Kinsman: Does Canada need an independent organization to promote rights and democracy abroad?
Former Ambassador to the European Union and High Commissioner to Britain
We do. We have managed democratic pluralism reasonably successfully and had a world-valued mentoring capability to support democracy development and human rights defence, remembering democracy can’t be exported or imported but has to emerge from the people in question.
Most of what Canadians can contribute is civil society to civil society, and the Rights and Democracy fiasco illustrates why it is vital to “do it” via an arms’ length agency.
Rights and Democracy lost its way. It got involved in some boutique rights issues on the margins, not really what Canadians do best. Other projects supported human rights complaints of Palestinians, causing the Government to intervene with new Board appointments aimed at countering the allegedly pro-Palestinian staff. The outcome was disgraceful and even tragic. Minister Baird is right to fire the Board and end the misery but it was the Government’s failure that an arms’ length agency created by a Progressive Conservative government to radiate outward the best Canadian values has been trashed into oblivion.
It inevitably invites the counter-question: “Does Canada need an independent organization to promote rights and democracy at home