Jeremy Kins­man

Over the past cen­tury, Canada has evolved and ma­tured as a na­tion out of the yoke of colo­nial­ism and be­yond the ge­o­graphic dom­i­nance of its re­la­tion­ship to the United States. Through its val­our in wartime and value as an hon­est bro­ker, Canada has weath­ere

Policy - - In This Issue - Jeremy Kins­man

Our Di­plo­matic Iden­tity: A Cana­dian Bal­ance of Rea­son and Pas­sion

Duke Elling­ton once said that in his mu­sic, melody was his pas­sion. But rhythm was his busi­ness.

Cana­dian for­eign pol­icy has long been de­scribed as hav­ing a sim­i­lar di­vide. Our pas­sion has been mul­ti­lat­er­al­ism—the bind­ing to­gether of the world’s na­tions in the spirit of lib­eral in­ter­na­tion­al­ism, as the an­ti­dote to com­pet­i­tive na­tion­al­ist am­bi­tions that caused the world wars of the 20th cen­tury, and as the plat­form for build­ing com­mon so­lu­tions to global and trans-na­tional chal­lenges.

Our “busi­ness” has been rooted in bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, es­pe­cially key in­ter­est-based re­la­tion­ships that hold po­ten­tially ex­is­ten­tial im­pli­ca­tions, the most con­se­quen­tial of which is the one with the United States. Af­ter surges of bi­lat­eral eco­nomic ten­sion in the 1970s and 1980s, NAFTA se­cured a pro­duc­tive eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship. Its de­fence from a new storm of “Amer­ica First” im­pulses has be­come the dom­i­nant pre­oc­cu­pa­tion in Ot­tawa to­day.

The vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the re­la­tion­ship once caused worry that our pre­oc­cu­pa­tions with shoring up lib­eral in­ter­na­tion­al­ism risked be­ing an in­dul­gent di­ver­sion, a def­er­ence to cos­mopoli­tan val­ues over the im­per­a­tives of self-in­ter­est. Our great am­bas­sador to Rea­gan’s Wash­ing­ton, Allan Gotlieb, fa­mously de­cried in a 2005 es­say the long-stand­ing col­li­sion be­tween re­al­ism and “ro­man­ti­cism” in for­eign pol­icy. He feared our af­fec­tion for the “melody” of in­ter­na­tion­al­ism risked un­der-rep­re­sent­ing vi­tal na­tional im­per­a­tives of busi­ness and ge­og­ra­phy. To­day Gotlieb con­cedes that Trump’s throw­back pop­ulist eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism val­i­dates a re­newed ef­fort to di­ver­sify our eco­nomic re­la­tions to re­duce our vul­ner­a­bil­ity.

In prin­ci­ple, a choice be­tween bi­lat­eral and in­ter­na­tion­al­ist em­phases is a false di­chotomy. In prac­tice, na­tional in­ter­est in­sists we de­fend our econ­omy, well-be­ing, and sovereignty at all times, while also throw­ing our shoul­der be­hind the strength­en­ing of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion and the mul­ti­lat­eral sys­tem.

The two im­pulses have gen­er­ally been mu­tu­ally re­in­forc­ing. Widely spread pos­i­tive bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ships earn sup­port for Cana­dian ini­tia­tives in mul­ti­lat­eral fora that in turn can en­hance our in­flu­ence, in­clud­ing in Wash­ing­ton. In­flu­ence in Wash­ing­ton aug­ments in­flu­ence else­where.

Canada’s de­fence of our ge­o­graphic sovereignty goes back to the Boundary Wa­ters Treaty of 1909 that set up the In­ter­na­tional Joint Com­mis­sion, which pro­vided a tem­plate for man­ag­ing is­sues be­tween two un­equal part­ners, in­su­lat­ing Canada from the dis­ad­van­tages of cross-sec­toral link­ing of is­sues. In 1923, we signed with the U.S. the Hal­ibut Treaty (sign­ing for the first time with­out a UK co-sig­na­ture).

The 1970 Arc­tic Wa­ters Pol­lu­tion Pro­tec­tion Act that the U.S. ro­bustly con­tested and the 1979 East Coast Fish­eries and Mar­itime Boundary Treaties that de­fined ju­ris­dic­tions over na­tional eco­nomic zones 200 miles from the coast fol­lowed (though the U.S. Se­nate re­jected the fish­eries agree­ment). Le­gal de­fence of our sovereignty dove­tailed with our lead­ing role in draft­ing the rules for a new in­ter­na­tional regime to gov­ern rights on the sea bed and ad­ja­cent con­ti­nen­tal shelves.

