Canada’s Foreign Policy Under Scrutiny | Wilson Center
5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

Canada’s Foreign Policy Under Scrutiny

Webcast available

Webcast Recap

As the government of Justin Trudeau prepares to seek re-election this year, Canada's foreign policy is coming under new scrutiny. Has Canada assumed a new mantle of moral leadership in the world? Are the Liberals charting a new course on human rights with Russia, Saudi Arabia and China, and driving change for women? Is its return to peacekeeping real or illusory?

Andrew Cohen, author, professor, journalist and Global Fellow of the Canada Institute discusses Canada's place in the world.

Download the summary below.

Selected Quotes


“The world is important to us in terms of trade. We say certain things at certain times, and I’m glad we lend our support to diplomatic efforts…. My argument has been, and remains today, that given our advantages, given our blessings, given our benefits, we could do much, much more. Smaller countries do more with what they have, than we do.” 

“If we are, in our goals, attempting to do things differently, to raise the stature of women, terrific. What makes me suspicious is that we’re using that as a fig leaf, to a degree rhetorically and otherwise, to obscure what we’re not doing. And what we’re not doing is we are not reaching or meeting commitments that we had long decided we should.”

“Canada’s foreign policy, beyond the United States, has become what I call a gestural foreign policy. It is one gesture at a time, and it’s an illusory foreign policy. It’s not that it doesn’t do good things, but there’s a level of rhetoric unmatched by the reality.”

Andrew Cohen




  • Laura Dawson

    Former Director, Canada Institute
    Former Senior Economic Analyst, U.S. Embassy, Ottawa, Canada


  • Andrew Cohen

    Global Fellow, former Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Canada-United States Relations
    Associate Professor of Journalism, Carleton University