Time to Democratize our Foreign Policy

The recent US missile attack on Syria prompted a variety of reactions from around the world. Prime Minister Trudeau decided to line up behind other allies and come out in support of the strike even though it was clearly an illegal military action. Some say he had no choice, other applauded his words as the “right thing to do”. However, do his words represent the view of most Canadians? Moreover, how much does our foreign policy in general represent the views of Canadians at large?

Whereas many domestic issues involve consultation with the Canadian public, foreign policy is one area that has become the exclusive domain of lobby groups and diplomats, virtually shutting out the Canadian public. Why, for example, aren’t we having a robust public debate about where we deploy Canadian Forces around the world? It’s not as if it’s insignificant. Take a look at where we are deployed at the moment according the Canadian Armed Forces:

Aside from military deployments, our stances on key international issues are determined behind closed doors, without serious input from the Canadian public.  Take, for example, our votes at the United Nations on the issue of Israel/Palestine.  Whereas the Trudeau government continues to vote in lock step with the wishes of the Israel lobby, this is in contrast to the opinion of the Canadian public as revealed by the recent Ekos survey:

What’s interesting about the survey results is that not only do Canadians think the Israel should be help accountable for their actions, but that citizens recognize that the Canadian government is biased in favour of Israel. This shows that the opinions of Canadian citizens aren’t reflected in their own government.  That’s a major disconnect and it’s a sign that we need to democratize our foreign policy.