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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Open Letter: Time to Fundamentally Reassess Canadian Foreign Policy

An Open Letter signed by 200 politicians, artists, activists and academics.

An Open Letter signed by 200 politicians, artists, activists and academics including David Suzuki, Naomi Klein, Stephen Lewis and Linda McQuaig as well as sitting MPs Leah Gazan and Paul Manly. Former MPs Roméo Saganash, Libby Davies, Jim Manly, and Svend Robinson have also signed the open letter. Other signatories include Ottawa MPP Joel Harden, Vancouver City Councillor Jean Swanson, Victoria City Councillor Jeremy Loveday, former Plateau-Mont-Royal mayor Luc Ferrandez, Black Lives Matter-Toronto founder Sandy Hudson and Richard Parry of Arcade Fire.

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

With Canada suffering two consecutive defeats in its effort to gain a UN Security Council seat, the time has come to fundamentally reassess Canadian foreign policy.

Ten years ago, the Conservative government’s loss was largely explained as a rebuke of their support for Washington, mining and oil companies as well as anti-Palestinian policies. The Liberal government promised change, but the world is unconvinced.

Canada lost partly because of its support for controversial mining companies, indifference to International treaties, anti-Palestinian positions, climate policies and militarism. And in recent weeks, thousands of ordinary and prominent people were inspired to sign onto a grassroots effort that drew attention to the many flaws in Canada's foreign policy record.

The world’s rejection of Canada’s bid for a seat on the Security Council is a unique opportunity for a review of Canadian foreign policy.

These 10 questions must be considered as part of a foreign policy reset:

  • Should we have a foreign policy driven by Washington or an independent foreign policy?

  • Should Canada continue to offer financial and diplomatic support to arms exporters or refocus on demilitarization?

  • Should Canadian foreign policy continue to be enmeshed with mining interests abroad?

  • Why has Canada isolated itself from world opinion on Palestinian rights rather than standing for universal human rights?

  • How can we ensure Canada abides by all International treaties protecting Indigenous rights?

  • How can we ensure Canada radically reduces its greenhouse gas emissions?

  • Does Canada’s sanctions policy respect International law?

  • Why is Canada involved in efforts to oust Venezuela’s UN recognized government, a clear violation of the principle of non-intervention in other country’s internal affairs?

  • Should Canada continue to be part of NATO or instead pursue non-military paths to peace in the world?

  • How can we ensure Canada’s foreign policy has a focus on peace, human rights and overcoming global inequities?

There has not been a formal review of Canadian foreign policy in fifteen years. Let’s use this moment to usher in a new era in which our government’s policies abroad reflect the desire of Canadians to be a force for peace and human rights in the world.


Stephen Lewis, Former UN ambassador

David Suzuki, Environmentalist and broadcaster

Naomi Klein, Author and activist

Leah Gazan, Member of Parliament

Paul Manly, Member of Parliament

Niki Ashton, Member of Parliament

Linda McQuaig, Author

Richard Parry, Musician (Arcade Fire)

Joel Harden, MPP Ottawa Centre

Roméo Saganash, Former Member of Parliament

Svend Robinson, Former Member of Parliament

Libby Davies, Former Member of Parliament

Jim Manly, Former Member of Parliament

Ellen Gabriel, Artist and activist

Sandy Hudson, Founder Black Lives Matter-Toronto

Judy Rebick, Author and activist

Monia Mazigh, Author and academic

Jean Swanson, Vancouver City Councillor

Jeremy Loveday, Victoria City Councillor

Antonia Zerbisias, Journalist

Sid Ryan, Former President Ontario Federation of Labour

Luc Ferrandez, Former Plateau Mont-Royal borough mayor

Ron Rousseau, Aboriginal Vice President Canadian Labour Congress

Dave Bleakney, 2nd national vice-president, Canadian Union of Postal Workers

Will Prosper, Documentary filmmaker and civil rights activist

El Jones, Activist, educator, journalist and poet

Laurel Sprengelmeyer (Little Scream), Musician

Rebecca Foon, Musician

Rinaldo Walcott, Professor University of Toronto

Harsha Walia, author & activist

Tim McCaskell, Founder AIDS Action Now!

