Week of June 12, 2017
Last week, Minister Chrystia Freeland and Minister Harjit Sajjan unveiled the government’s long-term vision for Canada’s Foreign Affairs policy and its role in National Defence. In an increasingly complex political landscape, these renewed policies place Canada in a stronger international position. We owe it to the Canadian Armed Forces to fully fund them over the long-term, and I strongly believe these policies will help guide us through the next two decades.
I was pleased to see Canada commit to increasing defense spending from $18.9 billion in 2016/17 to $32.7 billion in 2026/27 – an increase of more than 70 per cent. After years of cuts and under-spending by the previous Conservative government, this government has responded with stable and realistic long-term funding for National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, setting us on the right course for the next 20 years.
Similarly, the new Foreign Affairs policy will see Canada step-up its role in world leadership. In a speech to the House of Commons, Minister Freeland emphasized Canada’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement, as well as stating that Canada would work to improve and expand its trading relationship with other countries, while continuing to protect human rights and human rights defenders.
As Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, I recognize the importance and value of a strong foreign policy. In January of this year, the Committee carried out a mission to four countries – Ukraine, Latvia and Poland in Eastern Europe, and Kazakhstan in Central Asia, who each faced similar challenges as they emerged from years of Soviet dominance at the end of the Cold War. In each country, the Committee had the opportunity to meet stakeholders to better understand Canadian interests, including engagement, aid, and assistance. These are the types of fact-finding missions needed to help Parliamentarians understand the issues faced by foreign countries when developing new policies.
These ambitious objectives to strengthen Canada’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense strategies work hand-in-hand with protecting our interests at home and abroad. In my view, it will enhance the safety and security of Canadians while providing additional economic opportunities as we expand our trading relationships throughout the world.
I’m proud of Canada’s new direction, and commend the government for bringing forth a sound and practical vision.
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