Monday, October 22, 2007

Engage the World

As it appears a federal election is not in the immediate future, I have decided to begin a series of posts on how the Liberal Party (or any party really) can move Canada towards a brighter tomorrow. The first relates on Canada in the globalized world.

It saddened me greatly when the last federal debate included no mention of foreign policy. The world matters. How we engage the new world which has been emerging over the last twenty years will shape the Canadian story. We can either seize upon our potential or we can mire ourselves in endless internal squabbles. Engaging the world is the new cause célèbre of my university. Unfortunately, it is little more than a cause. There are no actions to back up those words. We, as a country, require action. Here's a few starters:

Expand Student Exchanges
: This is an idea I've mentioned before. I am horribly biased on the subject, having just completed a wonderful exchange in Sweden. However, this is still a good idea. Canada should knock on the door of the ERASMUS program. ERASMUS was conceived as a way of uniting Europe by providing fora for cultural exchanges. Why can't it unite the world? We shouldn't stop with Europe either. Why not be a leader and set up similar systems with our OAS, Commonwealth, Francophonie and APEC allies? Not only does it provide Canadian students a chance to see the world and learn from it, but it will make our universities centres of international learning. If we are to compete in a globalized economy we must have workers who understand the world and a world that thinks about Canada. This can either be an initiative of the federal government or an initiative of the provinces or both.

Fix Immigration and then Expand it: Our immigration system is broken. We go around the world recruiting doctors and engineers and end up with taxi drivers and convenience store operators. We need to ensure that all immigrants have access to the credentials they have already earned. Where there are gaps in knowledge we need to develop programs to fill those gaps, not start from square one. I said during the leadership that immigrant success was one of my major reasons for supporting Gerard Kennedy. I said after the leadership that I hope M. Dion adopts the policy. I am still hopeful. Once we have fixed this problem we need to increase the number of immigrants who are coming to this country. The Western world faces a major demographic crisis with the retirement of the baby boom and immigration is the best way to combat it.

Increase Trade Relations with the Developing World
: Canada and Canadian companies should be on the ground in developing countries building capacity and creating sustainable growth. We need to reach out to the developing world as equals and trade with them freely and openly. Which leads to the next point.

Support the G77 in the Doha Round: Canada has a moral imperative to reduce its agricultural subsidies and encourage our allies to do the same. A level playing field in agriculture would be the first step to getting Africa on its feet. Let's stop complaining about how evil the WTO is and start working to make it better.

Reduce Landing Fees at Canadian Airports: If we want tourism we need to make it easier to fly to Canada. We need to eliminate the fees which make it cheaper to fly to Buffalo and rent a car to Toronto then fly to Toronto. We have a huge federal surplus, let's spend it on making Canada's infrastructure open for business.

Eliminate Visa Restrictions on Allied States: The restrictions on travelers from the Baltics in particular is an absurd post-cold war relic. NATO allies should be able to visit for a few days without having to get a visa.

Increase the size of our Foreign Service
: Simple. More embassies. More consulates. More people on the ground promoting Canada.

More to come...

1 comment:

Abdul-Rahim said...

I look forward to your upcoming posts. Just today, in thinking of all the suffering the world over, I wondered what a compassionate Canada could do to soothe the pain on this planet

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