Canada is frequently held up as a model country. It sits near the top in many global league tables. But are times changing? Daryl Copeland (of Guerilla Diplomacy fame) reports that public diplomacy is on the decline in Canada. Far from maintaining its pioneer role the government is almost ending its PD programmes.
Copeland points out Canada’s leading role in the landmines campaign, in climate and environmental issues. All now seemingly consigned to history.
Mark Leonard once argued that a country’s reputation internationally was 15 years out of date. Is Canada now along the way? Is it any longer demonstrating its progressive agenda as a global leader or reverting to narrow nationalistic interests?
On the environment, and indeed climate change, it has regressed. Withdrawing from Kyoto (straight after Durban and increasing its oil sands extraction (a method, according to Wikipedia: If combustion of the final products is included, the so-called “Well to Wheels” approach, oil sands extraction, upgrade and use emits 10 to 45% more greenhouse gases than conventional crude). As the Arctic warms up it opens up vast swathes of accessible land for Canada to exploit.
Canada has been a leading participant in international military adventures. One key priority of its remaining public diplomacy programme is to promote its role in Afghanistan.
Changing political priorities are nothing new. When they change so does the politically orientated public diplomacy, public relations programmes and messages. What needs to change is the impact on reputation. That takes longer for Canada to lose its position as a progressive member of the international community.