What Foreign Diplomats Need to Know about Canada: Personal Reflections
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What Foreign Diplomats Need to Know about Canada: Personal Reflections

1 October 2022


Table of Contents Preface Introduction Colony to Nation The Constitution The Great White North O Canada A Compromise with Geography, Climate and Diversity Settling Canada Resources: “Quelques arpents de neige” A Trading Nation but Not Yet a Nation of Traders National Unity The U.S.… … And the Rest Canada: A Work in Progress Further Reading About the Authors Canadian Global Affairs Institute Preface Originally written in 2019 for Carleton University’s Initiative for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Engagement annual Orientation for Newly-Arrived Diplomats to Canada that is now delivered by the Parliamentary Centre through its EngageParlDiplo program, these notes were revised in 2020 in response to readers’ feedback (which I continue to welcome) and now again in 2022 with the collaboration of my wife and fellow CGAI Fellow, Maureen Boyd, who also chairs the Parliamentary Centre. A consolidation of material to brief foreign diplomats on Canada, it is a personal reflection, drawing on my travels across every province and territory, as well as my diplomatic experience, much of which involved working with our provincial governments. Some will quibble with the generally upbeat and optimistic tone of my reflections. One can point, correctly, to the fact Canada is not immune from populism or polarization. The barricades blockading our rail and roads by indigenous people in the spring of 2020 and the occupation of downtown Ottawa by those opposing the vaccine mandate in the first months of 2022 underline the discontent of those who feel left out. Nor is Canada immune from ‘presentism’. We have endured the toppling of statues of those who led us in the past but who do not meet the cultural and moral standards of today. While we have never been a deferential society, disagreement and defiance was previously expressed through debate in our church basements and community centers or over coffee at Tim Hortons and then expressed at the ballot box. The challenge for Canadian democracy, like others in the West, is to restore faith in our institutions and revive our civic virtues in the new world of rampant social media where misinformation and disinformation is a click away

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security economics international trade canada culture defence primer colin robertson diplomacy & global governance maureen boyd