The 2016 Halifax International Security Forum kicked off with remarks by Peter Van Praagh, President of the Halifax International Security Forum, and The Hon. Harjit Sajjan, Canadian Minister of Defence, welcoming participants to Halifax and to the 2016 Forum.
PRODUCED FOR CANADA’S GLOBAL NEWS
The opening panel discussion on Day 1 of the Forum was produced as part of Global News’ “The West Block,” hosted by Tom Clark. This session addressed the future of democracy, peace and conflict in an increasingly changing global political environment. The panelists focused on the importance of multilateralism, the dangers of viewing problems in isolation and the necessity of developing conflict prevention strategies before problems materialize. There was broad consensus among the panel of the imperative nature of this conversation in lieu of the recent US presidential election. Speakers weighed the wider implications of this shifting political environment on U.S.-Canadian relations, North-Atlantic cooperation, the West’s relationship with Russia, as well as the NATO alliance. The session concluded by considering the opportunity for constructive engagement and collaboration with Russia in Syria and in the Arctic.
“We have to send a strong message to Russia that destabilizing is unacceptable.”
“Multilateralism is a matter of necessity, it’s not just ideology.”
“The United States must lead in the global order, so we’re not leaving a vacuum where others can create mischief.”
“The peacekeeping of the past is not the peacekeeping of today.”
Sir Michael Fallon reflected on the Week of Remembrance, beginning his address with praise for Canada’s courage to fight for democratic values amidst the threats it faces from global extremism, Russian aggression, and rogue nations. In his call to make democracy great again, he argued that the strength of democracy lies in the will of the people. Affirming the importance of strengthening democracy, Defence Secretary Fallon noted that NATO also has a role to play, especially when it comes to ensuring that all members uphold their common commitment to defending democratic systems. In conclusion, Defence Secretary Fallon stated that Britain has a clear view of its place when it comes to standing up for democracy. As the world grows more complex and dangerous, Britain is ready to uphold its commitment by employing hard, soft, and smart power in order to maintain a safe and prosperous future for all.
The moderator, Jonathan Tepperman, framed the first plenary by asking whether 2016 can be considered as a year of democracy’s vindication or defeat. Speakers responded that the answer is much more complex. The viability of the Western democratic model is being challenged, but the feeling of disenfranchisement among segments of the population is part of a broader trend of alienation from liberalism – in both ideology and practice. The discussion that followed stressed the importance of politics transcending political parties and institutions in order to get closer to addressing the needs of the people.
“We are moving toward Twitter democracy.”
“We are being out-gunned by the scale and speed of Russian propaganda and interference.”
“People are not reacting against democracy; they are reacting against the party system.”
“Mass democracy can become an alienating phenomenon.”
“We have to understand that the difference between political science and public opinion polls is the difference between astronomy and astrology. You look at the same stars, but the methodology is slightly different.”
LOCATION: Westin Lobby
LOCATION: Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21
Presentation of the Builder Award
Senator Tim Kaine, Senator from Virginia, United States Senate
“Political heavyweights including Republican senator John McCain and Hillary Clinton’s recent running mate Timothy Kaine are due in Halifax for this year’s International Security Forum.”
“A senior Ukrainian government official is calling on Canada and European allies to help keep a united Western front against Russian aggression from crumbling in the wake of the election of Donald Trump, who has repeatedly expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin.”
“No American president would dare renege on NATO treaty commitments, a top general said late Wednesday, responding to President-elect Donald Trump‘s suggestion that he may not defend fellow NATO members under attack.”
“Janice Stein, a program advisor at the Forum, says the delegates coming from all over the world will all be talking about one thing: Trump.”
“Hillary Clinton’s recent running mate Tim Kaine is being honoured at the upcoming International Security Forum in Halifax just 11 days after they lost to Donald Trump in the U.S presidential election.”
“In Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is losing territory fast. The organization barely now controls 40 per cent of the 60,000 square kilometres it occupied in the region in October 2014. The disintegration of the caliphate installed on the land of the Sham — the old name for Syria — has led some to foretell its disappearance in the medium term. But this good news will not have as a consequence the end of Islamist terrorism.”