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About this book

This book argues that Canada and its international policies are at a crossroads as US hegemony is increasingly challenged and a new international order is emerging. The contributors look at how Canada has been adjusting to this new environment and resetting priorities to meet its international policy objectives in a number of different fields: from the alignment of domestic politics along new foreign policies, to reshaping its international identity in a post-Anglo order, its relationship with international organizations such as the UN and NATO, place among middle powers, management of peace operations and defense, role in G7 and G20, climate change and Arctic policy, development, and relations with the Global South. Embracing multilateralism has been and will continue to be key to Canada’s repositioning and its ability to maintain its position in this new world order. This book takes a comprehensive look at Canada’s role in the world and the various political and policy variables that will impact Canada’s foreign policy decisions into the future.

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Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction: Canada in International Affairs

Since the end of World War IIWorld War II, the political geometry of the international system has shifted from the bipolarity of the Cold WarCold War to the unipolarityUnipolarityInternational systemunipolar of the post-Cold War period and is currently undergoing another shift in polarity.

Robert W. Murray, Paul Gecelovsky

Foundational Elements of Canada’s Foreign Policy


Chapter 2. Canada and International Order

Canadian governments have played a role in the design and maintenance of international order since the 1940s. As we enter the 2020s, international order is experiencing a profound set of challenges emanating from many directions. The domestic and international setting for designing international order are also fundamentally different than they have been in past decades. This chapter examines these developments, their implications for Canada, and considers some of the factors that may influence Canadian policy options in the future.

Tom Keating

Chapter 3. Domestic Politics and the Electoral Connection in Canadian Foreign Policy

Does domestic politics affect Canadian foreign policy? In liberal democracies like Canada, where elections determine which political party achieves the power to govern, it is perhaps not surprising that political leaders are inclined to assert that there is an intimate connection between domestic politics and foreign policy.

Kim Richard Nossal

Chapter 4. In Search of Canada’s International Identity in an Emerging Order

Let’s be honest. Canada and Canadian decision-makers have had it relatively easy. For its entire history, Canada has inhabited an international orderOrderinternational orderInternational order entirely comprehensible and navigable by Canadian policy-makers.

Paul Gecelovsky

Chapter 5. Canada, Multilateralism and Multipolarity: Navigating the Emerging Order

Multilateralism has been a cornerstone of Canadian foreign policy since World War II and has traditionally provided Canada with the opportunity to both pursue its national interests while also promoting normative values. Canada’s approach to multilateralism throughout the Cold War years allowed for Canada to pursue its interests and align with the US, while also promoting concepts and norms like peacekeeping, economic development, human rights, and environmentalism, acting in areas where other states, particularly larger powers, were limited by virtue of the systemic constraints posed by the bipolar structure of the international system. As the international system continues its evolution toward a multipolar structure, Canada’s use of multilateralism will become even more essential given the issues that will dominate Canada’s foreign policy agenda, and the uncertainty created by the evolving international order.

Robert W. Murray, Tom Keating

Chapter 6. Canada’s ‘Feminist’ Foreign Policy Under the Harper Conservatives (2006–2015) and Trudeau Liberals (2015–2019) in Global Perspective

“Closest to my heart, is the worldwide struggle upon which so many of you have been engaged. … Saving the lives of children and mothers is a fight we can win. To get it done, two things are needed now: the political focus and renewed financial commitment” (Stephen HarperHarper, Stephen, Speech to the UN, 2014).

Rebecca Tiessen, Heather A. Smith

Chapter 7. The Role of Canada’s Provinces in Canadian Foreign Policy: Multi-level Governance in the Making

In Canada, the Constitution Act, 1867 does not formally assign jurisdiction over foreign affairs to the federal government and there is no section of the constitution that specifies who may enter into international treaties. Since 1945, and even before for certain issues, international negotiations, particularly in the areas of human rights, education, public health, labour, trade, the environment and climate change, have increasingly affected the provinces' areas of jurisdiction. With these transformations, it becomes difficult for provinces to accept the federal government's claim to a monopoly on foreign affairs, as this would mean that the Canadian government would be doing indirectly what it cannot do directly. In response to this phenomenon, many provinces have been seeking for over 60 years now to influence the federal government's international negotiations of agreements that affect them. International negotiations in Canada have thus made the creation of multi-level governance mechanisms between the federal government and the Canadian provinces in this area inevitable. Little is known about the fact that while all attempts at constitutional reform in this area have failed, intergovernmental agreements have been reached in several areas (Human Rights, Hague Conferences on Private International Law, Education, UNESCO). In other areas, such as trade negotiations and climate change, the provinces are often involved in the negotiations even though federal arbitrariness remains an important issue and the question of the place of the provinces in international negotiations remains unresolved.

