A View from Canada
NATO’s 60th birthday in April 2009 found Canadian policy-makers pre-occupied with issues close to home, even as the Canadian Forces (CF) prosecutes its most complex and dangerous overseas mission since Korea.1 At the time of the NATO summit the Government of Canada had not articulated a comprehensive policy tackling the myriad issues in the trans-Atlantic file. But two macro policy issues—the mission in Afghanistan and military transformation—are receiving significant, on-going attention. The former, particularly, is notable in that it has acted as a catalyst for the latter, while at the same time sparking debate on Canada’s security “culture.” It remains to be seen whether public unease over the human and material costs of the Afghanistan engagement will alter perceptions of the value and purpose of the trans-Atlantic security relationship.
Following an examination of recent political developments, this chapter will explore how Canada’s domestic political landscape, strategic culture, and external relations shape current policy. The picture that emerges is twofold. First, even though Afghanistan dominates the agenda, trans-Atlantic relations are multi-dimensional. Second, Canadians are internationalist by inclination but remain quite continentalist in practice. The country values its membership in the United Nations (UN), NATO, and the Group of Seven most industrialized democracies (G-7). It is also committed to advancing the cause of global governance, as witnessed by strong support shown for the UN’s Re-