Canada’s Tous Azimuts Arctic Foreign Policy

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Par Joël Plouffe
The Northern Review, no 33, 2011.

Through visits across the Circumpolar North and other non-Arctic states, Canada's foreign affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon, embarked on an international crusade in recent years to promote Canada as an "Arctic Power." With anticipated increased human activities throughout the Arctic, Ottawa's discourse for the region is locked in a traditional narrative shaped by a belief that it has to promote Canadian territorial integrity in its Far North. This approach certainly supports a very monolithic nationalistic view of Arctic geopolitics for Canadians. In an emerging "new North" with multiple actors and stakeholders (non-Arctic states, international organizations, Indigenous partners, tourism, fishing, traditional security concerns, and oil & gas exploration and investments), where is Canada going? This article looks at Canada's current foreign policy discourse when dealing with the Arctic. It argues that the policy objectives put forward under the Harper government produce a tous azimuts self-assertive foreign policy discourse driven by undefined and uncalculated strategic outcomes. Therefore, it is advanced that Canada's lack of vision on global Arctic affairs beyond its territory could potentially undermine Ottawa's credibility as a multilateralist.

2011
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