Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I understand that later today you're to hear from my colleague, Mr. Axworthy, about the Democracy Canada Institute. It is a proposal that I know is important for you to consider. How one ought to deliver democracy assistance is an important question. I'd like to suggest, however, that there is a prior question that needs to be asked. We have to decide first what we're going to do--what kinds of activities Canada should undertake.
The answer to that question is not an easy one, because international assistance to democratic development is a vast and complex enterprise. If you count individual states, multilateral organizations, and private foundations, there are over a hundred separate donors delivering assistance in this field. Collective international effort embraces thousands of projects and annual expenditures in the billions of dollars.
The complexity of that environment is important for you to understand as you look at what Canadian policy may be. We have to establish our role in that context. I want to say a few things about that, but first there are a couple of things I need to clear up.
First, I want to make a distinction between short-term interventions to deal with special situations and those that involve longer-term democracy-building activities. By short-term I mean activities such as election monitoring or policing in unstable situations. These are activities where we send people in on a short-term basis to carry out specific projects, specific kinds of activities. The recipient countries are essentially acted upon. We are there to perform a task, and then we remove ourselves. This is an important kind of activity.
Longer-term interventions involve something quite different. Their essence is knowledge transfer--sharing our experience to assist a state in making the transition to democracy. Democracy-building, by its nature, is a long-term exercise, and I stress the point about knowledge transfer. That's the essence of this kind of activity. It's very different from the kind of activity we undertake when we become involved in election monitoring, for instance.
So to understand the scope of the field we also need to clarify what is meant by democratic development. This may be surprising to you, but this is quite a contentious issue in scholarly literature, and it's a contentious issue among donors. People use different terms to describe political interventions.
I want to stipulate a definition here, because I think there's a convergence among these different definitions that the donors use. This definition is one that I think reflects consensus now among the major donors. Put in a very simple kind of way, I understand democratic development to be activity that is aimed at creating systems of governance organized around the values of freedom, equality, and justice that are embedded in the liberal democratic foundations of our own system.
I stress that we are talking about an entire system of governance. I emphasize this because of these differences about what the components of democratic development may be. If you look, for instance, at CIDA's policy statement, you'll see a definition of a commitment in the area of political intervention that involves something called good governance, something called the promotion of human rights, rule of law, democratization, and civil society.
When I talk about a whole system, I'm making the argument that you have to see all these things as being the components of democratic development. If you define it that way, you'll see that the compass for assistance to democratic development has a very wide scope and a wide array of objectives and types of activities.
In my own research with the Institute for Research on Public Policy, and in working with colleagues who are producing papers on that series on democratic development that I'm directing for IRPP, I've identified 50 different kinds of objectives to which democracy assistance has been applied. So you can get some sense of the breadth of this approach. Given the broad scale of the collective international effort and the presence of multilaterals, individual states, and private donors, how can we in Canada be most effective in the forms of assistance we offer? That's a question I posed for my colleagues working on the series at IRPP. I framed it in terms of two questions.
The first question is whether there are particular competencies in Canada that we should emphasize and in which perhaps we should become specialists. In fact, I think there are areas where we have some special competence, but their utility is going to vary from context to context. So I don't think we should become specialists. I think we should draw on our whole experience in building and maintaining democracy.
The second question is whether there are functional areas where other donors are already doing an effective job and where interventions by Canada would, at best, have marginal effect and, at worst, would be redundant. This is a very important question, because there are some activities that have attracted a large number of donors. In answering this, I think we can best respond by dealing with situations on a case-by-case basis. I stress again my point that we need to use a whole-of-governance-system approach in defining what we're prepared to do. We need to make decisions about what we are going to do in a particular country based on a needs assessment for that country, taking account of what other donors are doing. So we'll answer that question about duplicating the efforts of others by taking that kind of approach. I wouldn't rule out us doing anything, but I think we have to see the context and understand the specific context of a particular country before we can make those decisions.
These are two general answers, and perhaps not what you'd like to hear. But having said this, I think as your committee continues its activities--and I know of some others where I hope there will be much more detailed information about specific things that are being done--you'll begin to get to some specifics on this.
