MARCH 2, 1978
Canadian Foreign Policy--a 1978 Perspective
AN ADDRESS BY The Honourable Donald C. Jamieson, SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EXTERNAL AFFAIRS
CHAIRMAN The President, Peter Hermant
Ladies and gentlemen: In an article entitled Jamieson--He Makes Politics a Pleasure to the Ear, Hugh Winsor writes as follows. "The most over powering feature of Donald Campbell Jamieson--raconteur, entrepreneur, broadcaster and politico--is his voice. The syllables surge up from his toes with the force of a pipe organ played with one foot permanently on the swell peddle. And clarity--each phrase gets individual treatment. Even the pauses are strategically timed. It is a voice that used to blanket Newfoundland like a Torbay fog."
Donald Jamieson is a Newfoundlander. He was born in St. John's. His father was a newspaper editor there and his grandfather was a Scottish fisherman who landed at Swift Current, at the head of Placentia Bay, and settled there.
As a matter of fact, Jamieson is so much of a Newfoundlander that he led the opposition in the Confederation debate--suggesting alternatives that he felt would be better for the island. In his own words, "I was a strongly nationalistic Newfoundlander--a sort of 1940's hippie, I guess. The issue was purely emotional and I see some reflections of it in some of the things that are happening today. It wasn't that I was especially anti-Canadian--I was pro-Newfoundland." And in another article, he said, "I guess you could say that I'm living proof that if you give this country half a chance, you'll acquire a commitment to it."
If there is one word that describes Donald Jamieson it is that word "commitment". Throughout his life this has been a constant.
For example, when it was necessary for him to go to work following the untimely death of his father, Jamieson continued at the same time to strive at his education. When it turned out that the only place where he--a Presbyterian--could take the appropriate business courses was at the Mercy Convent, he continued undeterred and got what he calls "Commercial from the nuns"--resulting in his first job with Newfoundland's Department of Rural Reconstruction.
From there, his star has steadily risen. He got a job as a bookkeeper and ended up as sales manager for the Coca-Cola Company in Newfoundland.
Following his Confederation campaign, he acted as a consultant to those mainland companies who were coming into Newfoundland at that time and this allowed him to eventually found and start the broadcasting company which endures today.
As a broadcaster, he mastered all facets of the industry. He is a past president of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters, and has been an adviser to the federal government on broadcasting over a long period of time.
Perhaps it was because of those advisory tasks that he decided to enter politics. He was elected as the member from Burin-Burgeo--now Burin-St. George--on Newfoundland's south coast in 1966.
In his illustrious political career, he has served as Minister of Defence Production--a department he reorganized and renamed and which is now known as the Department of Supply and Services--Minister of Transport, Minister of Regional Economic Expansion, Minister of Industry, Trade and Commerce, and now, of course, as Secretary of State for External Affairs.
It goes without saying that Mr. Jamieson brings to External Affairs the same flavour as he has created in all of his portfolios. On a recent visit to his home province, he dropped in at a fish plant in Baie d'Espoir--shaking hands with the somewhat astonished workers.
"Can you imagine that now," said one of the fishermen, "not a week ago that was the hand that shook the hand of Anwar Sadat. Now here he is down here shaking the hands of the working stiffs. Can you imagine that now."
Jamieson, himself, is aware of the impact of his unique brand of statesmanship. "Sure, some of the guys at External were a little spooked at first by the free-wheeling, personalized diplomacy," he says. "Career diplomats have a healthy respect for channels and I understand that. But today ... I can just as easily pick up the phone and say to Cyrus Vance or David Owen, `Hi, how the hell are you and I'd like to talk to you about this or that.' "
In short, Jamieson is the Secretary of State for External Affairs with the same verve as he is the Member of Parliament for Burin-St. George and he remains a Newfoundlander.
As such, he has, of course, had to endure on occasion the stories which are sometimes told about, but mostly on, his constituents. In his own words, "Sometimes they hurt a bit, although we've been telling them on ourselves in Newfoundland for years. I guess the favourite one is how do you get forty Newfoundlanders into a Volkswagen? Just tell them you're going to Toronto! And, of course, the way to get eighty in the Volkswagen is to tell them that you're going back home again."
