Last fall, the Canadian International Council (CIC) decided that it was the right time to take a hard look at Canada’s global role and priorities. The financial crisis was highlighting shifting geopolitical dynamics. Meanwhile, our country was poised to assume a highly visible international profile, hosting the Olympic Games in the winter and the G8 and G20 meetings in the spring. What better moment to help Canada chart a course for the future?
The CIC is uniquely suited to examine Canada’s international goals and objectives and how they align with the interests and values of Canadians. As an independent, member-based council, it reflects the ideas, interests and opinions of a broad constituency of Canadians who understand that a country’s foreign policy is not an esoteric concern of experts but directly affects the lives and prosperity of its citizens. There is no other organization in this country that connects good foreign policy with a good life for its citizens. CIC research makes the connection between good foreign policy and good national outcomes.
To this end, the CIC board of directors, led by Jim Balsillie, commissioned this report. We were fortunate that Edward Greenspon, the former editor-in-chief of Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail, agreed to chair and convene a panel that would work with him to produce a global positioning strategy (GPS) for Canada. Mr. Greenspon’s intellectual curiosity and leadership skilfully guided the panel; together, they enthusiastically undertook consultations across the country. They were generous with their time and considerable intellectual energy, and the input and insights of each panel member has contributed to the final report. Many CIC research fellows and associates participated in the expert consultations; views of the CIC’s member base were brought into the process via an e-conference series; and various CIC branches contributed the work of their own study groups.
The panel and its chair had a tall order with a short deadline. The CIC is releasing this report prior to the G8 and G20 meetings, when international affairs are a vital part of the public conversation. We expect the report’s agenda and recommendations to engage and inspire Canadians from all CIC constituencies: government, corporate, media, military, NGO and academic.
The work of this report does not finish with its launch. The CIC is planning a rigorous program of conferences, seminars, workshops and speaker events to promote and advance the dialogue and debate started here. Open Canada: A Global Positioning Strategy for a Networked Age is just the beginning of the CIC’s program to explore its ideas and help Canada navigate its future, not be navigated by it.