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Dialogue Paper >> The 1995 Policy Review and Since

A Dialogue on Foreign Policy

A Dialogue on Foreign Policy
A Better Canada, a Better World
The 1995 Policy Review and Since
The three pillars
Interdependence and multilateralism
The Canada-U.S. relationship
Recent global changes
Security cooperation
Canada's military security
Approaches to non-military security
Canada and North America
Globalizing prosperity
Canadian prosperity and global vision
Values and Culture
Sharing our values and experience
Promoting our culture
A request to Canadians

The 1995 Policy Review and Since

The three pillars

Following extensive Parliamentary reviews, in 1995 the Government of Canada released a statement, Canada in the World, setting out three related aims or "pillars" for our foreign policy: the protection of our security within a stable global framework; the promotion of prosperity and employment; and the promotion of the values and culture that Canadians cherish. These three pillars define goals that Canada is pursuing on many fronts, from multilateral institutions and bilateral relations to a host of initiatives in response to recent global trends.

Interdependence and multilateralism

As global interdependence has accelerated, domestic and foreign policies have become more closely interwoven. New technologies have generated unprecedented flows of people, capital, goods, information and ideas across national borders. The international system that Canada has worked with other countries to construct offers benefits by allowing us to collaborate on shared problems too large for any nation to solve by itself. In a rules-based framework, nations can address their differences through dialogue rather than conflict. Canadians have been leaders in shaping much of this international system, and we have reaped the benefits at home. The Government believes that Canada should remain in the forefront of nations crafting innovative international institutions and adapting existing institutions in ways that enhance their ability to address global problems. In the years ahead, Canada will need to support the evolution of international institutions, and to participate in them in ways that serve our country's values and interests.

The Canada-U.S. relationship

Even in a pervasively interdependent world, certain relationships have particular importance for Canadians. None is more vital than the one we share with the United States, our closest ally and continental neighbour. That relationship is our most important - not only because of shared values, history, geography and countless family ties, but also because of the currently unmatched global power and reach of the United States. Our trade relationship is central to our economic well-being: Americans buy over 85 percent of our exports of goods and services; we purchase 25 percent of their exports; and our countries are partners along with Mexico in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The busiest trade corridor in North America is the Windsor-Detroit gateway, which handles nearly one third of this two-way Canada-U.S. trade flow.

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, Canada has joined the United States in the new global fight against terrorism. The threats posed by global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction are matters of grave concern to both Canada and the U.S. They require vigilance and cooperation by our two countries, in partnership with other nations and international institutions. Ultimately, our expressed resolve to address these threats may require firm action, with multilateral support. The U.S. has been playing a unique leadership role in this effort. That is why Canada has strongly encouraged and supported U.S. engagement and cooperation with the United Nations in dealing with the particular threat posed by Iraq. We will continue to work with the U.S. and other countries to ensure that the United Nations and other institutions are effective, particularly in times of crisis.

We will continue to work with the U.S. and other allies to protect the values that we hold in common, such as freedom, tolerance and respect for cultural diversity. We will also continue our effective cooperation under the Smart Border Declaration to ensure the flow of commerce that is so important to the North American economy. While opinion varies among Canadians about how best to protect our values and how to make a more secure world, Canada's friendship with the U.S. remains firm and close.

Recent global changes

Canada's role in the world is also being affected by recent changes across the globe. Rapid advances in information and communications technology have changed the face of international affairs, as has the boom in global trade. The growing prominence of environmental issues in international policy, the expanding partnership between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the broadening and deepening of the European Union, the formation of the African Union, and the emergence of new "middle powers" - all pose questions about Canada's relative influence in the world. Closer to home, the strengthening attachment to democracy in Latin America and the progress achieved toward a Free Trade Area of the Americas create the potential for Canada to become more closely linked with the hemisphere. In addition, renewed global commitments to development assistance hold out prospects for us to work multilaterally in realizing the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Worrying developments also confront the international community: the crisis over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; the growing number of states with nuclear weapons, and North Korea's announcement of a nuclear weapons development program; the intensification of conflict over Kashmir; the escalation of conflict in the Middle East; the hundreds of thousands of deaths in civil wars; the over 30 million refugees or displaced persons; and the economies and societies facing collapse as a result of HIV/AIDS, especially in Africa.

The Government of Canada has responded to these new realities with a range of undertakings to promote global security, advance global trade and act effectively in the Group of Eight (G8)leading industrial democracies. Most recently, Canada led a ground-breaking G8 initiative to support Africa's integration into the global economy. Progressive African leaders have drawn up the New Partnership for Africa's Development; the G8 Africa Action Plan aims to support this initiative by focusing development efforts on countries with demonstrated commitments to democracy, good governance and human rights. Canada has also joined the Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, an international non-proliferation initiative.

On these and many other fronts, Canada faces the challenge of responding to recent global changes in ways that allow us to advance our foreign policy goals. We ask you to reflect broadly on how Canada should chart its course for the future.

  • Previous: Introduction
  • Current: The 1995 Policy Review and Since
  • Next: Security
  • Prosperity
  • Values and Culture
  • Conclusion
  • Questions for Discussion

    The 1995 Policy Review and Since

    1. Which values and interests bear most fundamentally on Canada's foreign policy? How can Canada's foreign policy better reflect the concerns and priorities of Canadians?
    2. Amid recent global changes, should Canada continue to endorse a "three pillars" approach to its foreign policy objectives, or should the current balance be adjusted?
    3. Canada is a member of many international organizations, including the G8, NATO, the Commonwealth, La Francophonie, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Arctic Council. Should our participation in any of these be strengthened, or adjusted?