Jones: What issue should John Baird prioritize?

By: /
21 June, 2011
By: Bruce Jones
Director and Senior Fellow of the NYU Center on International Cooperation

I’m a Canadian living between New York and Washington, where I work with the UN, Brookings and NYU. I track foreign policy issues from Afghanistan to the Arab Spring to the rise of new powers. So perhaps it’s a worrying sign for Canadian foreign policy that when I saw this week’s question, “What issue should John Baird prioritize?”, my first thought was: Who’s John Baird? (I had to Google it.)

That could be a sign of early senility. But ask Canada’s allies what our foreign policy stands now, and you get a blank stare. Wonder why Canada lost its bid for a UN Security Council seat? Unpopular policies on climate and the Middle East, for sure. The bigger point, though, is no one knows what Canada stands for anymore. Five foreign ministers in five years doesn’t help. Canada has talented diplomats: John Baird’s first priority should be unleashing them.

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