Stéphane Paquin

Canada and International Institutions


Chapter 8. Canada, the United Nations and World Order

“We’re back.” In practical terms, Trudeau’s infamous October 2015 statement about Canada’s role on the international stage translated into a declaration that Canada would run for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council in the 2020 campaign, and that, in the near term, it would deploy troops to a UN peace operationUN peace operations somewhere in Africa.

Jane Boulden

Chapter 9. Canada and UN Peace Operations: Re-engaging Slowly but Not so Surely

Canada has an illustrious past in UN peacekeeping. It helped pioneer the early UN missions of unarmed observers and then proposed the first UN peacekeeping force in 1956. During the Cold War, Canada was the top contributor, a record that extended even to the successful missions of the early 1990s. However, after the disastrous missions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Rwanda, Canada lost enthusiasm and commitment. In 2015, Prime Minister Trudeau declared that “Canada is back” and promised that the country would once again contribute significantly to UN peace operations. But the reality has been very different, with Canada falling to the lowest level of contribution since 1956. Why has Canada become such a reluctant peacekeeper? What is required to regain the capacity for leadership and, realistically, what are the prospects for it?

A. Walter Dorn

Chapter 10. Canada’s NATO: Seventy Years of Commitment and Re-Commitment

During the first two years of the Donald Trump administration, with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) being criticized by the President of its largest and most indispensable member, Canada has emerged has one of the most vocal defenders of the venerable trans-Atlantic Alliance. And while Washington may not fully believe that Canada is doing enough toward making NATO “strong, secure, and engaged”, it continues to welcome and acknowledge the contributions which the highly regarded Canadian Armed Forces are making in Latvia, Ukraine, and Iraq. Ironically, if the Trump administration should suddenly change its tune and whole heartedly embrace NATO’s importance to American security, it might ask for even “more Canada”. This would place Ottawa in a difficult position as it would upset Ottawa’s ‘just enough’ approach to allied obligations. Such approach has been a story of commitment and re-commitment, and never ‘de-commitment’. Even when defence budgets were slashed, when Prime Ministers and Ministers of National Defence mused openly about the value and cost of membership, when the number of troops, tanks, and planes stationed in Europe were markedly reduced and eventually eliminated altogether, and when Canada seemed to provide the Alliance with little more than a “bare presence” and participation in allied councils, being in NATO was the sine qua non of Canadian international relations. Whatever the benefits the Alliance has provided to its members, large and small, it was “Canada’s NATO” that successive governments in Ottawa have, through military and political commitment and re-commitment, sought to preserve. For this collective defence arrangement has been for Canada, in more ways perhaps, than for any of its other members, of particularly “providential” benefit for seventy years.

Joel J. Sokolsky

Chapter 11. Canada’s Changing Role in the G7 and G20

Canada’s role in both the G7 and G20 has changed and will change, but in different ways. In the G7, Canada’s role has grown during periods of relative US decline and growing vulnerability, especially the suspension of Russia in 2014 and by hosting the Charlevoix Summit in 2018 with gender equality mainstreamed. In the G20, Canada’s role as the visionary co-creator in 1999 and an influential leader at the first four summits through Toronto in 2010 subsequently declined but remained substantial. In the G7 and G20, Canada’s role has been driven by and has advanced its national interests led by national unity and by its distinctive national values of anti-militarism, multiculturalism, openness, environmentalism, globalism and international institutionalism, even as its specific goals and strategies adjust. Canada’s G7 and G20 leadership has been enhanced by an evolving world order, driven by increasing shock-activated vulnerability in economic, ecological and security spheres, the failure of most multilateral organizations from the 1940s in response, power shifts from the United States to other G7 partners and then to several other systemically significant emerging G20 members, the resilience and revival of democratic commonality and convergence among G7 and G20 members, their adequate domestic political cohesion, and the compactness of their cherished summit clubs with Canada’s privileged position in both. Canada’s G7 role will continue to grow under the 2019 hosting of the youthful, fellow francophone French president Emmanuel Macron and the 2020 hosting by Canada’s next-door neighbour, the United States. In the G20, Canada’s role will remain substantial as hosting passes to G7 partner Japan for its summit on June 28-29, 2019, Saudi Arabia in 2020, and then democratic Italy, India and Indonesia.