Wars also pro­pelled Canada’s in­ter­na­tional en­gage­ment. In Lon­don’s Green Park, a mon­u­ment hon­ours the “more than a mil­lion” Cana­di­ans in uni­form

who passed through Great Bri­tain on their way to Europe’s mur­der­ous 20th Cen­tury wars.

Af­ter Cana­dian units fought to­gether im­pres­sively in the First World War (though un­der Bri­tish com­mand), Prime Min­is­ter Robert Bor­den de­manded a seat for Canada at the 1919 Paris Peace Con­fer­ence, fol­lowed by mem­ber­ship in the League of Na­tions.

The 1931 Statute of West­min­ster for­mally con­ferred on the do­min­ions of the Bri­tish Em­pire na­tional re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for di­plo­matic self-rep­re­sen­ta­tion for­merly ex­er­cised by Bri­tain. Canada cre­ated a for­eign ser­vice, hav­ing al­ready de­ployed trade com­mis­sion­ers abroad.

Af­ter Cana­dian units fought to­gether im­pres­sively in the First World War (though un­der Bri­tish com­mand), Prime Min­is­ter Robert Bor­den de­manded a seat for Canada at the 1919 Paris Peace Con­fer­ence, fol­lowed by mem­ber­ship in the League of Na­tions.

In the Sec­ond World War, Cana­dian com­manded forces played an even more sig­nif­i­cant role, emerg­ing tem­po­rar­ily as the world’s fourth mil­i­tary power. An ini­tial nu­clear part­ner, our wish to act as a bro­ker on dis­ar­ma­ment drove the choice not to weaponize our ca­pa­bil­ity.

The war ef­fort earned a found­ing role in the cre­ation of the post-war in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tional or­der meant to pre­vent fu­ture wars,

launch­ing “the golden age” of Cana­dian diplo­macy. Our best and bright­est (men only, ac­tu­ally) leaned into build­ing a bet­ter world, whose mul­ti­lat­eral bind­ing might also ease life with a much more pow­er­ful neigh­bour. We be­came en­thu­si­as­tic join­ers of a myr­iad of mul­ti­lat­eral group­ings for se­cu­rity, eco­nom­ics, cul­ture, the en­vi­ron­ment, the Amer­i­cas, the Com­mon­wealth, and Fran­co­phonie.

Star diplo­mat Lester B. Pear­son won the No­bel Prize for the 1956 Cana­dian ini­tia­tive to cre­ate a UN peace­keep­ing force be­tween Egypt and Is­rael af­ter Egyp­tian na­tion­al­iza­tion of the Suez Canal awoke ves­ti­gial Bri­tish and French im­pe­ri­al­ist im­pulses that pro­voked a stun­ning breach with the United States over the threat of a dis­as­trous Mid­dle East war.

Peace­keep­ing and me­di­a­tion be­came Cana­dian vo­ca­tions that made Cana­dian diplo­mats de­fault chair­per­sons of com­mit­tees and com­mis­sions across the United Na­tions.

Cana­dian of­fi­cials were also orig­i­nal builders of the in­ter­na­tional trade and pay­ments sys­tem, and its in­for­mal in­side di­rec­toires, such as the G7, formed in 1975, and af­ter 1981, “the Quad,” the sanc­tum of the four prin­ci­pal world traders (the US, the EU, Ja­pan and Canada).

Dur­ing the Cold War, though less ide­o­log­i­cally hos­tile to the USSR than the US, Canada was an earnest mem­ber of the NATO al­liance, hav­ing spon­sored the ar­ti­cle in­tended to bind mem­bers in a po­lit­i­cal-eco­nomic com­mu­nity as well as to mu­tual mil­i­tary com­mit­ments, again in the hope that wider mul­ti­lat­eral ties might re­duce our ex­po­sure to bi­lat­eral pres­sure in our neigh­bour­hood.

Since post­war in­ter­na­tional peace and se­cu­rity and trade and pay­ments sys­tems largely re­flected U.S. de­sign, Wash­ing­ton wel­comed our mul­ti­lat­eral ac­tivism. Bi­lat­er­ally, in­ten­sive wartime co­op­er­a­tion had built an easy work­ing re­la­tion­ship be­tween Cana­dian and Amer­i­can of­fi­cials, en­abling Cana­dian diplo­macy to chan­nel cre­ative at­ten­tion to wider in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance.