I want to add that I think there are some areas where we in Canada can make some distinctive contributions. The first one is that there is a significant need for research on how to maximize the effectiveness of democracy assistance. We don't have effective tools for evaluating democracy assistance. We have tools for evaluating how we manage projects, but we don't have categories of analysis or tools for doing the research we need to deal with and to establish desired outcomes.
What I'm saying is I think we could contribute something by Canada becoming a centre for research. It would serve a vital need of consolidating knowledge on lessons learned and in trying to establish a set of best practices for the delivery of this kind of assistance. That's one area where I think Canada may have a distinctive contribution to make.
Another criticism of work in this field is fragmentation of effort by donors' lack of coherence in the programs taken into particular countries. We could do work in Canada to develop strategic plans for democracy assistance in the particular countries where we want to intervene. Again, I stress that in my view there's a need for a kind of whole-of-governance strategy based upon research on the peculiar circumstances of a particular country: its characteristics, where it stands in the process of democratization, where it's coming from, and what kind of experience it had before entering into the process of attempting to develop democracy.
We need strategic plans; we need strategic planning. If you look at the critical research assessing assistance to democracy, you'll see this is one of the issues that's raised. I think Canada could do something useful by doing this kind of research. And if we were to do so, if we were to start establishing these kinds of plans, I think we could deal with one of the most telling criticisms of the work in assistance to democratic development: the lack of coordination among donors, including the duplication of effort and neglect of important elements in the process of democracy-building.
The third thing I think we could do here is establish a training program for practitioners, or for people who want to make careers in this field, in the delivery of democracy assistance. I don't mean this just for Canadians; there is a need for a program of this kind on an international basis. Think about the large number of donors and practitioners. What I'm suggesting is that they need some help, some special training to do their work well.
In this respect, the one final comment I want to make is that from my observations in the field, and from what I've learned in research about what other Canadian practitioners are doing, our way of working with recipient countries has been pretty effective. I don't want to claim there's a uniquely Canadian approach, but I do think there are more or less effective ways of delivering this kind of assistance, and ours has been consistently effective. We're widely seen to be more sensitive to distinctive conditions in recipient countries, more open to local advice and engagement, and more inclusive in our relations with partners.
I think I'll stop there with my general comments.
I understand that the document I prepared on what we've been doing in the Ukraine has been circulated, so I'd be happy to answer any questions. In explanation, much of what I've had to say to you here comes not just from my examination of the literature of this field, but also from my own work in the field in the Ukraine over the past nine years.
Good afternoon. I want to thank you for inviting me to appear before your committee today.
Democracy promotion is a vitally important topic, which deserves the attention of all Canadians. I say this knowing that many Canadians tend to be wary of democracy promotion. Why are they wary? It's hard to say, but I believe it is because it smacks of telling others how they should govern themselves. As well-intentioned as this reservation is, it is misplaced. Rather than casting democracy promotion aside as un-Canadian or attempting to understand it in terms of pre-existing categories of human rights or the responsibility to protect, Canadians need to think about what our distinctive approach to democracy promotion should be and what kinds of strengths we can bring to the project.
Why should democracies bother with promoting their form of government in other parts of the world? The answer is not simply that it corresponds to our highest ideals of government, but also that it serves our national interests. Democracies are more peaceful. They govern their economies better, and they make better trading partners.
It is true that for many Canadians, democracy promotion has a bad name. Many associate it with the huge setbacks in Iraq. Promoting democracy in the Arab world has not been and will not be easy. This much I think we have all learned. But the difficulties facing our fellow democracies, the United States and Great Britain, in Iraq should not be cause for abandoning the long-term project of democratizing the Arab world.
If the origins of 9/11 are truly to be found in the modernization crisis of the Arab world, in their closed and repressive societies, and above all in their dictatorial governments, then surely the failure to democratize that part of the world will only prolong and reinforce the dangers associated with radical Islam, something that justifiably frightens all Canadians.
