Today's Brilliant Idea: Tap immigrants to help shape foreign policy

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Niccolo and Donkey
Tap immigrants to help shape foreign policy

The Globe and Mail

Tom Axworthy, John Monahan and Natalie Brender

December 20, 2011

As Canada’s focus on Libya shifts from the drama of regime change to the challenges of peace building and reconstruction, could the expertise of Libyan-Canadians be useful to the design and execution of Canada’s efforts in that country? And could diaspora communities contribute to addressing other challenges currently facing Canada’s foreign policy-makers, such as the famine in East Africa, impediments to nation-building in Afghanistan or the armed conflicts along the border between the two Sudans? If so, are federal departments and NGOs well prepared to solicit and use such expertise?

As arguably the most diverse and pluralistic country on Earth, Canada is better equipped than most of its Western allies to engage its citizens in helping determine the direction and content of its foreign policy. Yet this country’s record of drawing on the expertise of its diaspora groups to the benefit of its foreign-policy decision-making is not as impressive as it could or should be. In comparison to some other Western countries (such as Britain and the Netherlands) whose governments and NGOs have long-standing programs to draw on diaspora expertise and assets when developing responses to international development and peace-building challenges, Canada’s approach has been both sporadic and piecemeal. This is decidedly to our collective loss.

Many immigrants to Canada maintain deep connections to political and economic developments in their countries of origin – connections that make them no less Canadian or committed to Canada’s well-being. They send remittances on a scale that dwarfs Canada’s foreign-aid budget, pay for family members’ education, fund community-improvement projects and contribute to political parties or movements. Not every effect of these activities coheres with the aims of Canada’s foreign policy, but a great many do.

Much could be achieved if Canada’s diaspora groups – including those originating from the world’s most strategically important regions – were called upon more systematically to help strengthen the content and reach of Canada’s official foreign policy. They could become huge assets to Canada’s efforts at helping their homeland countries thrive, and, by extension, to realizing our global security and economic interests more broadly.

For these reasons, the Mosaic Institute and the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation are launching this month a jointly sponsored research report, Tapping Our Potential: Diaspora Communities and Canadian Foreign Policy. By surveying current thought and practice in Canada and abroad, and by presenting five case studies of Canadian diaspora communities’ homeland-focused activities, the report seeks to help both policy-makers and those from the NGO sector who influence public policy to make better use of the expertise and assets diaspora communities have to offer.

We are not naive about the potential difficulties policy-makers face in working with diaspora communities, who can be as internally diverse and disorganized as any other civil society group, and whose views about their “homelands” are not always accurate or pacific. But as our report discusses, it is possible to identify members and representatives of diaspora groups who have the credibility, expertise and alignment with Canadian values that render them invaluable resources from which our makers of foreign policy may draw.

Among our report’s recommendations, we suggest that the federal government articulate a comprehensive set of principles, goals and policies for diaspora engagement; that government departments work together to gather and analyze information about the composition, interests and foreign-policy capacities of Canada’s diaspora groups; and that diaspora groups be funded to help them develop the organizational capacities needed to participate effectively in policy-making.

We are, with good reason, accustomed to calls to see Canada’s increasing diversity and its immigrant communities as assets in the economic and social spheres. The next step is to also perceive members of Canada’s diaspora communities as valuable assets for this nation’s policy-making. They – like all Canadians – should be encouraged to reach their full potential in helping to define our collective relationship to the rest of the world.

Thomas Axworthy is president and CEO of the Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation. John Monahan is the executive director of the Mosaic Institute. Natalie Brender is lead researcher of the Tapping Our Potential report.

Niccolo and Donkey
Niccolo and Donkey
IT Wizard Alex Thomas777 Vuk

This line is great:

I'm attaching a segment from a study about diaspora populations and their roles in national liberation, with this one focusing on Croatian-Canadians and their role in the Homeland War. It's quite easy to notice that "Canadian values" don't easily mesh with those of diaspora populations.

Download the file.

The Liberal Party establishment seem to want to do everything in their power to make sure they will be the last White men in every job they hold.

Niccolo and Donkey

It's the logical conclusion of the civic society: anyone can join up instantly by showing up and can contribute to driving the affairs of the state as long as they conform to certain "values". This is diametrically opposite to "Blood and Soil".
Team Zissou

Nuke Toronto.

Bob Dylan Roof

In all seriousness, who would ever sit down, read this OP and think, "hmm, this sounds like a practical, well-thought-out plan"? It's an abstract jumble of platitudes about reaching out to "diaspora" and extracting tax revenue from the government to fund more useless initiatives championed by feminist harridans and their male lackeys.

Walter and Duncan Gordon Foundation mission statement
Mosaic Institute mission statement

These read like lines from American Psycho - Well, we have to end apartheid for one. And slow down the nuclear arms race, stop terrorism and world
hunger. But we can't ignore our social needs. either We have to stop people from abusing the welfare system. We have to provide food and shelter for the homeless and oppose racial discrimination and promote civil rights while also promoting equal rights for women but change the abortion laws to protect the right to life yet still somehow maintain women's freedom of choice.
Niccolo and Donkey
What's obviously missing here is their anti-bullying plank. This is simply an outgrowth of Pearson's peacekeeping policy combined with the trend towards humanitarian intervention of the past two decades.

When you invite the whole world into your country, the logic therefore follows that no place is foreign anymore and you therefore have a right to help "correct the wrongs" happening elsewhere.

This simply conforms with the view that Canada is a proto-UN state; Globalist in orientation, anti-national in spirit.
I really like how the Globe & Mail really lets itself be like an infomercial or open mike night for well connected Liberal Party hacks like this. I've seen the G&W do this numerous times.