June 16, 2021

Lloyd Axworthy

Lloyd Axworthy

Canadian politician, elder statesman, academic and Pipe Carrier in the Anishinaabe Nation. The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy is proof that a local kid can reach international heights. From humble beginnings in the north end of Winnipeg to Chairing the World Refugee Council, Lloyd Axworthy has always believed that Canada can and should be a place to welcome those humans being displace by violence, climate change and political persecution. During this episode Lloyd walks us through his life as a student, his appetite for doing good things through politics, his various roles in the Federal Cabinet and how we need to do a better job of helping some 80 million refugees find a welcoming place to call home.
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Canadian politician, elder statesman, academic and Pipe Carrier in the Anishinaabe Nation. The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy is proof that a local kid can reach international heights. From humble beginnings in the north end of Winnipeg to Chairing the World Refugee Council, Lloyd Axworthy has always believed that Canada can and should be a place to welcome those humans being displace by violence, climate change and political persecution. During this episode Lloyd walks us through his life as a student, his appetite for doing good things through politics, his various roles in the Federal Cabinet and how we need to do a better job of helping some 80 million refugees find a welcoming place to call home. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information. See Privacy Policy at https://art19.com/privacy and California Privacy Notice at https://art19.com/privacy#do-not-sell-my-info.


This podcast was recorded on the ancestral lands on Treaty One territory, the traditional territory of the Anishnawbe, Cree, Oji Cree, Dakota, and the Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis nation.

This is Humans, On Rights. A podcast advocating for the education of human rights.

Here's your host Stuart Murray.

The Honourable Lloyd Axworthy is the chair of the World Refugee Council and one of Canada's leading voices on global migration and refugee protection.

After a 27 year political career where he served as Canada's minister of foreign affairs and minister of Employment and Immigration, among other postings, Mr Axworthy has continued to work extensively on human security, refugee protection and human rights in Canada and abroad.

He was presented with the Pearson Peace Medal by the Governor General of Canada in May of 2017.

In his term as president and vice chancellor of the University of Winnipeg, Mr Axworthy initiated innovative programmes for migrant and aboriginal youth communities and has also done a great deal of work on refugee reform at Germany's Robert Bosch Academy.

Canadian politician, elder statesman and academic Lloyd Axworthy Welcome to humans on rights Thank you Story can I just run so element.

And I was just on a previous conversation, for I was reminded I'm also a pipe carrier in the initial nomination.

So very good.

So there you go.

And do you have a spirit named Lloyd?

Yes, I can't remember right now, But I'll tell you the story about it.

Yeah, I was at the ceremony.

The elder goes through and Disney.

I think it was miss a day, possibly which he clearly interpreted as having thunder advice.

And I served once pretty nice until one of my friends are next to me.

It was our first nation said.

Well, he said, The other interpretation is sort of big mouth.

It does put you in a humble position.

It's a great story and obviously well deserved.

And to have the relationship you have with the indigenous community, not only in Canada, but globally, I think, again speaks volumes to why I'm just delighted that you're going to spend a bit of time with me on this podcast, Lloyd.

So I appreciate that, and I did want to ask just to start off a bit.

How does a Saskatchewan lad who was born in North Battleford find himself as the chair of the World Refugee Council.

How did that journey happen?

Well, it probably happened is that six weeks after my birth I was back in Winnipeg because my parents were built from Saskatchewan and my father signed up.

It was just at the outset of the second reward in 39 and he was assigned to Can't endure in, which is the big training camp for Canadian forces.

And the acts really farm household was outside of North Belt, and that's where he grew up.

So he thought that it was appropriate that while he was in training with my mother was expected that they could be, at least in close proximity.

And, of course, the other family story that goes that once I was born, he was immediately given orders to ship out, and he came to see his newborn son and didn't come back for six years.

So there was, uh, I think my brothers in particular like to talk about that.

But basically, I believe my early life in Winnipeg with my mother, my aunts, my grandparents, and some uncles, my father and five uncles were overseas during that period of time and I think if I can, just spending more than that.

We always talked about those early years being the 400 years, and I was very much influenced, not because I was verbally connected along with stay under the kitchen table when people talked about the war and the fatalities.

I always remember my grandparents cause I had 123 songs in a row, not with my father and my uncle, who was married to my mother's sister.

And there was always a pause during that period of time, certain day when there was a pause and I knew that the casualties would be announced.

And there's always this kind of just a slight tinge attention they always picked up when there were two year old or three year old.

He became very sort of taken with with what war does to ordinary people, not just sacrifice, but just the day by day, living under that kind of so shot him because you're always there.