Pres­i­dent de Gaulle’s quixotic late-life de­ci­sion to throw France be­hind Que­bec’s sep­a­ratist move­ment, be­tray­ing

Canada’s crit­i­cal sup­port for him in the Sec­ond World War, posed an al­most ex­is­ten­tial threat and trau­ma­tized Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs. The cri­sis over de Gaulle’s “Vive le Que­bec Li­bre!” speech in Mon­treal in 1967 el­e­vated the staunch­est de­fender of our sovereignty in Cab­i­net—Pierre Trudeau.

Suc­ceed­ing Pear­son as Prime Min­is­ter in 1968, Trudeau asserted a harder-nosed fo­cus on Cana­dian in­ter­ests. He would repa­tri­ate the Cana­dian Con­sti­tu­tion and draw up a Char­ter of Rights.

In for­eign af­fairs, he clipped the easy ac­cess of Ex­ter­nal of­fi­cials to their PM (they had long co-habited the East Block of Par­lia­ment). He cut back Canada’s mil­i­tary pres­ence in Europe.

Trudeau’s for­eign-pol­icy re­view in­tro­duced a strat­egy for re­la­tions with the US, by then stuck in the quag­mire of the Viet­nam War, which Pear­son had pub­licly de­plored (dis­qui­et­ing Ex­ter­nal of­fi­cials). Trudeau didn’t chal­lenge the U.S. on the war but ad­mit­ted 30,000–40,000 dis­senters and draft-dodgers.

Ahead of his time in fore­see­ing the rise of newly-in­dus­tri­al­iz­ing pow­ers, Trudeau broke from the pack to ne­go­ti­ate di­plo­matic re­la­tions with com­mu­nist China. An ad­vo­cate of North-South power-shar­ing, He be­came a prom­i­nent world fig­ure who con­sorted as eas­ily with Third World lead­ers as with col­leagues in the G7, which be­came a cen­tral fo­rum for Cana­dian mul­ti­lat­eral in­ter­ests.

Pres­i­dent Nixon wasn’t im­pressed, re­gard­ing Trudeau as a “leftie.” When Nixon veered in 1971 to bel­liger­ent eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism, im­pos­ing uni­lat­er­ally a no-ex­cep­tions im­port sur­charge with dev­as­tat­ing im­pli­ca­tions for Cana­dian trade, Trudeau agreed with the rec­om­men­da­tion from de­ceived Ex­ter­nal of­fi­cials for a “Third Op­tion” on re­la­tions with the U.S. To re­duce the “cur­rent vul­ner­a­bil­ity,” Canada would pur­sue en­hanced na­tional eco­nomic ca­pac­ity and con­trol and di­ver­sify eco­nomic ties, no­tably in­sti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing a closer eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship with the Euro­pean Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity (fi­nally achieved with the Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic and Trade Agree­ment, CETA, in 2016).

With Ron­ald Rea­gan’s elec­tion in 1980, U.S.-Canada re­la­tions again be­came frac­tious. His ad­min­is­tra­tion took is­sue with Canada’s per­ceived “eco­nomic na­tion­al­ism” as well as with Trudeau’s ap­par­ent doubts over U.S. Cold War fix­a­tions.

Suc­ces­sor Brian Mul­roney promised to make the bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship “spe­cial” again and free trade ne­go­ti­a­tions dom­i­nated the pol­icy and po­lit­i­cal agenda. He calmed fears of los­ing na­tional iden­tity, safe­guard­ing Cana­dian cul­ture and avoid­ing iden­ti­fi­ca­tion with un­pop­u­lar (in Canada) U.S. ini­tia­tives like “Star Wars” mis­sile de­fence.

Mul­roney also be­came a world fig­ure who led an ac­tivist for­eign pol­icy that con­tin­ued to de­ploy our en­ergy to both bi­lat­eral busi­ness and mul­ti­lat­eral pas­sion.