Clayton Thomas-Muller, Director, Author, Senior Campaign Specialist -

Frantz Andre, Comité d'action des personnes sans statut

Charles Demers, Comedian

Alain Deneault, Author

John Clarke, Packer Visitor in Social Justice, York University, Toronto

Tom Woodley, President, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East

Andrew Mitrovica, Journalist

Elaine Brière, Documentary filmmaker

Aziz Fall, Professor, UQAM

Sakura Saunders, Mining Injustice Solidarity Network

Azeezah Kanji, Legal academic & writer

Dimitri Lascaris, Lawyer, journalist and federal leadership candidate for the Green Party of Canada

Cy Gonick, Founder of Canadian Dimension Magazine

Derrick O'Keefe, Activist, writer, founding editor of Ricochet Media

Justin Podur, Author and professor

John Philpot, Lawyer

Zaineb Hussein, LLB

Martin Lukacs, Journalist and author

Abe Rosner, National Staff Representative (ret.), Unifor Union

Greg Albo, Professor of Politics, York University

Dr Joan Russow, Global Compliance Research Project

Nino Pagliccia, Activist and writer

Frederick Jones, Professor emeritus

Donald Cuccioletta, Professor, Université du Québec

Reuben Roth, Professor

Norah Fraser, Activist

Alison Bodine, Fire This Time Movement for Social Justice, author and activist.

Jenny Stimac, Retired high school art teacher

Diane Palm, Activist

Richard Morrow, Health policy analyst

Konstantine Malakos, Activist

Will Dubitsky, Activist and former Government of Canada employee

Frank Holden, Activist

Peter Eglin, Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University

Barry Weisleder, Federal secretary, Socialist Action

Joe Barrett, Labour, Human Rights Advocate

John R Bell, Professor emeritus

Jeremy Wildeman, PhD

Sid Shniad, Founding member, Independent Jewish Voices Canada

Gary Kinsman, Activist and author

Larry Hannant, Historian and author

Wally Brooker, Musician & journalist

Barbara Jackman, Immigration lawyer

Jack Etkin, Activist

Georgina Kirkman, Activist

Kevin Neish, Activist

Elizabeth Block, Potter and craftswoman

Khaled Mouammar, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (former)

Hans Modlich, 60 year member of NDP

Maria Páez Victor, Professor

William Sloan, Former lawyer

George McFetridge, Activist

Cory Greenlees, Activist

Elizabeth Borek, Activist

Adriana Petro, Colombia Humana International

Antonio Artuso, United Front against Fascism and War

Mary Carlisle, Educator (retired)

Yom Shamash, Independent Jewish Voices, Canadian and Israeli citizen

Bo Filter, Activist

Wes Kmet, Activist

John W Warnock, Professor emeritus, University of Regina

Margo L. Matwychuk, PhD, Director, Social Justice Studies, University of Victoria

Helene Demers, Research Associate, Vancouver Island University

Rick Arnold - Trade Justice activist

Michaela Rodman Lavis, Ph D candidate

Robin Matthews, Activist

Ali Mallah, Community activist, advocate against war & occupation

Ronald Shirtliff, Professor emeritus, Ryerson

Margaret Rao, President, Canadian Unitarians for Social Justice

Desmond Sequeira, Activist

Lorraine Guy, BDS Quebec

Susan Clarke, Activist

Gavin Fridell, Associate professor in International development, Saint Mary's University

Gord Doctorow, Ed. D, Activist

Marty Roth, Retired academic and activist

Khaled Mouammar, Former Member, Immigration & Refugee Board of Canada

Carol E. Harris, Prof. Emerita, University of Victoria

Freda Knott, Activist

Tamara Lorincz, PhD candidate Wilfrid Laurier University and activist

Karen Rodman, Executive director, Just Peace Advocates

Bianca Mugyenyi, Former Executive Director, The Leap

August Arnold, Author

Yves Engler, Author

David Kattenburg, University instructor & journalist

David Heap, Teacher-researcher; peace & human rights advocate

Richard Fidler, Ottawa-based activist and writer

Cheryl Gaster, Retired human rights lawyer

Nour El Kadri, Professor of Strategic Management and Innovation, University of Ottawa.

Graeme MacQueen, Professor Emeritus, McMaster University

Hassan Husseini, Labour Negotiator, Activist and ME Politics Instructor.

