“Responsible Conviction”


When Canada’s last Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was in power, I scoured federal government web sites and speeches to discover any inkling of a cohesive, defined foreign policy. I found a few speeches and statements that helped to piece something together. But I never was able to pull together an articulated, clear policy. Perhaps I just never found it, or perhaps it was as critics stated that the Prime Minister simply was not interested in a robust foreign policy and international presence beyond trade. I wrote an article on the subject for the Mark News, but it seems to have disappeared.

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we already have such a thing. “Responsible conviction,” Foreign Minister Stephane Dion is calling it. I would also add that with Prime Minister Harper, I got the feeling that any speeches or policy came from the Privy Council, or were at least heavily vetted before going public. With Prime Minister Trudeau, he has clearly assigned detailed mandates to his ministers, who are then entrusted to carry them out as they see fit. This is truly the Westminster style of responsible government. And having interviewed Minister Dion before, I know that he is an intellectual and a very thoughtful person, so we know this policy is coming straight from his brain.

The policy is based on Max Weber’s thinking, and while there is some questionable logic (isn’t there always when politicians try to bend theory to match practice?), at least we have some sense of where the government is going. (I am referring to the decision to continue to sell arms to Saudi Arabia). To be specific, a focus on climate change, re-engagement of the United Nations, and “inclusive and accountable” government, including protecting human rights for women and minorities.

Here is the full statement from Minister Dion. 

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