The Cold War’s end re­warded Canada’s work on East-West de­tente and recharged our mul­ti­lat­eral DNA. The UN at last func­tioned, if briefly, as its char­ter had fore­seen, en­dors­ing in 1991 a “just” war to ex­pel Sad­dam Hus­sein from Kuwait with an un­prece­dented in­ter­na­tional mil­i­tary coali­tion. Canada con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cant air, sea, and land forces and For­eign Min­is­ter Joe Clark un­der­took high­estlevel diplo­macy in the re­gion to try to break log­jams pre­vent­ing last­ing re­gional peace that would be tack­led by the Oslo ac­cords.

As ex­pec­ta­tions of greater in­ter­na­tional har­mony spread, Mul­roney con­nected closely to western lead­ers and to USSR Pres­i­dent Mikhail Gor­bachev and then Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Boris Yeltsin. He and Clark cham­pi­oned the end­ing of apartheid and em­bed­ded a demo­cratic vo­ca­tion for the Com­mon­wealth.

As ex­pec­ta­tions of greater in­ter­na­tional har­mony spread, Mul­roney con­nected closely to western lead­ers and to USSR Pres­i­dent Mikhail Gor­bachev and then Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Boris Yeltsin. He and Clark cham­pi­oned the end­ing of apartheid and em­bed­ded a demo­cratic vo­ca­tion for the Com­mon­wealth.

Tak­ing of­fice in 1993, Jean Chré-

tien op­er­ated with a lower pro­file but pushed the same for­eign pol­icy but­tons, adding to our tool­box for pro­mot­ing bi­lat­eral busi­ness ties the in­no­va­tion of ma­jor Team Canada mis­sions. The scare of a near-de­feat in the 1995 Que­bec ref­er­en­dum didn’t lessen Cana­dian ac­tiv­ity abroad. China be­came a top pri­or­ity.

Re­tain­ing old worries from the 1988 Canada-U.S. FTA de­bate we risked be­ing con­ti­nen­tally over­bal­anced, Chré­tien re-ig­nited talks to get the EU fi­nally into a com­pre­hen­sive eco­nomic agree­ment. This bi­lat­eral ini­tia­tive and sym­me­try on the mul­ti­lat­eral agenda of hu­man se­cu­rity and ac­tion on cli­mate change prompted Canada’s des­ig­na­tion as the EU’s sixth strate­gic part­ner.

For­eign Min­is­ter Lloyd Ax­wor­thy steered the new pol­icy par­a­digm for hu­man se­cu­rity, launch­ing in­ter­na­tional ini­tia­tives to pro­tect in­creas­ingly vul­ner­a­ble civil­ians by spon­sor­ing a treaty to ban land mines, an In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court to try war crimes, and a doc­trine of in­ter­na­tional re­spon­si­bil­ity to in­ter­vene in cases of mass atroc­ity. In­ter­na­tional civil so­ci­ety be­came a cen­tral part­ner in pol­icy for­mu­la­tion and ad­vo­cacy.

The 9/11 at­tacks dra­mat­i­cally shifted the fo­cus to se­cu­rity. John Man­ley led an all-of-gov­ern­ment ef­fort to save the com­mon Canada-U.S. sup­ply chain’s ac­cess across a hard­en­ing bor­der.

NATO al­lies joined the U.S. in a cam­paign in Afghanistan to oust the Tal­iban. Alas, the US, with UK sup­port, pushed to­ward a dis­con­nected regime-change war and oc­cu­pa­tion in Iraq. Chré­tien re­fused par­tic­i­pa­tion be­cause of ab­sence of au­tho­riza­tion by the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, earn­ing Canada recog­ni­tion as the “other North Amer­ica.”

Paul Martin’s brief so­journ as prime min­is­ter pro­moted the G-20 as a more eq­ui­table cen­tral fo­rum for in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic dis­cus­sion, re­flect­ing floun­der­ing con­fi­dence in ex­ist­ing in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic in­sti­tu­tions such as the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion as well as doubts over the Wash­ing­ton “con­sen­sus” on the supremacy of mar­ket forces that the fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2008 would con­firm.

Stephen Harper rad­i­cally tried to regear for­eign pol­icy to neo-con­ser­va­tive pre­cepts that ac­cord­ing to For­eign Min­is­ter John Baird, would end “wor­ship at the al­tar of com­pro­mise and con­sen­sus.” Aban­don­ing the role of hon­est bro­ker, Canada shunned coun­tries whose regimes it dis­liked, in­clud­ing ini­tially China, and on con­tro­ver­sies such as Is­rael-Pales­tinian is­sues, lin­ing up be­hind one side. Re­la­tions with the White House cooled un­der Pres­i­dent Obama, whose world view re­sem­bled the Cana­dian one Harper had shed. “What’s hap­pened to Canada?” was a ques­tion asked of many Cana­di­ans abroad, in­clud­ing ex-For­eign Min­is­ter David Emer­son. Canada lost an elec­tion to the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil.

