Open Canada: A Global Positioning Strategy for a Networked Age

Each century, the global balance of power shifts dramatically. We’re in one of those times right now. The world is on a roller coaster ride of change. For Canada, that means great challenges-and great opportunities.

By: /
5 November, 2012

It’s a critical moment. Globalization lays bare timidity and mediocrity. What Canada does now could make us a world leader, or it could leave us behind, sitting on the sidelines as the rest of the world moves on. Canada is in the right place at the right time to lead the way in the new, networked age. The choice is ours to make.


“The report doesn’t shy away from controversy and will generate significant debate. It is an important contribution to the public discussion on how to build a more confident and successful Canada.”
-Perrin Beatty
President and CEO, Canadian Chamber of Commerce

“The GPS Panel has done Canada a real service. It has focused on what matters: building Canada as a nation of innovation and knowledge exchange; challenging us to understand that we are a Pacific nation; pressing the need to help the US re-build an open border with Canada; and finally connecting to our continental partner, Mexico. The Panel has produced some surprising ideas, and that is good. In the past, foreign policy reviews have tended to reinvent Canadian liberal internationalism from the 1950s. This version is more attuned to contemporary realities that call upon Canada to better concentrate its energies in international development, security and specific country relationships. The recommendation to liberate CIDA from political meddling is certainly worth pursuing. Altogether, a refreshing look at where Canada might go if we were actually willing to make some hard choices.”
-Stephen J. Toope
President and Vice-Chancellor, University of British Columbia

“An uncharacteristically bold Canadian forward-looking approach to Canada taking its place in the world. Will we have the vision and guts to embrace it?”
-Mel Cappe
President, Institute for Research on Public Policy

“Sweeping and provocative, there is much new thinking here, and much for the government and Canadians to take seriously.”
-David Bercuson
Director, Centre for Military and Strategic Studies, University of Calgary

“Questioning, audacious, and well-written, this review of Canadian foreign policy challenges thinking about the role of Canada in world affairs.”
-Charles Doran
Andrew W. Mellon Professor of International Relations, The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University 

“Bold, original and innovative. This report is just the kind of fresh thinking we need to launch a debate.”
-Peter Harder
Senior policy advisor, Fraser Milner Casgrain LLP; Former Deputy Minister, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

“Canada has a substantial and successful history of responding to national and global challenges. The GPS paper provides a timely set of ideas to shape the discussion of the current challenges faced by Canada and the changing nature of the world we live in. We as a country cannot effectively deal with these challenges if we do not first have a consensus based plan that provides all Canadians with a common vision and common purpose in meeting these national and global challenges.”
-Tom Jenkins
Executive Chairman and Chief Strategy Office, Open Text

“In a pervasively globalized world, Canadians need to understand profoundly the world we inhabit and Canada’s role in it. Canada can and should play a leading role in shaping our world. “Open Canada: A Global Positioning Strategy for a Networked Age” provides the frame, the analysis, the sense of purpose and the choices to allow Canadians to debate their role in the world and the foreign policy that defines their sense of national interest and ambition. For everyone who believes that Canada can make a difference in the world, this is the paper you will want to read. Digest it; enjoy it; debate it; but above all else let it get you engaged in shaping what Canada’s foreign policy should be for the decade ahead.”
-Kevin Lynch
Vice-Chair, BMO and former clerk of the Privy Council

“”Open Canada” is a welcome and refreshing addition to the important discussion about Canada’s place in the world. Building a nation out of diversity which is capable of a coherent and cohesive world view is not an easy task. Advancing that nation’s interests while playing a constructive role in the global community is even more complicated. “Open Canada” provides a strategy and a map to get us there.”
-John Manley
President, Canadian Council of Chief Executives

“Open Canada’ puts important questions on the agenda for Canadians to consider as we move into a rapidly transforming and more deeply connected world. Our future hinges on getting the answers to these questions right.”
-Janice Stein
Director, Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto

“This CIC report is a timely analytical and accessible survey of Canada’s global position today with scenarios for its future. It is essential reading for anyone interested in how a middle power like Canada responds to a multi-polar World and carries insights relevant for the future not just for Canada but many of its fellow members of the G8.”
Alex Vines, OBE
Director: Regional & Security Studies, Chatham House, London, UK

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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.

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