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Dialogue session in Halifax

March 27, 2008

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Brenda Hibbitts, a participant in our regional dialogue session in Halifax was kind enough to take some amazing notes and send them to me. Here are her observations from the session:

A dialogue facilitating “guru” named Mary Pat and a group of nine participants discussed the topic of “Rising Powers” in Halifax Nova Scotia.

I think we really lucked out for many reasons but mostly because all of the members were blessed with the “gift to gab”!

The keyword for our weekend was “Stewardship”. (thanks Gord)

Main Entry: stew·ard·ship
Pronunciation: \ˈstü-ərd-ˌship, ˈstyü-; ˈst(y)u̇rd-\
Function: noun
Date: 15th century
1: the office, duties, and obligations of a steward 2: the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially : the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care <stewardship of our natural resources>

(while I had the idea of what it was I still needed to look it up)

***

At all of our dialogue sessions, participants are asked to discuss what the values, interests and assets are that should shape Canada’s role in the world. Brenda took these notes about this part of her dialogue session:

Values are: fairness, human dignity, rights (needs being met – each person deserves respect), generosity, compassion, empathy, morally correct, friendships –acceptance of differences and sensitivity, reliability, stewardship, and integrity.

Interests are: security, health and well-being, world market economy, economic stability, prosperity (we need foreign goods)

Assets are: Natural resources, education level, wealth, diversity, two official languages, geographic proximity to EVERYTHING – accessibility, oldest democracy, long history of responsibility, and our reputation.

***

Participants in our dialogue sessions are then asked to come up with recommended actions that Canada should take to confront the “new reality” under discussion. In Brenda’s case, her group was discussing the issue of Rising Powers – that Canada is America’s neighbour in a world where global power is shifting. Her group recommended Canada pursue the following actions to cope with the rise of China, India and other “emerging economies”:

ACTIONS:

CREATE POLICIES TO ENSURE BETTER CONTROL OF OUR NATURAL RESOURCES

  • Strong stewardship criteria, for trade and investment
  • Stricter regulations
  • Canada to reap more of the economic benefits. (Balance of trade)

CANADA TO LEAD ON DEVELOPMENT OF TRADE AND INVESTMENT “CODE OF CONDUCT”
Includes:

  • Environmental stewardship
  • Labour Relations
  • Fair working conditions
  • Stipulations on child labour child soldiers and living wages.

DIVERSIFIED TRADE RELATIONS

  • Greater variety (Western hemisphere)
  • More innovative trade with developing world to foster economic growth (mutual benefit)
  • Increased support for small business (micro-lending) in developing countries strategically
  • Supports global stability

CANADA: ROLE MODEL IN ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARDSHIP

  • Higher prices for goods and higher taxes (Do we accept that it’s ok not to always go with the best rates??)
  • Alternative energy i.e. NON fossil fuels
  • Stricter regulations and penalties. (using our assets for leverage???)
  • Incentives for stewardship
  • Funding priorities at all levels of Government
  • Apply strict regulations on imports to Canada

BROADER, MORE INNOVATIVE IMMIGRATION TO IMPROVE CANADA’S ECONOMY

  • ….need to address foreign credentials challenge.
  • NOT aggressive recruitment of professionals from a developing country.
  • (more discussion needed??)

***

These are some beginning points for developing a vision for Canada’s role in a world where global power is shifting. I’d encourage other dialogue participants (or members of the general public who care about Canada and the world) to share their own experiences and visions on this topic, or others. And thank you so much to Brenda for sharing her notes!

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