Ladies and gentlemen, it's a pleasure for me to introduce to you the Secretary of State for External Affairs, the Honourable Donald C. Jamieson, who will address us under the title, "Canadian Foreign Policy--a 1978 Perspective".
THE HONOURABLE DONALD JAMIESON: Ladies and gentlemen: Thank you very much, sir, for your very generous introduction. If I had known you were going to say so many nice things about me I would have done the only decent thing . . . and died first....
It is very pleasant to be talking to an audience with such an extensive interest in international affairs. I believe there has not been a predecessor of mine who has not at some time or another had the distinct honour of coming to this club to discuss various matters of international concern. I am not at all sure, however, that any of my predecessors had the same privilege as I have today--to be in the company of such a distinguished head table including several who are experts in the international field, men who have served with the Department of External Affairs in this country with outstanding accomplishments, great dignity and great satisfaction from our point of view. I welcome this opportunity to pay tribute not only to them but also to the first-class professional group that we have developed over the years in this country in the international field.
When I see Dr. Howse among the head table guests, I recall the time a few years ago when he and I very nearly set the province of Newfoundland on its ear. In a television discussion we debated whether or not there was a hereafter and Dr. Howse gave the impression that he wasn't quite sure! The result was that a very large number of people descended on him and on me in one of the most memorable assaults I think I have had. Certainly nothing like it since in politics. It is good to renew my acquaintanceship with him today also.
It is very difficult on an occasion such as this to respond to the suggestion that I talk about Canadian foreign policy in 1978 because there are so many facets to the topic. In the time that is allotted to me it would be quite impossible to do justice to all the matters I would wish to discuss with you and in which you may very well have an interest. Indeed, one of the problems also is that the items I wish to highlight in this overview may not necessarily be those with which you have the greatest concern or the greatest interest. But, if that should turn out to be the case, I would ask your forgiveness. Incidentally, if at any time there are matters relating to foreign policy, about which members of the audience would wish to obtain additional information, I would be more than happy to provide it.
What I would like to do today is to give you some impressions, drawn from my own experience in public life and more particularly as Secretary of State, on the condition of the world today and also on those things which I feel Canada can do something about.
I suppose no audience is more aware than this one that, from the immediate post-World War II period up until fairly recent times, the preoccupation of almost anyone who was interested in international affairs was the so-called east-west confrontation or the relationship between the Soviet Union and its client states as they may be called, and the United States and its western allies on the other side. For a very long time, certainly throughout the '50s and well into the '60s this was the principal concern of most people who had more than passing interest in international affairs. Of course it remains in many cases a source of concern today.
However, in the last part of the '60s and throughout the '70s, we have seen a new and complex dimension added to the world situation. This is described as the so-called north-south dialogue--the relationship between the developed countries from principally the northern part of the globe and the developing or poorer countries located by and large in the southern part of the globe. I hope to be able to have time to touch on that in more detail in a few moments, but let me simply say here that, as a result of this new dimension, we could very well be said to have "boxed the compass", if I can use a down-east expression. We now have a situation in which, in addition to being concerned about those tensions and the efforts to relieve them which exist between east and west, we have a new set of tensions and they pose a new kind of challenge to the developed world through the north-south dialogue.
In each one of the quadrants of that circle there are innumerable major and minor problems which preoccupy someone who has responsibility in the foreign affairs field. Just to mention a few, there is of course the Middle East and its enormous importance for world peace and security, not only in the political sense but also, as we have learned since the oil embargo, in the economic sense. Then there is Southern Africa with the issues of apartheid within South Africa itself, and the future of Rhodesia and Namibia. There is the Horn of Africa which is causing very great concern to a great many knowledgeable people these days. (One could almost say that within all of the countries of Africa there is still a certain lack of stability which is creating minor and major tensions.)
The United Nations embraces the whole of that circle and is coming under increasing challenge today both from its enemies and, since I have been one of its critics on occasion, from its friends. Let me emphasize that Canada continues to regard the United Nations as an essential instrument which must be retained as an effective means for the resolution of any number of international problems. But there is concern that the United Nations, and particularly certain elements of it, may be losing their efficacy. Canada is committed, and certainly I have undertaken it as a personal commitment, to seek to revitalize some of those elements in the United Nations which ought to be employed more effectively. Regrettably some UN activities (and I'm thinking of the General Assembly) have deteriorated in recent years into what is often a debating society, which does not in fact produce very much by way of really significant results.
But the United Nations remains important to Canada because we believe it is the focal point for two debates which are either ongoing at the present time or about to begin in the near future.
One is disarmament, on which there will be a special session of the United Nations beginning in May of this year. We are seeking to determine what is the most effective and progressive role that Canada can play to bring the world to a realization that the current arms race, not only in nuclear weapons but in defensive armaments as well, is not only something which has an enormous de-stabilizing effect but also tends to cause us to distort our priorities.
Consider the expenditures we are making necessarily now on armaments when in fact we ought to be spending a great deal more in terms of our developmental assistance and other forms of positive contributions to the developing world and to the search for greater peace and stability in the universe. In our own country, for example, just to show you the extent to which there is this distortion, even though it is generally conceded that we ought to be perhaps spending more than at present on defence, the fact is that our expenditures on defence within Canada, a relatively modest-sized country, are four to five times what they are on foreign aid and related commitments. This gives you some idea of what it is like when you extend those figures out to embrace the world community. If we could reach the point where we could get a reasonable and assured level of disarmament, the things we would be able to do with our own domestic economy and the economies of the developing world stagger the imagination. This is an effort which we in Canada ought to continue and ought to accelerate.
The other side of the disarmament question involves nuclear technology. The months and the years immediately ahead are going to be of the utmost importance in terms of whether we can or cannot, to fall back on a stock expression, "put the genie back in the bottle", whether we can achieve some rational way in which the peaceful potential of nuclear energy can be employed while at the same time the equally strong potential for destruction can be minimized. I merely mention this briefly to illustrate the diversity and the complexity of the issues with which we have to cope in trying to determine what Canadian foreign policy ought to be.
So let me then, asking that question rhetorically, proceed to try to give you some ideas as to what I think it ought to be. Basically, I regard Canada's foreign policy as having its roots in advancing and improving our own national interests. I don't make any apologies for that particular approach because it seems to me that one can, against that kind of yardstick, assess almost any course of action you would wish to take. I don't use the word "national interest" in any narrow or selfish or even wholly economic sense. What is important is that Canada's national interest is going to be advanced much better, much more rapidly, much more securely if there is peace and stability in the world. Almost any initiative that we would wish to undertake as Canadians, as the Canadian government, as the Canadian people,
in the international sphere can in fact be measured against that yardstick.
But looking at it in a more narrow sense we should have a foreign policy that is designed to help us achieve the level of economic stability and security that is essential for our further progress. One has to look at some rather dramatic figures which aren't stated often enough perhaps but which I think signal clearly where a good deal of the emphasis must go in terms of our activities and in terms of how we assign our resources. If one takes the United States, the European Economic Community and Japan--two countries and a grouping of countries--those three together account for over 85% of all of Canada's external trade. So, of the 140 odd countries in the United Nations, if one is looking at it strictly from the perspective of advancing the Canadian national interest, it becomes perfectly obvious that the essential element must be the closest possible links and cooperation with Japan, with the United States and with the European Economic Community.
If one takes that three-way grouping and separates it still further, the fact is that better than 60% is with the United States. You have a situation where not only is the United States our neighbour in the geographic sense, it is also the major customer for our products and, I don't think there is any question about this, the most important country in terms of whether our economy will move forward or not. I believe and indeed the government believes that the maintenance and the enhancement of our relationships with the United States must take a primary priority. It is therefore the centre-piece as it were of our foreign policy.
Now that does not mean that we are going to come closer to the United States or that indeed we are going to be engulfed by them or that we are going to seek to have some kind of continentalism in North America. Because the European Community is also tremendously important not only in economic terms but also in terms of the general political posture that we wish to take--an outward looking
posture in the world. That is why we have developed the third option.
I do not wish to become academic or to go into any great lengths as to what the components of the third option actually are but I think it is evident that we have had a considerable degree of success in terms of the political relationship that we have been able to establish with the European Economic Community. Indeed, Mr. Roy Jenkins, the current president of the Community, is going to be visiting Canada next week and I will be having discussions with him as will the Prime Minister. We have invited the Premier of Ontario and other political leaders across the country at the provincial level to sit and talk with him as well, because we place a great deal of importance, and I do personally, upon the continuation and expansion and strengthening of our links with the Community.
