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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden talk while leaving a joint news conference at the North American Leaders Summit, Jan. 10, in Mexico City.Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Dany Assaf is co-chair of the competition and foreign investment group at Torys LLP. Walid Hejazi is a professor of international business at the Rotman School of Management. Joe Manget is the chair and chief executive of EHN Canada. They are the authors of the new book Everybody’s Business: How to Ensure Canadian Prosperity Through the Twenty-First Century.

With the visit of U.S. President Joe Biden this week, it will be important for Ottawa to mark and reaffirm the bonds of our deep security and economic partnership in these uncertain times. Canada’s future always has been and always will be intertwined with that of our American friends, with whom we share geography, history and values.

But at the same time, we know that the world’s leading superpower has shifting administrations and priorities, so we won’t always be at the top of their dance card. Being left out of the AUKUS security pact between Australia, Britain and the U.S. exemplified that, as does the fact that what was being billed as a two-day visit by Mr. Biden will really be an abbreviated 24-hour event.

We also see a world where wealth and power will continue to grow in the East, particularly China, which is creating new realities to confront and navigate if Canada hopes to remain prosperous and relevant in this multipolar age. To do this, even in these tumultuous times, we must also look beyond the United States and smartly forge broader relationships. And as the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was yesterday.

Any effective government is always focused on and responsible for providing for its people today and tomorrow. That is the ultimate source of its legitimacy. To illustrate, last week U.S. aircraft maker Boeing signed a US$37-billion deal with Saudi Arabia for as many as 121 planes. You may recall that, on his way to the White House, Mr. Biden pledged to turn the country into a “pariah” in the wake of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now in the Oval Office, Mr. Biden’s press secretary said the administration was “pleased that Boeing [concluded] these deals,” which represent “another milestone in eight decades of co-operation between Saudi Arabia and American industry.” As with all things, we must listen to what others say but more importantly watch what they do. There is nothing wrong with Washington ultimately supporting the efforts of U.S. industry in the national interests of its people. That is where the rubber hits the road in any country, and Canada is no exception.

We all prefer to trade with and rely only on our “friends,” and efforts to “friend-shore” are laudable and should be prioritized. However, in a complicated and shrinking world of eight billion people, where the global trade game is not an episode but a series, who is friend and who is foe is never black and white. All relationships require nuance, and no version of ChatGPT will ever be able to solve these issues for us. Isn’t that what the ancient art of diplomacy is all about? Just like dealing with divisiveness at home, to make progress in international trade we should not need to convert one another to work with one another.

We need to ensure we remain an economy that is open to trade and investment. This will require renewed efforts and resources to build and enhance our trade relationships and, with our foreign investment rules, continually working with our allies to protect legitimate national security interests – but not go too far by, for example, prohibiting purely passive capital investments that don’t genuinely threaten our security.

How does a middle power chart its own path in a world always shaped by the great powers? In this continuous global chess match, not every country can be a king or queen, but no one needs to play the pawn. One country trying to do this is the United Arab Emirates, which former U.S. defence secretary James Mattis called “Little Sparta” for its ability to punch above its weight in global affairs. Mindful of its geography, the UAE is trying to forge a path that best serves its people in a multipolar world.

While there are certainly aspects of the UAE that set it apart from Canada’s situation, its spirit is one this country has long known. Canada needs to reclaim that attitude, which has defined us in the past. Our energy, mineral, agricultural and artificial intelligence assets, to name a few, give us a strategic advantage. A strong Canada is good for Canadians as well as our allies, as we seek to promote an era of global peace and prosperity and realize a 21st century as prosperous as the last.

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