The only thing in terms of I look at my layer and it goes on it really started with that experience.

Well, what's great about that?

Lloyd, We're going to get into a little bit about your politics.

I mean, we do want to talk about the role that you have, the fact that it is world refugee and and the migration council that you're involved in.

But, you know, you mentioned the kitchen table and I one of the things that your time in politics, you know, that everything is local and a lot of political politics happens exactly around the kitchen table.

So that's been a part of your world for obviously a long, long time and still with us instead of us.

That's that.

That's maybe the back patio now.

Well, that summer has come, but nevertheless, they've list the restrictions.

We can now talk to more than ourselves.

So a welcome respite that that is that is a welcome respite, for sure.

So So, Lloyd, you find yourself here in Winnipeg and you go to university.

You you ultimately find a passion around politics and in particular, the Liberal Party of Manitoba.


The Liberal Party of Canada.

Is there any particular reason you found yourself aligned with the values of the Liberal Party?

Is that something that how did you come to that?

I can take you to a very specific event to Stuart, and it sounds kind of like the George Washington never talked to Trees story.

But when I was in high school, I think I've been Grade 12 at the time.

My history teacher J.



Wonderful teacher, a sign that our history classes have to being the tenants that they all do Downtown Winnipeg Convention Centre, the old auditorium.

Because we're going to listen to a politician.

And we were all kind of groaning and moaning, and he basically reminded if we didn't show up.

25% of remarks are on the line.

So I think me and my crowd I hang hung out and said, Well, okay, I know it sounds a little cliche.

It did change me because the speaker in the front was a kind of roly poly guy with a polka dot bow tie, a little bit slight list.

He just won the Nobel prize six or seven months earlier, and it was one of those things where he talked, what it was to be a Canadian.

We had a special location as Canadians that we we were big, muscular military powers.

We were the colonial power we kind of fit into some niches interstices in the way the world works.

But he said that we also had to be also represented certain values.

And I think it's true that these Canadians, we don't necessarily always vote for policy or programme.

I think we vote for values, and, uh, we talked about what it meant in that world about the liberal values of understanding, diversities and pluralism, tolerance but also being prepared to stand up for principles.

Toodles, rights, human rights.

There were so often being prosperous career.

He stepped into the Suez invasion, took on the big powers, went to the U.

N about the resolution.

Out of that came peacekeeping, and I think a lot of people sometimes misinterpret that.

It wasn't just about peacekeeping.

It wasn't the fact that he felt this country and others like us to play a very constructive and evaluated rule of war.

And I remember walking out of that and saying it made me think Well, it was to be a Canadian, I suppose, a liberal Canadian as much as that they don't fit in because I was also raised.

United Church Family up in the north end of Winnipeg and the social gospel is still a very much part of the United Church tradition, which are really much of it.

Centred around then was the United Colleges, even though the social gospel it is a question belief, is that you to demonstrate your faith on Earth to other people?

And that means going back to some of those wonderful New Testament do onto others as they would have them do unto you.

Another game was part of the and I think Pearson embodied that.

And that's, I think, where I got much, both a certain kind of patriotism and a certain tied into into being a liberal, and I think that was that was really the pathway.

Yeah, I know, and it's fascinating.

And I mean, there's so many great books written on Pearson and that Nobel Prize Peace, I think, has really been one of his legacies that people don't talk enough about.

Sometimes you get into politics, they talk about your political past, and that's really leadership at a global, which is what you have become, and we're going to get there, Lloyd.

But tell me you've decided now that you know there's there's principles that that Pearson.

At that point, from a liberal perspective, how did you transition from deciding whether you want it to sort of just get involved and actually become a candidate?

I'm not sure when crossed the Rubicon, and I do know that following my education at United College, I was privilege together.

Woodrow Wilson Fellowship to Princeton University, Arriving in the United States in the sixties, civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, those student rebellions.

I mean, there was such a kind of can't help effort to change.

It was transformative in so many ways in the popular in the area of ideas.

And I remember when I was involved tangentially and some of the civil rights activities in the state, learning that the best kind of decisions are made by the people who are actually affected by those decisions.

That kind of participation.

And it struck me that there was a there was a certain calling.

But here is the difference, sir, I think I've tried to I always believe that, you know, you could be out there on the barricades, and that's absolutely essential, valuable role in the world of them.

But there are people on the other side of it in parliament and legislatures and assemblies councils who are prepared to listen and respond.

But it doesn't work.

You need to have I refused the old football expression Mr Inside and Mr Outside, And I think so.

