Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Canada Is Right to Push Back against Trump's Isolationism

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Canada Is Right to Push Back against Trump's Isolationism

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Canada is right to push back against Trump's isolationism


An editorial from the Toronto Star, published June 6:

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland didn't mention Donald Trump by name as she set out the Trudeau government's foreign policy priorities on Tuesday.

She didn't have to. Canada, like the rest of the world, is scrambling to figure out how to deal with Trump's relentless "America First" agenda, and Freeland gave a strong, positive answer. The response, she said, must be to reaffirm our long-standing commitment to upholding the international order. If the United States steps back, we and others must step up.

This is right as far as it goes, and it will resonate both with Canadians and others worried to see the U.S., in Freeland's words, "shrug off the burden of world leadership," most recently in Trump's misguided decision to pull out of the Paris Accord on climate change.

The risk for a so-called "middle power" like Canada, as Freeland pointed out, is that the rule-based system constructed in the aftermath of the Second World War will fray if its traditional champion turns inward. Other, less scrupulous powers, like China and Russia, will rush to fill the vacuum of leadership. In a might-makes-right world, the smaller fry (including Canada) will inevitably be more vulnerable.

So Freeland is unquestionably right to underline the often-overlooked benefits for Canada of an "international order based on rules" (including global trade organizations, the United Nations, NATO and the rest). The United States under Trump may be turning its back, but it's to Canada's advantage to encourage others to join in upholding our shared values. Trump, after all, won't be there forever.

Talk, however, is cheap. And Canada's commitment will be measured not just in words but also in deeds and dollars.

We'll start to find out how the Trudeau government will back up Freeland's words on Wednesday when it issues the results of a review of defence policy. The minister promised the government intends to make a "substantial investment" in Canada's military, something that is badly overdue after years of embarrassing delays in procuring big-ticket items like modern naval ships and fighter aircraft.

That type of equipment allows Canada to back up its soft power talk with hard power action, at the right times and in the right places. …

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