I think that it is also only fair to add that it is too early yet to determine whether or not some of the goals of the third option, as reflected in the Contractual Link with Europe, are going to be successful. Almost simultaneously with the development of the Contractual Link came the oil crisis and everything that flowed from that dramatic event. The economies of Europe at the moment, or the countries making up the Community, are enormously vulnerable as we have seen as recently as this morning in the news.* Therefore this is not the time when it is likely that we can substantially increase our exports or our levels of trade with the Community.
However that does not mean that we need to be equally retarded in our approach to the Community on the political level. In the last few months I have had the satisfaction, for example, of being able to negotiate with the European Community a nuclear safeguards arrangement which permitted the resumption of our exports of Canadian uranium
*A reference to the OECD meetings in Paris to discuss co-operative measures to ease the economic problems of the West.
to Europe under what is the tightest safeguards regime in the world. I have also been able to co-operate with France, the United Kingdom and Germany in efforts related to the whole Southern Africa situation. We have what I might describe, in the quite appropriate sense of the phrase, a foot in both camps and I believe this is proper for Canada and I believe it is what Canadians want.
Insofar as Japan is concerned I can say almost the same thing about our prospects for enhancing our relationship with Japan in the economic sphere. That country, as I think many of you will know, is of course also going through some very difficult economic times and their productivity is slack. Industrial capacity is not being fully employed and it is highly unlikely that we are going to see any dramatic or immediate upsurge in the level of our trade with Japan. But nevertheless, during my recent visit to Japan I think we achieved a good deal, not only in our discussions with the Japanese but also in our discussions among ourselves as to what approach we ought to take to enhance our economic relationship not only with Japan, but with China and the whole of Southeast Asia. I think we have established good, strong, basic ties for the future.
In the political sphere I believe we can call upon support from Japan when there are issues in the international field about which we feel strongly or where we wish to make an impact or to make our views known. For example, when the Soviet satellite crashed over northern Canada, Japan was one of the first countries to come out in support of the Canadian position and I had a call from the Japanese ambassador in Ottawa just the day before yesterday indicating that the Diet in Tokyo had passed a resolution which was fully consistent with the position which Canada has taken with regard to objects in outer space. These kinds of contacts may not always produce visible results immediately but I am satisfied that in those two areas--the Community and Japan--and in the United States our relations are now on an extremely good footing.
I would like to say another word if I may about the United States because of the importance I believe all of us in Canada must attach to it. In the House of Commons recently I made the statement, which was not challenged by anyone, that Canada-U.S. relations today are in the best state that I have observed them for many many years. The relationships are extremely close and cordial. Your president made reference to my comment about being able to phone the Secretary of State and that is precisely the situation. There is also a good, easy working relationship between the Prime Minister and the President and with the whole of the United States administration. I think that has been translated into quite a few worthwhile achievements in the last year or so.
Whatever various people may feel about the wisdom or otherwise of the pipeline in terms of Canadian benefit and the like, and that is still to be argued (I, as you know, am very strongly in favour of it and believe it is very much in our interests), the fact is that this tremendously intricate and enormous project, the largest I think single project of its kind in the history of the world, was achieved over a quite remarkably short period of time and with very little by way of friction between ourselves and the United States. Similarly, the negotiations with regard to the escalation of tolls on the St. Lawrence Seaway on a reasonable basis was brought about without us having to take the formal step of abrogating the treaty and starting a whole process of either judicial, semi-judicial or quasi-judicial negotiations. Also in terms of the Law of the Sea and the 200-mile limit we have been able to work it out and are moving now toward a more permanent arrangement. Of course there is also constant contact between us on various economic matters.
With the objectives for Canada of the strengthening and the maintenance of relations with the EEC, Japan and the United States, I think I can report to you with a good deal of conviction that, from a national interest point of view good relations are in place.
