Canada Global

Reframing Canada’s Global Engagement: A Diagnostic of Key Trends and Sources of Influence

September 1, 2020


Canada’s last International Policy Statement, framed in the wake of 9/11, is almost two decades old. During this time, the world has evolved in fundamental ways that unsettle many of the assumptions Canadian policy-makers and citizens have operated with for more than half a century.

Many of the normative ideas and practices that fueled international politics in the first two decades after the end of the Cold War are being reshaped, contested, or openly challenged. The system beneath our feet is being transformed. The potential shape of its replacement is still uncertain but could potentially have marked negative consequences for Canada.

This report begins by summarizing a number of features of Canada’s population, economic power, and geographic and political position, which continue to call for international engagement. Section Two then provides a strategic assessment of the current global environment and the most significant risks it poses to Canada’s interests and values. Section Three identifies core Canadian sources of influence that could enable our country not only to survive in this more difficult international environment – what we could consider a ‘minimalist’ achievement – but also to positively advance our interests and to encourage the development of a global context more closely aligned with Canadian values.

A Diagnostic of Key Trends August 2020