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The Government of Canada has three principal responsibilities – prosperity, security and national unity – all of which depend on its willingness to stand up for our sovereignty.
And when we stand up for our sovereignty, we are stronger when we align our actions with like-minded, democratic nations that are committed to individual liberties, the rule of law and the security of their citizens.
The Trudeau government believes that seeking a seat on the United Nations Security Council and being reserved with countries like China is how foreign policy is conducted. This is not only naïve but has harmed Canada during the COVID-19 crisis.
The Trudeau government defended the Chinese government’s official story on COVID-19 and sent 16 tonnes of personal protective equipment with no regard for the return of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor who languish in prison. Then Canada ran short of the same equipment. Now, Trudeau is building new supply lines in China for personal protective equipment we need. We need a made-in-Canada solution.
My vision for our national sovereignty is to secure our borders, defend our national institutions, grow our economy and stay true to our values.
There are five areas of sovereignty where I believe Canada must change course.
First, we must secure our border. Illegal border crossings, contraband materials, and ongoing health concerns demand vigilance. We must tighten border surveillance and renegotiate our Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States. Enforcement in the areas of counterfeit goods and intellectual property theft must be bolstered. And we need to ramp up our health screening capacity at airports and border crossings; for COVID-19 and into the future.
Second, we need to get serious about cybersecurity and the protection of our democratic institutions. While different in nature from a global health pandemic, on a daily basis we face data breaches, intellectual property theft and cyber intrusions that undermine our economy and democracy. We must block companies like Huawei from our 5G network along with a broader ban of similar state-owned enterprises. We need to identify and interdict cybersecurity threats and suppress industrial espionage. Foreign influence and funding on Canadian public policy - including energy security - must be exposed and eradicated. The same with foreign interference in Canadian elections. At the core, we need to be aligned with our Five Eyes partners (US, UK, Australia & New Zealand)
Third, we must assert our sovereignty in the Arctic. It’s economic promise and higher quality of life for Canada’s Northerners must be realized. We can increase Canada’s presence and surveillance by enhancing our icebreaker, air and submarine capacity, especially over and under the Northwest Passage. We need a long-term plan to develop a port community and military base at Churchill, Manitoba. We need more research on issues unique to the northern climate. The 5,000 plus Canadian Rangers and Junior Rangers who reinforce our core military presence in Northern communities must be supported. And we must become more forceful at the Arctic Council, the UN, NATO and NORAD in asserting our Arctic sovereignty claims.
Fourth, we need a new approach to international development. A foreign policy that assumes the best intentions of all other countries – including those with authoritarian leadership and massive state control – is naive and dangerous. We must review and reconsider multilateral contributions and reorient funding towards capable and accountable Canadian NGOs. Likewise, let’s step out of international conventions that conflict with Canadian law, basic human rights or Canada’s national interest.
Finally, our economic sovereignty must not be compromised. We cannot assume fair play on trade when there are state actors involved or in matters of direct foreign investment. We can and should be free traders, but we can’t be taken advantage of or left vulnerable in today's globalised economy. We cannot continue to outsource critical manufacturing to places like China. We must defend against technology transfer to foreign entities that undermine our economic and security interests. And Canada’s temporary foreign worker program needs to be reviewed to ensure Canadians have priority access to jobs.
Prosperity, security and national unity go hand-in-hand. What’s clear to me today is that we need to build a more resilient Canada – a more self-reliant Canada – a more independent Canada.