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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.

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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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Michael Spavor Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison in China

Michael Spavor, who had been detained in China on espionage charges since December 2018 following Canada’s detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a Chinese court. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a statement calling the verdict “absolutely unacceptable and unjust… For Mr. Spavor, as well as for Michael Kovrig who has also been arbitrarily detained, our top priority remains securing their immediate release. We will continue working around the clock to bring them home as soon as possible.”

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Norman Bethune

Henry Norman Bethune, surgeon, inventor, political activist (born 4 March 1890 in Gravenhurst, ON; died 12 November 1939 in Huang Shiko, China). Norman Bethune was an innovative thoracic surgeon who made significant contributions in the field, including the invention or redesign of surgical instruments. He was also an early advocate of universal health care in Canada. A member of the Communist Party, Bethune volunteered during the Spanish Civil War, where he pioneered the mobile blood transfusion unit. In 1938, he travelled to China, where he became a battlefield surgeon for Chinese Communist forces under Mao Zedong. Bethune’s commitment to the welfare of soldiers and civilians during the Sino-Japanese War made him a hero in the People's Republic of China.

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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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The “Two Michaels” Are Released from China

Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians who were detained in China on espionage charges on 10 December 2018 in retaliation for the detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver earlier that month, were released by Chinese authorities. They returned to Canada on 25 September. Their release came one day after a court in BC dropped the case seeking to extradite Meng to the US over wire fraud and conspiracy charges. The two Michaels had spent more than 1,020 days imprisoned in China.

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Canada and the World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the only international organization that regulates global trade. It is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Canada is one of its 164 members. The country plays a central role in the WTO and was also a key member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade that preceded it. In addition to helping craft the WTO’s dispute resolution systems, Canada is among those countries most directly involved in its trade dispute cases.

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Canadian-American Relations

Canada and the United States have a unique relationship. Two sovereign states, occupying the bulk of North America and sharing the world's longest undefended border, each reliant on the other for trade, continental security and prosperity. Despite radically different beginnings, as well as a history of war, conflict and cultural suspicion, the two countries stand as a modern example of inter-dependence and co-operation.

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Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion

The Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion was a battalion of Canadians that fought against fascist forces in the Spanish Civil War (1936–39). It is also a collective name for more than 1,500 Canadian volunteers who served in the conflict, either with the “Mac-Paps” or in other units.

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Persian Gulf War, 1990-91

In 1991, Canada joined an international military coalition to confront Iraq following its invasion of Kuwait. Canada contributed warships and fighter aircraft to the successful campaign to liberate Kuwait. It was the first time Canada sent women to war in combat roles, and it was the first time in decades that Canadian air and naval forces supported each other in a war zone. More than 5,100 Canadian military personnel served in the war, with a peak of about 2,700 in the region at one time. No members of the Canadian armed forces died during the conflict.

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Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force

In 1918, Canada sent troops to Russia as part of an Allied intervention to support Russian government forces against Bolshevik revolutionaries. One group of Canadian soldiers operated in northern Russia, around the ports of Murmansk and Archangel, while another, much larger group, the Canadian Siberian Expeditionary Force (CSEF), was based at Vladivostok. Although the CSEF never fought any battles, 21 Canadians died, most because of disease or accident.

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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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Sovereignty

Sovereignty is an abstract legal concept. It also has political, social and economic implications. In strictly legal terms, sovereignty describes the power of a state to govern itself and its subjects. In this sense, sovereignty is the highest source of the law. With Confederation and the passage of the British North America Act, 1867, Canada’s Parliament was still legally under the authority of the British Parliament. By 1949, Canada had become fully sovereign in relation to Great Britain. This was due to landmark legislation such as the Statute of Westminster (1931). The Constitution Act, 1982 swept away Britain’s leftover authority. Questions of sovereignty have also been raised by Indigenous peoples in Canada and by separatists in Quebec. The latter, for a time, championed the concept of sovereignty-association.