Prichard: What issue should John Baird prioritize?

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21 June, 2011
By: Robert Prichard
Chairman of Torys LLP, Chairman of Penguin Canada

The over-riding issue for Minister Baird is to use the multi-year perspective of a majority government mandate to stake out a coherent, independent and effective foreign policy that sees Canada punching above its weight in international affairs. This is what Canadians expect of their government. That means engaging pro-actively and constructively on the major contemporary issues, reflecting our interests and values, taking advantage of our strengths, building on our historic role and restoring pride in Canada’s approach and contributions. No single issue should be the top priority as focus and urgency will be dictated by events. Instead, the focus should be on taking this work seriously, investing in our people and capacity, reducing partisanship and emphasizing our national interests.

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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.

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