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2011 International Book List: Christopher Kennedy

By: /
2 January, 2012

Questions for Author Christopher Kennedy:

1. What is the best international affairs book you have read in 2011 (Canadian or otherwise?)

I doubt that I’ve read any international affairs books this year. Not that I don’t follow events through the media, but so much of my work is concerned with longer-term issues that books on current affairs get squeezed out.

2. What was the biggest international event of 2011?

Well, there has been an Arab Spring, but that may yet prove to be a false dawn. There’s also been the death of bin Laden, and on a happier note, a royal wedding. For me, however, the final flight of the space shuttle Atlantis was highly significant, bringing a unique era in space exploration to an end.

3. Who was the biggest international influencer of 2011?

Unfortunately, it seemed to be a year devoid of international influencers.

4. Who was the biggest Canadian international influencer of 2011?

I’m first tempted to suggest Jack Layton, who under tragic circumstances demonstrated the humanitarian side of Canada that has long been lost from our international exploits. I’d also like to recognize Dan Hoornweg, a Canadian with the World Bank, working tirelessly with the international community to further the critical role of cities in addressing climate change. Sadly, now that Jack has gone, I’m not sure there is anyone left in Ottawa who cares about either cities or climate change.

5. What was Canada’s best international moment of 2011?

Jack’s funeral.

6. What was Canada’s worst international moment of 2011?

Canada’s dismal performance at COP17 in Durban, and subsequent withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol was the lowest of Canada’s many lows this year. What makes Canada’s climate change policy particularly hard to stomach is the pretence that being responsible is not in our economic interests.  Canada has global leadership in solar buildings, public transit technologies, alternative fuel vehicles and some renewable energy technologies; yet we sacrifice all of these for the sake of western interests in fossil fuels.

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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.

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