In HOW WE LEAD: Canada in a Century of Change, former Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark launches an impassioned argument for Canada to reassert its international position as an agent of change, diplomacy and peace. Drawing on our history, successes, and the unique qualities that we possess today, Clark describes an ambitious but vitally important role for Canada – for the world’s benefit, but also for our own.
“As power disperses in the world, so does the capacity to lead and, in almost every case, the most effective leadership will have to be shared, not only among states, but with other entities and, often, with citizens.” In this scenario, Clark asserts, the best approach should be “leading from beside.” No longer will disagreements and conflicts be meted out using the hard power assets like military strength. Today’s world calls increasingly for diplomacy, conciliation, and development – soft power assets – says Clark.
The cast of characters is also shifting, he notes. The traditional powers are not faltering so much as a diverse group of new emerging countries including many in Asia and Africa are growing in importance and power. Individual citizens, informed and at times inflamed by the Internet, are “less docile and compliant.” Extremist groups are taking footholds in many regions and finding ready converts in the young, poor and unemployed. And a rapidly growing contingent of non-state actors – non-governmental organizations, faith-based groups and volunteers – play increasingly powerful roles in the developing world and in the development of international treaties and policy.
Clark holds that Canada’s respected reputation is needed today more than ever before. Drawing on our diplomatic successes on the Suez Crisis, apartheid, the Vietnamese boat people, the Tehran hostage drama, the environment and several lesser-known but equally instructive issues, Clark argues that Canada is in a perfect position to guide world politics through future challenges.
No fan of the current government’s approach to international affairs, Clark examines how Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party have altered Canada’s profile to that of a war-fighting nation and placed our diplomatic and development capacity in “a steady and deliberate decline.” Worse, he notes, in a country that has thrived on vigorous national conversations, this change has been made without any corresponding public debate.
Volatile demographics, unemployment, natural disasters, and the dramatic decline in foreign aid threaten great masses of the world’s population. Add to this scenario a mobilized, independent citizenry much less inclined to deference than in the past. Never has the world needed an experienced, trusted mediator more than it does today. Clark writes: “When control and command grow less effective, consensus and persuasion become more valuable.”
Canada, says Joe Clark, has all of the qualities needed to step into a critical role of influence and leadership. “Of the range of opportunities open to a society like Canada, one of the most important lies outside our physical borders, in a world whose explosive tensions, conflicts and inequalities would benefit from the moderation, initiative and respect for others that have been among Canada’s signature characteristics.” The next step is simply to begin.
HOW WE LEAD: Canada in a Century of Change
by Joe Clark
A Random House Canada Hardcover from Random House of Canada Limited
Release date: November 5
On the evening of Thursday, November 7, Joe Clark will appear at the Ottawa International Writers Festival to discuss and sign copies of his new book. Mr. Clark will be interviewed by former CBC Television host Don Newman.
Tickets to the event may be purchased at http://www.writersfestival.org/events/fall-2013/one-on-one-with-joe-clark