I felt that getting into politics to me was a calling, and I don't want to sound sort of Pollyannish about, sort of.

To me, it's always been one of the great privileges of my life.

I can recall in those days when I first started getting elected, I would on the day of the election, and I would the knocking on doors and bringing people to the polls.

But a lot.

About six o'clock, I'd retire to my bathtub for bottle of Scotch, not the same brand I drink today, but nevertheless a decent Scotch.

I would sit back and contemplate the incongruity that there were thousands of people out there deciding my future and through that kind of the future of things I believed in, it's an incredible feeling to have that sense.

Where you've been there, the elected office.

I think it's too often So, uh, tirade against People say, Uh, well, you really know politicians aren't always have a very high regard, but that whole idea of a public trust realising that there's representative parliamentary system, there's all kinds of people who get out of there under their coach and away from work and walked down to a school or a church basement and cast a vote for someone.

That's a remarkable, remarkable.

And I think that's why Well, if I can do this fast forward, that's why it's so important to keep a real vigilance today that we don't give it away.

Yeah, Lloyd, I think that you have really sort of epitomised what the, you know, sort of a small town kid who had a belief in something who came across an opportunity to make a difference clearly going to Princeton in the sixties, I mean, exposed to all of the stuff that you just mentioned.

But now you find yourself successfully elected as a member of Parliament and into Cabinet and and becoming sort of Canada's representative abroad as the minister of foreign affairs.

What did you get?

A sense that you could do in that capacity as a minister again understanding Canada's role globally, which I think you've got a great sense of But now you are the leading minister, the Minister of Foreign affairs representing Canada.

What were some of your experiences that had an impact that really allowed you to take this passionate stance around the World Refugee Council, which you're involved in today?

Well, I think one of the one of the first things is, By the time I was, I gone through both provincial and federal elections I've been through beginning in 1973.

So we're now talking 1996.

I had experience.

I have been on all the additions, sort of events, circumstances, fights or reconciliations.


By the time I got there, I wasn't a newbie.

I wasn't having to find my way to the washroom.

I knew how the system works generally, but I have been tested.

I guess it does disturb me sometimes that so often that notion of experiences discounted people don't give craft because I think all politics is as much of a skill or a craft you know, as building a brick wall or what you can do.

Computer programme.

You have to know and understand.

And so I think that was part of it.

The time I got to become foreign affairs minister.

I had been in the provincial legislature for seven years in a minority position.

At one point, I was the only liberal in the matter of the legislature.

But it was interesting because in those days I had colleagues and that and the New Democratic Party and the Conservative Party who would be willing to join me to sponsor a resolution or reveal, I mean, there was a lot more dialogue, a lot more so your feeling that sure you're out in the chamber and you go at it sore tooth and nail.

But when you get behind the curtain, you say it's time for a cup of coffee.

And how is your new kid doing?

I mean, that was again.

Part of it was learning the politics.

Every is the art of the possible, but it's only possible when you are required, compelled, obliged to get along and to hold to your truth.

But not to the point where your truth is the only truth.

And I think that was part of them, and I think Lloyd, you said it very well.

The fact is that you're talking about being an M L A.

So representing a constituency in Manitoba before you went down to Ottawa.

But the principle would apply in the sense that when you're talking about being the lone liberal, you look across the aisle at the New Democrats and the progressive conservatives you have one thing in common may be many, but one thing in common.

You're all Manitoba ins.

You all live in this province.

That's right, and you want to do some good and I'll just give you an example if we have a moment I'll represented for rouge at the time.

And it was just in the period when that part of the city was really going through a major turnover from rental housing and apartments, two condos, and there was a lot of sort of misdemeanour taking place.

A lot of people were being felt threatened about losing their housing, and so I I'd rather bill into the Legislature, which would provide a certain requirements and certain procedures to ensure that people were protected in doing that.

And it was supportive.

Larry did Garden, who was a bit and they're open to join the NDP, seconded the motion and I got debate.

I got support from all sides of the house.

To me, that was an incredibly rich experience.

I said It can work.

I know people are saying Joe Pine, bipartisanship.

It's all true ish.

Let's just go our way or the highway.

No, I think you have to be open to broaden the circle as opposed to shaking them.

Let me segue into what you're currently working on now, Lloyd as being World Refugee Council, the chair of that.

Let's talk about the importance of countries that look at.

I think there was a stat, and I think the numerous times that we've had breakfast.

I tried to take some notes, but I think you said to me at one point there's 80 million people around the world who have been forcibly displaced.

So what can a country and in our case, Canada, what can we do to look at assisting that you and I want to get a sense Lloyd from you?

