Last week an agreement between the U.S. and Cuba to end a sixty year freeze on relations ended. Canada and the Vatican had been working in secret with U.S. and Cuban representatives in order to end a freeze on relations that has lasted three generations. Part of the impetus is the Vatican’s paradigm shift under Pope Francis. Canada, too, has changed significantly throughout the years as well — it’s shifted from its position as a meek peacekeeper in the 1960s to one of the countries that have adopted a “stiff upper lip” approach to policymaking.
Canada was touted as an example of how to respond to threats after its response following two terrorist attacks one week in October 2014. The Canada that years ago left its U.N. representative, Commander Romeo Dallaire, alone in a war-torn Rwanda has changed, to the benefit of its reputation and political image.
In the past, Canada’s foreign policy was one where Canadian prime ministers played with Castro in order take political shots at the Americans and gain local political support, while ignoring political prisoners in Cuba. Despite having a small military force, renewed Canadian pride in their values now criticizes Cuba’s abuses and takes a strong stance on human rights. It was revealed last week that a critical yet proud Canadian diplomatic core and the Vatican worked for a deal between Cuba and the United States. With the new pope as a representative of not only the Vatican, but Latin America at large, Canadian government officials and Pope Francis were able to use their pride in their purpose and diplomatic skills to help end the rift between Cuba and the United States. While it is not clear of how positive and how open the new relationship between Cuba and the U.S. will become, it is the efforts of all four parties to the new relationship that will produce a positive outcome, as long as all four parties will stand with pride and strength to ensure that their values remain paramount in all future relations with each other.
Canada, despite having a history of past governments that only considered internal political motivations at the detriment of many innocent people abroad, has proven it’s been able to pick itself up over the last few years. The recent attacks on Canadian soil has seemed to make the country stronger, and not due to the size of their military but their objectives and purpose in the international community. All democracies should have infinite resolve to make a better world and stay strong despite adversity.