Canadian prosperity depends upon a prosperous, well-governed world. Over the last 75 years, Canada has played an important—at times critical—global role. However, the world has become a more complex and crowded place. Canada’s ability to have a global influence cannot be taken for granted.
Global Canada is based on two core beliefs. First, that it is in Canada’s strategic interest to increase its global impact. Second, that Canada’s impact will be enhanced if key Canadian institutions and individuals work together in a coordinated and complementary manner.
In an increasingly multistakeholder world, the responsibility for global impact cannot rest with government alone. All stakeholders—including the private sector, universities, social entrepreneurs and philanthropists—have an important role to play.
Global Canada will support Canadian global leadership by providing positive answers to three key questions:
1. Can we create an exciting community of “Global Canadians”—Canadians in leadership positions at home and abroad who are passionate about Canada’s global role?
There are many extraordinary Canadians who are making a positive difference in the world. They can inform and inspire their fellow citizens and, by working together, could have an even greater impact. Global Canada will provide a rallying point for these Global Canadians. Over the past two years, Global Canada has brought together globally engaged Canadians in leadership positions across the country and around the world. These meetings included: a gathering of Canadian multistakeholder leaders with Bill Gates; a brainstorming session on Canada’s global contribution with Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney and other Canadian thought leaders; and a senior leadership session in Montreal last August focused on Canadian Leadership in a Challenging World.
2. Can we craft an up-to-date narrative on Canada’s global engagement?
Many of the terms that used to describe Canada’s international engagement (“honest broker”, “liberal internationalism”) date from the 1950s and 1960s. The world has changed. Canada has changed. What are the reasons for global engagement today? These may include: our close demographic links around the world; the increasingly global nature of business; our shared concern in the global environment; the clear links between the health, prosperity and stability of countries abroad and our well-being at home.Global Canada is undertaking a rigorous, fact-based, strategic diagnostic of Canada’s global engagement: why we should engage, where we should engage, and how we can maximize our impact. The “how” will focus on the role that all stakeholders can play, particularly in collaboration with each other. The findings will be expressed in a clear, up-to-date narrative that resonates with all Canadians.Part of the “how” is an assessment of the resource commitment needed to play an effective global role. An initial product of this research is “Canada’s Global Engagement Gap” which highlighted how far Canada’s commitment of resources to the global public good has fallen, compared to our own history and our international peers.
3. If all stakeholders work together, are there issues on which Canada can truly have a world-scale impact?
From the 1950s to the 1990s, Canada was associated with UN peacekeeping. Recently, Canada has demonstrated clear leadership in Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (MNCH). Are there other areas in which Canada has the strategic interest and the capability to make a world-scale difference? Various ideas have been suggested from global food and nutrition to responsible mineral development; from enhancing democratic governance and rule of law to 21st century peacekeeping that helps countries keep the peace within their own borders. Global Canada will identify a limited number of issues in which there is strong Canadian multistakeholder interest and the potential to have a global impact.
Working with others, Global Canada will help prove in practice the power of a positive whole-of-Canada approach to global engagement and international development.
One area that was identified in our brainstorming with Canadian leaders was renewed Canadian leadership on family planning and reproductive health and rights. Over the past year Global Canada worked with other Canadian civil society actors to convene a gathering of global experts on reproductive health. The recommendations from this gathering (summarized at www.18millionwomen.ca) played an important role in Canada’s 650M announcement to support women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights announced in March, 2017. Global Canada will be exploring other “proof point” opportunities with the potential of significant global impact.
Global Canada aims to complement, not compete with, existing institutions. A key measure of Global Canada’s success will be its ability to enhance the global performance and reputation of existing Canadian institutions. It will act as a public-policy “smart-grid” linking together the considerable intellectual and implementation power that already exists in the country.
Global Canada envisions a constructive, complementary relationship with government. It is a not-for-profit, multistakeholder organization that does not seek funding from government. It is clearly and consistently non-partisan. While ensuring analytical clarity and intellectual integrity, its tone is respectful and constructive.
While focused in its activities and modest in size, Global Canada’s strategic intent is ambitious. It is to catalyze an increased global leadership by all stakeholders, enhancing Canada’s global impact and reputation.