Because so often people will say, Why are we worried?

We have so many local problems.

Why are we worried about what's happening elsewhere in the world?

Sure, it's become even more evident in today's world that no land is an island and I go back in.

My my first portfolio at the federal level, was a minister of employment and immigration, and that was just when the major sort of movement of Vietnam refugees was beginning to take place.

And, uh, there have been that brief period of the Joe Clark's government, and they had a really good guy named Juan AKI, who was the minister of immigration in time.

And I remember when I got appointment and I think we're on invited me out for lunch.

The parliamentary year storm, they said, You know, Lloyd, uh, there is an important folio that has more to say about what Canada is and will become than being an immigration is to determine who will be the people that make it happen.

And at the time, it was just.

We're working under a new immigration act that what Colin had brought in and the last years of the ensure your government, which provided private sponsorship.

And so I became part of a group of immigration ministers.

It was about 15 and a simple time who met regularly well, not regularly every week, but every three or four months to discuss.

How would we share the responsibility.

People were.

Hundreds of thousands were having to escape the Indochina Peninsula and they were landing in Malaysia and Hong Kong and Indonesia throughout Southeast Asia.

And we decided that we had to share responsibility in two ways.

One to provide a serious resettlement.

But we wouldn't just kind of wave a wand or provide a sort of wrong devote rhetoric would actually do something.

And so we were able, and I think Ron Actor or Joe Clark started that when we came in, replacing them in 1980 we found that the sponsorship programme individual Canadians, groups of Canadian people are around the water cooler churches and local community have the right to sponsor refugees.

I'd like to say that I have grasped the holistic, but that was really because I didn't have a lot of money in my portfolio and I thought, Boy, if I can get sponsorship from an old Canadians, well, we 50% of our refugee coming at the time were sponsors.

So and as a result, here's I think it's to me.

It contributes why Canadians, probably more than any other Western rich developed countries, still have a very open tolerant view of immigration and refugees.

I saw they've ironic moment doesn't annual assessment on refugees.

We're still 70% plus of Canadian.

So, yeah, it's a good thing to do.

One reason is because Canadians now realised that refugees were nasty, brutish, They weren't rapists, they weren't drugs, they were coming in and they were establishing a foothold.

And you know, the kind of rhetoric we heard Social Border during the Trump administration has never really that there's some fringe groups in this country.

It's not been bought by any of their political parties.

So we're not.

It's not like the Republicans have endorsed fully this this kind of destructive rhetoric.

Canadian parties right across the spectrum have said, Yeah, it's important to this country were finding it increasingly important now.

So if I can, just something I'm involved in right now is the head of the Refugee Migration Council is that we put together a task force.

It includes people from Canada, US, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, former premier and prime ministers, presidents, academics, policymakers, civil society to start looking at.

How do we work in the North American Central American context to do it together?

That we share responsibility, and that's always been to me.

The kind of the metric that's art is meant as a country.

They say, How do we provide that sharing responsible?

And I have to say this.

I don't think we're as good at that as we were back in the days when I was in.

Where was I mean, I think I was read something yesterday.

We're looking at the massive movement coming out of Venezuela.

I think we re settle something like 60 Venezuelans.

Well, it wasn't too long ago when we settled 30,000 Syrians.

What's the difference?

Well, is it the epidemic?

Is that the covid, or is it just would kind of we begin to shorten, shorten our horizons, and that's to be I'll go back to the Roman active move.

Immigration refugees are not some kind of aliens in the gate.

They are part of the lifeblood of the country.

Just as you have immigration for economic or financial families to bring people in who had been dispossessed of any right I mean store you.

You really lead a human rights sort of messaging in this city.

If to me, the rate of sanctuary, the rate to be protected when you have been dispossessed, whether by conflict or drug cartels or climate change, or you have a right to find a place that you can protect your where you, your family and your siblings can get by and to me.

That's until still is probably a hallmark for this country.

Except I don't think we're.

I think we found that a little bit of prey to this idea, the borders.

And now we have to build them higher, as opposed to building bridges across you have seen and as part of your portfolio.

And when you've been in politics and out of politics, you've always advocated so strong that Canada is one of these very special countries.

And I think you you talked about the fact that we're kind of a middle power and you reference the fact that we should be conveners, matchmakers, innovators and reformers.

And when you start to look at all of those elements, it does allow a nation to be a place that's welcoming to refugees.

I want to just take a moment, Lloyd, because you're you've got a lot of history and you're an expert in this area, a lot of people, I think get confused between migration, immigration, refugees give us a sense of Is there one area that you would say we should focus on?

