Is Canada really “back?”
The still-new Liberal government and its still-popular prime minister are fond of using that line to describe their approach to foreign policy and international relations, arguing that Ottawa had fallen back into the shadows on the world stage under Stephen Harper. But is that how the world sees it?
At least one former world leader says yes. Kevin Rudd, Australia’s 26th prime minister and now president of the Asia Society Policy Institute in New York, told the West Block’s Tom Clark that there is palpable excitement over Canada’s renewed diplomatic engagement.
“As I said to the Canadian foreign minister this week here in Ottawa, we’re not just trying to make it sound good for you guys and say sweet things in your ear,” Rudd said.
“The truth is there’s a genuine excitement in the international community about a more activist Canada in the forums of the global community, including the United Nations, and I think people are looking forward to that stronger Canadian voice.”
That’s not to say there was zero engagement under Harper, he noted, but there is something new in the air with the Trudeau government that has people talking.
Rudd was also asked about Canada’s possible bid to reclaim a seat on the UN Security Council, something that the former Australian prime minister predicted will require plenty of patient lobbying by the prime minister and his cabinet.
That level of activism in foreign policy “can be exhausting,” he warned.
As for Canada’s approach to China as a major international trading partner, Rudd told Clark that he doesn’t like to give too much specific advice to other governments about how to deal with the Chinese, but he does have one suggestion:
“My only advice to anyone negotiating a free-trade agreement with our Chinese friends is China has produced some of the toughest negotiators in the world on trade, so be tough.”
Watch the full interview with Kevin Rudd above.