failure of governments and institutions to end the torment of tribal hatred. The "12" as members of the EEC clubbily refer to themselves, have reverted to the traditional squabbling which has marked their relationships for centuries.
And, as the result of a related, long-building spat between the United States and France, the Uruguay Round appears headed for the shredder, dooming the developing world to the economic margin and raising the spectre of an even longer and deeper global recession.
As a foreign minister participating in a daily battle to build the kind of global stability which will allow Canada and other countries to flourish, I sometimes feel the way the Atlanta Braves must have felt when they left Toronto last month: "Just wait till next year!"
There are some people who still believe that if we each look after our own little corner of the world, our own little plot of ground, we can all survive and life will go on at its historic, predictable pace. Undoubtedly, this theory holds true for small numbers of people living under glass somewhere near the South Pole.
For the rest of us, the interdependence of the world is now a given.
Our prosperity, as Canadians, depends on our capacity to trade, to invest in our own and other countries, to welcome here the investment of others. These in turn, are tied by a Gordian knot to events and attitudes on the other side of the world.
Canadians--indeed no one can escape the major forces currently at play in the real world:
• Unrestrained nationalism, rising xenophobia and racism;
• Numerous actual or potential ethnic hostilities;
• Countries with underdeveloped democratic values and institutions, with only limited recognition and respect for the rule of law;
• Thousands of weapons--conventional, nuclear, chemical--often under less than rigorous control either in terms of storage and maintenance or in terms of sales and exports;
• Decades of environmental abuse and neglect--in places, almost total devastation of rivers, soil, forests and air;
• Underpinning it all, large deficits in many countries, economic frailty and underdevelopment in others, rising unemployment and growing economic disparities;
Any or all of these forces can lead potentially to uncontrollable mass migration of people to other parts of the world in search of a better future. In short, there is a spectrum of flashpoints looking for a spark, flashpoints which have already set off the rapid deterioration of our world in this decade, flashpoints which can set off a chain reaction implicating immediately the entire world.
We already see that social, economic, political, and environmental linkages are so inclusive that no country can set itself outside the agenda of daily world events. And if problems are so inclusive, then solutions can only be found in new forms of co-operative, or inclusive action, to protect global stability, basic ideals and individual well-being.
Co-operative action and inclusive solutions, therefore, call for a rethinking of such fundamental principles as the concept of national sovereignty.
Many of the sources of tension and conflict in the world are found in human rights abuses, persecution of minorities, or political repression, which often lead to, or are compounded by, economic deprivation. Historically, these are intrinsically internal matters; but they are now legitimate concerns of the global community. Indeed, they must become a shared responsibility.
Sovereignty can no longer be absolute or exclusive. The world is too complex for this kind of absolute. In Cambodia, for example, sovereignty and key elements of governance are now temporarily separated, as we, as part of a UN force, precariously seek a solution to the unspeakable atrocities of the past.
Another fundamental principle which presents difficulties in the current environment is the inviolate nature of national boundaries. Physical boundaries, many of them recent or imposed by colonial powers, in themselves generate internal conflict, as we have seen in many parts of Africa, and of course, in the former Yugoslavia.
If there is ever to be lasting stability in the world, we must cling to the principle that borders cannot be changed by force, but we must accept that change can be brought about peacefully. Today we lack the guidelines of principle and precedent, and also the international machinery, to re-establish lines on maps except with considerable difficulty.
With an ever-broadening international agenda replete with new risks, shifting powers, and opportunities in surprising places, Canada has established its own vision of the route we must take as we peer into the haze surrounding the potential for international stability and prosperity.
We have made a firm commitment to four underlying principles based on values which we believe should be universal:
• First, the promotion and protection of basic individual human rights;
• Second, the development of democratic values and institutions;
• Third, the establishment of "good governance," in other words, responsible decision-making by governments, supported by responsive systems of public administration; and
• Fourth, the breaking down of trade barriers to broaden the world's basis for prosperity.
