Going our own way an option worth considering
By: John Kennair
| Posted: Wednesday, Jul 04, 2012 06:00 am
Why is Canada a member of the United Nations? Why is Canada a member of any international political organization, for that matter? According to Paul Martin, a former prime minister, it is so our voices can be heard at the table, that we might encourage the direction that the world should go. In fact, this was one of Canada’s original intents in joining the UN. Canada, wanting to demonstrate its skills and expertise in certain matters, felt that on certain issues it should take the lead, which would mean others would follow.
But none of this has come to fruition. As an example, at the recent G20 summit, Canada was rebuked by the European Union for its position on austerity. Though we went through these hardships ourselves 20 years earlier, and we will definitely be affected by any crisis in the euro zone, our opinion and expertise, though unsolicited, has been ignored ... again. This seems to be the pattern in all of these international fora. So when the UN’s General Assembly turns on us, why should we care or listen to them?
In the past, the UN has helped to maintain international stability, but most of this was almost a by-product of the Cold War, rather than actions of the UN itself. This stability, however, had helped to foster Canada’s trade, without having us embroiled in any major international war. But at the end of the Cold War, it seemed the UN had become redundant to its primary purpose, and usurped by Third World interests. Instead, it was NATO that took the lead in international security, with the UN struggling to keep up and, de facto, legitimize NATO’s actions. So, is it still relevant?
Should Canada go it alone, becoming isolationist? Though these were the political sentiments of the 1920s and 1930s, in this more global and modern world Canada is still linked to other economies. Isolationism is not an option. But becoming more regionally focused, and looking more to our own self-interests, is an option. By becoming insular and choosing to work with states whose interests and values are more closely aligned with our own, Canada’s foreign policies might be better served.
This would cause much political turmoil, both domestically and internationally, as we turn our backs on the majority of the world, but does it matter? They were not interested in our opinions anyway. This may seem like sour grapes but we have spent the past 70 years pursuing an international strategy that has failed us. Is it not time to re-appraise our foreign policy direction?
We can still maintain our membership in the UN, but why waste any more time, energy and money, chasing a lost cause. The UN will not change, and it no longer serves our purposes, so let us step aside.
There will most likely be some irony in this, for that leadership role we sought, may now come our way if we turn our backs on the world. A commonality amongst most great power states has been their ability to stand alone, not caring what others thought of them in pursuing their endeavours.
If this is the lesson from history, then maybe it’s time for Canada to seize that greatness it has long sought, instead of opting for Mr. Nice Guy, in the secondary or tertiary role.
If we go our own way, others might actually follow.
John Kennair is an international consultant and doctor of laws who lives in St. Albert.