Since the beginning of this leadership race, I have proposed several policies with the general goal of reducing the size of the federal government and focusing its interventions on its core functions.
Everyone understands what it means to have a smaller government when it comes to economic policy. But what about foreign policy?
The principles are actually the same. We can have a foreign policy that is based on the perspectives and interests of politicians, bureaucrats, international NGOs and special interest groups. A foreign policy that tries to attain unrealistic goals, that focuses on image and marketing, that ineffectively intervenes everywhere, and is frankly a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Or we can have a foreign policy entirely focused on the core goals of protecting the security and prosperity of Canadians, a policy where no resources are wasted on symbolic gestures that have no effect on the life of the average Canadian.
As Canada’s former Foreign Affairs Minister, I witnessed first-hand how the international relations establishment has a set of priorities that are very different from those of ordinary Canadians.
They care about attending global conferences in trendy cities and getting photographed in the company of important foreign leaders. They worry about prestige and glamour, about Canada’s presence on the international scene even if that simply means having a tiny influence on events in parts of the world where we have almost no interest.
Whether it’s a bunch of bureaucrats discussing how to spend billions of dollars to kick-starting Canada’s economy; or a bunch of bureaucrats discussing how to spend billions of dollars on international organizations and development aid in other countries; it’s all the same. They are mostly furthering their own interests and wasting a lot of taxpayers’ money.
The Trudeau government’s foreign policy is a perfect example of this type of policy disconnected from the interests of Canadians. It is based on the same principles as its economic policy: The more the government intervenes, the more money it spends, the more structures and programs it creates, the more publicity it gets, the better it is.
The Liberals claim that since their election, “Canada is back” on the international scene. You bet it is! Just like it’s back in the economic sphere with its $30-billion deficit!
Only a month after his election in November 2015, Justin Trudeau announced that Canada would contribute $2.65 billion over the next five years to help developing countries tackle climate change.
This government is not only going to make us poorer by burdening our economy with a carbon tax and costlier regulations. It’s going to make us even poorer by sending billions of dollars to other countries for the same purpose.
That’s in addition to billions of dollars every year in development assistance that Canadian taxpayers are sending to various countries, a budget that the Liberals have promised to increase.
On security issues, the Trudeau government decided last year to scale down our military involvement with our allies against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Yet, fighting radical Islamic terrorists is directly linked to the security of Canadians.
Meanwhile, the government announced last summer that it would send 600 Canadian troops and spend half a billion dollars on a peacekeeping mission in Africa.
Canada has no strategic interest in that region. The conflicts there have no impact on our security. And it’s not even clear that there is any peace to keep, but the Liberals are trying to avoid this debate.
There is no reason to waste that money and to risk the lives of Canadian soldiers. No reason, except, from the point of the view of the Trudeau government, showing the foreign affairs establishment of other countries that “Canada is back” and lobbying for a seat at the United Nations Security Council.
For the Liberals, it’s more important to show off on the international stage than to protect the security and prosperity of Canadians.
We learned two weeks ago that senior foreign affairs bureaucrats even held a meeting to discuss how to use the Prime Minister’s image and his personal appeal to sell the world on the merits of the country’s return to UN peacekeeping missions. This is not a foreign policy based on the interests of Canadians; this is the low politics of selfie diplomacy!
As leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and Prime Minister, I will ensure our country’s foreign policy will be refocused on the security and prosperity of Canadians.
First, my government will continue to work closely with our allies to ensure peace and security, especially against radical Islamic terrorism. We will only get involved in foreign conflicts when we have a clear strategic interest in doing so and when the security of Canadians is directly impacted.
We are not going to try and please the foreign affairs establishment and the United Nations, a dysfunctional organisation which for years has disproportionately focused its activities on condemning Israel as if it were the source of most conflicts in the world. Last year for example, the UN General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions targeting Israel, while passing one each about the human rights situation in North Korea, Syria, and Iran.
Second, my government’s foreign policy will be focused on liberalizing trade with as many countries and regions of the world as possible. This is not only the best way to ensure our prosperity, but also to help other countries develop and get richer, and to ensure a more peaceful world.
Third, my government will review the $5 billion that Canada spends every year on international assistance programs.
Our refocused international assistance will centre on core humanitarian efforts to fight global health crises and respond to emergencies such as major conflicts and natural disasters. Canada has to show solidarity and do its part to help when populations are dying and suffering in countries that don’t have the means to save them.
However, every year, we spend billions of dollars funding job training, farming technology, infrastructure building and various other programs to help develop other countries’ economies. We will phase out this development aid, for which there is no moral or economic efficiency argument.
Some First Nations communities in Canada have levels of poverty and basic services comparable to those of third world countries. There are low-income families in our country that pay taxes on their modest earnings. Instead of sending billions of dollars to other countries, we should use that money to cut taxes or help Canadians in need, here in Canada.
The case for development aid is extremely weak. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in the world in the past few decades. However, there is no evidence that this was brought about by development aid.
Countries such as China, India, Vietnam and many others that are fast growing out of poverty did so because they got rid of their communist and socialist economic policies. They got richer because they adopted free-market policies, liberalized trade and private property rights, even if only imperfectly.
There is a direct link between the level of economic freedom and the level of development. This has been demonstrated without any doubt by various studies, including the economic freedom index of the Fraser Institute and the Heritage Foundation.
Countries that remain poor are those where governments are still crushing private initiative. Until they liberalize their economy and free their citizens, no amount of development aid will make a difference. On the contrary, it creates a cycle of dependency and often helps these governments stay in power.
Big government doesn’t solve problems, it creates problems. This is true in foreign policy as it is true in economic policy.
Under my leadership, Canada is not going to follow the received wisdom of the international relations establishment.
We are not going to send our soldiers to dangerous places where we have no strategic interests just to please the international bureaucracy at the United Nations.
We are not going to waste taxpayers’ money on development aid just because other countries do it.
The role of government is to protect its citizens and to allow them to flourish and prosper. This is going to be the focus of our action when I am Prime Minister.