Bound up in these four principles is the intention to promote a way of life in other countries which not only mirrors our own fundamental values here in Canada, but also is the basis of future prosperity here and in other countries. It is our contention that these elements are essential for peace and self-sufficiency.
Some may question the imposition of our own Western ideology, our own particular social and economic structures, and our political and judicial practices on societies that do not share our intellectual traditions, our historical experience or our economic achievements.
It is not our intention to impose a universal model on all countries. We recognize that the process is evolutionary and incremental. Nor would we suggest that our own form of parliamentary democracy is the universal answer.
But the demonstrated failure of the Soviet and other ideologies leads us more than ever to the conclusion that the human rights, democratic values and free markets that we and others have developed over decades, and even centuries, should be encouraged--even urged--on those peoples of the world whose systems have failed them.
To achieve our objectives, we have redoubled our resolve to support and use international organizations more effectively. The United Nations, freed from the suffocating vetoes of the Cold War, is in the process of being revitalized, and is the centre of our focus.
This in itself is not a new direction in Canadian foreign policy. Multilateralism has been a long-standing Canadian mantra.
What is new is the growing willingness of other countries to use multilateral institutions and, consequently, their effectiveness is enhanced. This is perhaps the greatest single change in the global environment. There have always been conflicts and insecurity, there has always been interdependence; but not until recently has there been such a strong global willingness to take action on such a range of issues through multilateral institutions.
The potential for this international political will is far from being realized, as any quick glance at CNN will make clear. But it opens up enormous possibilities for dealing with problems and resolving conflicts through the United Nations and a myriad other organizations.
The UN remains the heart of the global political system and the focal point for conflict management. The Secretary General's recent Agenda for Peace, the first comprehensive review of UN objectives virtually since its founding, points the way forward for the UN--preventive diplomacy, peacemaking, peacekeeping, peacebuilding.
It is an ambitious agenda. But one which very much reflects Canada's view of the future.
The Secretary General suggests, and we agree, that the international community needs to become more active and interventionist in both preventing and resolving conflict. He also points out the need to be realistic about the extent to which the UN system itself can support the growing number of demands being placed on its conflict management resources.
For example, between 1945 and 1987 there were 13 peacekeeping operations established. Since 1987, 13 additional peacekeeping operations have already been established. The UN system cannot maintain this level of commitment if its members do not pay their dues or contribute their resources to UN-sanctioned actions.
There are many countries which can and must live up to their UN obligations. One of the first issues I intend to raise with the new U.S. administration is the question of UN dues. We have called on other countries--as has the Secretary General--to provide their share of troops for international peacekeeping.
At the moment, Canada, which ranks 33rd in the world in terms of population, is providing 10 per cent of UN peacekeepers worldwide: some 4,300 out of 45,000. Canadians are strongly committed to, and rightly proud of, our leadership in peacekeeping, but the growing role we envisage for peacekeeping calls for broader participation from others.
Emphasis on the United Nations does not exclude the strengthening of regional organizations. Indeed, the Secretary-General, with our support, believes regional organizations can enhance the work of the UN.
The London Conference process on the former Yugoslavia demonstrates the role regional organizations can play. If there is, indeed, any hope for an early and peaceful solution in this troubled region, it will be the result of these negotiations, initiated co-operatively by the European Community and the UN. Similar partnerships could be developed to deal with other areas of hostility.
Canada is uniquely placed to advance this approach as a member of a number of key regional bodies: the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), the Commonwealth, la Francophonie, the Organization of American States (OAS), and as a dialogue partner in the Association of South-East Asia Nations (ASEAN).
Whatever the forum, the same consistent themes must be addressed: democratization, respect for human rights, good governance, peaceful settlement of disputes, and open markets.
Peaceful settlement also requires progress on limiting the means for conflict. In the last year we have seen significant reductions in the nuclear and conventional military capacities of the U.SA, the former Soviet Union and the other major European powers. The U.S.A., France and Russia have declared moratoria on nuclear testing.
