A time for dialogue
The war in Iraq has prompted Canadians to reflect closely on the role of Canada in the world. Emotions run high as we are faced with difficult issues such as how and when one chooses to cooperate with historic allies, the justness of military intervention in foreign nations, and the role of multilateral institutions in political and military decision making. These are all serious concerns that merit public debate. All of these concerns, however, turn towards the more fundamental concerns about the human condition. Making the world more peaceful, ensuring opportunity for all, awarding basic human rights for all are a few examples. The most appropriate means to achieve these ends are hotly debated, but the ends are widely accepted. And in fact, those ends have consistently been key themes in Canada’s foreign policy.
And yet, the family—the institution through which so many of us have first learned about these concerns—does not factor in to the debate. This is in spite of the fact that the themes of security, prosperity, values, and culture identified by the Government of Canada in the 2003 Dialogue on Foreign Policy discussion paper begin with the family. The family is the first guarantor of human security and the place where the building blocks of prosperity are constructed. It is the first forum where children learn values and develop their cultural identity.
Perhaps it is because they are so obvious at one level or another that these facts go unaddressed in debates on foreign policy. Yet the time to challenge that prevailing omission, and to encourage a dialogue on explicit recognition of the role of family could not be better. Certainly if our foreign policy framework is to be representative of Canadian values it needs to make reference to the family.
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