NATION BOOSTER Author Satya Das says Canada needs to lead the international community by example. (Photo: Patrick Finlay)
EDMONTON (CUP) — For the title of his new book about Canadian international leadership, Edmonton author Satya Das chose a phrase that isn’t so modestly Canadian: “?The Best Country: Why Canada Will Lead the Future.’
“It’s very un-Canadian to say that we will lead,” said Das.
“But if I wasn’t confident [in our leadership], I would die of despair. I really have lived in a lot of places in the world and I’ve seen utterly horrible things. If we can’t project Canada to the world and say “?Here is a different way, here is the path of non-violence, here is the path of the culture of peace,’ then we are lost.”
A respected former journalist with the Edmonton Journal, Das draws on his formidable experience in Canadian and international issues to shape his arguments.
The Best Country is an ambitious book with an optimistic tone, where Das argues Canada can provide a crucial example for the hatred and violence seen internationally. The experience of Canada, says Das, shows that diversity can exist peacefully, governance can be effective and cooperative, and peace can come out of a history of intolerance.
“[Canada’s example] is such an antidote to the exclusion and the hatred and the violence everywhere. That’s the obligation of our leadership: not to say your country must become like us too, but look what we’ve done. Is there anything you can draw from our experience?”
Western Canada, says Das, provides a key part of the model. Not even 100 years old, the provinces and cities of Western Canada are examples of strong and peaceful systems built on foundations of diversity, said Das. Eastern Canada is less applicable as it retains a foundation rooted in other cultures, such as French or Anglo-Scottish history, says Das.
“The only distinctive Canadian experience [in the West] is the experience of cultural diversity, of lots of different people coming together to live. In the first few decades of the Western Canadian experience, it was bitter and violent and awful and racist. And the last three or four decades, it has significantly changed,” said Das.
Arguing that Canadian governance is exemplary because of its consensus and cooperation, Das isn’t fazed by the federal and provincial struggles over the Kyoto accord.
“I think Kyoto is all about consensus. Kyoto is proof that Canada works,” said Das.
“What’s happened in the debate in the last few days? They got tired of shouting, now they’re sitting down with each other to look for solutions. … Full credit to Klein and Chrétien for sitting down and talking about this, because that’s the Canadian way.”
And despite rumblings that Canada may be succumbing to interests that erode the characteristics that Das’ book prides, he isn’t worried that they will succeed.
“I’m not a pessimist that way,” said Das.
“I know people like my friend Mel Hurtig who think we’re losing everything to the Americans, and I respect his view because I can’t deny the validity of his arguments. But what I would say is, what are we going to do to fight that? … Maybe the best protection of Canada is to share more of ourselves with the world rather than wait with dismay at the inevitable dominance of American culture.”