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timeline event

Garbage Dispute with the Philippines Ends

The Philippines lifted its bans on travel to Canada and interacting with Canadian officials. It had imposed the bans after Canada missed a 15 May deadline to remove 69 shipping containers filled with garbage. The containers were mislabelled as recycling and had been sitting in Philippine ports for up to six years. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had threatened to declare war on Canada if the garbage was not taken back.

timeline event

Canada Temporarily Closes Embassy in Venezuela

Canada announced the closure of its embassy in Caracas, Venezuela. Canada had been supporting opposition leader Juan Guaido’s claim to the presidency after Nicolas Maduro’s re-election in May 2018 was condemned as illegitimate. Canadian diplomats were told their visas would not be renewed after expiring at the end of the month. “Therefore,” Foerign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said, “we are left with no choice but to temporarily suspend our operations at the Embassy of Canada to Venezuela, effective immediately.” On 9 June, Venezuela temporarily closed its consulates in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. It’s embassy in Ottawa remained open.

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Meng Wanzhou Affair (Two Michaels Case)

The Meng Wanzhou Affair (a.k.a. the case of the two Michaels) was a legal and diplomatic dispute that strained relations between Canada, China and the United States. It began in December 2018 when the RCMP in Vancouver arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of the Chinese technologies company Huawei. They did so on behalf of an American court that wanted Meng extradited to the United States. Nine days later, the Chinese government arrested and detained two Canadians: Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor. The two Michaels were imprisoned for 1,020 days. They were freed on the same day as Meng — 24 September 2021. The episode marked the emergence of China’s “wolf warrior diplomacy” and demonstrated Canada’s limited diplomatic options as a middle power.

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Canada and the G7 (Group of Seven)

The G7, or Group of Seven, is an international group comprising the governments of the world’s largest economies: Germany, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada. It was founded as the G6 in 1975 and became the G7 with the addition of Canada in 1976. The Group is an informal bloc; it has no treaty or constitution and no permanent offices, staff or secretariat. The leaders of the member states meet at annual summits to discuss issues of mutual concern and to coordinate actions to address them. The meeting location and the organization’s presidency rotates among the members. The European Union is also a non-enumerated member, though it never assumes the rotating presidency.

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Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA)

The Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) is a free trade agreement between Canada, the United States and Mexico. It is a revised and renamed version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The leaders of the three countries signed CUSMA in November 2018 after 13 months of intense negotiations that concluded in September. Canada was the last country to pass enabling legislation, which received royal assent on 13 March 2020. The agreement came into effect on 1 July 2020.

CUSMA is expected to have only a modest impact on economic growth. However, it could have a major impact on the restructuring of the North American economy. It may also limit Canada’s policy options in moving to a new economy based on knowledge, data and intellectual property.

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Middle Power

In international relations, the term middle power refers to a state that wields less influence on the world stage than a superpower. As the term suggests, middle powers fall in the middle of the scale measuring a country’s international influence. Where superpowers have great influence over other countries, middle powers have moderate influence over international events. Canada was considered to be a middle power during the postwar period — from 1945 until about 1960. Though Canada was not as powerful or prominent as the United Kingdom or the United States during this time, it was an international player that influenced events through moral leadership, peacekeeping and conflict mediation.

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Canadian Foreign Relations

Throughout its history, Canada has taken a series of steps to develop from a British colony into an independent nation. Both the First and Second World War were turning points; Canada’s military sacrifices gave it the strength and confidence to demand its own voice on the world stage. In the postwar era, Canada maintained its role in both Western and global alliances. (See NATO; NORAD; GATT.) However, economics have shaped Canadian diplomacy to a remarkable extent. Because of the United States’ singular importance to Canadian security and trade, relations with the US have dominated Canada’s foreign policy since Confederation.