5.9 Rebuild Canada’s traditional diplomatic muscle

The Canadian Foreign Service is suffering from the neglect of successive governments. The Harper Administration, in particular, has underestimated the importance of a robust diplomatic corps with highly-trained officers. As part of its fiscal program to dig Canada out of the deficit created under Stephen Harper, diplomatic properties around the world are being sold. This garage sale approach to diplomacy carries with it a heavy cost. Canada’s influence around the world depends on the relationship forged in those elegant residences of Canada’s ambassadors. Other nations will take note of the diminished level of interest Canada takes in the world when events hosted by Canada take place in hotels. It is a prime example of being penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Canada has traditionally had a fine foreign service. Its officers represent a standard of excellence envied by the world. The current management fetish in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD) is to eliminate the notion of a career cadre of Foreign Service officers. Staff at DFATD have been told that the departmental staff should all be transferable to and from other departments.

The Trudeau administration has renamed the department Global Affairs Canada (GAC). There is a more respectful attitude toward diplomacy and Ambassadors have been freed from gag orders under the previous government. But much more needs to be done if we are to rebuild our capacity in the foreign service.

Green Party MPs will:

  • Restore adequate financial support to the hiring and training of an outstanding Canadian Foreign Service, and to embassies, consular services, and High Commissions around the world.

  • Stop the sell-off of Canadian diplomatic residences overseas.