Despite Prime Minister Stephen Harper's oft-repeated support for freedom, human rights and the rule of law abroad, his Conservative cabinet rejected a proposal in the fall to create a Canadian centre for promoting democracy.It was interesting then to hear Lawrence Cannon in the question and answer session following his speech to the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday in terms of what Canada could do in the Arab world along with its allies to influence that part of the world at this critical moment. Here's the video, scroll to the 13 minute mark where Cannon answers by raising "shared values," saying that "democracy means building the institutions," that this is an area where Canada can work with its allies. It certainly sounded like a Foreign Minister representing to that esteemed audience that Canada actually values governance initiatives and will support them:
And people within Canada's international assistance community say they are getting a less-than-enthusiastic response from the government for projects that help promote democracy and good governance. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) even struck "governance" from its main priorities in 2009.
So maybe they're turning over a new leaf? Probably not. Read the Canadian Press report above in full for multiple accounts from groups doing governance work aka promoting democratic initiatives who speak of support from the government for such initiatives drying up.
Other notes...in the speech he cited the Reagan/Mulroney "Shamrock Summit" favourably and played up economic integration along with a plea for the U.S. to reject "green protectionism."
A headline from AFP on the speech: "Cannon seeks greater economic integration with US." One of the few headlines from Canada on the speech, Postmedia: "Respect and work with us on the global stage, Cannon tells U.S." Bit of a difference there.