Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An International Role for Canada

In many countries around the world the primary problem countries have is with problems of a functional civil society and a strong sense of social capital between people. This is an issue that is being addressed in many places around the world by the Open Society Institute. Canada could take a much bigger role in this all over the world.

Canada is globally acknowledged a boring country. In this context boring means a country with or no significant problems within the civil society. This boring aspect of Canada is something we could, and should, be exporting to the rest of the world where there are problems with conflict and corruption.

If Canada were to seek out countries that have problems with systemic corruption, tribal conflicts, or a lack of a state that the public trusts, it could focus on this countries to help build a sense of what a civil society looks and feels like. Some things Canada could do:

  1. Allow people to come to Canada for advanced education such as at the MPA or MBA level. Have military train at the Royal Military College. Train police in Canada as well.
  2. Have civil servant exchanges, having mid to senior level Canadian provincial civil servants go and work abroad in another countries civil service and have people from there work in a provincial civil service here. The exchange will show people in the other countries that there are fair and uncorrupted ways of doing things.
  3. Work closely with the business sector in these countries and allow the chance to do more business in Canada if they adhere to certain ethical standards.
  4. Have a Canada House in each major city and use this promote Canadian values of fairness and transparency.

It is through modeling of a different of doing things that change will come about. Most corrupt systems are self perpetuating as it is the reality that people live within. Change will take time, but all good change takes time. The change will take as long as it takes for the old guard in a country leave the centre stage. In the former communist countries of eastern Europe the ones that have done the best are the ones that have the strongest civil societies and this often means the younger people in charge.
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