John Kirton

Chapter 12. Canada and International Law: Supporting a Rules-Based Approach to International Relations

Canada has long supported a rules-based approach to international relations. Indeed, by statute, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs is tasked with fostering the development of international law and Canada conducts a significant component of its international relations through legally-binding treaties made with other states. Canada also engages in the setting of normative goals and political commitments through the negotiation of non-treaty texts which, while non-legally binding, may help build a consensus in support of future legal developments. Canada's respect for a rules-based approach also extends to international dispute settlement, although Canada rarely resorts to international courts for inter-state disputes. Canada was, however, heavily involved in the creation of a permanent International Criminal Court to hold individuals, as distinct from states, responsible for internationally-wrongful acts. But while international law is respected by Canada as an important ordering regime and worthy of promotion within the international community, there remain times when national interests may take precedence.

Joanna Harrington

National Security


Chapter 13. Defence Procurement and Canadian Foreign Policy

This chapter examines the connection between military procurement and Canadian foreign policy. As a process known domestically for concerns over budgets, delays, and jobs, buying equipment for the military may seem, at first glance, disconnected from larger debates on Canada’s place in the world, but, on closer inspection, the two are directly connected. Canadian defence policy remains guided by three foreign policy goals encapsulated in successive White PapersWhite Paper and defence policy statements: defending the country’s sovereignty, defending North America in alliance with the United StatesUnited States (US), and supporting international securitySecurity.

Jeffrey F. Collins

Chapter 14. Countering Violent Extremism in a Changing World Order: Devolution Within Canada’s Multilateralist Approach

The ever-evolving nature of violent extremismExtremism, terrorist groups and other violent non-state actors (VNSAs) has forced states and international organizations to respond in dynamic ways to emergent threats. In particular, the evolution of the Internet and the increasingly common occurrence of lone-actor attacks (inspired by larger online extremist movements), has challenged the ability of states and their national securitySecurity agencies to pursue effective counter-terrorismCounter-terrorism (CT) (CT) strategies that were previously designed around addressing group-based threats. To respond to emergent trends, governments have looked to international organizations and fora and an increasing broad range of domestic actors (e.g., civil society) who can mobilize the necessary resources for the prevention of terrorist threats. As a long time advocate for multilateralist engagement around international peace and securitySecurity, the Canadian government is involved in international organizations that seek to address challenges related to violent extremismExtremism and terrorismTerrorism. Canadian participation in, for instance, the New ZealandNew Zealand and French-led Christchurch Call to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content Online is one example of recent Canadian efforts. The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) is another contemporary priority area for the government. These international initiatives have been paired with domestic efforts to develop localized responses to violent extremismExtremism within the policy area known as preventing and countering violent extremismExtremism or “P/CVE”.

John McCoy, David Jones, Zoe Hastings

Chapter 15. Canada’s Foreign Policy in Cyber Space

In December 2018, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) Director David Vigneault did something that spies seldom like to do: he gave a public speech. But this was not to a room of politicians or policy makers in Ottawa—it was a speech to bankers and lawyers on Bay Street in Toronto, the heart of Canada’s business district.

Stephanie Carvin

Chapter 16. Back to the Future: Canada and Ballistic Missile Defence

In 2005, Prime Minister Paul MartinMartin, Paul, like all of his predecessors, refused to join the American ballistic missile defenceBallistic missile defence (BMD) (BMD) system. However, recent events, most notably North Korea’sNorth Korea nuclear weaponsNuclear weapons and ballistic missile testing, have put BMDBallistic missile defence (BMD) back on the Canadian foreign policy agenda.

Duane Bratt

Chapter 17. Canada in the Evolving World of Development Cooperation: The Dynamics of Deliquescence?

Development cooperation is widely seen as the third major pillar of Western governments’ international policy, along with diplomacy and defence. Of the three however, it is by far the most recent and politically insecure. Because of this, it has been vulnerable to changing fads and fashions and to an ongoing uncertainty of purpose. While the resulting policy has experienced political ebbs and flows, the direction of travel since the mid-2000s has been toward relative marginalization. The chapter tracks this trajectory through the Chrétien/Martin, Harper, and Justin Trudeau governments. It finds an overall trend towards growing thematic focus that paradoxically diminishes the breadth and salience of development cooperation as an instrument of Canadian international policy.

David Black

Foreign Policy Issues


Chapter 18. Canada’s Trade Agenda

Canada has consistently practiced an incremental foreign trade policy driven by defensive and offensive self-interest. In early “first-generation” negotiations, focusing largely on tariffs, Canada played a leadership role in establishing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) but failed to extend liberalization beyond select sectors of perceived comparative advantage.