But Canada cannot live in a world in which all of our time and all of our preoccupation is with just a handful of countries, as important as they may be to us. There is another side to the Canadian character that I have detected particularly since I have been in this position. Canada and Canadians want to see a kind of moral foundation for our foreign policy. I think there are times when they want to see the Secretary of State for External Affairs declare himself and declare the country on certain international issues, not because there is anything in it for Canada, indeed there may be no guarantee that there won't be negative results for Canada, but because they believe strongly in those particular views and they want it said. They get a sense of satisfaction when something is said. They are unhappy when Canada does not, again to use the vernacular, stand up and be counted on particular issues. We have a good opportunity, probably out of proportion to our size, in the world community to influence various groupings of countries who can play a significant and decisive role in enhancing and improving, for example, such things as human rights and a whole range of other moral issues.
Canada has this unique position because we are members of the Commonwealth. By the way, I regard Commonwealth membership today much more positively than I did two years ago. I must confess that I was beginning to think that the Commonwealth had passed its prime, and lost its effectiveness. But I believe now that the Commonwealth in its new and altered form is an extremely useful forum that provides us with opportunities that would not otherwise exist for dialogue, for discussion between heads of government, between foreign ministers and to encourage a consensus of views on certain matters.
Our membership in the Commonwealth is a leadership role, both because of seniority in terms of membership and also because of our experience, which has been of tremendous value. Similarly our unique position as a bilingual country gives us a quite special role vis-a-vis the francophone countries of the world and particularly those in the developing world. As a result we have a particular capacity in that huge continent, Africa. Our status with the Commonwealth and with francophone countries gives us the opportunity to speak to both of those large constituencies, to work with them and also to call upon them for support on occasion, when there are issues on which we have a common feeling and which we wish to advance either at the United Nations or in some other international forum. Through our diplomats and through our professionals in the Department we have to be very skilful in working through these kinds of organizations and developing the kinds of consensus which we have seen prove effective, for example at the Commonwealth heads of governments meeting last year in London and in a number of other places as well. I wish I could take the time to give you more specific illustrations.
There are other areas where it is very difficult to know what kind of role Canada ought to play. I am thinking for instance of such major trouble spots as the Middle East. Obviously, if one is practical about it, you have to recognize that Canada is not a major player. Nor is it likely to exert the decisive influence in terms of how the conflict itself is going to be resolved in the Middle East.
Obviously, as I have said on a number of occasions, the last few months have produced a situation in which nothing has changed and yet everything has changed. The whole atmosphere in which the thirty-year-old discussion is taking place has changed markedly as a result of President Sadat's initiative and the events which flowed from that. But there are times when it is wiser for a country such as Canada to refrain either from commenting or from intervening in those kinds of situations. This is one of them, where I feel that we should allow the countries concerned to work as closely as possible together to achieve a solution and not do those things which may have a transitory applause result but which don't really contribute and which may in fact retard the process.
I use that illustration to make another point about Canadian foreign policy. We must, as a country of moderate size, determine where we can be effective. We must determine a rather selective list of foreign policy goals and objectives. It would be quite unreasonable for us, as what has been called a middle power, to be involved in all issues, to seek to do something in all of them, and spread ourselves so thin that we would not be effective anywhere.
We must select those areas where it is important to us that we make our presence known and express our views, but also in those places where we have some leverage. In the case of the Middle East that leverage comes from two sources, although actually in the last analysis they reduce themselves to one.
We are generally accepted as being balanced observers. We have not committed ourselves so strongly to one side or the other as to have lost our effectiveness in terms of talking to them as friends. That stems from the fact that we have of course been the number-one peacekeeping country in the world. I make reference to that because it is again a rather central point of Canada's foreign policy.
On many occasions over the years the question has been asked, is this an appropriate role for Canada? It has been re-examined on a number of occasions and each time the conclusion has been that it is something which not only fits our capabilities as Canadians but which also fits our character as Canadians. I think it gives satisfaction to the people of this country to know that we can reinforce our commitments to peace and security in the world by making our troops available, not for aggressive purposes but to preserve stability in troubled regions. The comeback has been that we are highly respected, in the Middle East, for example, and in other areas where our reputation as peacekeepers is very well known. It is my view that we should continue with this emphasis.
