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  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: This policy brief examines developments regarding resolution of the Syrian issue, particularly in light of three key events: Russia’s announcement of a withdrawal, Geneva III talks and the opposition’s latest announcement that they wanted the talks to cease given increasing aggression on civilian areas. For the opposition belonging to the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), Assad cannot have a role in Syria’s political future, particularly given that his regime and its allies is responsible for 95 per cent of the casualties in the country, far exceeding any other actors in Syria, including the Islamic State organisation.(1) This policy brief looks at the outcomes of the third round of Geneva III, what Russia has gained from its intervention and so-called withdrawal, and argues that any future proposals for Syria which maintain Assad’s position will result in continuation of fighting.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Andrea Charron
  • Publication Date: 12-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Canada’s use of sanctions is little studied which means the full scope and effect of this tool are not appreciated. Until 2006, Canada applied sanctions in support of the United Nations almost exclusively. Since then, Canada has also applied discretionary sanctions in support of allies such as the European Union and United States’ measures in addition to those required by the UN Security Council. Lacking extraterritorial reach and with this new tendency to layer sanctions (applying UN and additional measures) requires the navigation of multiple pieces of Canadian legislation. Banks and private companies, which are largely responsible for giving effect to Canada’s sanctions, must navigate this legislation. This has ensnared a few Canadians in the process with little evidence that Canada’s application of sanctions is compelling its targets (people, companies, and states) to change their behaviour. Canada’s application of sanctions is a signal of its desire to support multilateral, collective security efforts – nothing more or less.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Canada
  • Author: Colin Robertson
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can use this week’s Washington Summit to advance Canadian interests with the Obama Administration. Successful outcomes in Washington will also help to set both the agenda and right mood for the upcoming North American Leaders Summit and, next January, for opening discussions with the next U.S. Administration. A Canadian action agenda is outlined below followed by background and historical analysis. Specific initiatives are grouped in four baskets: Security; Trade and Economic; Climate and the North; and Getting It Done.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Colin Robertson
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: On Wednesday, June 29th, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will host US President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for the tenth North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS). All three leaders want this meeting to succeed. For President Obama, it will advance his climate agenda continentally and help to cement his legacy in managing good neighbourhood relations. Climate also rates high in President Peña Nieto’s agenda, along with improving access for Mexican goods and mobility for Mexicans within North America. In terms of Canada-Mexico relations, President Peña Nieto expects Prime Minister Trudeau to announce the lifting of the obnoxious Canadian visa requirement. For Prime Minister Trudeau, making his debut as host of a multilateral summit, it is another demonstration that ‘Canada is back’. He must reset the Mexican relationship by announcing the long-promised lifting of the visa. He will get to know Enrique Peña Nieto better (they met briefly at November’s G20 summit and they were friendly ‘rivals’ for ‘APEC ‘hottie’ at the subsequent Manila summit). The summit represents another opportunity for ‘face-time’ with Barack Obama with whom he has quickly established a strong personal friendship and to reciprocate the hospitality of the White House meetings and state dinner in March. The North American summit comes within a week of the Brexit referendum. It will offer an opportunity for the three leaders to demonstrate a different kind of continental integration – less centralized, less bureaucratic – but still successful in mutually advancing economic prosperity that reinforces the sovereignty of each member.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Chris Westdal
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Canada and Russia are on speaking terms again. Our government has abandoned Stephen Harper’s policy of vocal disdain and the attempted isolation of Russia. We stand against Russian “interference” in Ukraine but, in the words of Global Affairs Minister, Stephane Dion, “the more we disagree, the more we have to discuss.” This paper describes the setting of Canada-Russia re-engagement in terms of current tension in East-West, NATO-Russia relations and of heightened Canadian foreign policy aspiration; rehearses the case for earnest, long-term Western and Canadian engagement, with investment of senior attention and talent; cautions that, though a bit of spring has sprung, there is a lot of ice to thaw, as bilateral sanctions are likely to be lifted only in step with allies and the implementation, halting at best, of the Minsk peace plan; assesses Russia’s vulnerabilities and the record of its interventions in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria; recommends active Canadian support, by all means, for Ukrainian-Russian reconciliation and for a better fence, a “mending wall” between Russia and NATO; and suggests formats and first steps toward the normalization of bilateral and multilateral relations with our Arctic neighbour.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Canada
  • Author: James Milner
