I was recently on a panel at my alma mater Queen’s University where I was asked who my favourite Prime Minister is. My answer? Lester B. Pearson, for many reasons: from public healthcare, to the Canada Pension Plan, to Canada Student Loans, to our shared love of baseball – but especially for his international focus and achievements.
Over the last 100 days, I believe that our government has shown the world that we are ready to take up the mantle of our history, and to restore our role and standing on the world stage. As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau more succinctly put it: “Canada is back.”
The global community saw us return to the table on the environment, as we played an important role in brokering the climate agreement at the Paris conference. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Catherine McKenna will next sit down with our provincial counterparts to ensure that our domestic actions are in line with our new global targets. While our country’s economy remains heavily dependent on the resource sector, we are committed to substantially reducing emissions and supporting clean energy technologies.
The world has again taken notice of Canada’s generosity, as our plan to welcome refugees continues in full force. More than 15,000 Syrian refugees have been admitted to Canada since Nov. 4, 2015. Our target remains 25,000 government-assisted refugees, without any cap on private sponsorships. Here in our riding, the response has been overwhelming, and more than 100 people attended our Syrian refugee town hall last month.
Prime Minister Trudeau also holds the world’s attention. Most recently, Trudeau gave the keynote address at the World Economic Forum where he stressed Canadian resourcefulness, and spoke to the values of diversity and equality. In a world where a xenophobic and divisive approach to politics has unfortunately become more popular, Canada’s message of multiculturalism is an important one.
Pearson was particularly known for his commitment to peace, receiving a Nobel Peace Prize and earning Canada a reputation for peacekeeping. He once said that “of all our dreams today there is none more important – or so hard to realize – than that of peace in the world.”
In Iraq and Syria, our government is committed to working towards long-term peace. Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan has a wealth of experience, his team has reviewed all available options, he has emphasized that Canada will make a meaningful contribution to our allies’ work, and US Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken out in support of Canada’s commitment. We must ensure that our mission has a clear objective, is based on evidence, has a good chance of success, and that we appreciate the difference between military success and longer-term political success for the region, as well as the different tools necessary for each.
I’ve recently been elected as the president of the Canadian Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The IPU is composed of members of 167 parliaments around the world, and works in partnership with the United Nations on issues such as peace, security and the advancement of human rights.
On Feb. 8 and 9 I will be one of Canada’s representatives at the United Nations, where I will take part in a debate on the global war on drugs. I also expect to represent Canada at a conference of parliamentarians in Zambia this March, to discuss ways to better engage youth in politics around the world.
Canada has historically been a leader on the world stage, and it is time for us to return to that Pearsonian tradition. Our government’s renewed international focus and commitment to our global community is good for our reputation as Canadians, but more importantly, it is good for our world.