Many have asked me in recent weeks what we would do in peacekeeping terms in Rhodesia or some of the other Southern Africa situations. My response is that as a general principle Canada should be prepared to participate in any peacekeeping activity that may be called for. What we must also discern before committing ourselves to that kind of activity is whether it is going to be effective, so that we won't find ourselves in Rhodesia for sample in a situation where we would be the buffer between whites and blacks. That is not a situation that I contemplate with any enthusiasm and I have made that view known to the Secretary General of the United Nations, also to the Foreign Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Owen, and to others who have asked me about Canada's intentions. But, if the structure of a peacekeeping organization, either for Rhodesia or for Namibia, is one that Canada can participate in effectively, I am prepared to say that we would certainly look at it in a reasonable light.
Having said that, I believe it is also important, harking back to my earlier comments about the UN, to have a more clear and precise mandate for peacekeeping from the organization as a whole. As things stand at the moment it is always difficult to get a commitment for a force to go into a particular area or even to get a commitment that something should be done in a particular area. We have been urging for some time that the United Nations look at not only certain ground rules which would govern the provision of peacekeeping forces, but also that we have a formula which would permit the proper assessment of all the members to finance peacekeeping. For example, we have been in Cyprus for a great many years now, but there are still countries in the United Nations, and not merely underdeveloped countries, with a very real interest in keeping peace in Cyprus who have not in fact contributed to the financing for support of those forces. I must, in the presentation of our attitude on peacekeeping, ensure that, to put it crudely, we don't wind up being the patsy in terms of all of these countries saying, "Good old Canada. They'll take it on and we won't even have to pay our portion of the bill." Let me just touch on one or two other matters very very briefly. In terms of China, a most remarkable country, from which I have just returned, I doubt very much that anyone who has not been there can comprehend it. Certainly I could not have possibly conceptualized the country without seeing even the small portion of it that I did.
But having done that and having had discussions with the leadership in China, I believe it is going to be important over the next months for us to formulate a precise policy as to how we are to deal with this country with its enormous resources and its population which is fast approaching one billion people. We cannot help but recognize that it is going to be a most potent player on the world scene. I would like to spend a lot of time telling you about it, but I must simply let you know that Canada is conscious of the need for a strong well-thought-out, well-developed approach to Canada/Chinese relations.
The same is true of Southeast Asia. The ASEAN countries are just now emerging as a growing economic force in the world with a population almost two-thirds that of the European Community. This is another area where we must look at what kind of influence Canada can have.
Finally let me just add a word on the nuclear issue. Some of you may have been following it over these last two years, specifically whether or not Canada would resume shipments of uranium to its traditional customers. One thing became very clear and I think one can make this observation of almost all aspects of Canadian foreign policy. We cannot go it alone. There are very few things we can do ourselves, whether it be sanctions against South Africa or the halting of the export of uranium. Unless there is united international action the only result will be one of frustration for us because we will not achieve our goals and there will be losses for us on the economic side as well.
In terms of most of the issues of which I have spoken, the most important thing is that Canada act as a member of some strong element within the international community such as NATO, such as the Economic Summit group of which we are a member, such as OECD. If we do not, then it is very likely that our efforts, as well-meaning as they may be, will not really succeed. They did succeed in the case of uranium because those elements were present plus the ingredient I mentioned a few moments ago--leverage. Here is a prime example of an area in which Canada is a major party in terms of nuclear development, and all the related subjects. We are one of the two or three main suppliers of uranium in the world, at least at the present time. Therefore we have in that area the capabilities and the power, if I may use that word, to bring about a more desirable situation. That is one that we have pushed to the limit. I think you know that we have in place now a regime of safeguards that is the most stringent of any country in the world.
When all is said and done I suppose there is nothing in our foreign policy that is more important than this issue. If we can as a country combine our leverage with our moral convictions against the shocking dangers of nuclear proliferation it may very well be that, even when measured ,against such things as our performance in foreign aid, our co-operation with other countries and the whole range of activities in which we are engaged, our major role will have been our ability to move the world back from that shocking nuclear abyss.
I hope that I have given you some overview at least of the kind of things in which we are engaged. I am grateful for your attention and for your invitation and let me assure you that I would be very glad to be more specific with you on any item at any time in the future.
The appreciation of the audience was expressed by B. Gen. Reginald W. Lewis, C.D., Second Vice-President of The Empire Club of Canada.