Are they all part of something important?

Give us a sense of what does that look like?

Well, I mean, immigration has been happening since human beings started walking on two legs.

The immigration from East Africa into the Middle East.

I mean, across the Bering Peninsula and into your most countries that have been immigration is part of their long millennium legacy.

Refugees have a very specific kind of definition.

It's not necessary, fully a modern one, and you go back into the histories of ancient cities and Roman Empire.

Most of these places have a sanctuary in that city to help protect those who had been dispossessed.

It's always been a tradition has been carried on with some of our churches and synagogues and mosques since then, but it became a more formal policy after the Second World War, when there was a mass movement of refugees coming out of Eastern Europe.

So Russia in particular, and it was at that point when there was a incredible period of human history when the countries got together to make things work collectively for the refugees in 1948 Convention on Refugees has established.

But it was a very narrow definition.

It was escaping political persecution, and that represented the context of the time people were escaping Russia.

They're escaping.

That's a Jeremy the Holocaust.

And that was the kind of very, fairly small circumference.

Since then, of course, is changed.

People are forced to move now because of all kinds of other and increasingly dangerous issues.

I think climate change is increasingly becoming one of the real strong motivators behind people being forced to move.

We talk about what's happening in Central America.

Are you?

We're all struck by the news accounts of people gathering at the U.



Major caravans coming up.

Well, I mean, it begins in a small community of Honduras for the agricultural capacity was basically sort of, uh, denuded because large plantations took over to really grow half a million bananas as opposed to 1000 bananas.

I mean, then then it was really bad government you had When I was immigration minister.

We brought people from El Salvador who are being sought after by the death squads and Canada.

We have a special programme.

Pick them up before they get when they're getting out of jail before the death squads get them.

Put them on the plane and they arrived in patrol.

And now you're finding what we call climate refugees in Central America to go back to that region the majors are hurricanes in the last two years have basically decimated.

So much of the community was the result.

And then, of course, is the drug cartel.

We'll have more money and more power than eight government in the region.

They prey upon young men and young women.

And if you're a mother or father, you want to get the hell out.

So your kid isn't sort of dragooned into one of these cabal.

So all those things have combined.

It's a confluence of a lot of different forces, but our definition hasn't kept at home.

We're still working on that 1948 definition of a refugee We do have.

So what we're talking about is we're increasingly I try to use this forcibly displaced persons to cover those who are forced out of their home or their region, not for any reasons of their own slackness or their own sort of.

Well, there are people who want to improve themselves economically and that through how many of our forbearers in this country.

But you just don't have a choice.

If you want to work, you want to eat.

If you morning be secure in your home, then you've got to leave.

And I think that is a great conundrum of our time.

Lloyd, you mentioned what was on the news.

I mean, Trump was building a wall.

It was dominated.

The news in this last election, all of these families at the Mexican US border and the, you know, the pictures and the news.

I mean, it's just a horrific.

And where the Children were being separated, you actually went down and visited that, you know, I always in volume by US Mexico Study Centre in San Diego University of California, San Diego, to get some talks.

And then, well, Tijuana is right across the border.

So we would like to.

It was a time when they the camps were really building up.

And so Rafael Mendez, who's our director, we arranged because he's a Mexican with all of them so their contacts in the government and we were given the period of three or four days just to go to the camps and talk to people.

So here's something, sir.

I noticed that the demographics of the camps were really highly secured towards women and Children.

And I started asking people sitting on their campsites or around their fires and said, So what happened?

Well, about the time that they started moving in the caravan, the Trump administration erased.

Two major criteria were being accepted for asylum number one, domestic violence, number two, drug violence.

And these women would believe that when they've gone to the border with their kids, But they would have a legitimate right to claim those criteria as a basic prevention.

It was a white coat for them, and they were just gathering there with no place to go.

And I mean, I tried to come back and make a pitch.

You and I talked about it how to win a big become a sanctuary city at that time.

I think there is just beginning to see a little bit of a sort of freezing of our own sort of sensibilities about this decision.

I'm hoping to this task force, and I just talked about that.

We can begin to reintegrate them.

Will that have any impact?

Lloyd, on the conversation around the safe third country agreement between Canada and the US is that impacted in any way, shape or form in in this discourse, you're involved in its impact in the sense that our council, human rights groups, lawyers and all, including the federal court has voted against it.

But the existing governments hang onto it for reasons that I think are probably convenient for the immigration department.

It's easier to have to sort of that somebody else that is coming your country than doing it yourself.

To me, that's just sheer, their negligence on our part.

And but so far they didn't see any way any will or firepower to make that change.