  • Publication Date: 09-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The resettlement of 25,000 Syrian refugees has been a prominent policy priority of the Liberal government since the October 2015 elections. This paper asks how Canada can build from its resettlement accomplishments in the context of three upcoming events: the High-Level Meeting of the UN General Assembly on 19 September 2016; US President Obama’s Summit on 20 September 2016; and Canada’s likely accession to Chair of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in October 2016. Given that these opportunities coincide with a need for substantial reform of the UN’s refugee system and Canada’s desire to re-engage with the United Nations System, the paper argues that the Government of Canada should prioritise three areas of leadership in the next two years: sharing its model for private sponsorship of refugee resettlement; championing the implementation of the new Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework in pilot countries; and leading a consultation process to make international cooperation for refugees more predictable. Leadership in these areas will contribute to a more efficient and effective refugee regime. It will also demonstrate Canada’s recommitment to multilateralism and advance Canada’s foreign policy objectives, including its bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
  • Topic: Refugee Issues
  • Political Geography: Canada
  • Author: Thomas Juneau
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The proposed $15 billion sale of light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia has brought significant attention – mostly negative – to Canada’s partnership with the Arabian Peninsula kingdom. Much of this criticism is valid: the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia is abysmal, and Canada and its allies incur costs by being associated with Riyadh’s poor foreign policy choices. But to stop the analysis here and call for the cancelling of the deal fails to take into account the strategic rationale underlying the relationship with Saudi Arabia. Despite its many flaws, the partnership between Saudi Arabia and West, and therefore Canada, remains necessary; rejecting it and turning Saudi Arabia into a rival would make things worse. An important implication is that the best way forward with regards to the LAV deal is to collectively hold our nose, uphold the agreement, and move on.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Canada, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: John M Weekes
  • Publication Date: 08-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: This paper looks at the significance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) for Canada. It situates the Agreement in the changing environment within which global commerce is conducted. It considers the prospects for TPP ratification, generally, in the US and Canada. It looks at the nature of the TPP as an agreement. It discusses the impacts on Canada in particular in the growing Asia Pacific region. Finally, it suggests options should TPP not be ratified in a timely fashion by the United States.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Canada
  • Author: Colin Robertson
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Energy, the environment, and climate change will figure prominently in Canada-US relations after January 20, 2017. The environmental movement will continue to press for ‘environmental justice’ –which means different things to different groups - in alignment with allies, especially indigenous peoples. Regardless of whether it is a Clinton or Trump presidency, Canadian leadership - provincial, federal, and private sector - must pro-actively advance our interests with Congress, the Administration and its agencies, and with state governments. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump plan to spend a lot of money on infrastructure, including that related to energy. US business likes this idea. A majority of Republicans and Democrats, in both the Senate and House, as well as governors, would like more money devoted to infrastructure. Again, there will be opportunities for collaboration, improving North America’s relative competitiveness. Trade figured prominently throughout the campaign with Hillary Clinton stating that she would not accept the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in its current form and would appoint a ‘Trade Prosecutor’. Donald Trump has declared he will “tear up” the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and not sign the TPP. Regardless of who becomes president, we can expect more US protectionist trade action whether aimed directly at Canada - levies on softwood lumber are coming soon - or indirectly, as we recently experienced on aluminum when the US took aim at China.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Eric Miller
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: With a majority government and a different world view than his predecessor, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is re-making Canada’s foreign policy priorities and approaches. This paper offers some suggested approaches for engagement with Latin America. In the area of trade, the paper recommends seeking associate membership in the Pacific Alliance while continuing to strengthen linkages with Mexico within the North American commercial policy framework. It also suggests exploring the scope of what is possible with countries with which Canada does not have free trade agreements, especially Brazil and Ecuador. On the security front, the paper suggests that Canada needs a strategy for the Colombian peace process and to step up support to Mexico in strengthening the integrity of the southern border of North America. With regards to foreign policy, Canada needs a serious strategy for the new Cuba and needs to expand its diplomatic representation, namely in Paraguay and Bolivia. Finally, on the institution-building front Canada needs to secure senior positions at the Inter-American Development Bank and Organization of American States in order to help to drive institutional reform. Canada further needs a coherent strategy to attract in-bound foreign investment from Latin America. The region is rich with possibilities and a coherent engagement strategy can deliver much.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Canada, Latin America