1st Session, 42nd Parliament,
Volume 150, Issue 130

Thursday, June 8, 2017
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

Foreign Affairs

International Role

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, my question is also to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Leader, for this question, I don’t think there is anybody more knowledgeable in our country about foreign affairs than you.

In her speech on June 6 in the House of Commons, Minister Freeland stated that Canada must pursue foreign policy, one that advocates cooperation on a multitude of fronts, such as supporting a rules-based international order, investing in our military and strengthening trade relationships.

I note that Minister Freeland focused her attention on our western allies, such as NATO, the EU and NAFTA, but she hardly mentioned the two most important institutions that we have always worked with, and that is the Commonwealth and La Francophonie. Has our focus changed? Are we not going to be working as much with the Commonwealth and La Francophonie? What is our focus now?

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question.

The references made to multilateral institutions are not an exhaustive list; it is representative of the government’s participation in multilateral organizations. Certainly the Prime Minister’s participation last year at the francophone summit in Madagascar is an indication of the Prime Minister and his government’s commitment to La Francophonie. The support for and dedication of the new Secretary-General of La Francophonie in the person of the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean is an expression of Canada’s commitment to multilateralism, and similarly with respect to the Commonwealth heads of government, which the Prime Minister has been and will continue to participate in.

I think the context of the minister’s excellent foreign policy outline describes the appropriate Canadian participation in this wide range of multilateral institutions, and her vigorous defence of multilateralism is at the heart of Canada’s foreign policy interests.

Senator Jaffer: I have a supplementary question. Leader, I think I’ve almost memorized the minister’s speech, and I am most disappointed because when the new government came in, we said Canada was back. That was not a speech of Canada is back. That was a speech of Canada working with western allies, increasing our military and doing trade. I’m convinced that was not a speech of Canada is back because you don’t even mention the Africa Union. We do so much work with them, yet it is not a multilateral organization the minister deemed necessary to mention. Is Canada back?

Senator Harder: I thank the honourable senator for her question and her ongoing interest in these matters of foreign policy.

I read the speech differently, and in response, I want to speak directly to a quote from the speech where the minister reviews the previous challenges of earlier generations with respect to the threats they face and the challenges that Canada faces as those challenges themselves have altered.

She said that the international order that earlier generations built face two new challenges, both unprecedented. What is the first one? The rapid emergence of the global South and Asia:

. . . and the need to integrate these countries into the world’s economic and political system in a way that is additive, that preserves the best of the old order that preceded their rise, and that addresses the existential threat of climate change. This is a problem that simply cannot be solved by nations working alone. We must work together.

I have focused these remarks on the development of the postwar international order—a process that was led primarily by the Atlantic powers of North America and Western Europe.

But we recognize that the global balance of power has changed greatly since then—and will continue to evolve as more nations prosper.

The speech goes on to reference the role of the G20 and other new models of multilateralism that are both referenced, including specific references to Latin American countries, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia, which are on the ascent.