There is a new ambassador for Canada – for Women, Peace and Security.
The cynic in me says that this is a way to satisfy women voters and perhaps even get the Western vote by appointing an Albertan to the office of Ambassador.
The lexicographer (the one who likes to understand dictionary words) wonders if we are creating a new definition for ambassador.
Canada has ambassadors in countries around the world. We also have ambassadors to various international organizations – UN, NATO, Organization of American States, European Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Association of Southeast Asian Nations. For the sake of trade and economics, we have ambassadors to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, and World Trade Organization.
Ambassadors are there to portray their home country to others and to work for the good of their citizens. They dialogue with their host for the sake of good relations and mutual benefit.
But when do we pass from being ambassadors to activists?
A June 12th, 2019, statement from the Prime Minister’s Office reads in part:
“Gender equality plays a critical role in creating lasting solutions to the challenges we face around the world . . . The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced that Jacqueline O’Neill has been appointed as Canada’s first Ambassador for Women, Peace and Security. Ms. O’Neill will help advance Canada’s feminist foreign policy . . . will also recommend actions we can take to protect the rights of women facing insecurity and violence and promote their meaningful participation in our development, humanitarian, and peace and security efforts around the globe.” June 16, 2019 – Prime Minister proclamation
The dictionary term “feminist” is a new branding of a centuries old discussion which attempts to give women a voice, a place, a significant impact in the world. Interestingly, in Canada, this is now attached to foreign policy. I’m presuming from the Prime Minister’s statement, that the actions of the ambassador will be based in the principles of “Canada’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security”.
If another country does not measure up to Canada’s approach to feminism – or even if they dispute the legitimacy of that policy – what is the range of “actions” that could be taken against them? Perhaps tariffs, sanctions, shaming, armed conflict?
In the past we have used the term “colonialism” to brand the “actions” of well-intentioned policies, which now seem archaic and barbaric. These efforts were an attempt to make another area of the world a “colony” of the home country. They sought to impose their values on the host country.
Are we colonizing others into our own image? Is that appropriate? What will history show?
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