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  • January 19th, 2017

Will Trump derail Canadian multilateralism?

Prime Minister Trudeau speaks with journalists following a cabinet shuffle in Ottawa. January 10, 2017. //// Le premier ministre s’adresse à des journalistes après un remaniement ministériel, à Ottawa. 10 janvier 2017.

To better position Canada for the impending Trump presidency, PM Trudeau has shuffled key Cabinet portfolios, replacing veteran Stéphane Dion at Global Affairs with former International Trade Minister and Trudeau insider Chrystia Freeland. At the same time, he announced that Freeland will keep the all-important Canada-USA trade file.

Rideau Institute President Peggy Mason asks:

By adding Canada’s most important trading relationship to the  Foreign Minister’s responsibilities is PM Trudeau not exacerbating a risk already inherent in the Trump Presidency—that Canada’s broad multilateral agenda will be sidelined, if not completely derailed?

We know that Canada’s re-engagement in UN peacekeeping has run into heavy flak at National Defence. Given Trump’s open hostility to the UN, we need a Foreign Minister keenly focused on the broad international “Canada is back” agenda, while Canada-USA trade is managed by a strong Trade Minister.

Then there is Chrystia Freeland’s “problem” with Russia.

How exactly does Canada pursue a more constructive dialogue with Russia—an objective we allegedly share with the incoming President—when our new Foreign Minister, under personal sanctions because of her outspoken, indeed Harperesque, support for Ukraine, cannot even travel to Russia?

Only time will tell, but it seems to us that the appointment of Chrystia Freeland as Foreign Minister could have substantial downsides for Canada.

Photo credit: PM Trudeau official website

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