Democracy promotion is important for another reason. We are currently living through a backlash against democracy around the world. In the past several years a new group of nations have formed what I would call a new authoritarian international. Among the major countries in this group I would include Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Belarus, and China. What makes this group and others extraordinary is not only that they have bucked the trend toward democracy but that several have backslid from democracy into outright authoritarianism or semi-authoritarianism. Even more importantly, they have begun to cooperate with each other--for example, through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization--and, perhaps even more ominously, copy from each other legislation designed to undermine the work of foreign-financed pro-democracy NGOs and civic organizations.
If continued, this long-run trend can only make the world a more dangerous place, a place packed full of governments unconstrained by their own populations or, worse, governments prepared to view their own people in instrumental terms, as tools in some sort of struggle against imagined enemies.
What should Canada do? First, it is important to distinguish, as my colleague just did, between the short-term and long-term benefits of democracy promotion. Although there may be some quick wins, clearly this should be a policy for the long haul. The benefits will not come tomorrow or next week, but should be thought of in terms of years, perhaps decades.
Second, as far as concrete policies are concerned, it is probably helpful to briefly examine the successes and failures of the other big democracy promoters in the world: the United States and the European Union. Democracy promotion was first put on the transatlantic agenda after 1989 during and after the fall of communism in eastern Europe. The Americans considered 1989 to be a largely bottom-up phenomenon, one performed by civil society. The job of democracy promotion then was to back civic groups, hold elections, and write constitutions. By the early 1990s, most of my friends in academia and government in the U.S. considered democracy secured in eastern Europe and democracy promotion to have been a success.
Europeans, interestingly, thought about all of this differently. For them, 1989 and the fall of communism were the beginning of the story, not the end. Rather than focusing on civil society, the European Union concentrated on changing the very nature of the post-communist state. First what they said was, in effect—and I put this in quotation marks even though no one actually ever said this—“Yes, we'll let you into the European Union, but on the condition that you change all of your national legislation to make it compatible with EU laws on politics, economies, society, the environment, in short, everything.” This amounted to 80,000 pages of legislation adopted by all candidate member states.
The EU remained suspicious of the big demonstrations that so thrilled Americans in 1989, and Canadians of course. Their idea of promoting democracy was not bottom up but rather top down, dictated by Brussels. Democracy for the EU was not consolidated in the post-communist world until May 1, 2004, the day that eight new European members joined.
In subsequent years, this was the framework that Americans and Europeans were working with. It explains the strengths and weaknesses of both approaches. Clearly, the script Americans were working with in Iraq in 2003 was eastern Europe, 1989: bring down the leader, pull down his statue, and let civil society take over. Although this has not really worked in Iraq, it was a good model for assisting in the revolutions in Serbia in 2000, Georgia in 2003, Ukraine in 2004, and Kyrgyzstan in 2005: NGOs with foreign help bring down authoritarian regimes--end of story. Yet clearly this model is not enough, for none of these countries has been a perfect democracy and at least two have backslid, have deteriorated.
If we look at the EU top-down model, by contrast, it works beautifully for countries that have a chance to join the EU, but it is all but powerless in other parts of the world that will not be joining the EU anytime soon. The bottom line is that, to date, apart from enlargement, the EU does not have a viable democracy promotion model.
Canada should draw lessons from the strengths and weaknesses of both the EU and the U.S. approaches. We should proceed on both fronts, both in supporting civil society and NGOs on the one hand, and in using the powerful tools of intergovernmental and multilateral institutions on the other. It is important to remember that democracy promotion does not preclude contact with undemocratic regimes. But it is crucial, at the same time, to get the message right. That will be the central challenge for any Canadian government.
As it trades with and engages dictators in less-than-democratic regimes, Canada should continue to back NGOs and civic groups abroad in those same countries, especially in the Arab-Muslim world and in backsliding democracies that I've mentioned already. Canada should continue to foster contact between the citizens of our country and democracies at risk in the Balkans, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the former Soviet Union.
In this respect, l was disappointed to learn of the recent cancellation by the current government of the young professionals international program that has allowed the University of Toronto--my institution--and other organizations to send dozens of Canadians as interns to these countries over the years, and in turn receive students from their institutions for internships in Canada. This is the kind of long-term spadework that must continue and should be part of Canada's democracy promotion tool kit.
