The post 9/11 period and the past five years have witnessed a change in the strategy that Canada takes in its foreign policy and an increasing debate in Canada’s foreign policy. Although there has been considerable aspects indicating romanticism in Canada’s foreign policy, it has always been clear that Canada has always prioritized its interests over the interests of others.
Attention is brought to the personality of Canadians which is split based on their opposed reasoning regarding their role in the world. One reasoning perspective connects them to the reality that the government should at all times protect the interests of its citizens when dealing with other states. This way of reasoning makes Canadians think in terms of security, sovereignty, territory, prosperity and economic development. As opposed to the reasoning perspective of realism, there is the romantic approach regarding Canada’s role in the world. Romanticism focuses on the establishment of a world that is more just through the reduction of countries inequities, increased democracy, support of the victims of injustice and poverty eradication. In most cases realism and romanticism cannot be reconciled although there are instances that both perspectives can be utilized in coherent strategies.
Recent times has seen the transformation of Canada’s foreign policy goals from safeguarding its sovereignty, economic development and national security to the establishment of peace building, value projection and the creation of norms. Certain scholars consider this goals overreaching and contradicting the interests of the countries. Concerns are raised as to how well the broad targets of the foreign policy can be achieved. It is argued that focusing on the transformation of the behavior of the state instead of particular conflict resolution often achieves less.
With a realistic approach to foreign policy, it has to be understood that the underlying principle is functionalism. The context in which the term functionalism is used is meant to refer that Canadians should target particular issues that they have specific interest in and would thus allow Canada to develop a contribution that is effective.
Canada relies heavily on foreign trade in order to realize prosperity as a nation. This means that foreign policy should greatly be focused on trade relations. Considering the fact that the United States is the biggest trading partner to Canada, its foreign policy is technically reduced to a relationship between the two countries. The post 9/11 period called for Canada to clearly define its stand regarding foreign policy and to avoid standing in the “middle line” between the rest of the world and United States. Alienating itself from the United States and focusing on the broader global community is a tall order for Canada.
The precautions that Canada were to meet after the 9/11 attacks gave a clear hint of how its commercial activities can face disruptions due to the close of borders, as a security measure The geography of Canada is such that it has a massive coastline and as such is not only isolated but also exposed. Its reason for the development of broad international relationships is increased by the presence of a powerful neighbor, the United States.
A realistic approach is more suited to the Canada situation in the approach of its foreign policies. Canada has in the recent past witnessed a decline in its influence as a result of absence of hard resources. It is also of interest to note that the survival of Canada, economically, heavily relies on the market of an individual foreign power. These two factors greatly influence the approach that Canada takes in its foreign policies.