Canada’s foreign minister delivered a remarkable rebuke of President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda during a speech to Canada’s parliament on Tuesday, speaking at length about Canada’s increased responsibility to maintain global order as a “middle power.”
“Canada believes strongly that this stable, predictable international order has been deeply in our national interest,” Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s foreign minister and a close confidant of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, said Tuesday morning. “Yet it would be naive or hypocritical to claim before this House that all Americans today agree.”
Freeland did not name Trump during the speech, yet she alluded to his repeated criticism of international security and trade agreements.
Trump has ruffled feathers during his first few months in office with his posture toward the NATO alliance, as well as international trade deals like NAFTA. Experts say his “America first” policy has represented a departure from recent administrations that have sought to expand American influence abroad.
“Many of the voters in last year’s presidential election cast their ballots, animated in part by a desire to shrug off the burden of world leadership,” Freeland said. “To say this is not controversial: it is simply a fact.”
Freeland said that Canada must assume responsibility for the “renewal” of the “postwar multilateral order.” She outlined three specific ways to do this.
First, Freeland said, Canada should “robustly support the rules-based international order.”
“We will strongly support the multilateral forums where such discussions are held — including the G7, the G20, the OAS, APEC, the WTO, the Commonwealth and La Francophonie, the Arctic Council, and of course NATO and the UN,” Freeland said.
Second, Freeland said she wants to increase military spending to “place the Canadian Armed Forces on a new footing.”
“If middle powers do not implicate themselves in the furtherance of peace and stability around the world, that will be left to the Great Powers to settle among themselves,” Freeland said. “This would not be in Canada’s interest.”
And third, Freeland underscored the importance of global trade pacts that “benefit all parties.”
“We look forward to working with our continental partners to modernise the North American Free Trade Agreement,” Freeland added, and said that Canada will “actively seek” new trade agreements that “reflect our values.”
Freeland’s comments echo German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s following Trump’s visit to the G7 summit in May, when she said Germany could “no longer rely on others.”
As for the US’s role in strengthening and maintaining global order in the future, Freeland didn’t mince words.
“It is a choice Americans must make for themselves,” Freeland said.
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