Will Justin Trudeau's Canada restore pre-Conservative liberal foreign policy?

Will Justin Trudeau's Canada restore pre-Conservative liberal foreign policy?
3 min read
02 Nov, 2015
Comment: Clovis Maksoud predicts that under Liberal Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau, son of long-time Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, Canada will reverse its hawkish pro-Israeli Middle East policy.
Trudeau called on Canada's traditional allies to return to multilateralism [AFP]
Not very long ago, Canada played a positive role in North America more in tune with those of the Non-Aligned Movement than Washington.

Canada had a proactive attitude in resolving conflicts peacefully, and contributed extensively to peacekeeping missions around the world.

Lester Pearson, the 14th Canadian prime minister, was known to be a major advocate and supporter of decolonisation. Pearson made Canada a major supporter of the United Nations and many international development organisations.

After Pearson, Canadian prime ministers continued his legacy, which became a fixed feature of Canada's foreign policy.
     Lester Pearson, the 14th Canadian prime minister, was known to be a major advocate and supporter of decolonisation


Pierre Elliott Trudeau was one of those premiers who built on Pearson's policies and principles.

Then, in 2006, the Conservatives took over, under Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper deviated fundamentally from Canada's traditional liberal orientations and foreign policy, and its strong role and contributions at the UN in solving crises, particularly in the "Third World".

One area in which this was most pronounced were relations with Israel. Under Harper, Canada established a strong political and even personal bond with the Israeli leadership, especially with Binyamin Netanyahu, with Canada becoming one of Israel's staunchest allies.

This was a stark departure from Canada's previous positive role on the Palestinian question and Arab affairs.

Canada had made key contributions in assisting Palestinian refugees, and welcomed many Arab and Muslim immigrants as citizens.

Liberal Canada was keen on multiculturalism, diversity and equality among its citizens, regardless of their backgrounds.

And the recent election in Canada could restore some of the tenets of Canada's liberal policy, with the landslide victory that brought the liberals back to power under Justin Trudeau, son of Pierre.
     Our hope now is that Arab communities in Canada will assert their rights and speak with one voice


The major liberal victory has allowed Trudeau to take initiatives and begin implementing them.

This much is clear from his victory speeches; not only the result of enthusiasm but also of a profound conviction that Harper's policies could be reversed in favour of Canada's erstwhile engagement and enlightenment.

No doubt, Canada will now proceed to improve relations with Arab and Islamic countries. This has already started, with Trudeau announcing Canada will host and naturalise 25,000 refugees from the Middle East.

Our hope now is that Arab communities in Canada will assert their rights and speak with one voice, to expedite constructive solutions for the problems and crises ravaging our countries.

They must also shun the sectarian tendencies coming from their countries of origin.

Likewise, the Arab Canadian MPs who have now entered parliament must pull in the same direction, and always with wisdom and prudence.


This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.