What Canada Deserves: The Two Freedoms

What Canada Deserves: The Two Freedoms

Posted on April 26 by Hugh Segal
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The world is not at war, but as we scan almost every continent, it is naïve and optimistic to say that we are at peace. Over the last five years, the end of wars in Iraq or Afghanistan has really meant the outbreak of other hostilities across a plethora of countries,  outbreaks in Europe and North America, Indonesia and elsewhere. Russia, France, Belgium, Turkey, Egypt, Nigeria, Mali, the Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Israel, and even the United States are among those hit by either mass attacks, micro-attacks and murders of indiscriminate but carefully planned and executed bombings aimed largely at innocent civilians. The tragedy of Syria, its thousands dead and millions made refugees is one deeply human part of this attack on civilians.

Throughout all this Canada has a new Trudeau government, with a “sunny ways” disposition (so far) and a deep commitment to comprehensive foreign policy and defense policy reviews. That’s not unusual for new governments elected after a decade out of office.

In face of the incidents and chaotic moments around the globe, what should the core principles for these reviews be? How can they produce policies and directions that will serve both Canadians and our allies and partners abroad in a constructive and positive way?

Two Freedoms modestly suggests an approach anchored in underlying Canadian consensual values and principles that defy any distortion by right wing or left wing sensibilities. In it, I suggest that the two core freedoms sought by all, wherever they may live, whatever their religion, language, race, nationality or ethnicity should be core guide posts to our way ahead as a partner in the world. Freedom from fear and freedom from want are the two freedoms upon which all others are built. Freedoms of the press, of religion, of assembly, of expression require a fundamental freedom from fear to survive. For societies and people to have hope, to believe in tomorrow, to be engaged in building family, businesses, careers and wellbeing, freedom from want must be within the grasp of all.

Understanding how fear and poverty drive the outbreaks of violence should be the first part of an underlying wisdom about what defense and foreign policy priorities should be. Mapping how these two freedoms, when absent, predict the inability of societies to be stable is key. Being honest about what has worked and what has not worked in Canada’s approach to foreign and defense policy, under governments of different political colours is a constructive way to embrace any new future policy framework. Unfocused and multi-micro priority organization of the Foreign Affairs (Global affairs) department is simply not good enough anymore. Nor is a foreign policy disconnected from any genuine capacity for Canadian resources be they humanitarian, peacekeeping, intelligence or combat efforts.

Two Freedoms argues for clarity of purpose, and focus of supportive priorities to help guide foreign and defense policy in coming years. It argues for the full use of the creativity, experience and flexibility of Canadian diplomats worldwide to support and advance these two key freedoms in ways appropriate to the target country. Setting aside immature surges to the right or when governments change in our foreign policy would be a sign of maturity. Canada and Canadians simply deserve no less.

Hugh Segal

Posted by Kendra on October 13, 2015
Hugh Segal photo

Hugh Segal

Hugh Segal has been active in foreign and security policy for over thirty years, and has chaired the Senate Foreign Affairs and Special Anti-Terrorism committees and the Canadian Institute for Strategic Studies. He is a Senior Fellow of the Munk School of Global Affairs and the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute in Calgary, and was elected the Fifth Master of Massey College. Hugh lives in Kingston.