And one of the things I would think that when you spend time as kind of leading the when you were minister of foreign affairs, I guess global affairs as it is now referred to, but the same portfolio.

One of the challenges must be that as you come in as the political master, if you will, of that portfolio the importance of having the bureaucrats that are there day in, day out, day in, day out, because, I mean, at some point, it's pretty impossible.

Despite the fact that I mean, you learned a tremendous amount.

As you said, when you got to be a minister and whether it was immigration or whether it was foreign affairs, you weren't a newbie.

I mean, you kind of knew the political system.

But the political system is one thing.

The whole bureaucratic system below that Lloyd must be something else.

And I guess you wonder, maybe just give you if you can.

How do you see that relationship either?

Is it being frustrated?

Or do you think there's a chance that things are changing at that level?

Also, when I went to foreign affairs, I was highly sort of odd by the degree of professionalism and a foreign service.

But I also recognise that it was a little of a closed club.

They thought they knew exactly what needs to be done and many to do.

They were We had 120 embassies and consulates around the world.

It was I used to call the thin red line.

It was always fascinating to read the telegrams coming in because there was a lot of smart people, but they were kind of into a little bit of a what I would call a commedia dell'arte roles that have been assigned and hadn't changed for centuries.

And that's why it was really important to have political leadership, but not only has some experience but also to brings with it.

And here's something I sent you an essay I've just written.

I said, Here's a difference.

As we were preparing for the 93 election under Mr Correction and I was the foreign affairs critic in the opposition, I was mandated by the prime minister to go out and do a series of, um, meetings, policy discussion on the United Nations ability to bring new ideas.

And so we had at the time, apparently interesting set our rural network.

We had inside the department itself a separate unit, but wouldn Red Dye Steve Lee?

I'll sort of called the foreign policies probably forward policy sinker, which could reach out to Canadians, could organise conferences could if I saw something.

A newspaper kind of intrigued me.

I call up Steve and say, Can you check out this academic and D.

C was writing about North Korea and by the way he did and I got in contact and we opened up negotiations with North Korea.

But there was the Pearson peacekeeping centres we had at the time in Montreal.

Is the whole centre on human rights?

Well, things have all been defendant and we haven't replaced.

So we still have some civil side groups.

See, I see and others.

But it was not anywhere near the same kind of richness of inputs the minister can draw draw upon.

So that was one thing is that you have to keep so you were political.

Party has to be the vehicle or engine by which ideas are generated wants us to raise money or fight election, the place where ideas are actually are nurtured and developed.

I don't think that happened today in any of the programme parties.

I just don't see what happens.

And the second part of it was it does help to be kind of having been around the horn a couple of times.

And to know that deputy ministers are not sacred.

Some of them are terrific and others that can be pretty sort of closed minded and very rigid.

And I have one minister and tell the portfolio to protect the innocent.

I actually had to go the Prime Minister and say you have to move them, you have to move in.

And I I won that one.

And by the way, they were to get around in the bureaucracy.

Yeah, don't trifle with this guy.

What was I doing more made it sound very cheeky that I can do that.

Well, at the time I was only one or two elected liberal Cabinet ministers from Western Canada So ahead I had a nice plus.

I had a good relationship with John Crunchy.

It was a very good point.

He gave ministers along the discretion to look at, and I was honoured out, you know, discussion with some political people, some policy people and senior people in the department.

We came up with a human security idea that the mandate for our department coming out of the Cold War is not just national security, but human protecting people.

And we got lucky.

Sometimes politics not place a real plan.

That was just a time in the whole issue around land mines is beginning to emerge.


We first met it.


Vice was Yeah, Well, that's a The big powers are never going to do anything about that.

They all like their landlines and we went through different sort of conferences and the civil, The Coalition Against Landmines was out there making the case.

I remember we hosted a meeting and all the wall and 96 1996.

It was very clear that the efforts by the civil society groups and disarmament experts was to lamb is no longer effective crap on the war, they kill more civilians, 90% more siblings than the correct people in their enforces.

I'll make the story short, but it came to that meeting and there is a total stalemate.

Until one of these senior guys in the department said, Well, the minister, you know, if you really want to, I think that if he was doing in that junker way of really, he thought I would take it seriously.

Maybe you should go there More were just announced that knew what to bring everybody back to sign a treaty in the year and so those are interesting.

So I got the film.

I talked to people in the prime minister's staff.

I talked to the secretary general, and so when I went back to meet with my for advisors in the morning, I said, Yeah, we're going to do it Lots of intake of breath.

I think it's history.

