Term Paper: Canadian Policy Brief Report

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Canadian Policy at the Crossroads: Protecting Canada's Independence In The Age Of Globalization

The foreign relations of Canada are by nature, very much centered upon its southern neighbor, the United States. This is true for both trade and foreign policy considerations. In addition, Canadian governments have also had active relations with many other nations. These relationships have been mostly but not exclusively via multilateral organizations such as the Commonwealth of Nations, the United Nations, NATO and La Francophonie.

While Canada has very often sided with Great Britain and the United States in its foreign policy, it has attempted to guard a degree of autonomy in foreign affairs as exhibited in the Chanak Crisis of 1922-23 and in the Canadian failure to support the United States in the Iraq War in 2003. Even still, Canada remains a critical component in the West as a founding and continuing member of NATO and a combatant in the War on Terror with its continued commitment to the fight in Afghanistan. In terms of international trade, we continue in NAFTA, GATT and the G8 as a fully integrated member of the global trading networks.

It is the position of the author of this brief that the best course for Canada is to chart the course that has guided it in the past. While Canada has to take into account its foreign commitments, including strong relationships, particularly the United States and our multinational commitments in the Commonwealth of Nations. Given recent actions of the Governor General, it is the opinion of this author that it is time to reexamine British-Canadian relations as the influence of the crown has become too intrusive in internal Canadian issues. This is a topic of primary concern in a coalition government that includes our New Democratic Party.

Background, Context and Importance of the Issues:

Historically, Canadian foreign policy as a domestic product dates basically to the late 1840's when Britain's remaining North American colonies that constitute modern day Canada achieved self responsible (that is parliamentary) government in the British style. Until the late 1840's, the wars, treaties and diplomacy of Canada were carried out by the British government. Many of these negotiations concerned the settlement of disputes concerning the colonies with regard to fishing, boundaries and the promotion of trade. Before responsible government was achieved, diplomatic relations and negotiations emphasized the peaceful resolution of Anglo-American relations and were not so centered upon domestic Canadian issues (Allen 24).

This changed with the Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 that indicated a very important change in relations between Britain and Canada. In this treaty, Canadians were allowed to have tariff duties more favorable to a foreign power than the United Kingdom. This brought about stiff opposition within Great Britain itself when Canada passed new tariffs in 1859, 1879 and 1887 while the tariffs were disallowed in the British Isles.

This smart promotion of Canadian interests continued unabated. Soon after the Canadian Confederation was formed, the first Canadian Prime Minister Sir John a. Macdonald appointed special lobbyist Sir John Rose as Canada's chief lobbyist in England. Later on Prime Minister Alexander Mackenzie sent George Brown as the special Canadian envoy to Washington during British-American trade talks concerning aspects of the negotiations that would impact on the Canadian economy. An indicator of further Canadian independence was exhibited in 1878 when the government sent Alexander Galt to London, France and Spain to promote Canadian interests. Although this strident Canadian promotion of its interests in the foreign arena raised some eyebrows in Whitehall, in 1880 the British government assented and extended to Galt a formal title of High Commissioner. Canada went further in 1894 by appointing a trade commissioner to Australia.

As much as it might seem that Canada was completely calling the shots for itself in the area of foreign policy, this was not quite the case. For instance, when High Commissioner Charles Tupper was on the team that negotiated an agreement with France in 1893, the agreement was countersigned by the U.K. ambassador as Queen Victoria's official representative to France. In a preface to later divisive issues that would come in the future, Quebec sent its own representative Hector Fabre to Paris in 1882 in an exercise of its own independence.

Outside of trade, the early period of Canadian diplomacy witnessed only limited Canadian responses to international incidents. For instance, in 1878 escalating tensions between Russia and Britain brought little response from Canada save a few defense upgrades. However, during the Sudan Crisis of 1884-85, the U.K. called upon Canada to contribute soldiers. Due to Ottawa's reticence to commit troops, the Governor General raised 396 voyageurs at British expense that later saw action with the British Army on the banks of the Nile. Eventually by 1885, Canadians offered to volunteer, but the Canadian government did nothing, unlike Australia that raised and paid for its own troops. As we shall see later on in this brief, the Governor General has not always acted in concert with the elected federal government's policies.

Canadian foreign policy became more important during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, especially with regard to trade. Because of Canada's critical contributions to the British effort during World War One, British Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden indicated that Canada be allowed to function as a separate signatory to the Versailles Treaty and that Canada subsequently join the League of Nations as a separate and independent entity (Holloway 21-28).

While Canada had a separate Canadian War Mission in Washington D.C. between 1918-1921 it did not truly have a seriously and completely independent foreign policy until 1921. In the midst of the Greco-Turkish War, Britain found that it could not count upon the unqualified support of the Commonwealth countries of Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

In September of 1922, British squadees stationed at Chanak guarded the nearby Dardanelles from imminent Turkish attack in the wake of Kemal Attaturk's recent subjugation of Greek forces Smryna. The lack of Commonwealth support (of which Canada was an important part) for Britain hobbled U.K efforts to counter Turkish moves in Anatolia. Indeed, in 1923 Prime Minister MacKenzie King insisted that the Chanak Crisis should be a matter for the Canadian Parliament to decide. By the time the Parliament of Canada had done this, Chanak had passed into the history books, but not before some profound and permanent results. Britain was forced to abandon the Treaty of Sevres that ended hostilities between the Allies and Associated Powers with the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I and brought about the negotiation and adoption of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923 (ibid 125). This new treaty completely redrew the map of Anatolia and restored the territorial integrity of Turkey in favor of the new, revolutionary Attaturk regime. In addition, the political future of Britain was altered as the coalition government of Prime Minister Lloyd George fell apart. Certainly, the first official experiment in Canadian foreign policy independence had unintended, but map altering consequences (Darwin 32-48).

At the Imperial Conference of Oct. 1-Nov. 8, 1923, the British recognized the independent status of the Dominions of Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Specifically, this conference recognized the right of the Dominions to negotiate and make treaties with foreign powers.

The Chanak Crisis was not the last time the Canadian government would flex independent foreign policy muscle. Prime Minister MacKenzie King would dominate Canadian government for the better part of two decades from the 1920s until the 1940s. His focus was to steer an independent foreign policy from Britain. In March 1936, as Germany rearmed the Rhineland, he informed Britain that Canada would remain neutral. At an Imperial Conference of all the Dominion Prime Ministers in London in June 1937, he indicated to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain that only if Germany directly attacked Britain would Canada intervene to defend the Crown. During 1937, Mackenzie King met with Hitler in Germany, the only North American head of government to meet directly with the German dictator. Even when Britain did declare war on Germany and the Canadian Prime Minister had fully mobilized the his armed forces, MacKenzie King delayed declaring war until September 10, 1939, a full week after Britain's declaration in order to assert Canadian autonomy (Holloway 132)oHHH .

During World War II Canada returned to the fold of Britain's fighting dominions, but with a focus on and alliance with the United States. The exigencies of war made any break with Britain impossible and permanently ended any remote possibilities of American invasion. Canada was to come into the fight however more as an ally of the United States than of Great Britain. MacKenzie King played a major factor in defeating neutralist sentiments south of the border and in wooing the U.S. into the fight against Hitler (Holloway 44).

Largely due to the Gouzenko affair of 1945, Canada came into Cold War as an anti-Soviet country. Indeed, by 1946, as the affair unfolded, Canada became even more hawkish anti-Soviet than the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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