Published: Thu, June 08, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Canada to Rely Less on US Defense in Major Policy Shift

Canada to Rely Less on US Defense in Major Policy Shift

Canada's foreign minister says the country must spend more on its military now that the U.S.is questioning its role of global leadership.

In two months, she faces a hard renegotiation with the United States and Mexico of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which US President Donald Trump has lambasted as "the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere".

The speech came ahead of the publication of Wednesday's defense policy review, which is expected to outline billions of dollars of spending on warships and fighter planes to renew Canada's military capability, and Canada's priorities for foreign military deployments.

First, Freeland said, Canada should "robustly support the rules-based global order".

"To put it plainly: Canadian diplomacy and development sometimes require the backing of hard power", Freeland said in her prepared text.

But as Canada and the United States agree to disagree on a number of global issues, it is likely that the trade and business links between the countries will continue to deepen, and a serious threat to one will have strong repercussions for the other.

"It would be naive or hypocritical to claim before this House that all Americans today agree", she said.

But she had few accolades for President Donald Trump, frequently referring to his policies but never his name. "A fortress Canada approach is not going to be an approach that will maintain our prosperity or our safety", she said.

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Echoing complaints made recently by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Chrystia Freeland told Canada's House of Commons that Washington has chose to forfeit its position of leadership on many issues, forcing Canada to invest in its own armed forces to defend liberal democracy.

Fen Hampson, head of the global security program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, said: "The accent on hard power is interesting as the Liberals have traditionally been soft power champions and she is saying that Canada needs both".

"The third pillar of Canada's foreign policy will be trade, starting with the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and renewed efforts to diversify trade worldwide", she said.

She insisted that Canada could not rely on the "security umbrella" of the United States because that would make it a "client state", even though Canada did seek cover under the American nuclear umbrella throughout the Cold War.

Tuesday's speech cast Canada's interests in sharp contrast to those of the Trump administration, which Trudeau has to date been reluctant to criticize.

She also reiterated Canada's disappointment in Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement and says it is more important than ever for Canada to plot its own course in the world.

Freeland says Canadians will always be grateful for the outsized role the USA has played in the world and Canada will seek to persuade Washington that its continued leadership is in the interest of the US and the free world.

Albeta Member of Parliament (MP) Garnett Genuis also commented on the quick exit from the House of dozens of Liberal MPs after the conclusion of Freeland's speech.

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