Canada is ready to move ahead without its closest global ally if forced to choose between relying on international partners or an increasingly isolationist United States, a top minister said.
In the most definitive statement of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy since the election of President Trump, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told lawmakers in Ottawa that the country will continue to support international alliances — both commercial and military — because these ties are in the best interest of a “middle power” like Canada.
“The fact that our friend and ally has come to question the very worth of its mantle of global leadership puts into sharper focus the need for the rest of us to set our own clear and sovereign course,” Freeland said Tuesday.
Trump drew criticism from Germany and France last week for his withdrawal from the Paris climate-change accord and his attacks on the effectiveness of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The situation is more delicate for Canada, which shares the world’s longest international border with the United States and is heavily reliant on it for trade and security.
“It has always been essential for Canada to at least be in sync with its neighbor, but that neighbor is making it difficult,” said Elliot Tepper, a professor of international relations at Carleton University in Ottawa. “Canada has drawn the logical conclusion — as other states are doing — that if the US doesn’t wish to lead, Canada and others will do so.”