Canada is strongly pursuing the comprehensive non-proliferation agenda laid out by the Prime Minister last year. First and foremost we must work towards achieving universal accession to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its indefinite extension when the Treaty expires in 1995.
Through multilateral action, chemical weapons have been banned following 20 years of painstaking negotiations. Progress is being made towards better control of biological and toxic weapons.
Finally, let me turn to our commitment to the expansion of Canadian trading opportunities. There is a strong link between democratic development and market reforms in other countries and our own economic prosperity.
Let me illustrate. Three years ago, Canada joined the Organization of American States and has been politically active throughout this hemisphere as a member of this organization. The move towards democracy with some setbacks--in virtually all of its member states--has been mirrored by strong economic growth in the region, and strong growth in Canada's commercial links with these countries.
For example, our exports to Argentina have increased by 79 per cent in the first eight months of 1992; by 22 per cent to Brazil; 21.5 per cent in the Central American countries; by 96 per cent to Colombia; and by 108 per cent to Mexico. I don't have to remind you that this growth means jobs for Canadians.
To the extent that political instability were to threaten democracy in these countries, it would threaten a strong source of growth for Canadian jobs.
In other areas, Canadian firms have made significant moves into the emerging markets in the countries of the former Soviet Union and in Central and Eastern Europe. Once again, our continuing efforts to promote stability will provide major benefits to Canada.
One in every four jobs in Canada is trade-related, and every $1 billion in new exports generates 15,000 new jobs. The importance of creating stable markets around the world and eliminating trade barriers among those markets, leads to direct benefits here in this country and in this city.
That's why we remain committed to free trade with the U.S., the North American Free Trade Agreement, and a successful conclusion to the GATT Round.
There is no question that a trade war between the U.S. and Europe would be a devastating setback to the prospects for GATT and hence to world prosperity. The effects would be felt very quickly by everyone in this room.
Canada is well-positioned not only to survive but to excel in this new world of the 1990s. With the lowest rate of inflation among the G-7 countries, with declining unit labour costs, improving productivity growth, and favourable monetary conditions, all the economic fundamentals are right for Canada to succeed in a competitive world.
We will dedicate ourselves vigorously to ensure that those advantages, in place because of the policies of this government and the hard work and sacrifice of many Canadians, are not wiped out by the kind of economic brinkmanship that has surfaced in the past few weeks.
This trade tension is not a sideshow, but it is also not how I want to end my remarks to you today. I began by describing the international turbulence in which we find ourselves, and went on to point out that there are better prospects because of the new global commitment to multilateral solutions, democracy and market reform.
You, as well as I, can see these things happening and feel their impact. History is taking place on CNN as I speak; commercial markets are determining the wealth of nations and their citizens as we eat our lunch.
In a world where history not only takes place on our television screens, but always seems to take place on fast-forward, foreign policy is no longer a remote preoccupation of a special elite--it is much more personal and direct.
What happens in Kiev and Sarajevo and Mogadishu and Hong Kong and the West Bank affects al l Canadians. It affects our family life and our children's attitudes towards other races and cultures. It affects our children's view of their place in the world. It affects our livelihoods and, most important, it tests our values.
In this kind of world, perseverance and consistency in defending our values and in expanding our horizons is more important than ever. Canada is not an economic or military superpower, but on issues of significance--peacekeeping, arms control, aid to the former Soviet Union, the environment, revitalizing the UN, opening up trade opportunities--I can assure you, not only does Canada play its part, it frequently leads the way.
The sweep of history in this decade, the last of the century, needs our resources as individuals and as a country if our prospects are to be realized. I want to assure you that your foreign minister, your prime minister, your country, will not watch history go by, but will shape it, for all our sakes.
The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Tony van Straubenzee, President, van Straubenzee Consulting, and a Past President, The Empire Club of Canada.