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Foreign policy is a policy that governs international relations of a country. It lays out ways in which sovereign states relate with each other and the world at large to achieve their economic and political objectives. Through a foreign policy, a country is able to persuade other nations to suit its own interests. In the world today, there has been an increase in interdependence between a globalized community and Canada. The country has stood firm in its foreign policy traditions such as promoting international corporations, elaborate problem solving, and institutional building, which continues to take the front row in Canada's foreign policy. Through this, human security is maintained and enhanced at the same time. The purpose of this brief from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is to inform the incoming prime minister of Canada about the background of Canada's foreign policy; it will also give recommendations on the way forward to enhance the country's position in international affairs.


The role of Canada in international affairs has always been debatable, and its foreign policy emerged between 1945 and 1957. It was during this time that Canada became a sovereign state and started receiving international recognition. Over the years, Canada's foreign policy has developed from being heavily dependent on Britain to an autonomous function of the central government of Canada. Many factors played a major role in developing the policy. Through a time of uncertainty, Canada managed to lay a foundation for its now strong policy. The open-mindedness of the Canadian government and international organizations that had been embedded in the central government made Canada's foreign policy what it is today. This led to Canada having a deep sense of pride in being involved in global affairs. There are several factors that affect the effectiveness of Canada's foreign policy, and they include decline in Canada's standing in the world, the presence of enough resources in Canada, and ease of maintenance of the foreign policy.

Approaches and results

The approach used in this brief involves looking into past secondary sources and publications on the foreign policy of Canada. Professional, private, and governmental publications were used to work out a comprehensive brief. In this section, I will discuss the various factors that affect the foreign policy, the role of Canada in international affairs, considerations of the future foreign policy and their pros and cons, its priorities, and a new direction that is to be taken to enhance Canada's role in international affair.

Factors that Affect the Effectiveness of Canada's Foreign Policy

The role of Canada in international affairs

Canada enjoyed massive power immediately after World War II, since it had one of the largest militaries in the world and economic stability due to its provision of raw materials in the midst of the war. This was the period when Canada gained its strength in international affairs and played a major role in the development of the framework of the United Nations. However, over the years, Canada's strength and role in the international world has rapidly declined. Therefore, there has been a huge restraint in its capabilities and the avenues pursued by Canada in its foreign policy. Canada cannot be termed as a superglobal power and neither can it be termed as a small global power. Canada lost its glory of military power a long time ago, and neither is it an economic power. Being the middle power has made Canada play a certain role in international affairs, since it does not have economic or military abilities to do what a great power can do. However, it has the economic and military power to do what small powers cannot do, which is its unique role (Blencowe).

Peacekeeping/making role

Due to its strong military power, Canada still plays a major role in peacekeeping. Given that the world is increasing in its interdependencies, it is a good chance for Canada to help out in peacekeeping missions.

Canada's role in international affairs is slowly fading. It is no longer recognized in the international arena since it is neither an economic power nor a military power. It is now evident that Canada is losing its contemporary identity in the international arena (Malone).

Considerations of the Future Canadian Foreign Policy


Canada needs to have partners to help in its endeavors, especially the superpowers. This will help the country in building confidence in its citizens in whatever activities they set out to do. On the other hand, partnering with the superpowers may render Canada powerless in undertaking the activities it set out to do in the beginning.

Exercising Sovereignty

There has been an increasing change in the importance of the Arctic. Canada being a sovereign state can exercise its sovereignty by delivering its priorities in the international arena. This is possible by establishing bilateral relationships with its neighbors such as the US to fulfill its priorities in the Arctic. This way, it will be possible to overcome all the challenges faced and it will help seize the opportunities that have been identified.


Canada's capacity may be compromised and hinder its ambitions of becoming a superpower again due to the partnership with the US.

International organization and forums

By taking part in international organizations and forums such as G20 summits, Arctic council, and G8 summits, Canada will get an upper hand in the economic and political environment in the world. This will also enable Canada to live up to the standards set out by these organizations. It is also an opportunity to share its values of equity and democracy with other countries.


Canada may fall short of what is expected of it in international affairs, and this may make its citizens lose confidence in their own country.

The Canadian foreign policy priorities

Canada's foreign policy has the following priorities:

  • To contribute to the economy through the implementation of an updated Global Commerce Strategy

A Global Commercial Strategy will be put in place to make sure major players in Canada have access to key markets to ensure economic prosperity.

  • Promotion of democracy and respect for human rights

Leadership is a crucial part in building a lasting democracy, and Canada is no exception. Hence, it will dwell on leadership issues and democracy, as well as accountability issues and international security challenges.

  • To improve and strengthen the relations between Canada and the US

Canada is set to increase its foreign investments in the USA and provide its innovation and technical support so as to enhance the ties it has with the US.

  • An increase in the engagement that Canada has in Asia, both economic and political

A plan will be put in place to strengthen the country's partnership with Asia in terms of the economy and politics. Canada will also pursue market access by having bilateral agreements with Asia.

  • To enhance safety awareness for its citizens living out of the country

There will be public awareness and provision of emergency assistance to the citizens who are living abroad.

  • Implementation of the Arctic foreign policy

This will enable Canada to exercise its sovereignty and solve boundary issues that exist in the North.

A new direction should be taken to enhance Canada's role in international affairs.

Niche diplomacy

Canada's strength in international affairs has decreased in the recent past, and countries like the USA have taken over while Canada cannot act in the same capacity as the US. Previously, Canada followed popular trends such as multilateralism and structural adjustment. However, in the most recent past, it has been bending towards unilateralism. It no longer enjoys the power that the big players enjoy; therefore, it cannot afford to continue in its old manner. Its foreign policy must at all costs reflect its international capacities.

At the moment, Canada has a good chance in modeling its foreign policy to reflect niche diplomacy and its international strength and maintain Canada's national identity. This will also provide an avenue that will be beneficial to both Canada and its partners. Niche diplomacy entails concentrating resources in sectors that can generate high returns, rather than investing in almost all fields. Therefore, instead of heavily investing in rebuilding and institutional reforms, security, and ethics, Canada can just concentrate on human security. This approach emphasizes the comparative advantage, maximum impact on national interest, and efficiency. Through this strategy, the results will suit the country's best interests. Niche diplomacy will take advantage of the rising trend of democratization of foreign affairs in conjunction with domestic resources, hence great and satisfying results (Blencowe).


Canada was once a superpower, but its influence has declined in the recent past. It is currently not widely recognized in international affairs; its major roles have also declined, and so has its capacity to act. It is, therefore, very important for the incoming prime minister to relive its glorious days. This can be achieved through Niche diplomacy, strengthening Canada's relations with the super powers, and ensuring its strong partnerships with Asian countries. As a result, the country will be able to increase its economic ability or its military capability and come back to its former glory.

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