That day we announced that Canada is going to sponsor a bill signing a new treaty to ban landmines.

The years time when we all want to come back, I went through some old clippings.


I mean they probably shouldn't do.

That was an ex politician, but I was scorched by depressed.

They said, Oh my God, this guy has gone off his rocker.

He doesn't know what he's doing, We're not.

We can't contend with Americans and the French and the Russians appearance And he said, So what?

He's going to embarrass Canada.

Nobody will come a year later, with 120 countries to sign a trade.

Once we won that battle inside the bureaucracy, the rest came easy.

We would go after international courts and child soldiers and small weapons because it was successful.

We showed that you could make policy taking a lead as a middle part I have to share that.

I was in Berkeley, California, and I went to a lecture put on by one Lloyd Axworthy about R two p right to protect.

It was it was fantastic.

And it gave me a real good sense of some of the things that you have been working at and continue to work at.

And I think Lady Di when she was very much engaged in that also you really did, I think, pick an area, Lloyd that had to be led to to understand it.

And once you got them there and they clearly jumped on board and you know that's credit to you still has repercussions today.

I mean, people still look at that model that we put together as a way of trying to get change and reform in the international system.

I'm working with a group of others on the whole idea of an international corruption record because most countries a lot of places are correct.

A lot of people are kleptocrats get away with they're stealing money and putting in their piggy banks around the world, and a lot of governments aren't strong enough for themselves have been sort of corrupted a little bit and also But they're using the model of the landline campaign.

Start with a core group of countries, build out partnerships with civil societies and businesses and others.

And we're slowly putting together the notion that they may not come to fruition in my lifetime.

And I think it's the beginning of an idea that we have industry come because once again, the hard reality is that sovereignty is not an exclusive principle of some divine right.

There's a good way of defining the rights and obligations of nations.

But it's also a way that those rights and obligations can be used to terrorise or victimised people.

I read that essay that, and I love that term kleptocrats.

That was something, you know, that I hadn't heard before, but I that was fantastic, Lloyd, the other thing that I think is really, you know, sort of important about what your career path is taking you and, you know, to talk about the fact that you're a Winnipeg er, but you find yourself in front of the high authorities in Germany, particularly the current prime minister.

They're talking about the importance of how do you settle refugees?

I think that she had some challenges because they took it a million, I think refugees and they didn't quite know what to do.

And I think Angela Merkel has always kind of looked at as kind of the mother of the world.

I mean, she's obviously been somebody with tremendous intelligence, but this, I think, had not necessarily the most positive impact upon her.

And so she reached out to you to get some advice.

Can you share with you what happened there?

Well, again, sometimes it's serendipity that works.

But I have been asked by the the Barnes Foundation, which is an offshoot of the major Bosh industries, that to apply everything from your toilet bones to your posters.

And it just happened at a time when a large surge refugees are coming into your from the Middle East and from the particular become Syria.

And at that point, Germany had never really quite built with the refugee problem as an internal when they had being clearly, I mean, God was the source of the Holocaust, but they were always, administratively bureaucratically.

They really weren't shut up to really look at asylum resettlement.

Whereas we have the practise, I went back to my example.

They get in their work.

He was one of the things that we learned.

It's so much better to do the convenient of people who are seeking asylum, giving them a gating, checking their health away from your own border.

We set up in many of our embassies.

Two thirds of the staff would be immigration officers because it was much better to do it off the order, as opposed to letting a huge amounts of people well, the Germans were found themselves And those miracle to her great credit.

I mean, she will go down.


History was one of the real change makers, and I think they picked up on some of the ideas of first working as a question of shared responsibility.

This is something that each country has to handle only on its own.

This is why we're working on a North American Central American model.

But she also I think she had the political strength to carry her through.

She was real command of the parliament and her own party.

That is not the case in some of the government's today.

I mean, we have a minority government.


We have the Trump government, and then you have all kinds of now these what I call a posse.

The populist out there's are using anti immigration as a basis for winning power.

That is, to me is one of the real trend lines those Canadians we have to be watchful about.

But you can also offer alternative.

We show how it can be done, and this is not some kind of beating the breast.

It's just that we've been able to nurture the system that works for us and in which Canadians approval.

And I think that's that's one of the lessons we have to take that and continuing to take to the world.

Well, I can tell you this, sir, is not going to get much better because the impact of climate around the world when I wrote that 80 million, it's now 80 plus every month or two, another one or two, and nobody can be immune from that because people are going to find a place where their kids can be secure or they think they're going to be secure, and as a result, we have to work together, and it's a little bit of a mismatch.

up of the time and the events were on an epidemic.