In Ot­tawa, hu­man se­cu­rity was out and hard power was in. The long ex­pe­di­tionary war in Afghanistan be­came the all-con­sum­ing for­eign pol­icy ac­tiv­ity, with high op­por­tu­nity costs and mea­gre re­sults on the ground and in na­tion-build­ing. Mul­ti­lat­er­al­ist For­eign Af­fairs (for some years merged with In­ter­na­tional Trade, and soon to ab­sorb in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment and the Cana­dian In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Agency, CIDA), was side­lined, cen­tral­iz­ing power in the PMO to an un­prece­dented de­gree.

In 2015, newly-elected Justin Trudeau promised “Canada’s back!” Ge­o­graphic and eco­nomic re­al­i­ties made re­in­forc­ing the North Amer­i­can con­ti­nen­tal ven­ture with the U.S. and Mex­ico the lead pri­or­ity, backed by aims to re­new mul­ti­lat­eral ac­tivism and a meet­ing of minds with pres­i­dent Obama.

Don­ald Trump’s elec­tion in 2016 rein­tro­duced a threat to vi­tal Cana­dian in­ter­ests. In­ter­na­tion­ally, an ef­fort to di­ver­sify mar­kets and part­ner­ships pro­ceeds but on mul­ti­lat­eral is­sues, Canada seems wary about an­tag­o­niz­ing a newly na­tion­al­is­tic White House—an ap­proach that has been un­pro­duc­tive in the past.

For­eign Af­fairs—re­named Global Af­fairs—ap­pears an un­wieldy bu­reau­cracy strug­gling with chal­lenges of the new dig­i­tal, in­ter-ac­tive and pub­lic diplo­macy en­vi­ron­ment. An even more nar­rowly-cen­tred PMO mo­nop­o­lizes key U.S. pol­icy is­sues, though Global’s high-pro­file and ef­fec­tive Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land is gain­ing in­ter­na­tional trac­tion.

Canada’s pub­lic im­age shines, driven by an en­vi­able record of man­ag­ing plu­ral­ism and an at­trac­tive and pos­i­tive leader. The coun­try’s im­pact abroad is in­creas­ingly chan­neled by in­ter­na­tion­al­ist Cana­dian cit­i­zens and busi­nesses, cre­ators, uni­ver­si­ties and civil so­ci­ety.

His­tory doesn’t move for­ward in a straight line. In a more com­pet­i­tive and dan­ger­ous world where pop­ulist na­tion­al­ism stalks even the US, the hun­dred-year du­al­ity of bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral im­per­a­tives is more rel­e­vant than ever for Cana­dian diplo­macy—and iden­tity.

Canada’s pub­lic im­age shines, driven by an en­vi­able record of man­ag­ing plu­ral­ism and an at­trac­tive and pos­i­tive leader. The coun­try’s im­pact abroad is in­creas­ingly chan­neled by in­ter­na­tion­al­ist Cana­dian cit­i­zens and busi­nesses, cre­ators, uni­ver­si­ties and civil so­ci­ety.

There can be no let-up in ef­forts to cham­pion and ad­vance Cana­dian in­ter­ests—our “busi­ness”—while diplo­macy leans in to im­prove con­di­tions for global se­cu­rity, well­be­ing, and gov­er­nance—our en­dur­ing “pas­sion.”

Li­brary and Archives Canada photo

Prime Min­is­ter Lester B. Pear­son and Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy at the Kennedy com­pound in Hyan­nis­port, May 1963.

Archives Canada photo Li­brary and

Prime Min­is­ter Robert Bor­den and First Lord of the Ad­mi­ralty Win­ston Churchill leave the Ad­mi­ralty af­ter a meet­ing in Lon­don in 1912.

Ron­ald Rea­gan Pres­i­den­tial Li­brary and Mu­seum photo

Prime Min­is­ter Brian Mul­roney and Pres­i­dent Ron­ald Rea­gan at the G7 sum­mit in Venice in June 1987, only a few months be­fore the suc­cess­ful ne­go­ti­a­tion of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agree­ment.

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