I should also add that Canada has nothing like the Fulbright scholar program through which hundreds of leading intellectuals from authoritarian countries have managed to spend time in the United States. This is most unfortunate, because it would be so easy to implement, very cheap to run, and the long-term benefits are proven. First-hand experience with Canadian multiculturalism is not something that foreign scholars soon forget. That is our strength and we should play to it. I should also add that Canada has nothing like the National Endowment for Democracy. That would be a good idea too.
At the same time, as we continue to engage authoritarian states in bilateral and trade relations and in multilateral organizations, we should begin to think of new forums for privileging democracies internationally, in both intergovernmental and multilateral organizations, to make clear the cost to be paid for non-democratic behaviour. This is something the EU has done well with its candidate members.
How can we adopt this model for Canada? Here, if we want to think big for a moment, what I would propose is a caucus or a community of democracies, either within or outside the United Nations. Canada might potentially have great credibility in putting this forward. The UN itself is one venue for this, but it may be discredited regarding democracy promotion--we should be honest with ourselves--especially after the debacle with the Human Rights Council. An alternative, one that I and many of my colleagues have been discussing for quite some time is an attempt to breathe life into a formal organization, the Community of Democracies, which was initiated in Warsaw in the year 2000. And I'd be happy to talk more about that later.
Let me conclude by reiterating that democracy promotion is not something that will yield rapid results. It should be a long-term, multi-pronged policy that should mesh with the other tools of statecraft. If done correctly, I believe it will provide a valuable regulatory ideal for Canada and it will make Canada and our world a better and safer place in which to live.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me begin. The committee is to be applauded for undertaking a study of Canada's role in international democracy promotion. The subject of democracy promotion--its relation to traditional foreign and development policy goals, the push-back by autocrats like President Putin, the recent crackdown on dissent by powerful dictatorships like China, and most of all the anarchy in Afghanistan and Iraq, where democracy-building faces violent opposition--is now one of the core issues in international relations.
Canada has always paid lip service to the value of democracy promotion--what democracy has not?--but unlike trade promotion, or the responsibility-to-protect principle, it has never been a fundamental of Canadian foreign policy. Individual Canadians work abroad for democracy promotion, and many of them work for institutions created by other states or international organizations. The National Democratic Institute, one of the best known in the world, has over 30 Canadians in senior positions. The IDEA multilateral foundation, when I spoke there recently, had Canadians from Saskatchewan. So Canadians everywhere are working for democracy promotion.
The organizational vacuum in our foreign policy machinery, however, means that these people do not work directly for an organized centre of democracy promotion in Canada. As in so many other areas of international policy, on democracy we talk a good game, but the Government of Canada has very limited capacity.
This committee has put out three excellent areas of inquiry that your witnesses and you will be studying, so I'm going to address all three of them too briefly. The first question is “why democracy?” and international comparisons. Then I'll spend a little more time on the Canadian role with the particular institution, Democracy Canada, which our institute has been promoting. On “why democracy?”, you asked how democracy promotion, within the wider context of foreign policy itself, fits into a general foreign policy, as opposed to the intrinsic merits of democracy.
Until recently, the priority of democracy for foreign policy decision-makers has never been high. In 1648, in the treaty of Westphalia, the European powers made state sovereignty the centrepiece of international relations. Kings could be beastly to their own populations, but the nature of the regime was of little concern to other states. What mattered was the balance of power between states, not the internal characteristics of the regime.
From Richelieu in the age of Westphalia to Kissinger in our own age, the realist school in foreign policy looks primarily at the determinants of power and how it is used. Such a calculus gives very short shrift to morality and, until very recently, to democracy. As Franklin Roosevelt once said about a local dictator: “He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch.”
This overwhelming realist consensus, however, has occasionally been challenged, usually from the liberal or radical side of the political divide. The philosopher Immanuel Kant first made the critical point in his famous 1795 essay Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch that the nature of regimes, whether they were monarchies or republics, empires or local municipalities, did make a critical difference. Republics were less likely to go to war than monarchies, since citizens knew they were the ones who would die on the battlefield. As the previous witnesses have talked about, in international relations one of the few inviolable rules we have is that democracies do not go to war against each other.
In the 19th century, English liberals like John Bright attacked the amorality of realpolitik masters such as Palmerston or Bismarck, and called for internal changes to the monarchies across Europe. Bright explained:
||We have the unchangeable and eternal principles of the moral law to guide us, and only so far as we walk by that guidance can we permanently be a great nation
Gladstone, in his famous Midlothian campaign against Disraeli, one of the great realpolitik practitioners, attacked Turkey's abuses against its own subjects, and argued that morality should trump state sovereignty.
In 1917 Woodrow Wilson led the United States into World War I to “make the world safe for democracy”. Lester Pearson led the fight within NATO in 1948 and 1949 on article 2, the so-called Canadian clause, to make the alliance into more than an old-fashioned military pact by emphasizing the cultural, social, and economic links between the North American democracies. What was important for Pearson was that NATO was a pact of freedom-loving democracies, not merely a military pact. That began to change with the accession of Turkey and Greece and other countries in that early Cold War era.
The liberal idealist perspective butted against the predominant realist tradition throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. But in 1982 a new champion emerged and the debate was literally transformed. Ronald Reagan was a dedicated anti-communist, but instead of just containing the Soviet Union, he wanted to transform it by promoting democracy as a fundamental proposition of American foreign policy.
In 1982 Reagan, the most important conservative in American history, gave a speech worthy of Woodrow Wilson. He told the British Parliament, and I quote:
|The objective I promise is quite simple to state: to foster infrastructure of democracy, the systems of free press, unions, political parties, universities, which allows a people to choose their own way to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means.
The Reagan administration created the National Endowment for Democracy. The British created the Westminster Foundation. The Germans have long had their Stiftungs, as we have just heard from previous witnesses, or party research institutes with very active international programs; and multilateral organizations like the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance--IDEA--spread the best practices around the world.
In looking at the United States today, total yearly U.S. democracy funding exceeds $1 billion. Now, the literature on democracy is enormous. Do we aim for deep, deliberative, transformative democracy where citizens are themselves engaged in policy debate? That was the question in a point raised by Ms. McDonough to the previous witnesses on what kind of democracy we are addressing. Or is it enough to have procedural democracy, a system that allows citizens only to have the ultimate sway during elections?
Two principles certainly apply: rule of the people, and rights of the people. As theorist Larry Diamon writes in Squandered Victory,
“Democracy is a system of government in which the people choose their leaders--and replace their leaders--in regular, free, and fair elections. Democracies are governments of laws, not individual men and women, in which the people are sovereign and government functions with the consent of the governed.”
To achieve such consent of the governed, there must be, according to Challenge of Democratic Development, a very good and early study by the North-South Institute, 1991-92,
|...universal adult suffrage in free elections; the right to run for office; freedom of expression, association, political organization and dissent; alternate sources ofinformation and genuine policy choice; and the accountability of government to voters.
Democracy requires a culture of liberty that endorses and envelopes the mechanism of voting as the means to express choice. Liberty, in turn, requires independent courts, equality before the law, and protection for minorities. Citizens must respect the rights of others even as they exercise their own rights. Rule of the people and rights of the people are the basic democratic minimum.
As we then move to transformative democracy, the participatory element of democracy allows human capacity to flourish, so we have a minimum and a maximum. The minimum we can attain, the procedural rules; the maximum, which is each of us achieving our human capacity, is an ongoing and never-changing goal.
Lessons learned from the work on democratic transitions.... There's no magic bullet or surefire formula for democracy promotion. Promoting democracy requires attention to specific circumstances and to the limitations of outside intervention. Change agents must proceed by interaction, not imposition.
There are few straight lines in history. As Kant, the original enlightenment liberal, wrote, “From such warped wood as is man, nothing straight can ever be fashioned”.
Drawing on the democratic case studies of the Queen's University Centre for the Study of Democracy, which are here before you, the following lessons appear to be relevant. First, there is nothing harder than attempting to develop democratic norms when there is no state and anarchy reigns. Since Plato, we have known that there must be order before there is liberty. A functioning state must precede a functioning democracy.
In Afghanistan, a critical initial decision was to hold a Loya Jirga, or traditional assembly of Afghanistan notables, to create Afghan ownership of the democratic process rather than dictate some of the occupying power. The Afghan transition began well, but shortages of troops, or boots on the ground, to ensure security now threaten the whole enterprise.
The ratio of international soldiers to inhabitants in places like Bosnia was about one soldier for every fifty citizens. Such a figure has never been reached in Afghanistan or Iraq. In a word, the EU and NATO took the security dimension of Bosnia far more seriously than they have taken it in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Secondly, militias must be disarmed. In the forthcoming Queen's University study of Israeli democracy, which is another study we will have out by the spring, a key tipping point was the decision of Ben-Gurion to disarm rival militias and to create the Israeli armed forces. Ben-Gurion went so far as to fire upon the Altalena, an armed ship designed for the Irgun militia of Menachem Begin. Even as Israel fought for its existence in the 1948 war, even as Israel was at war with its Arab neighbours, Ben-Gurion refused to allow private internal militias. Allowing militias to continue to be private armies has likely been the single greatest mistake made in Iraq; there are many of them, but that's probably the largest.
Third: local government, municipalities, is the building block of democracy. In Taiwan, the immediate post-war decision by the KMT to continue with the Japanese innovation of local elections for municipalities allowed the arts of democracy to grow and gave a non-threatening outlet for dissenting citizens. In democracy transition, we tend to almost instantly race towards national elections. In virtually every study I have looked at, I'm convinced that the investment in local municipalities, local government, and local elections is the way to allow the arts of democracy to foster and build. Taiwan is an enormously important example of that. The investment in Taiwan both allowed the KMT to get used to democracy, and it gave an outlet to the dissidents to learn the mutual tolerance that was required. Eventually, the KMT, an authoritarian party on its own, brought in its own democracy. The learning process was a generation of that.
Fourth, democracy takes time to take root. There are no quick fixes. Outside interveners must be prepared for years of effort and substantial investment. The European Union, the United States, and Canada all made a major commitment to rebuilding Bosnia after the civil war. Bosnia was Canada's first experiment with its three-D policy of defence, diplomacy, and development. It must be understood that each of these elements is necessary if real rebuilding is to occur. With nation-building or democracy-building, we should not go in unless we are prepared for a long and costly commitment. I regret that with the enormous expenditure and the lives of several of our soldiers in the 1990s, we are now moving out of Bosnia after having made that large initial investment and with many problems still in eastern central Europe.
Lastly, five, democratic values are universal. Asian autocrats have promoted Asian values as a counterpoint to democracy, and they have implied that democracy is a western invention. The Queen's University case studies on both Hong Kong and Taiwan show the self-serving nature of this argument. Taiwan is the first Chinese society in 5,000 years to become a sustained, consolidated democracy. In Hong Kong, up to half a million citizens have taken to the streets to demand and to defend their democratic rights.
Amartya Sen, in Development and Freedom, puts it well: “Freedoms are not only the primary ends of development, they are also among its principal means”.
The Canadian role--your third area. The committee has asked witnesses to comment on three broad areas: democracy assistance as an objective, comparative lessons, and the Canadian role. My response to these questions is as follows.
On democratic assistance, the nature of regimes is important. If Kant is right, and republics are less likely to go to war against fellow democracies, spreading democracy is in the security interest. If Amartya Sen is right, spreading freedom is a vital component in development policy. If Lester Pearson is right, democratic advancement must go forward at the same time as military engagement in any alliance.
For all these reasons of security, development, and morality, democracy promotion should become a key component rather than an afterthought of Canadian foreign policy. But the lessons drawn from successful transitions to democracy show that the democracy road is long and arduous. It cannot be done on the cheap, and it cannot be done without clarity and commitment.
