Canada and the Americas

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Excerpted from Canadian Press New Canadian strategy for Americas expected Harper to attend Summit of Americas next month by Jennifer Ditchburn March 22, 2012

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is poised to unveil a reinvigoration of his government’s muddled Americas strategy when he meets with hemispheric leaders next month.

The Canadian Press has learned that cabinet discussed a renewal of the foreign-policy directive last week. Harper is expected to discuss details of how Canada will re-engage with Latin America and the Caribbean during the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, April 14-15.

The previous Americas strategy, first signalled in 2007, had three pillars: security, prosperity and democratic governance. But the Foreign Affairs Department’s own internal evaluation last year suggested the strategy was mostly talk and little action, citing a lack of resources and poor understanding of the policy….

Colin Robertson, a former diplomat and fellow at the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute, said he’ll be looking for signs that Harper is truly invested in the Americas strategy and of genuine efforts at a time when the government is slashing budgets.

“There’s tough decisions ahead. Are they going to put the weight behind an Americas strategy that they’re putting behind say a Trans Pacific Partnership or freer trade with Japan?” said Robertson.

“Meanwhile, you’ve got ongoing relations with China, India and the Europeans. So, eventually you’ve got to make some choices and prioritize.”