Become a Supporter

Kinsman: What issue should John Baird prioritize?

By: /
21 June, 2011
Jeremy Kinsman
Former ambassador to the European Union and high commissioner to Britain

Support the “Arab awakening.”

The Globe and Mail describes Stephen Harper as a “skeptic” about the Arab Spring, because of its “risks.” Syrian protestors, like young Egyptians, are the ones at risk, apart from dictators. Protestors need our support and if they succeed, short-term financial help to bridge the costs of change. At the G-8, Canada callously referred them to long-term institutional investors.

As usual, diplomats were surprised by the Arab awakening. As NYT’s Roger Cohen put it, “Nobody predicted the Arab Spring because nobody can predict the human spirit.” We protect the status quo, equating it with stability, buying false choices, between dictators and jihadism, a threat to Israel, and messy outcomes. But the status quo ante in the Middle East was inherently unstable.

Change there is rattling authoritarians everywhere, making it a global issue. We need to stay on the right side of history and our own values.

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 

Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

Become a Supporter