A reader asks what my vision is for Canada’s role in the world. Such a vast topic seems daunting for a single column, but I’ll give it a shot. If I were prime minister today, here would be two of my top foreign policy priorities.
PRIORITY #1: PREVENT IRAN FROM OBTAINING NUCLEAR WEAPONS
The greatest threat facing the world today is Iran’s race towards the bomb. Members of all political parties need to unite to face up to this challenge.
Clearly, there is a conservative case for preventing the creation of atomic ayatollahs. A nuclear Iran threatens the existence of our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel. An Iran with nuclear weapons would allow terrorist groups to operate under a “nuclear umbrella” and would facilitate the spread of revolutionary Islamism. Several Arab Gulf states would be forced to align themselves with Iran in order to ensure their security. Finally, Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons would spark a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.
However, there is also a liberal case for stopping Iran. By calling for Israel’s destruction, Iran has made an incitement to genocide. It is our international responsibility to act in the face of such a declaration. Furthermore, the Iranian regime’s actions are an affront to human rights. Iran’s theocratic regime executes its homosexual citizens, oppresses its women, and represses the democratic will of the people. Finally, Iran’s attempts to obtain nuclear weapons pose a threat to the concepts of international law and non-proliferation as we know them.
We can be a leader in the democratic world by addressing the totality of the Iranian threat. Canada should:
- designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization;
- press for further sanctions against Iran at the UN over its nuclear program;
- refer Iran’s incitement to genocide to the UN Security Council, pursuant to Article 8 of the Genocide Convention;
- spearhead an international campaign urging countries to impose harsh unilateral sanctions against Iran’s central banking system and its oil and gas industry;
- terminate contracts with all Iranian companies that contribute to domestic human-rights abuses;
- double the size of its military, proceed with the purchase of the 65 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, and build up the capacity to participate in an international blockade of Iranian ports if necessary;
- develop a concrete international plan with like-minded democracies in order to mobilize the will to intervene in preventing mass atrocities, including genocide.
PRIORITY #2: DRAW A LINE AROUND THE CONTINENT
The fight to create a safer, greener Canada and a safer, greener world starts next door. It is imperative that Canada increase economic and security cooperation with the United States.
In an era when terrorism is homegrown and our enemies remain resilient, Canada can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines and simply hope for the best. Those who threaten the security of the United States of America threaten the entire democratic world. Furthermore, the rise of China requires the democratic world to take action to strengthen itself economically by further removing barriers to trade and direct foreign investment.
Attempts to solve the climate crisis through UN-sponsored negotiations have been a complete failure. More than a year after the COP-15 conference, there is still no framework agreement for post-2012 carbon emissions reduction. The world’s biggest polluters are constantly seeking exemptions from any possible binding international treaty. Economically, countries continue to seek a relative advantage in an attempt to maximize revenue. Moreover, attempts at creating green jobs through massive continuous transfers of taxpayers’ dollars into an unsustainable government-sponsored market are next to worthless.
It’s time for us to get smart on climate change and on security. Canada should:
- ensure vital trade flow with the United States by completing the recently-reported perimeter security deal;
- combine US and Canadian resources to fight terrorism and cyber-warfare;
- enhance communications networks and the security of integrated transportation between itself and the US;
- proceed with the current plan to reduce corporate taxes to 15% by January 1, 2012;
- press the United States to keep Omar Khadr at Guantanamo Bay for as long as possible, using the perimeter security deal as a bargaining chip;
- secure an equal position in the US energy market by signing a precedent-setting joint Canada-US carbon tax policy, the revenue from which could be used to pay down debt and/or reduce other taxes to ensure a competitive Canadian economy.
Making both of these issues top priorities will strengthen our economy, secure our interests, and increase our influence and respect on the world stage, which in turn will give us the ability to achieve other important foreign policy goals. Canada can be a world leader. All it takes is the right attitude.