Minister Baird Pays Tribute to Diefenbaker’s Foreign Policy Legacy

March 27, 2014 - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today paid tribute to the foreign policy legacy of former prime minister John G. Diefenbaker, and discussed how Canada is modernizing its diplomacy for the 21st century.

Speaking to Canadian diplomats and colleagues at Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, as well historians, students and others, Baird used the opportunity to unveil a portrait of Diefenbaker that will hang in the John G. Diefenbaker Building at 111 Sussex Drive.

Reflecting on Diefenbaker’s legacy, Baird said: “Prime Minister John Diefenbaker is a leader whom I’ve long admired. He had a moral compass. There were two totemic issues of his time that he was firmly on the right side of: communism and apartheid.”

Baird also outlined Canada’s position in the modern world, noting that “our country has defied the low expectations of ‘middle power.’ We have defied them, with the ambition of leading rather than following.

“Sometimes you should be a referee and a rule-setter, but if you want to get a certain result, you have to be a player. When it comes to promoting Canadian values and interests, we can’t afford not to be a player.”

Minister Baird went on to highlight the importance of digital diplomacy and effective communication: “Networked technologies make it easier than ever for people all over the world to share information and ideas, to assemble and organize, and to shape the course of global events.”

“The speed of information and communication demands agility,” he said. “In this digital age, no outward-facing organization can afford to be in analogue mode.”

For the full text of the speech, please visit Canadian Diplomacy for the 21st Century.

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