OTTAWA — Canada’s new foreign policy will involve spending billions on “hard power” military capability because the country can’t rely on an American ally that has turned inward, says Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.
In a major foreign policy speech in the House of Commons today, Freeland didn’t mention Donald Trump by name, but made an unabashed pitch for the international rules-based order that the U.S. president’s America First policy is attacking.
The speech was meant to foreshadow the release of Wednesday’s defence policy review, when Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is expected to make the case for billions in new military spending.
“To put it plainly: Canadian diplomacy and development sometimes require the backing of hard power,” Freeland said.
“Principled use of force, together with our allies and governed by international law, is a part of our history and must be a part of our future.”
The U.S. has been an indispensable nation in leading the world since then, she said, but that is changing and Canada has to adapt.
“It would be naive or hypocritical to claim before this House that all Americans today agree,” she said.
“Indeed many of the voters in last year’s presidential election cast their ballots, animated in part by a desire shrug off the burden of world leadership. To say this is not controversial: it is simply a fact.”
She reiterated the government’s disappointment in the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
“International relationships that had seemed immutable for 70 years are being called into question,” she said.
“And new shared human imperatives — the fight against climate change first among them — call for renewed uncommon resolve.
She also addressed the protectionism — again without mentioning Trump by name — that has taken root in the U.S. and elsewhere, suggesting that stance is on the wrong side of history.
“Beggar-thy-neighbour policies hit middle powers soonest and hardest,” she said. “This is the implacable lesson of the 1930s and the Great Depression.”