Recommended Readings for Oct 2nd Event: Canada – What Power Have We Become?

Recommended Readings for Oct 2nd Event, Canada – What Power Have We Become?

 Our next event continues with the September 25th debate’s theme of changing state power, this time focusing on Canada and asking “What Power Have We Become?” With the slow decline of the United States, Canada’s place in the world is changing as well. Our ability to continue to be a moral and economic global leader depends on how well we are able to adapt in an increasingly complex world.

Our first recommended reading, written by one of the speakers of the October 2nd event Adam Chapnick, gives us some historical background, covering the history of how the United Nations came to be and what role Canada played in its inception. Chapnick contends that Canada played a relatively small role in the UN’s creation as Ottawa was unable to effectively coordinate between internationalists, like Lester Pearson, and Ottawa pragmatists still wary of multilateralism and the great powers. Chapnick sees Canada’s greatest early contributions to the UN as being in the area of economic and social issues but argues that we were unable to champion a middle-power movement of like-minded states to counter-balance the great powers.

The second reading comes from the Conservative party itself, which highlights all the ways that Canada still leads the world, specifically in banking, economic stability, international development, especially in the area of global health and our contributions to global security.

Our third reading is by the Canadian International Council, a report entitled “Open Canada: A Global Positioning Strategy in a Networked Age” in 2010, which was a part of a series of events and conferences concerning Canada’s position in a changing globe. The CIC outlines the ways in which the world has and is changing, including the melting of the arctic, the hardening of borders (especially in the US) post-9/11, the economic decline of the US and the rise of India, China and Brazil, climate change and the shift away from older multilateral institutions such as the UN and the World Trade Organization in favour of more flexible groupings, such as the G20 and ASEAN. To combat theses changes, the report argues that Canada needs to own its reputation and behaviour to make sure that we are capable of punching above our weight on the global stage, if at least in areas that are of the utmost concern to us. If we want to be a leader in the areas of finance, energy, global health or peacekeeping, it is up to us to focus and work hard to stay relevant and innovative in these areas. Countries like Brazil and Norway have successfully advanced their global position in the face of unpredictable change and we can too. The report goes on to recommend 12 principles for action that will enable Canada to continue to be a leading middle power.

The final article comes from the Parliament of Canada and states, “Canada is required to continually confront the question of its international role and influence in a rapidly changing world.” Through globalization, more central agencies are focused on Canada’s international policies, which has created an increased need for the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (now the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development) to focus on “forging coherence across Canada’s diplomatic efforts in different policy areas.” This reading complements the CIC’s arguments that Canada’s real challenge is our ability to shape a specific issue at hand, which relies on “the package of capabilities it can bring to bear, relationships it has developed, and the attention it devotes to an issue.”

Caitlin Reid

Event Coordinator and Administrative Assistant

Canadian International Council – Toronto Branch

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