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An Independent Foreign Policy for Canada?

An Independent Foreign Policy for Canada?: Challenges and Choices for the Future

Brian Bow
Patrick Lennox
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 224
  • Book Info
    An Independent Foreign Policy for Canada?
    Book Description:

    Divided into sections about the history of Canadian foreign policy, diplomacy, security, economics, decision-making and new policy issues, this collection of prominent political scientists provides valuable and timely perspectives on the state of Canada's international relations in the twenty-first century.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8835-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-xiv)

    It is a distinct honour to be asked to greet the readers of this timely volume of well-written and well-argued essays with a few of my own words. It is also gratifying to have my first published book resurface as anagent provocateurfor a new generation of scholars working on the empirical and normative dilemmas raised in a rapidly changing world by their country’s being joined at the hip to the United States.

    In the forty years that have elapsed since the debate I edited for the University League for Social Reform was published asAn Independent Foreign Policy...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-2)
    Brian Bow and Patrick Lennox
  5. Introduction: The Question of Independence, Then and Now
    (pp. 3-22)

    In 1968 the University League for Social Reform published a collection of essays under the titleAn Independent Foreign Policy for Canada?(hereafterIFPC?).¹ The culmination of a year’s worth of debates at the University of Toronto, featuring a diverse group of academics and former policy-makers, the collection effectively captured the intense feelings of uncertainty, frustration, and even excitement about foreign policy that swept the country at the end of that turbulent decade. This relatively unheralded volume, edited by a junior scholar named Stephen Clarkson, has since come to be recognized as a substantial work in the field, and it...

  6. PART ONE: Continuities and Discontinuities, Structure and Choice
    (pp. 23-24)

    This part of the volume features two very different kinds of arguments about what Denis Stairs once referred to as ‘will and circumstance’ – that is, the question of where the weight of circumstances leaves off and the policy-maker’s capacity to choose (and be held accountable) begins. One takes a broader historical perspective, and reflects on the evolution of Canadian attitudes towards foreign policy ‘independence.’ The other looks under the surface of day-to-day policy choices to make an argument about the deep structural forces that drove Canadian foreign policy through the twentieth century, and will continue to drive it in the...

  7. 1 Running in Circles: The Canadian Independence Debate in History
    (pp. 25-40)

    Independence is hardly a Canadian word. It cannot be found in the original British North America Act, in the 1982 Constitutional Act (including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms), or even in the national anthem. Nonetheless, this idea of freedom from external pressures or influence has been one of the history of Canadian foreign policy’s dominant themes, one that has existed since well before the time of Confederation and continues to resonate today. The intensity of the argument over the extent of Canada’s so-called independence in world affairs probably reached its peak around the time of the publication of Stephen...

  8. 2 The Illusion of Independence
    (pp. 41-60)

    A foreign policy independent from the pre-eminent international power is difficult to achieve unless one is a rogue or a rival state. Of course there will be opportunities for middle powers to pursue initiatives of international importance independent from what the United States happens to be doing in the world, but those will likely be few and far between, and, to the extent that they can be achieved without at least the tacit backing of the superpower, are likely to have minimal impact on the grand scheme of world politics. The fact of the matter is that Canada inhabits an...

  9. PART TWO: Dealing with Uncle
    (pp. 61-62)

    In this section Brian Bow and Stephanie Golob consider the evolution of Canada’s strategic approach to managing relations with the United States. Bow returns to one of the key questions of the original IFPC? debate: whether or not American retaliation, or the anticipation of retaliation, sets strict limits on Canada’s independence. This, he argues, is more complicated than is commonly understood. The United States has been prepared to employ direct, ‘tit-for-tat’ linkages to force other countries to change their policies, but the historical record suggests that it has not been prepared to do so with Canada. That does not mean, however,...

  10. 3 Rethinking ‘Retaliation’ in Canada–U.S. Relations
    (pp. 63-82)

    Given the overall asymmetry of the Canada–United States relationship, and the sheer scope of Canada’s strategic and economic dependency on the United States, how much room is there for Canada to pursue policies that are at odds with those of its southern neighbour? When and where is it deterred or forced back by the threat of American retaliation? These are crucial questions for both the study and the practice of Canada’s relations with the United States, and its foreign policy more generally. Much has been said and written on the question of retaliation, but very little of it is...

  11. 4 The Return of the Quiet Canadian: Canada’s Approach to Regional Integration after 9/11
    (pp. 83-100)

    The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) is perhaps the most ambitious and noteworthy institutional innovation in the realm of North American regional integration since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) side accords. As such, it was announced with much fanfare by the three national leaders at their summit meeting in Waco, Texas, in March 2005.² However, in contrast to its trinational mandate for security cooperation and regulatory harmonization and its prodigious sprawl across multiple agencies and key policy agendas of the three member states, the SPP has been, in practice and in public, a quiet affair....

  12. PART THREE: Finding Security in the Continental System
    (pp. 101-102)

    The traditional concept of sovereign security seems to be unravelling under the stresses of globalization, global climate change, and the transnational terrorist threat. Indeed, critical international relations scholars, NGOs, and Canada’s own Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade have been pushing for a broadening of the traditional notion of security to include important ‘human security’ concerns. There has been some evolution in the way that security is understood in the context of the bilateral defence relationship with the United States – particularly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, which dramatically highlighted the new importance of non-state actors, unconventional weapons, and...

