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  • Author: Colin Robertson
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: An internationalist and a progressive, Justin Trudeau consistently boosts diversity, social justice, environmentalism and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. A gifted retail politician, Trudeau prefers campaigning and contact with voters to the hurly-burly of the House of Commons. He possesses an empathy and emotional intelligence most people found lacking in his famous father, Pierre Trudeau. But are these attributes and causes out of sync with our turbulent times? Mr. Trudeau is learning firsthand what British prime minister Harold MacMillan warned U.S. president John F. Kennedy what was most likely to blow governments off-course: “Events, dear boy, events.” As Trudeau begins a second term as prime minister, the going is tougher. The Teflon is gone. He leads a minority government with new strains on national unity. Parliament, including his experiment in Senate reform, is going to require more of his time. Canada’s premiers will also need attention if he is to achieve progress on his domestic agenda. Does he have the patience and temperament for compromise and the art of the possible? The global operating system is increasingly malign, with both the rules-based international order and freer trade breaking down. Managing relations with Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is difficult. Canadian farmers and business are suffering - collateral damage in the Sino-U.S. disputes. In what was supposed to be a celebration of “Canada is back”, there is doubt that Canada will win a seat on the UN Security Council in June 2020. Losing would be traumatic for his government and their sense of Canada’s place in the world. It would also be a rude shock for Canadians’ self-image of themselves internationally.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Justin Trudeau
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Adam Chapnick
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: On Feb. 11, 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau briefed the Ottawa press corps after a meeting with the United Nations (UN) secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon. Having pledged during the 2015 election campaign to re-engage with the UN, he noted that doing so would include “looking towards a bid for the Security Council.” Perhaps this comment should not have surprised. The Conservative government’s failure to win a Security Council (UNSC) seat in 2010 had been a subject of Liberal ridicule for years. Yet, council membership was not included among the Liberals’ 167 campaign promises, nor was it mentioned specifically in then-Foreign Affairs minister Stéphane Dion’s mandate letter. One month later, Trudeau met with Ban again, this time in New York. Afterwards, with Dion looking on, Trudeau announced that Canada would be joining the 2020 Western European and Others Group (WEOG) election for one of two non-permanent seats on the Security Council in 2021-2022. The move was unprecedented. It marked the first time that a Canadian prime minister, and not the Foreign Affairs minister or a member of the foreign service, had publicly declared Canada’s initial interest in a council seat. It was also the first time that Canada had deliberately entered an already contested election: Ireland, Norway and San Marino would be its opponents for two WEOG seats. This brief history of Canadian interest in Security Council membership will suggest that attempting to return to the UNSC was the right decision, made at the wrong time, and for the wrong reasons.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Government, Politics, History, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Canada, United Nations, North America
  • Author: Eugene Lang
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Two hundred and forty days. That is the average length of tenure – eight months – of the national security advisor to the U.S. president during the past two-and-a-half years. With the resignation or firing (depending on who you listen to) of John Bolton, Donald Trump is now on to his fifth assistant to the president for national security affairs, the official title of the job. It is an historic anomaly of epic proportions. Since the position was created during the Eisenhower administration in the early 1950s, on average national security advisors have served 32 months, exactly four times the average shelf life of Trump’s advisors (and Trump is only just over halfway through his first term of office).1 Revolving doors are of course a hallmark of the Trump administration, but does this one really matter?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, National Security, Politics, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Jeff Collins
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Substantive defence issues rarely make national political campaign platforms. However, in the 2019 federal election, reforming the defence procurement bureaucracy to overcome delays became a highlight for not one but two of the country’s main political parties. To “ensure that priority projects are progressing on time and on budget”, the Conservatives called for the creation of a defence procurement secretariat within the Privy Council Office, akin to a model used by the Robert Borden government in the First World War. The winning Liberal party went further and promised to create a separate defence procurement agency, called Defence Procurement Canada (DPC). As of this writing, details remain sparse, but as with the Conservatives, the ostensible purpose of such a reform is to ensure that “Canada’s biggest and most complex defence procurement projects are delivered on time and with greater transparency …” Considering that the government’s own defence white paper, 2017’s Strong, Secure, Engaged (SSE) found that 70 per cent of all defence procurement projects were not delivered on time, the existing bureaucratic process warrants a serious look. In fact, a substantial shake-up of the Canadian defence procurement bureaucracy has not taken place since the last separate procurement organization, the Department of Defence Production (DDP), was abolished in 1969. Arguments for altering the bureaucratic architecture of Canadian defence procurement have ebbed and flowed since the mid-2000s, when the first of successive governments began acquisition plans for replacing decades-old fleets of equipment, including CF-18 jets, Protecteur-class auxiliary oiler replenishment ships, Halifax-class frigates and Iroquois-class destroyers. With much publicized delays in these and other major Crown projects (MCPs), reform advocates have drawn attention to Canada’s multi-departmental procurement process as a source of frustration. Unique among allies, Canada relies principally upon three departments – National Defence (DND), Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) and Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) – for acquiring MCPs. Other countries typically rely on one of three approaches to acquiring material for their armed forces: procurement by individual armed services (United States); centralized government organizations (United Kingdom) or independent civilian corporations (Sweden). Although it is not clear whether the Liberal proposal is a new department (akin to the DDP), a Crown corporation or an agency under the DND’s auspices, any restructuring of the defence procurement system will not be easy. No matter what shape it takes, any new organization must deal with rearranging a complex set of institutional realities based on decades’ worth of statutes, policy frameworks and human resources allocations. Political realties still apply, too. Any new organization must contend with Canadian procurement politics, including the impact of new governments, differing priorities, regionalism and purchasing patterns.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Politics, Military Affairs, Weapons , Military Spending
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America