Ottawa Journal (February 16 – February 20, 2021)
David Tilson, M.P.
Tilson Part of Government Delegation to Vienna
Established in 1975 as the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, the OSCE, or Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, is the largest regional security organization in the world. Currently, it has a membership of 56 countries, comprising all the European states, Canada, and the United States. The organization traces its origins to the détente phase of the Cold War, when it was created to serve as a forum for multilateral dialogue and negotiation between the East and West. Since 1990, however, the OSCE’s role has focused more on dealing with challenges that have emerged in Europe in the post-Cold war period.
The OSCE’s objective, unlike organizations like the Council of Europe, is to develop an expansive, conflict-free geographic area, regardless of the democratic characteristics of the participatory countries. Among the OSCE’s concerns are early warning, conflict prevention, crisis management, and post-conflict rehabilitation. What distinguishes the OSCE is its inclusive nature: all member states have equal status, decisions are made by consensus rather than majority vote, Canada and the US are allowed to participate as full members on matters that affect Europe, and it favours inclusive dialogue over selective admission. The flexible, open, and cooperative OSCE process is often credited with building democracy in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, thus leading to the end of the Cold War.
As a founding member, Canada has a long history of involvement in the OSCE. Our country has supported, among other things, the inclusion of gender equality in OSCE policies and the adoption of a Canadian initiative for exchanging information on anti-personnel mines and explosive devices left behind after a conflict. Canada has also made significant contributions to election monitoring activities, particularly in Ukraine and the Central Asian states. Canada shares the security objectives of the OSCE and also strongly believes in the link between issues of regional security and the human dimension, such as good governance and human rights, freedom of the media, electoral standards, and the rule of law.
As President of the Canada-EU Parliamentary Association, I head an organization responsible for promoting our country’s interests in Europe, as well as fostering mutual cooperation and understanding between Canada and European states. Part of my duties as President will include travelling to Vienna, Austria, on February 19-20, 2009, to attend the 8th Winter Meeting of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly. The organization’s three General Committees –Political and Security Affairs, Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment, and Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions—will convene at this Meeting. I will be attending these committee sessions and will make a speech on Canada’s behalf to convey our country’s position on topics under discussion.
Perhaps more than ever before Canada and Europe face similar challenges in the realms of security, economics, democracy, and human rights. It is essential, therefore, that we work together to overcome these challenges and secure a better future for the citizens of our countries. As your Member of Parliament and President of the Canada-EU Parliamentary Association, I will seek to increase cooperation and collaboration between Canada and Europe, as well as being committed to representing my constituents and all Canadians effectively.