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The move Thursday to end the independence of the Canadian International Development Agency and move its operations into the foreign ministry is one I strongly endorse. I compliment the government on taking this step.

In the five years I spent as the minister of foreign affairs, beginning in 1996, I believed that we needed an integrated approach to our foreign affairs that would enable the government to use the various tools of diplomacy, trade, and development to achieve its goals.

The key question remains: What are its goals? With this move, the government needs to articulate a more comprehensive set of objectives that focus on supporting the protection of people, support international co-operation and the alleviation of poverty.

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A prime example of how an integrated approach should work is in the emerging issue of food security and how root causes such as environmental degradation, poor governance, conflict suppression of women's rights, and lack of international co-operative action need to be dealt with in a comprehensive strategy.

The point is that the mechanics of an integrated foreign policy are welcome and needed. But now we need a comprehensive policy to make it effective.

Lloyd Axworthy, a Canadian minister of foreign affairs from 1996 to 2000, is president of the University of Winnipeg.

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