Christopher J. Kukucha

Chapter 19. Canada’s International Climate and Environmental Policy: Good Intentions and Staying the Course—As Things Get Ugly

The international order within which Canada operates is undergoing various, seemingly seismic shifts, both contextual and diplomatic. Even as environmental degradation accelerates and climatic conditions become more unpredictable, posing security, migration, and development challenges, the rise of nationalism and isolationism within key countries such as the United States, Britain, and certain members of the European Union is making cooperation through international institutions and multilateral alliances much more difficult.

Debora VanNijnatten, Eduardo del Buey

Chapter 20. Canada’s Arctic Foreign Policy

Arctic foreign policyArctic foreign policy, in relation to Canadian foreign policy overall, has not been unlike the relationship of the ArcticArctic to Canadians generally: the subject of polite curiosity, but peripheral. Throughout the twentieth century it was viewed mostly as an exposed flank, as a place where the Canadian government’s hold was more tenuous than desired. It was only in 2000 that Canada first put forward a dedicated Arctic foreign policyArctic foreign policy to promote its interests at home and abroad—where the ArcticArctic region became a subject rather than a mere object of Canadian foreign policy.

Heather Exner-Pirot

Chapter 21. Sport and Foreign Affairs

This chapter looks to the past to clarify the origins of Canada’s use of sport as a diplomatic tool. Particular focus is given to Pierre Trudeau’s prime ministerial tenure and how his government’s approach to athletics reflected its foreign policy objectives. Leaning on the excellent research of Donald Macintosh, Michael Hawes and others, readers will explore how Canada historically navigated international tensions and crafted its own foreign policy through the lens of international sport competition. From there, readers will examine the continued presence of sport in Canada’s international relationships and how, through athletics, Canada has made statements on issues of social justice and global health.

Craig Greenham

Open Access

Chapter 22. Harnessing Canada’s Potential for Global Health Leadership: Leveraging Strengths and Confronting Demons

Despite its modest position on the international stage, Canada has been able to leverage significant influence in matters of global health. The country’s global health leadership draws on its strengths as a staunch participant in multilateral activities, a large funder of global health initiatives, a defender of a rule-based international order, and an active promoter of human rights, health equity, and global citizenship. These sources of strength, though, are being undermined by ongoing challenges to and recent deviations from the country’s traditional commitment to global health. Canada recently shifted its funding for global health initiatives away from its multilateral partnerships, recent actions have violated international law, findings from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission reveal how Canada’s Indigenous peoples still face many health disparities at home, and some Canadian businesses continue to operate in foreign markets with questionable human rights practices. While there are many reasons to celebrate Canadian contributions to global health, there is also much that can be improved. If Canada wants to harness its potential as a global health leader, it should focus on consolidating the sources of its strength, which will give it greater influence in matters of global health.

Isaac Weldon, Steven J. Hoffman

Chapter 23. The Role of Energy in Canadian Foreign Policy: The Undiscovered Country

Canada is one of the world’s top-five producers of energy in all forms: oil, gas, hydro-electricity, etc. However, Canada is an anomaly in global politics in that federal governments have never capitalized on the country’s vast energy endowment to advance its geopolitical interests and, thus, these abundant deposits of energy—particularly oil and gas—are not factors in Canadian foreign policy. This chapter first sets the context to establish the strategic importance of energy in geopolitics and then examines Canada’s global position in the world in terms of the unusual abundance of its energy supplies. It then looks at the role of energy in ‘traditional’ foreign policy, comparing how Canada’s allies incorporate energy in a geopolitical view of the world. The chapter concludes with remarks on how energy could represent an opportunity for advancing its global interests in an era of geopolitical disruptions, but that Canada’s constitutional framework is incompatible with a realist, unitary actor view of energy geopolitics. The lesson for students of foreign policy is that in Canada, institutions and domestic politics matter.

Jean-Sébastien Rioux

Bilateral and Regional Relations


Chapter 24. United States–Canada Relations

Contemporary works on Canadian foreign policy toward the United StatesUnited States (US) show scholars still grappling with the implications of two major events that altered the relationship profoundly: the Canada–United States Free Trade AgreementCanada–United States free trade agreement (CUFTA) (CUFTA) and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United StatesUnited States (US) (9/11). These two events shifted the agendas of both countries and led to a reappraisal of the potential of cooperation between the two countries. Neither event, nor the policy responses that followed were uncontroversial.

Taylor Jackson, Christopher Sands

Chapter 25. Canada–India Relations: Muddling Along?

