Tuesday, January 25, 2005

How Do Young Canadians Think of Canada? Not Much, At the Moment

A few caveats about Canada25, the think tank that produced this report:

The people who created this are university graduates involved in media, academic studies and activism. They would have been known as "the best and the brightest" in another era; in this one, we'd call them blue-staters. Take that into account when reading the report.

So how do these young Canadian blue-staters see our place in the world?

Well, a great deal of it is "wish-list" thinking, as in "this is how things should be" as opposed to "here's how we get there." But the ideas are enough "outside-the-box" that they're worthy of consideration.

Well, for starters they want to reform the Dept. of Foreign Affairs. This report wants to shrink DFAIT down to a coordination/consultation/education role within the federal government structure--more a "here are your options" mode than a "thou shalt do this" one.

They also have some interesting ideas for the Canadian Forces and the RCMP. The idea of developing niche capability (such a post-conflict reconstruction) is based on Canada's current activities in Afghanistan. I find it interesting that "don't neglect combat capacity" (i.e. GET MORE EQUIPMENT AND TRAINING) comes after the ideas for what the Forces can do, since it's lack of combat capacity that normally generates the headlines. More troublesome is the idea of creating an "international police force." That will require a lot more resources than the Martin government is currently prepared to pay for.

The existence of this report is pretty much an implicit criticism of the Chr├ętien era of government management. It's idealistic, and a lot of it may be impossible to put into practice. But it's still worth reading and discussing--especially if Canada wants to be a player on the world stage again.