The morning after he led the Liberals to a stunning victory in 2015, Justin Trudeau had a clear message for those who believed Canada had relinquished its role on the world stage: “We’re back.”
But four years later, the world beyond Canada’s borders hasn’t received much attention during this 40-day election campaign, according to a leading expert on international relations.
“It’s stunning that this election campaign has really not dealt with foreign policy, has not dealt with the world,” said Janice Stein, founding director of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.
“I call this the bubble election. We’re living in a bubble, we Canadians. We talk about ourselves as if the world isn’t impinging on us but it’s impinging on us on every single issue that matters to us — the environment, energy, exports, trade, security,” Stein told The House.
It’s not like the world is a particularly stable place right now. Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria is sowing chaos, tensions are still simmering with China over trade and the detention of three Canadians, and the Brexit project has profound implications for the future unity and stability of Great Britain — and that’s just the short list of major foreign policy concerns likely to land on the desk of the person Canadians choose to be their next prime minister.
“It’s a messier world and it’s a meaner world,” former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson told The House.
“Under (U.S. President) Donald Trump, we don’t have the friend we thought we had, that reliable partner both on security and trade. And so, we are having to manage on our own.”
When the campaign kicked off last month, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer attacked Trudeau’s record on foreign affairs.