  13. 5 An Independent Security Policy for Canada in the Age of Sacred Terror?
    (pp. 103-117)

    In 1968, when the University League for Social Reform gathered leading Canadian thinkers together to ponder the possibility of an independent foreign policy for Canada, the context included Vietnam, where the United States was escalating its engagement in what Washington viewed as a key battleground in the Cold War. In 2008, as this question is raised again, the context includes Iraq, where the United States recently escalated its engagement (in the form of a counter-offensive popularly called ‘the surge‘) in what Washington views as a key battleground in the war against al Qaeda.

    Although Canada’s freedom to take an independent...

  14. 6 Walking and Talking Independence in the Canadian North
    (pp. 118-134)

    This chapter examines the relationship between Canada and the United States in the Arctic. In thinking about Canadian independence and dependence in the Arctic one immediately faces the problem of attempting to determine what independence means, what independent action looks like, and whether or not independent action is possible, or even desirable.

    In the originalIFPC? volume, Stephen Clarkson defined an independent Canadian foreign policy as one that is made by Canadians for Canadian interests. In the introduction he asked what caused the lack of a Canadian independent foreign policy: was it that the United States did not allow Canada...

  15. PART FOUR: Economic Policy-Making in a Complex Environment
    (pp. 135-136)

    The two chapters in this part of the volume help us to appreciate the sheer complexity of the context for policy-making in Canada today – particularly with respect to economic relations with the United States – and some of the varied, cross-cutting implications for Canada’s independence. We often think of Canada–U.S. economic relations in terms of Robert Putnam’s ‘two-level game’ model of international bargaining, where two diplomats face off against one another, struggling to find a favourable but mutually acceptable settlement, and thereby satisfy their own domestic constituents. In practice, of course, there are more than two levels, and the game...

  16. 7 Maintaining Policy Discretion: Cross-Border Policy-Making and North American Integration
    (pp. 137-162)

    Stephen Clarkson’s prescriptions for an ‘independent foreign policy’ for Canada are firmly rooted in the assumptions and normative commitments of 1960s English Canadian economic nationalism – whatever the subsequent adjustments of his analysis in response to changes in global and North American political and economic conditions.¹ He views an independent foreign policy, at least in part, as a means of providing a national project capable of overcoming domestic political divisions by enhancing policy distinctions from the United States in pursuit of a more independent role in the world.

    Achieving greater economic independence from the United States is intended both to foster...

  17. 8 An Independent Foreign Policy for Canadian Provinces?: International Trade and Sub-Federal Autonomy
    (pp. 163-182)

    During the past several decades Canadian provinces have demonstrated an increasing interest in international affairs. Initially, Quebec pursued nationalist goals related to language and culture. Today, however, provincial governments engage a wide range of political and economic objectives external to the Canadian state. British Columbia, for example, recently signed an environmental agreement with California on climate change. Ontario has challenged New York on issues of government procurement. Quebec now has a ‘formal’ role in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and is seeking similar representation in other international forums. The government of Alberta has also opened an...

  18. PART FIVE: New Frontiers of Independence
    (pp. 183-184)

    The essays in this part of the volume explore two issues – culture and environment – that are ‘new,’ not in the sense that the policy challenges themselves are new, but rather in the sense that they were not considered in the original IFPC? volume, and have been relatively marginal in subsequent debates over the question of independence. Each of these policy areas represents a layer of the larger phenomenon of globalization, and each has grown rapidly in importance within the foreign policy agenda over the last forty years. The very nature of these challenges raises difficult questions about whether any country...

  19. 9 Imagining Independence: At the Intersection of Cultural and Foreign Policies
    (pp. 185-206)

    Forty years after Stephen Clarkson’s volumeAn Independent Foreign Policy for Canada?, a discussion of Canadian international policy-making would be incomplete without analysis of its cultural dimension. Cultural policy figured anecdotally in the earlier volume. However, in a world defined by globalization, where flows of people, ideas, and images cross borders with increasing speed and regularity; where governments seek to project their distinctiveness abroad; where ideas form the basis of the information and services economy, culture, broadly construed, is a crucial element of the discussion of Canadian foreign policy independence. My chapter, therefore, explores two mirror images at the intersection...

  20. 10 Canada and Kyoto: Independence or Indifference?
    (pp. 207-221)

    Published in 1968,An Independent Foreign Policy for Canada?, edited by Stephen Clarkson, is both time-bound and timeless. The volume is timebound insofar as the introduction refers to the radical intent of the volume, but when read through the eyes of a critical feminist scholar, the radical nature of the volume is not so obvious. Diplomats and bureaucrats are referred to as ‘he,’ Canada is a ‘she,’ there is one female contributor, and the environment is not mentioned in the volume. Moreover, the world constructed throughout the text is one dominated by states that have the ability to make choices...

  21. Conclusions: Beyond ‘Independence’
    (pp. 222-230)

    In the introduction to this volume, we argued that the ‘quiet diplomacy’ versus ‘independence’ dichotomy drawn in the original 1968 volume captured some of the main lines of debate over Canadian foreign policy at that time, and continues to resonate today. But we believe that the dichotomy has tended to oversimplify the challenges, and obscure some of the choices, before us. Our aim here has thus been to take us (in dialectical fashion) beyond the ‘independence’ debate towards a mature discussion of Canada’s future place in the world that would be grounded in a more fruitful, synthesized middle ground between...

  22. Bibliography
    (pp. 231-248)
  23. Contributors
    (pp. 249-250)