Canada seeks larger global role as USA retreats, foreign minister says

Canada's foreign minister says the country must spend more on its military now that the U.S.is questioning its role of global leadership.

Freeland spoke after recent North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and G7 summits where U.S. President Donald Trump upset leaders to such an extent that German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed doubts about the reliability of the United States.

The government is expected to reveal more on that front Wednesday when it releases its defence policy review, a document that will detail military policy and funding for the coming years.

"The accent on hard power is interesting", said Fen Hampson, head of the global security program at the Centre for International Governance Innovation.

Freeland acknowledged that having the U.S.as a neighbour has brought benefits but she cautioned that Canada should avoid taking a "free ride" on American military might.

And she added that, unlike the United States under Trump, Canada would not reject global alliances, and would continue to "work with other like-minded people and countries who share our aims".

"It would be naive or hypocritical to claim ... that all Americans today agree".

But this week Canada's foreign affairs minister Chrystia Freeland forcefully articulated a stand against the erratic U.S. president.

Canada announced Wednesday it will increase its defense spending by 70 percent over the next 10 years in part because, said its Foreign Affairs Minister, many Americans want to "shrug off the burden of world leadership".

Freeland said after the speech she spoke Monday to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to explain the context of her remarks about his country.

Rather, she said Canada must start preparing now for a future in which it can maintain its national security and trade interests without the help of the superpower to the north.

Welcome to the Trudeau Doctrine: Canadian foreign policy seeks to preserve multilateral institutions and the Western alliance in the wake of America First.

"To say this is not controversial".

Tuesday's speech cast Canada's interests in sharp contrast to those of the Trump administration, which Trudeau has to date been reluctant to criticize.

She didn't mention President Donald Trump by name but reiterated Canada's disappointment in Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

Freeland said that notwithstanding the "incredibly good relationship" with the U.S., Canada can not simply depend on American military protection.

Freeland said Canada played a major role in shaping the global order after the Second World War because of the country - including her own family - suffered heavy losses in two world wars.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has made the same criticism, saying last week that Europe could no longer rely on the United States for world leadership and that the continent must take on a larger diplomatic role on the world stage.

Albeta Member of Parliament (MP) Garnett Genuis also commented on the quick exit from the House of dozens of Liberal MPs after the conclusion of Freeland's speech.

  • Wendy Palmer