The Premier of a new Foreign Policy Group Contemplates Canada’s Role in Asia
On a snowy Ottawa evening, a new foreign policy group called thePANEL reignited an ancient Ottawa tradition. As the event host, CTV’s Kevin Newman outlined, this was an event that harkened back to the days when great debates were held in the basements of Ottawa amongst good friends, great beer and even better conversation. The event, sponsored by NPSIA, was titled: Canada in Asia: What’s our comparative advantage? Newman, aimed at creating an interactive and energetic platform, took questions from Twitter and laid out a set of ground rules: passionate Canadian content and no notes. To keep the audience on their toes, he announced that he would call on ten random people at the end of the evening to list one thing they learned.
The A-list panel included: Hon. Mobina Jaffer, Senator for British Columbia; David Mulroney, Former Canadian Ambassador to China; Len Edwards, Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; and Kasi Rao, Consultant & Advisor on India.
They were asked to conduct a SWOT analysis of Canada’s role in Asia. A key opportunity identified by the panelists was the vast investment potential that Asia represents for Canada. Following that note, the panelists agreed that a key weakness is Canada’s failure to connect with this potential, in terms of relationships and tapping into our diaspora communities. They were unanimous in thinking that opportunities seem boundless from the different ways to transfer the individual relationship into something more strategic, to the importance of immigration and our diaspora communities. The evening ended with a sober analysis by the panelists on the many threats that accompany these opportunities, from tensions in the South China Sea to human rights issues to potential clashes on values.
Overall, there was sense of optimism and urgency for Canada to follow the American example and pivot eastward. A targeted approach is desirable given Canada’s size, as we just can’t be everything to everyone; but the key take home was the importance of acting now!
To see video of the event or just want to stay informed of thePANEL’s activities, be sure to check them out at: