Thursday, December 14, 2006

Book Review: Dreamland

Dreamland: How Canada's Pretend Foreign Policy Has Undermined Sovereignty

by Roy Rempel

Book Review by Stewart Kiff

In Dreamland, author Roy Rempel delivers a thoughtful conservative polemic on Canada's foreign policy, especially as it was practiced from 1993 by the now-departed Chr├ętien and Martin Liberals.

Following in the footsteps of Andrew Cohen's celebrated 2003 work, While Canada Slept, Rempel argues that Canada, because of its lack of investment in defense and its diffusion of scarce foreign affairs resources, has slipped from being a partner with our American allies, as it was in the heyday of Canadian defense spending in WWII and the 1950s, to being a de facto protectorate.

Rempel criticizes our lack of focus, particularly in our foreign affairs establishment, noting how Canada fails to support its economically vital investment in relations with the United States. He notes that only nine percent of our foreign affairs personnel serve American files, while some 75 percent of our foreign trade is with America. He contrasts this with the situation of other OECD nations like France and Germany, which combined account for only 2.5 percent of Canadian foreign trade, but whom nonetheless received roughly nine percent of foreign affairs resources.

One of Rempel's key points is that Canadian foreign policy should become much less partisan. To him, this means restructuring it more in line with the interests generated by the need to secure Canada's overwhelmingly important trade relationship with the United States.

Written before the election of the Harper Conservatives and the ramping up of the Canadian Military's combat operations in the south of Afghanistan, this book is particularly worthwhile for those who want to understand the conservative point of view driving the Harper government's foreign affairs agenda. This is a quick and easy read at just 189 pages.