The Winnipeg branch of the Canadian International Council (CIC) hosted the first event of its 2019-2020 season at the Winnipeg Free Press News Café. The event was a pre-election, foreign policy panel featuring experts who shared their knowledge and perspectives on different Canadian foreign policy issues that will be part of the next Prime Minister’s mandate, whoever that may be.
Branch President Brad Kirbyson welcomed the audience and provided a description of the CIC and its mission, followed by a brief description of what the event would entail. Branch Program Chair Michael Juce introduced the speakers: Dr. Shannon Sampert, retired University of Winnipeg professor and Winnipeg Free Press columnist, Dr. Tyler Kustra, Research Fellow at the University of Manitoba Centre for Defence and Security Studies, and Don Leitch, President and CEO of the Manitoba Business Council. Michael served as the moderator for the panel.
Each panelist was asked to respond in turn to four questions, addressing past, present and future foreign policy challenges for Canada:
1. “How has the Trudeau government performed on foreign policy?” All three speakers believed that the Trudeau government did not accomplished much, attributing this to the challenging international environment.
2. “Give some insight on what parties have said about foreign policy during campaigns this election?” The speakers assessed foreign policy issues based on the party platforms.
3. “What would you predict to be some of the biggest challenges for the next Prime Minister with regards to foreign policy?” The speakers acknowledged the unpredictability of foreign policy and emphasized Canada’s relationships with the superpowers of today: the United States, Russia and China.
4. “What does future foreign policy mean for Manitoba?” The speakers addressed the importance of international trade and the impact on foreign policy of the Eastern European roots of a sizable proportion of Manitoba’s population.
The speakers provided great insights on all of the questions before Michael opened up the floor to audience questions. Questions from the audience touched on the United Nations Security Council, foreign aid, product relabeling, and global green initiatives.
Following a lively Q&A session, the Branch Vice President Robert Nash thanked the speakers and thanked the audience. Michael then gave a rundown of upcoming events. The branch hosted a dinner for members and their guests with the speakers after the event.