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There are many words commentators have used to describe the new federal budget: conservative, cautious, humdrum, prudent, bold, visionary, revolutionary, transformative. It’s hard to find le mot juste but here’s another: small.

Small government. Small minds. Small ideas. Parochial, petty, cheap.

Consider the $170 million to come out of the $2.5-billion budget of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade by 2014-’15.

No big deal, right? It’s always easy to hit Foreign Affairs. The department has not always managed its money prudently and diplomacy (like foreign aid) has no domestic constituency.

Daryl Copeland, a retired career diplomat and the author of the groundbreaking...

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