TORONTO – Canada unveiled a new blueprint to overhaul its foreign aid, defense and trade policies Tuesday to boost its global standing and expand security ties with the United States.
The opposition Conservative Party pounced on the policy review, claiming the timing of its release was meant to improve Prime Minister Paul Martin’s Liberal Party chances in new elections, expected as early as June.
Martin’s minority government is mired in a spending scandal that has cost it popularity in the polls. The Conservatives intend to put forward a no-confidence vote within weeks, hoping to topple the Martin administration.
The wide-ranging statement came 18 months after Martin nixed the initial draft and called for numerous rewrites.
“We want to make a real difference in halting and preventing conflict and improving human welfare around the world,” Martin said Tuesday. “The people of our country have long understood that, as a proud citizen of the world, Canada has global responsibilities. We can’t solve every problem, but we will do what we can to protect others, to raise them up, to make them safe.”
The defense portion of the overhaul calls on the military’s deployment capability to double within five years. It also pledges to shore up continental defense with the United States, noting Ottawa would create a new command center, the Integrated Threat Assessment Center, to gather and disseminate intelligence.