Ron Benner, Independent Visual Artist

Philip Zylberberg, Retired lawyer

Dr. Edwin Daniel, Professor Emeritus, University of Alberta

Joseph Modeste, Retired teacher

Rev. Paul Shepherd, United Church of Canada clergy

Avi Haligua, Human rights activist

Randa Farah, Activist

Rabbi David Mivasair, Rabbi emeritus at Ahavat Olam Synagogue

Kathy Bergen, Palestine solidarity activist

Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta, Activist (dual citizen Canada and Israel)

Susan P. Stout, Activist

Stephen Aberle, Activist

Bruce Katz, Activist

Rosette Rohana, Activist

Andrea Levy, Journalist

Miguel Figueroa, President, Canadian Peace Congress

Jean St-Vil, Scientist and activist

Siraj Ali, Advocate for human rights

Jim Mitchell, Retired Medical Officer of Health, City of York

Jake Javanshir, Activist

Russell Lavis, Logistics and event coordinator

James Yap, Lawyer

Karin Brothers, Activist and writer

Ineke Medcalf, Former human rights observer in Palestine

Harold Shuster, Independent Jewish Voices - Winnipeg

Valerie Raoul, Professor Emerita, French and Women’s Studies, UBC

Eric Mills, Editor

Nathania Rodman, Art therapist

Michael Keefer, Activist

Larry Brockelbank, Retired teacher

Dwyer Sullivan, D.Min. - Board member of Conscience Canada

Miriam Meir, Independent Jewish Voices

Jean Gagné, Independent Jewish Voices supporter & audiovisual technician

Betty Jane Antavitius, Human and animal rights activist

Matt Legge, Peace worker

Lorraine Farkas, Activist

Rev. Frances Deverell, Retired Unitarian Minister

Omer Aijazi, Research Fellow, University of Toronto

Atif Kubursi, Professor Emeritus of Economics at McMaster University.

Father Robert Assaly, Past co-Founder of Canadian Friends of Sabeel

Rev. Anne Hoganson, clergy (United Church of Canada)

Candice Bodnaruk, Peace Alliance Winnipeg Executive

Al Engler, Author

Michael Addario, Advocate for human rights

Patricia Mercer, Former eccumenical accompanier in Palestine

Sharon Hazelwood: Raging Grannie, Musician, Justice advocate.

Claude Morin, Professeur emeritus, Université de Montréal

Murray Lumley, Mennonite Church Canada

Norma Rantisi, Professor Concordia University

Owen Hughes, Editor and activist

Ken Stone, Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War

Dr. Ismail Zayid, MD, President of Canada Palestine Association

Ed Lehman, President, Regina Peace Council

Rev. Frances Comb, United Church of Canada clergy

Rifat Audeh, Canadian award-winning film director

Hanna Kawas, Chair, Canada Palestine Association-Vancouver

Marion Kawas, writer and Palestine Solidarity Activist

Corey Balsam - National Coordinator, Independent Jewish Voices

Stefan Christoff, Artist & activist

Gary Engler, Author

Norman Epstein, Activist

William K. Carroll, Professor of Sociology and Co-director, the Corporate Mapping Project, UVic

Stephen Kimber, journalist and Professor at University of King's College

Dr. John Kirk, Professor in the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies, Dalhousie University

John Foster, Retired petroleum economist and author

Tracy Glynn, Activist

Dr. Susan O'Donnell, Researcher, University of New Brunswick

Robert Fantina, Author, journalist

Lyn Adamson - Co-Chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

Hannah Hadikin - Co-Chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

Janis Alton - Past Chair, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace

Simon Black, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Labour Studies Brock University

Kathy Sanford, Professor, Faculty of Education, UVic

Zafar Bangash, Director Institute of Contemporary Thought

Eric Shragge, Professor Emeritus, Concordia, Immigrant Workers Centre

Judy Deutsch, Psychoanalyst

James (Jim) Deutsch, MD, PhD, FRCPC Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto

John Foster, Petroleum economist and author, Oil and World Politics

Rachel Engler-Stringer, Ph.D, Associate Professor, University of Saskatchewan

Dr. Pablo Idahosa, Head of Founders College,York University

Rev. Robin Wardlaw, United Church of Canada clergy

Terry Greenberg, Retired Canadian diplomat

Martin Duckworth, Award-winning cinematographer

To view the letter and full list of initiating signatories or to add your name, visit:



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