Jones: What issue should John Baird prioritize?

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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.

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