Blogger’s Note: The Liberal government headed by PM Justin Trudeau has launched defence and development reviews, but little is known of its intentions regarding diplomacy, international policy or grand strategy. This is the final installment in a three part series on Canada’s role and place in a changing world – where we were, where we are, and where we may be going.
Looking forward – What a changing world means for Canadian diplomacy and international policy
The first installment in this series set out the defining features of the transition from the Cold War to the globalization age. The second explored the implications of shifting power in an increasingly globalized and heteropolar world order.
Since the last burst of Canadian international activism – the rolling out of Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy’s Human Security Agenda 1996 – 2000, the operating environment for diplomacy has continued to evolve. Moreover, it has been a long time since Canadian leadership helped bring to fruition the Land Mine Ban Treaty, International Criminal Court, the Kimberly Process to curb trafficking in “blood diamonds”, and efforts to regulate the trade in small arms and address the problem of children in conflict. The Canadian-convened International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty produced its influential Responsibility to Protect report in 2001, but in subsequent years this country has been largely absent from the world stage. With the exception of the Harper government’s controversial foray into maternal, newborn and child health and participation in ill-starred military interventions in Afghanistan and Libya, Canada’s once ubiquitous presence in the international arena became spectral.
The Trudeau government is fond of proclaiming that “Canada’s back”, and has taken some significant steps, both symbolic and substantive, to modify this country’s international engagement. That said, apart from the questionable involvement in Syria/Iraq and provocative deployments to the Baltic states, much of the heavy lifting has yet to begin.