In the third area of Canadian policies and activities, the main point is that Canada lacks a central democracy assistance organization. Canada has a wealth of knowledge and professional expertise grounded in Canadian values that could make a real and meaningful contribution to democracy assistance initiatives abroad.
A Canadian-based democracy institution--we've called it Democracy Canada--grounded in a federal, ethnically diverse, multilateral, and bilingual country would be welcomed by the international democracy promotion community. This new institution should have the following features.
Democracy Canada should be an independent organization reporting to and accountable to Parliament and a minister. It should not be part of any department.
The mission of Democracy Canada would be to promote and enhance democracy abroad. Democracy Canada would employ a network of experts to provide practical experience and assistance in areas of democratic development to their counterparts in partner countries.
Democracy Canada's activities would focus on political party assistance, including training in campaigns, electioneering, and media relations, which would introduce a tool largely absent from Canadian foreign policy, and that is, concentrating on party-building in democracy, also a question raised with earlier witnesses.
The program should also include, as Mr. Perlin has talked about, investment in civic education, democratic transparency, election monitoring, participation, especially among women, and assisting in the general building of democratic institutions in legislatures and public services.
The focus on political party assistance, election preparation, training, and mechanics would distinguish the institute from the legislative mission of the Parliamentary Centre, one of our best NGOs in this area, and the civic education mission of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development, which does a wonderful job on human rights and on civic education.
The board of such a Democracy Canada should consist of 12 to 15 members, drawn from nominees of parties now sitting in Parliament, international partners, and experts in democracy promotion. Replicating a successful aspect of the International Development Research Council, one-third of Democracy Canada's board should come from international partners. The board would have fiduciary responsibility for Democracy Canada.
The institute would also be governed by an advisory Democracy Canada council, consisting of members from the democracy and governance community of Canada as a whole.
An annual Democracy Canada conference would be held to bring together the Canadian and international democracy community to promote mutual learning, the dissemination of best practices, and to help coordinate Democracy Canada's future objectives and priorities.
We have many people working on this area in Canada, but they very rarely talk to each other. The institute would develop its own programs and staff, but it would also partner with others.
We have suggested an annual budget of $50 million, about half of the IDRC budget, both to fund worthwhile projects by its partners and to undertake its own activities.
Democracy Canada would also be allowed to fund proposals for international work submitted by Canada's political parties, as happens in the U.K. with the Westminster Foundation. But it would not automatically allocate a portion of its funding to the existing party structure.
Democracy Canada's permanent bureau staff, in addition to program coordination, would undertake a research function to gain an understanding of the local context of Democracy Canada's partner countries. To enhance its effectiveness, Democracy Canada would work with existing Canadian and international organizations such as the IDRC, as well as organizations within partner countries.
Lastly, Democracy Canada would coordinate team Canada democracy delegations around key Canadian foreign policy objectives. With Democracy Canada, coordinated assistance could be provided to a partner country, including elements of political party assistance provided by the parties, legislative assistance from the Parliamentary Centre, electoral assistance from Elections Canada, civic education as by International Human Rights and Democracy. That is, bringing together several organizations, each with their own piece, and going on a coordinated democracy mission in a country that we think is worthy of such help. Democracy Canada would maintain the overall focus of the delegation and would be responsible for democratization programs in the partner country.
While in the Ukraine studying the Orange Revolution, I met a young Ukrainian woman who told me the story of why, flying from Ukraine to Washington, she waited for hours to file past the tomb of Ronald Reagan as he lay in state in Washington after his death. His call, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”, had resonated across eastern and central Europe and had allowed young people there to dream that Soviet tyranny did not have to be permanent. She wanted to pay her respects to the man who had once given her hope.
Natan Sharansky, in The Case for Democracy, similarly recounts how the example of his teacher, Andrei Sakharov, taught him, and I quote him: “The world cannot depend on leaders who do not depend on their own people”. Sharansky further writes that “Those who seek to move the earth must first, as Archimedes explained, have a place to stand.”
Canada must stand with the world's democrats. We enjoy the blessings of democracy at home. We owe it to ourselves and to those who share our values to make a serious effort to promote democracy abroad.