What better way to strengthen Canada’s international reputation and exercise better diplomacy then by looking to partner with a diverse set of nations to help Canada achieve its foreign policy goals? Is this new government under Trudeau up for the challenge to build stronger relationships with countries that will help Canada’s international reputation?
One of the things Trudeau said he would make a priority of when he was elected would be to improve Canada’s relationship with the United States. While it is important to keep our traditional alliance with the United States strong and viable, Trudeau should also consider looking for new alliances to help build up Canada’s reputation and role in international affairs.
In the various debates during the 2015 election campaign Trudeau stated numerous times that the Harper government has tarnished the once positive Canadian international reputation. Trudeau proclaimed that if he were elected he would restore Canada’s leadership role in the world by exercising effective diplomacy, tackling international issues, such as climate change and international conflicts, providing more security and economic growth for Canadians at home, and there by contributing to making the world a better place.
As former Canadian Prime Minister, Joe Clark, argues in his book, How we lead: Canada in a century of change, Canada should consider diversifying its alliances. In his book, Clark reflects on how Canada’s foreign policy has changed under the Harper government and provides some suggestions for ways in which Canada can re-engage in international affairs in a positive manner. He suggests, amongst other things that Canada should seek out alliances with a diverse set of different countries.
Canada should create new alliances with countries that are progressive, innovative, problem solvers, and that hold particular assets, which will help them understand international issues and be able to respond to new world challenges and conflicts such as climate change and peacekeeping.
In the area of battling climate change, Canada should align itself with countries like Norway. Ever since the embarrassing withdrawal in 2011 from the Kyoto protocol where Canada was the single developed country to withdraw from the only legally binding international agreement to combat global warming, Canada has significantly backed away from taking initiative in environmental diplomacy. By partnering and working with some European countries which have taken an initiative in combating climate change, Canada would be able to learn a lot, especially from a country like Norway, which has a similar separation of powers to the Canadian federation and has similar economy based on natural resources but is still a global leader in reducing carbon emissions.
To expand its peacekeeping role in the world, Canada should partner with countries like China that have taken on a leading role in peacekeeping missions. Canada once proud of its peacekeeping reputation, didn’t didn’t even attend the United Nations peacekeeping summit this year where over 50 states signed on to new commitments and strengthening existing operations. By working together with a country like China that has the ability to commit a large number of peacekeeping troops, Canada can offer its expertise in peacekeeping mission and the two countries can work towards a common goal of combatting international conflicts.
Overall, Canada can learn and prosper from making alliances with a diverse set of nations. In a world where the power dynamics are changing and which is no longer being run by one single hegemon, shouldn’t Canada consider diversifying its alliances? It is in Canada’s benefit to consider making alliances with these countries that will help Canada achieve its foreign policy goals and combat the pressing issues of the world today.
If the Trudeau government is serious and willing to stand behind its promises to engage Canada back into international affairs then he should do so by partnering with other nations that will help Canada achieve its foreign policy goals.
Elizabeth Haire is a first year MA student at NPSIA specializing in International Development Policy. She completed her BA at Carleton with major in Political Science, minor in law.