By Kyle Wilmar ’17
Americans have long seen Canada as some sort of socialist paradise to the North. However, Canada has been far removed from socialism for the last eleven years under a majority government and prime minister from the Conservative Party of Canada. Only in the recent 2015 election has the Liberal Party of Canada gained control with a majority government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Following the recent election, talk of Canadian politics has drawn the world’s eye. With the new management of Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party, we can expect a drastic change in Canada’s domestic and foreign policy that will be nothing like those of the conservative party before him. These influences will change their global relations with the rest of the world and the way Canada interacts with foreign powers.
Some have called the return of the Liberal Party in Canada a return to traditional Canadian values. When most people think of Canada they think of a more liberal government than the U.S., with Canada’s universal health care, relaxed border control, and more open drug laws. You would expect that Canada would have a liberal government, but for the last decade, the conservative party has had control over Canada. Now with Trudeau taking over, there will be a return to the liberal policies that most people associate with our neighbor in the north. For decades, Canada has also been a supporter of American military action in foreign conflicts from Korea to Iraq. However, as one of Trudeau’s first actions as Prime Minister, he vowed to stop Canadian involvement in U.S-led coalition bombings of ISIS. If Trudeau continues to instate isolationist military policies in future actions, this will mark a major loss for America in foreign combat operations. Although Canada will still be very much involved in foreign countries, they have chosen to “Engage in a Responsible Way” and will be implementing more humanitarian efforts in the future. For example, Canada has pledged to help the refugees of Syria and Iraq through sending more supplies and training local forces to combat ISIS while America continues to ramp up military campaigns against ISIS. In the past, Canadian policy would have been joining us in these escalations. However, with Trudeau’s more liberal policies Canada will no longer be our sidekick in military action in foreign countries.
What does this mean for us as Americans and world citizens? The period of foreign involvement by world powers is slowly coming to an end. With more countries promoting diplomacy and humanitarian action in the Middle East, there is increased pressure on American foreign policy to take less aggressive military actions. Now that Canada, a major ally of the United States, has opted out of supporting U.S. military actions against ISIS, our grip on the Middle East has loosened. If more countries follow Canada’s example and opt out of military involvement in the Middle East, the Middle East may become more stable and self-reliant as countries are not left with power vacuums from world power interventions. Canada’s change in the way it engages with the Middle East may ultimately impact U.S. strategies as it goes forward without Canadian military backing. The United States is forced to make up for Canada by increasing our own involvement or accepting less military actions in the Middle East. While the U.S. and Canadian involvement in most Middle Eastern countries will hopefully lessen as a result of Canada’s change in foreign policy, one thing that will not change is the United State’s dedication to the state of Israel. As Trudeau has hinted, if Canada continues support for the state of Israel, so shall the United States.
Some have speculated that Trudeau would decrease Canada’s support to Israel. Shortly after the polls ended, Trudeau received a call from Netanyahu to congratulate his victory in the election, and a spokesperson for Trudeau described the call as an affirmation of Canada’s support for Israel. Power shifted to a liberal party in the election, but unlike most Canadian policies, support for Israel will remain the status quo. However, Palestine should be somewhat optimistic that Trudeau voiced opinion on the campaign trail for his desire to create a stable Palestinian state. Moving forward, Trudeau may continue to support Israel but with his party’s more pro-Palestinian platform, Canada may need to adjust its relationship with Israel in order to make support for both groups possible to maintain.
Although relationships between states may still change, Trudeau has already brought significant change to his cabinet members. In a bold move demonstrating his value of equality, Trudeau’s cabinet will be the most diverse cabinet Canada has ever seen. The cabinet will be made up of 30 members with 15 men, 15 women, 2 aboriginal politicians, 2 people with disabilities, and 3 Sikhs. With this diverse pool of cabinet members, Prime Minister Trudeau and the liberal party will bring changes to Canada and its place in foreign policy. With time, we will see the true results of Canada’s return to liberal government.