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What we can expect following the federal election

During federal election campaigns, the World Federalist Movement – Canada surveys the federal political parties about their positions on specific areas of interest to World Federalists. During the recently concluded election we also looked at their platforms.

What can we expect now with a minority Liberal government?

Let’s start with what the Liberals said about foreign policy and international relations in their platform. The Liberal Party called their platform Forward: A real plan for the middle class and the platform indeed has chapters on the middle class and middle class jobs. The chapter about “Canada’s place in the world” is at the end, after the section on Indigenous relations.

In that section, the party says they will implement UNDRIP as government legislation by the end of 2020. They also state they will “continue to work” on implementing the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Inquiry report’s calls for justice.

In “Canada’s place in the world” the Liberals say they will ‘renew’ Canada’s commitment to peacekeeping with new investments to support UN peacekeeping, particularly to advance the women, peace and security agenda. They also mention drawing on the expertise of the Canadian Armed Forces in helping other countries at risk of climate change-related disasters.

They also state they will expand Canada’s role in multilateral organizations (specifically mentioning NATO and the UN). Additionally, the platform states that the Liberal Party will establish a “Canadian Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government”; provide “additional resources” to international institutions like the International Criminal Court and the World Trade Organization; establish a refugee stream specifically for human rights defenders, journalists, and humanitarian workers (with a target of 250 people/year); and take a leadership role in the development of international protocols to ban the use of fully autonomous weapons systems.

The party also said they would gradually increase Canada’s overseas development assistance each year towards 2030; improve, in unspecified ways, international development assistance; spend at least 10% of ODA budget on education;  lead an international campaign to ensure quality education in refugee and displacement camps; and pledge to work with the US to “modernize” the Safe Third Country Agreement. 

Given the minority government situation, it can be assumed that the other parties will at least attempt to push forward their own positions and plans when opportunities arise.

The Conservative Party’s platform was called Andrew Scheer’s Plan For You To Get Ahead. Although not using the Liberals “middle class” approach, the Conservative platform is similarly structured, with chapters like ‘More Money in Your Pocket’ and ‘More Good Jobs.’  The chapter on foreign policy is called ‘More Strength Abroad’ and is at the end.

The Conservative Party pledged to repeal the federal carbon tax, but keep the current Paris Accord targets. (Details about their environmental plan were released earlier and are available at https://www.arealplan.ca/.) They do not mention UNDRIP or the TRC Calls to Action or the MMIWG Inquiry’s Calls to Justice, although it does say that the party will “develop a National Action Plan to address the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”

The key foreign policy statement from the Conservatives was that they would cut aid by 25%, saying that these savings would come from “middle- and upper-income countries as well as hostile regimes.” As well, they would provide additional military and non-military support to Ukraine, move the Canadian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, withdraw from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and reopen the Office of Religious Freedom. The party also said they would “close the loophole” in the Safe Third Country Agreement.

The Bloc Québécois’ platform, Le Québec, c’est nous. Plateforme politique du Bloc Québécois, is only available in French. The Bloc’s five foreign policy priorities are: climate change, international trade reform (especially related to environment and labour), promotion of multilateralism, fighting against tax havens, and Quebec’s authority in relation to its jurisdiction

The party also wants the federal government grant a veto to Quebec on any federal decision to expel refugees. They propose suspending the safe third country agreement with the United States so that the entire border is considered a border crossing and increasing the number of immigration staff to speed up the processing of applications. 

They fully agree with the implementation of UNDRIP.

The New Democrats platform was called A New Deal for People: New Democrats’ Commitments to You. The NDP support nuclear disarmament, a recommitment to multilateral peacekeeping, and ensuring Canadian weapons are not used in foreign conflicts or to commit human rights abuses. They also explicitly mention working towards a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine and ending sexual harassment and assault in the military. 

The party suggested increasing Canada’s ODA spending to 0.7% of GDP, although the length of time this would take was not specified. They also want Canada to do “our fair share” towards the SDGs for 2030, particularly citing poverty alleviation, Indigenous rights, and global peace and justice. Globally, the NDP want gender equality, including through greater access to education for women and girls and the inclusion of women in peacebuilding. They also want to “hold Canadian companies to a high standard of corporate social responsibility at home and abroad.”

The NDP would like a  National Action Plan for Reconciliation based on UNDRIP and the TRC’s calls to action, as well as a National Council for Reconciliation to provide oversight and report to Parliament. The party also wants a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation established and the implementation of the MMIWG Inquiry’s calls for justice.

The Green Party of Canada called their platform Honest. Ethical. Caring. Leadership. Election Platform 2019.

Uniquely, the Green Party platform begins with a brief explanation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), along with using the standardized square images to identify them. Throughout the document, the images are used to label sections with their related Global Goals.

The first chapter addresses Indigenous peoples and reconciliation, international relations and defence are last. The Green Party “fully embraces” UNDRIP and wants the government to “remove all obstacles within the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government to wholly implement.” As well, they want to see the TRC Calls to Action and MMIWG Inquiry Calls to Justice implemented.

The Green Party advocates reforming the World Trade Organization,  including transforming it into the “World Trade and Climate Organization” (eg “Tariffs will be assigned based on the carbon intensity of imported products”). They want the Safe Third Country Agreement ended. The party would like to see Canada become a leader in AI development and regulation, and ban autonomous weapons (while working towards a global ban).

The party wants to see Canada taking a role in strengthening multilateralism. They would like the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) re-established and the removal of any requirements that tie aid to Canadian business interests or “strategic geopolitics.” They also want to see Canada’s overseas development assistance budget increased to 0.7 per cent of GDP and increase Canada’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund and Global Environmental Facility to $4 billion per year by 2030. 

Additionally, they would “review federal government policy to align with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and develop a mechanism to track progress in meeting these targets both at home and abroad. ” They would also expand Canada’s peacekeeping role and support the “United Nations’ doctrine of the duty to protect” and sign and ratify the Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. They would also cancel arms contracts with Saudi Arabia (as well as banning the importation of oil from Saudi Arabia).

We sent the parties a package containing four questions with background information. The questions were:

Question 1: How should Canada support United Nations peacekeeping?

Question 2: Global Climate Change: What should be Canada’s International Commitments?

Question 3: Nuclear disarmament: Which measures intended to promote the realization of a world without nuclear weapons should Canada support?

Question 4: What can Canada do to strengthen the United Nations?

Summaries of the responses by party — which were received from the Green Party, NDP, and Liberal Party — are available on the website.

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