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Foreign Policy Analysis
Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want | Hugh Segal | Walrus Talks

Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want | Hugh Segal | Walrus Talks


Your honour, your worship, it’s a great privilege to be here on the land of the Cree and the Six Nations and the Métis. I’ve been told, my name is Hugh Segal, I can only speak for seven minutes. I was in the Senate for nine years [laughter], I had colleagues who couldn’t clear their throat in seven minutes [laughter], but I will do my very best and I will not make fun of engineers except to say this, having had one as a father in law for 72 years: the reason, the reason they stare at the orange juice in the morning because the box says “concentrate” [laughter]. Tonight, I will make the case that in our complex and challenging world we need to do foreign policy and domestic policy differently, with one clear principle governing both— it is how we can build a better country and have a country that builds a better world. The notion that security and stability abroad is different from security and stability at home no longer works. The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the recent American elections reflect voter frustration with conflicting purposes at home and abroad. What Canada needs is a unified principle on which priorities at home and abroad would be based, a principle that says who we are at home and what we stand for around the world. This should be the principle of the two freedoms, agreed to by Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt in August of 1941 on a ship just outside Placentia Bay, off the coast of Newfoundland in the middle of World War II. These two freedoms were the guideposts for the post-Nazi world they wanted to build when the war was over. These two freedoms, freedom from fear and freedom from want, became the basis for the new liberal, Democratic world. Entire institutions like NATO, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, were created around these two freedoms. NATO was a response to fear of Soviet aggression. The Marshall Plan was launched after the war to invest billions of dollars in rebuilding Europe, to promote freedom from want and build up economic opportunity and democracy where rubble had been. Without freedom from fear society cannot operate, families cannot go about their day-to-day lives, communities are not safe. The other freedoms: of the press, of expression, of religion, would be threatened without freedom from want, freedom from fear. Without freedom from want, economic opportunities, social stability and economic progress would be lopsided and our society would be much more unfair. Freedom from want means that hope and optimism are justified and, in fact, they will be now, and in the future. These two freedoms drove the creation of universal health insurance right here in Saskatchewan. Drove the writing of the International Declaration of Human Rights, the global treaty on landmines, the Diefenbaker Bill of Rights which he presented in my high school in Montreal in 1962—which is why I got into politics, as a matter of fact. The two freedoms were the reason that the European Community was created as a bulwark against war and a framework for economic growth and social inclusion. Without these freedoms and work, the world will be a darker place. The poorest countries are the most violent, the most violent countries are the poorest. Hope is replaced by cynicism and fear. Our foreign and defense policy, like our domestic policy, should be unified around the advancement and protection of these most fundamental of freedoms at home and abroad. Instruments chosen to protect these freedoms may differ by location and intensity, but Canada’s purpose abroad should be clear for all to see and all to know. Whether we choose trade agreements or foreign and military deployment or diplomacy abroad or foreign aid will, of course vary, but our purpose should always be clear. Whether here at home we embrace a basic income guarantee for all, more innovation and later-life living design, new agricultural technologies to fight food insecurity, new partnerships with our First Nations, new health policies, new tax policies; the purpose of advancing the two freedoms should be absolutely fundamental, should be why we do it all. The old conceit of foreign and domestic priorities being different comes from a time when there was less transparency, less visibility, less honesty and less candor. That time has passed. The time for clearly understood and integrated principles of foreign and domestic policy have come, our future together cannot tolerate complacency. Without these common principles, trust in domestic politics and foreign policy will decline even further, fragmentation will replace common cause and the dark forces, always prepared to advance an authoritarian option to a freer and more open world, will gain ground. And that we can, and must, avoid. Thank you all very much. [Applause]

1 comment on “Freedom from Fear, Freedom from Want | Hugh Segal | Walrus Talks

  1. Truth. If we can learn from history, if we want to prevent future wars and make a better future, we need to have freedom from want and fear.

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