Canada’s Diplomatic Shift Amid Khalistan Row: Reevaluating Middle-Power Approach

The allegations made by Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, regarding the involvement of the Narendra Modi-led Indian government and their intelligence agencies in the killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June have stirred significant diplomatic tensions between the two countries. Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who had been designated as a terrorist by the Indian government in 2020, was fatally shot outside a Gurudwara in British Columbia’s Surrey.

The ongoing diplomatic tension between Canada and India, coupled with the United States’ strategic interest in investing in rapidly developing countries as a counterbalance to China and Russia, has drawn significant international attention. Amid this backdrop, Japan has expressed its viewpoint that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Canadian government may need to consider a “foreign policy reset.”

In a recent article published by The Japan Times, there is an assertion that the Canadian government should consider shifting away from its traditional “middle-power approach” in international relations and place a stronger emphasis on “Indo-Pacific diplomacy.” This perspective reflects the evolving global dynamics and the increasing importance of the Indo-Pacific region in contemporary geopolitics.

Canada-China Row

The Japan Times report draws attention to a pattern of deteriorating relations between Canada and Asian nations, specifically highlighting the ongoing dispute with China. The report underscores that the recent tensions between Ottawa and Beijing are not isolated incidents but part of a broader trend.

The case of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, who were arrested on espionage charges in China following the detainment of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in 2018, serves as a critical turning point in Canada-China relations. This incident, combined with allegations of Chinese electoral interference and threats against Canadian lawmaker Michael Chong, has significantly strained bilateral ties.

These developments have had far-reaching consequences, including record-low favorability ratings of China in Canada and a challenging atmosphere for discussions on engagement between the two nations. It is noteworthy that this trend of deteriorating relations is not limited to Canada alone, as it reflects broader geopolitical tensions and challenges in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

The Japan Times report highlights the complex nature of international diplomacy and the importance of understanding the historical context and interconnectedness of events in shaping diplomatic relations between nations. It is essential for policymakers and diplomats to carefully navigate such situations and seek constructive solutions to maintain stability and cooperation in the international arena.

Canada-Russia Row

The Japan Times report highlights another facet of Canada’s foreign relations, this time focusing on the strained ties between Canada and Russia. The report points out that Canada’s strong support for Ukraine in the ongoing conflict has contributed to the deterioration of relations between Ottawa and Moscow.

Canada’s unwavering support for Ukraine aligns with its commitment to principles of democracy, sovereignty, and the international rules-based order. However, this stance has inadvertently led to strained relations with Russia, which views the situation in Ukraine differently and has been accused of destabilizing actions in the region.

The report underscores the complex diplomatic landscape that Canada finds itself in, where it has strained relationships with not only Russia but also with other major global players, including China. Balancing its commitment to principles and values with the need to maintain diplomatic relationships in a rapidly changing international environment is a considerable challenge.

What Will Happen to Canada if Donald Trump Returns?

The potential return of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency carries significant implications for Canada across various dimensions, as outlined in the Japan Times report:

  1. Economic Impact: Canada and the United States share one of the world’s largest bilateral trade relationships, with the movement of goods and services worth billions of dollars annually. The “America First” policies pursued during Trump’s previous presidency included trade tariffs and renegotiating trade agreements, such as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). If Trump were to return to office, Canada might face trade challenges and economic uncertainties, potentially impacting industries and jobs.
  2. Security Concerns: Canada and the United States maintain close security and defense ties. A divergence in security priorities and policies could have implications for Canada’s national security. Trump’s previous tenure saw debates on NATO contributions and defense spending that could resurface if he returns to power.
  3. Diplomatic Relations: Canada’s diplomatic relationships with other nations, including China and key partners in the Indo-Pacific region, may be influenced by the U.S. administration’s stance and priorities. The report highlights that Canada’s Indo-Pacific strategic engagement could be affected if relations with the U.S. deteriorate under a Trump presidency.
  4. Global Alliances: Canada’s alignment with international alliances, such as the United Nations and international climate agreements, may be influenced by the stance of the U.S. government. Trump’s previous withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and other international accords could impact Canada’s foreign policy choices.
  5. Economic Prosperity: Canada’s economic prosperity is closely tied to a stable and cooperative relationship with the United States. Any disruptions or uncertainties in this relationship could have repercussions on Canada’s economic growth and stability.

Canada’s Focus Should Be on Indo-pacific Diplomacy

The Japan Times report provides valuable insights into the evolving dynamics of Canada’s foreign policy, particularly in the context of the Indo-Pacific region. Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  1. A Realistic and Pragmatic Approach: The report emphasizes the need for Canada to adopt a more realistic and pragmatic approach to its engagement in the Indo-Pacific and global affairs. This suggests that Canada should prioritize its national interests and adapt its foreign policy strategies to align with the evolving international landscape.
  2. Moving Beyond Middle-Power Identity: The report suggests that Canada should move beyond its traditional middle-power identity, which has been characterized by values-oriented diplomacy. While promoting values remains important for Canada’s domestic audience, the report argues that these values may not necessarily resonate with all nations in the Indo-Pacific region. A more nuanced and adaptable approach is required.
  3. Strengthening Partnerships: To effectively engage in the Indo-Pacific region, the report underscores the importance of strengthening partnerships with reliable allies and friends. Japan, South Korea, Australia, and Singapore are mentioned as key partners. Building and maintaining strong relationships with these countries can enhance Canada’s influence and credibility in the region.
  4. Avoiding Past Mistakes: Learning from past mistakes is crucial for Canada as it seeks to establish itself as a dependable partner in the Indo-Pacific. This implies a willingness to adapt and adjust foreign policy strategies based on lessons learned from previous engagements.

In summary, the Japan Times report suggests that Canada should adopt a more flexible and interest-based approach to its foreign policy, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. Strengthening partnerships and avoiding past pitfalls are seen as critical steps in ensuring Canada’s effectiveness and credibility on the global stage. This perspective reflects the ongoing shift in international dynamics and the need for nations to adapt to these changes in their foreign policy strategies.

The central question raised by the Japan Times report is whether Canada will depart from its traditionally value-laden, middle-power approach to foreign policy and instead adopt a more pragmatic, interest-based strategy in alignment with its global status. This question encapsulates the ongoing debate and challenges facing Canada’s foreign policy in the contemporary international landscape.

Key considerations in addressing this question include:

  1. Balancing Values and Interests: Canada faces the challenge of striking a balance between upholding its values, such as human rights and democracy, and pursuing its national interests. While values remain important, adopting a more pragmatic approach may involve prioritizing strategic and economic interests in foreign relations.
  2. Adapting to Global Realities: The report highlights the need for Canada to adapt to changing global realities, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region. Recognizing that not all nations share the same values, Canada may need to tailor its diplomatic strategies to effectively engage with a diverse range of countries.
  3. Strengthening Diplomatic Engagement: A shift toward a more interest-based approach does not necessarily mean abandoning diplomacy. Instead, it may involve enhancing diplomatic engagement in ways that align with Canada’s national interests and priorities.
  4. Building Trust and Credibility: To be an effective global player, Canada must build trust and credibility with its international partners. A pragmatic approach that delivers on commitments and promotes stability can enhance Canada’s standing on the global stage.

Niyati Rao

Niyati Rao is a seasoned writer and avid consumer who specializes in crafting informative and engaging articles and product reviews. With a passion for research and a knack for finding the best deals, Niyati enjoys helping readers make informed decisions about their purchases.