You've got the climate change, We've got ongoing conflicts and none of those are really being handled in a global way with great deal of effective ALS.

How would you say Covid has impacted this conversation?


I think it quickly.

It's it's represented that clear and present danger and as you're now beginning to raise so many of the sort of scenarios we knew it was coming.

But governments were not ready prepared to that, including our own.

We shut down public health programme, our own virology lab in this city, and what was this is, I think, a bureaucratic in primary.

It pulled a lot of its research and its top plate scientists and whether they took him back to that, I just think they just cut the budgets pure and simple.

But it's also happening all kinds of places that the scientists were being listened to the ophthalmologist that were kind of considered to be somehow kind of a weird characters.

That's one of the lessons that we have to have a much better early warning system.

So we're not reacting, but we can start preempting On the other hand, I'm not sure we would.

Everybody would say This is a great thing But I think the the Covid has opened up our eyes on a lot of inequities and dissidents in our own societies that we were ignoring the inequity of just the whole issue.

We don't we like to applaud.

Frontline workers with all those frontline workers are poorly paid, don't have proper housing and they're not being serviced very well.

And that's particularly true in other parts of witnessing those last three or four weeks After the major outbreak in India, people started waking up.

The fact is that there had to be a global accident if the epidemic resolved to spread highly populated areas, it was going to come back to buy this.

There's no way you can be immune because people get on planes, they travel.

I mean, it's all the same.

So I think it's open up for me kind of a prison.

It reflects a little bit a little bit more on where we're at.

This is a clear sight, and that's why I think we need to do all this, sort of, uh, I'm not saying new thinking but thinking about Let's not go back to murder.

Let's not We want to get back to the golf course and the patios.

But we also have to get back to determine what kind of labour protection, health protection, an income protection we provide for people in our jurisdiction.

So I'm going to give you one plug, Lloyd, and I'm going to close with a question.

So the plug is for anybody listening to this podcast.

I highly recommend that you go to Canada.

Among nations, there is an essay called Reflections on 2020.

Awakening to a World of Risk that is written by my guest today.

Lloyd Axworthy.

It is a great read.

It is a great read.

Well done.

My question to you as the and this is the part that's amazing is that I want to tie this in because you know, my whole podcast is to really feature local advocates, experts who are doing things locally but have an impact internationally.

You are read out of central casting for that, Lloyd.

I mean, you are the World Refugee Council, the chair of the World Refugee Council, and I would ask you to what, as somebody who's local.

What can we do from a local basis to assist what you are doing globally?

I want to go back to something out of town.

Mayor Baldwin talked about just when he was elected.

I know you've talked about it, I think one of the major sort of civic figures of our time.

I'm talking about human rights that when it takes to be a human rights city and that means human rights, not just in terms of protecting kind of liberties, but also protecting those whose rights have been taken away.

And I think that we could be a leading the way they would have paid to open up, and I don't mean in a great rush a search, but to do it effectively.

But we also use our skill because one thing you know growing up in North Winnipeg, you realise we know how to handle diversity.

We haven't always done it really well, and I think the condition.

It's also been revealed about the circumstance of aboriginal communities and residential schools in the way it's such an impact on their lives.

But those are big issues that we have to come to grips through, but I think the refugee issue is when, especially the time when this country and this city and this problem are going to need more people of energy and talent.

And you only have to go along Sargent Avenue to find all the Vietnam restaurants and stuff that we better to the trump.

There's original surgeons, and I think that I think if we can get our heads around as a city and I know it's hard when there we went, well, we've been hunkering down, Everybody's been locked up.

But now, as we get a little bit more freedom, a little bit more sort of ability to to co joy and and and to get together Ray injuries on Friday and talking about the conditions of the world.

But it's not the time that we began thinking, What kind of role do we want to play as a place where human rights really there's a primary?

Yeah, well said, I mean again, keeping it local, giving a show to a local restaurant.

It's fantastic.

I've thoroughly enjoyed as I always do.

The opportunity to share conversation with you today has been enlightening, as it always is, Lloyd.

I just want to take all the moment just to say thank you for what you have done, what you continue to do.

And thank you for taking time to join me on my podcast.

Humans own rights.

But I appreciate only about, but I just hope to continue to do it for a while.

I look forward to it.

You take care.

Okay, sir, for sure you take care of him.

Humans on Rights is recorded and hosted by Stuart Murray Social Media Marketing by the Creative team at full current and Winnipeg Thanks also to trick Seem a bit you in Music by Doug Edmund.

For more go to human rights hub dot c A production of the sound off media company.

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