Three years after Indian Prime Minister Narendra ModiModi, Narendra had visited Toronto in 2015, where he addressed a large gathering of the Indian diaspora community, Modi’sModi, Narendra Canadian counterpart, Justin TrudeauTrudeau, Justin, commenced his state visit to IndiaIndia raising hopes for multidimensional cooperation between the two countries (India 2018). While the prospects of Trudeau’s 2018 visit to IndiaIndia seemed bright at first, the enthusiasm eventually waned away, casting doubts over the future of India-Canada bilateral relations.

Harsh V. Pant, Ketan Mehta

Chapter 26. Canada’s Relationship with China

ChinaChina has been a significant factor in Canada’s foreign engagement almost since Confederation. From the beginning, political factors and economic factors in the overall context of Canada’s struggle for a value-based distinct identity have vied to define a highly fluid and unstable interplay between ChinaChina and Canada in both trade and immigration. The history of Canada China relations to the present day can be characterized by a push and pull dynamic of contradictory forces of economic attraction and political repulsion. Overshadowing Canada-China relations has been Canada’s deep felt national yearning to preserve and sustain Canadian economic and cultural autonomy in Canada’s relations with the United StatesUnited States (US).

Charles Burton

Chapter 27. To Engage or to Contain? Canada-Russia Relations in the Shifting International Order

Russia and Canada Russia are at once very similar and very different. They are very similar since they are respectively the largest and second largest countries in the world in terms of their geographic size, with major swaths of territory that are sparsely populated and located within the Arctic Circle. Both are ‘energy superpowers’, and so have economies that largely depend on natural resources. According to one measure, Canada has the third largest proven oil reserves in the world, whereas RussiaRussia has the eighth largest. RussiaRussia is the largest exporter of natural gas, while Canada comes in at fourth place globally (Energy Information Administration 2019). Both are also ethnically diverse and feature relatively large Indigenous populations.

Alexander Lanoszka

Chapter 28. Morality as Organizing Principle: Making Sense of Canada–Africa Relations

The African continent has been a peripheral but permanent feature in Canadian foreign policy calculations since the end of the Second World War although Canada’s relationship with the region predates the independence of African states. In spite of the recent growth of Canadian interests in Africa’s extractive sector, Canadian policy in post-independence Africa has focused on the provision of development assistance and supply of peacekeeping troops to UN operations. While accounting for some of the shifts in Canadian policy, this chapter addresses two questions. First, why has Canadian policy in Africa focused on development assistance and peacekeeping operations? Second, from a theoretical standpoint, how can we make sense of Canada-Africa relations? Drawing on a constructivists inspired Non-Imperial Internationalist approach, the chapter is premised on the claim that Canadian foreign policy and interest in Africa is embedded in a morality principle that is mutually constituted as a result of Canadian history in Africa and the pursuit of values-oriented goals on one hand, and Africans perception of Canada, on the other hand.

Edward Ansah Akuffo

Chapter 29. Canada Asia–Pacific Relations: Transforming into a Middle Power Indo-Pacific Stakeholder

The region we now call the Asia-PacificAsia-Pacific is a modern construct. When Canada first engaged in the region, it was known as the Far East. In the post-World War II period, the Far East terminology gave way to just Asia and, then, the Asia-Pacific with the advent of APECAsia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) (Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation) in 1989.

Stephen R. Nagy

Chapter 30. Canada–EU and Europe Relations

Canada and the EU have signed and ratified numerous international agreements, both sectoral and framework agreements. Currently two important framework agreements are under review for ratification: Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and the Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA). These formal agreements are an important stepping stone to firm up the Canada-EU relationship. This particular relationship had become more important as both sides tried to diversity away from being overly reliant on the US. With the global changes since 2016, following the Brexit referendum and the election of President Donald Trump, both Canada and the EU are keener than before to deepen their mutual relationship. Post-Brexit opportunities arise for Canada and the UK to develop their own relationship. However, the Covid-19 crisis is providing a bit of a challenge to existing trade agreements and may challenge assumptions on which the global liberal world order has been built.

Amy Verdun

Chapter 31. Canada and Latin America

This chapter reviews Canadian foreign policy toward Latin America, highlighting both the ways that the relationship has shifted over the decades and the fact that this relationship has evolved slowly and remains characterized by a lack of sustained interest in the region on the part of the Canadian government and public. It explores these continuities and shifts and the variables that are influencing them such as the role played by the Canadian-American relationship and suggests what it means for Canada’s role in the hemisphere.

Lana Wylie

Chapter 32. Canada and the Middle East

The international system has undergone several shifts in the structure of power relations, ranging from multipolarityMultipolarity in the pre-World War period, bipolarity in the post-World War era, to unipolarityUnipolarity in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War.

Bessma Momani, Nawroos Shibli


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