As the Asian world has risen, Canada has paid little attention
January | February 2019
Canada’s population of Asian origin has been growing consistently since the early twentieth century, today exceeding fifteen percent of our overall populace and fast heading considerably higher. Yet modern Canada has remained resolutely trans-Atlantic in its orientation, with interest in the Pacific Ocean region and Asia modest and fitful for the majority of Canadians.
While Asia’s economic growth…
Canada under the Liberals seems poised to rejoin the world. But how does multilateralism work in the era of Trumpism and Brexit?
Under the recent Conservative dispensation in Ottawa, everything was pretty simple on foreign policy: speak loudly, often stridently, and carry not much of a stick. For the new Liberal government, everything is more complicated. Its electorate and the party membership expect something more. Early gestures—in keeping with the steady, optimistic tone Justin Trudeau projected during the last election—have been met with plaudits…
Recalling a high-water mark in the history of Canadian diplomacy
In September 2015, United States president Barack Obama, on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, presided over a meeting of 50 or so countries determined to reinforce the UN’s capacity to mount effective peace operations. If they deliver, the outcome could prove a major boost to the UN’s overstretched 120,000 or so peacekeepers.
A Foreign Affairs maven assesses a bold new prescription for Canada abroad
This 107-page report from Canada25 reaches us, on gusts of puffery from Michael Ignatieff, Jennifer Welsh and The Walrus’s Ken Alexander, as a communiqué from a terrific initiative.
Four years ago, a number of young Canadians, including three working at the McKinsey consulting firm, concerned about the brain drain from Canada to (mainly) the United States and having concluded that working through political parties was slow and not always a satisfactory way of achieving either impact or…
Portrait of a civil servant whose power would be inconceivable today
O.D. (Oscar) Skelton was the seminal figure, working closely with two contrasting prime ministers, who shaped an autonomous Canadian foreign policy, moving Canada away from a subaltern role within an imperial system geared mostly to London’s interests. His monumental tenure as undersecretary of state for external affairs from 1925 to 1941 would be unthinkable today, as would his modus…
Bracing insights into Canada’s always uneasy relationship with our closest friend
These two very different books—Patrick James’s Canada and Conflict and Geoffrey Hale’s So Near Yet So Far: The Public and Hidden Worlds of Canada-U.S. Relations—make a useful contribution to the literature, situating themselves at opposite ends of the scale of ambition and of price. Each provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on…
Not just the world’s attitude, but Haiti itself, requires enormous change
Barbara McDougall, writing in these pages in 2007, described Haiti as a place “that tugs at the heartstrings.” It does. Even since then, the challenges to this poorest country in the Americas have grown, through natural disasters, political mismanagement and well-meaning but insufficiently effective international efforts to help, notably after the earthquake of January 2010. Haiti fatigue sets in—even before most of us have gathered sufficient knowledge of the country to make considered…
How a Canadian Jesuit founded a secular education system in a remote mountain nation
Of Bhutan’s history, its recent emergence from seclusion, its international relations and its economic, social and political model, I knew next to nothing at the time of my appointment as non-resident ambassador of Canada to the government in Thimphu, its tiny, scenic capital. Of the country’s connections with Canada, I knew even less. Imagine my surprise…