SUPPORT US

In The Media

New Canadian strategy for Americas expected

by Canadian Press (feat. Colin Robertson)

CBC News
March 22, 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is poised to unveil a reinvigoration of his government's muddled Americas strategy when he meets with hemispheric leaders next month.

The Canadian Press has learned that cabinet discussed a renewal of the foreign-policy directive last week. Harper is expected to discuss details of how Canada will re-engage with Latin America and the Caribbean during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, April 14-15.

The previous Americas strategy, first signalled in 2007, had three pillars: security, prosperity and democratic governance. But the Foreign Affairs Department's own internal evaluation last year suggested the strategy was mostly talk and little action, citing a lack of resources and poor understanding of the policy.

Since then, Foreign Affairs has consulted widely on how to rewrite the strategy, holding internal forums last fall and taking in submissions.

Indications are that trade, or the prosperity pillar, will now play a much bigger role in the government's foreign policy for the area — part of a belief that expanded trade will in turn lift more people out of poverty. Of four stakeholder forums held last fall, three were focused on trade.

 

Lack of funds shut Latin American think-tank

But whether the department will get the manpower and money it needs to strengthen the strategy is unclear.

Observers say there's not much to suggest Canada is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to Latin America.


'The Latin Americans are thinking more about how they can deal together, finding this self-identity, this solidarity. … Here's where Canada had an opportunity, or has an opportunity to play a big role'
—Peter Hakim, president emeritus of Inter-American Dialogue

Last year, Canada's only real think-tank on the hemisphere, FOCAL, closed its doors for lack of funding. It had been set up by Brian Mulroney's Conservative government but had been starved for dollars in recent years.

FOCAL would often provide a conduit for contact between organizers of the Summit of the Americas, interested CEOs, academics and the Canadian government.

Peter Hakim, president emeritus of the influential Inter-American Dialogue in Washington, says he's spoken less to Ottawa over the last year than in any previous year. He said there's been little promotion of the Summit of the Americas by Ottawa, and he's had little discussion with anyone in Canada.

Hakim says that follows a trend of less engagement by the United States as well.

 

Opportunity for Canada to 'play a big role'

"The Latin Americans are thinking more about how they can deal together, finding this self-identity, this solidarity. … Here's where Canada had an opportunity, or has an opportunity to play a big role," said Hakim.

"It could be calling people together to talk about this, it could be trying to create some kind of real deeper thinking that might bring Latin America and the U.S. (and Canada) closer together, but somehow it seems it's not as engaged as it might be."

Canada's approach in the Summit of the Americas is already largely about trade. Harper will take part in a CEO's forum within the summit, where up to 23 Canadian executives will be meeting with other corporate chiefs from across the region.

In addition, there will be a specific CEO forum between Canada and Brazil, one of the world's new powerhouse economies.

By contrast, Canadian participation in a series of civil society forums, on issues such as aboriginal affairs and labour, is described by insiders as thin. Canada's ambassador to the Organization of American States met with NGOs on Tuesday and offered a last-minute appeal for them to get involved — on the last day of registration.

 

Ramped up efforts on trade

The Conservative government has ramped up its focus on trade in the hemisphere over the last year. Harper travelled to Brazil, Colombia and Honduras last summer, while Trade Minister Ed Fast and junior Foreign Affairs Minister Diane Ablonczy have been shuttling around the hemisphere. Ablonczy is currently on another swing through Latin America.

Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, said he'll be looking for signs that Harper is truly invested in the Americas strategy and of genuine efforts at a time when the government is slashing budgets.

"There's tough decisions ahead. Are they going to put the weight behind an Americas strategy that they're putting behind say a Trans Pacific Partnership or freer trade with Japan?" said Roberston.

"Meanwhile, you've got ongoing relations with China, India and the Europeans. So, eventually you've got to make some choices and prioritize."

Fast just returned from a trip to Argentina, where he pushed the idea of a trade pact between Canada and the Mercosur customs union in South America.

 

Chance to enter Trans Pacific Parternship

"Deepening and broadening Canada's economic relationship with high-growth markets like Mercosur is a key part of our pro-trade plan for jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity," Fast said Tuesday.

Brazil is an attractive potential trading partner for Canada, but wouldn't be able to sign a bilateral deal because of its agreement within Mercosur.

That leaves the possibility of other sectoral agreements with Brazil, such as pacts that would allow engineering services and other expertise into the South American country.

At the same time that Canada courts Brazil, it is also salivating at the chance of entering the Trans Pacific Partnership. The nine-country union that crosses the Pacific into Asia has what one official described as the "next generation" of trade agreements, where almost nothing — including procurement and investment — is left off the table.

Canada's existing trade deals with Chile and Peru, two members of the TPP, are seen as positives in its campaign to join.

Harper will be visiting Chile after the Summit of the Americas.


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
UPCOMING EVENTS


No events are scheduled at this time.


SEARCH
EXPERTS IN THE MEDIA

Global Times: BRICS summit displays the potential of a new future

by Editorial Staff (feat. Swaran Singh), WSFA 12, June 24, 2022

Oil's Dive Won't Bring Any Immediate Relief on Inflation

by Alex Longley, Elizabeth low, and Barbara Powell (feat. Amrita Sen), BNNBloomberg, June 24, 2022

China To Tout Its Governance Model At BRICS Summit

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), The Asean Post, June 23, 2022

Soutien aux victimes d’inconduites sexuelles dans l’armée

by Rude Dejardins (feat. Charlotte Duval-Lantoine), ICI Radio Canada, June 23, 2022

Defence: $4.9 billion for radars against Russian bombs

by Editorial Staff (feat. Rob Huebert), Archynews, June 23, 2022

The Hans Island “Peace” Agreement between Canada, Denmark, and Greenland

by Elin Hofverberg (feat. Natalie Loukavecha), Library of Congress, June 22, 2022

What the future holds for western Canadian oil producers

by Gabriel Friedman (feat. Kevin Birn), Beaumont News, June 22, 2022

At BRICS summit, China sets stage to tout its governance model

by Liam Gibson (feat. Stephen Nagy), Aljazeera, June 22, 2022

Crude oil price: there are no changes to the fundamentals

by Faith Maina (feat. Amrita Sen), Invezz, June 22, 2022

Few details as Liberals promise billions to upgrade North American defences

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Andrea Charron), National Newswatch, June 20, 2022

Defence Minister Anita Anand to make announcement on continental defence

by Steven Chase (feat. Rob Huebert), The Globe and Mail, June 19, 2022

Table pancanadienne des politiques

by Alain Gravel (feat. Jean-Christophe Boucher), ICI Radio Canada, June 18, 2022

Russia Ukraine conflict

by Gloria Macarenko (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC Radio One, June 17, 2022

New privacy Bill to introduce rules for personal data, AI use

by Shaye Ganam (feat. Tom Keenan), 680 CHED, June 17, 2022


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 150–9th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 3H9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: [email protected]
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2022 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email