Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly is promising a plan for a reorganization of the Foreign Service by the fall that would give diplomats a better understanding of the languages and topics relevant to their tasks.
It is critical to ensure we have a modernized diplomacy that is fit for purpose and fit for the 21st centurysaid Minister Joly in a speech to all Canadian heads of mission gathered in Ottawa on Wednesday.
The unique challenge lies before us, and how we respond to it will determine the decades to come.
The minister is promising a plan to implement a reorganization of the way Global Affairs Canada hires diplomats, manages its staff and internal systems and prioritizes resources by September 1.
Conflicts, climate change and internal resources
The move comes at a time when the world is gripped by new conflicts, climate change and the rise of authoritarianism. What follows is a series of embarrassing incidents and reviews within Global Affairs Canada.
Last fall, the Commissioner of Public Sector Integrity concluded that the State Department violated federal good governance rules by offering a promotion to an executive who, among other things, did the following:
pushed and slapped an employee.
A report released last August by the Center for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa also found that only 23% of diplomats who held positions that required knowledge of a foreign language met the SKILLS requirements. For Canadian diplomats in senior positions, that compliance rate fell to 18%.
Additionally, current and former diplomats alleged in a months-long Senate study that Canada does not adequately prioritize the specialization of foreign service officers or trade commissioners in a particular region, language or topic. Instead, Global Affairs Canada distributes them to various roles in Ottawa and state capitals.
Meanwhile, the department suffered a cyberattack last year that Ottawa did not attribute to any specific actor.
Joly said Wednesday that she has tasked her ministry with updating cybersecurity as well as supporting diplomats and staff hired to work in missions abroad.
In order to improve our company culture, it is necessary to ensure that they feel supported, heard and valued. “We know that recruiting and training need to be overhauled to increase diversity,” she said. We must invest in our workforce. Our employees are our eyes and ears on site.
Minister Joly published a report of around thirty pages
The future of diplomacy In particular, this highlights Canada’s relatively weak presence at the United Nations and its designated bodies
strategically important countries. The report does not specify which embassies or missions could host new diplomatic posts.
The Indo-Pacific strategy released last fall did not include a commitment made weeks earlier by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to hire some sixty new diplomats in that region of the world.
However, Ms. Joly indicated on Wednesday that Canada would have more specialized diplomats.
We will expand our policy expertise in key areas such as climate change, energy and critical minerals, cyber policy and digital policyshe clarified.
We will strengthen our ability to anticipate and manage Canada’s response to protracted crises.
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