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From the Comments is designed to highlight interesting and thoughtful contributions from our readers. Some comments have been edited for clarity. Everyone can read the comments but only subscribers will be able to contribute. Thank you to everyone furthering debate across our site.
The authors miss the obvious irony that while U.S. intellectuals “championed the notion of America First, disdainful of the very idea of valued allies,” the authors and Canadian intellectuals championed the idea of disdain for the United States, and disengagement of Canadians in U.S. political establishments to help serve Canadian interests. They now complain Canada is isolated. –wilkers
Perhaps if Canadians didn’t treat the United States with such distaste, we would have a strong and loyal ally. (Especially our politicians starting with Pierre Trudeau and continuing to this day, with rare exceptions such as Brian Mulroney and Stephen Harper.) You can only crap on a friend so many times before they start to question the effort they put into the relationship. We have used the U.S. for defence and as the foundation of our economy and offered little in return. –Kim Roblin
It’s absolutely true that we need to build alliances to counter the zero-sum approach the world’s biggest economies are taking. Canadian business also needs to start taking better advantage of the new opportunities in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union. –AnglerBob
Despite who is elected in 2020 down south, one would hope that Canada learns from this period and continues to reduce our dependency on the United States in the future. Oddly left out of this article is any mention of the European Union, a body of nations that perhaps share more values with Canada than any other. With Brexit at the end of the month, it would serve Canada well to bolster our partnerships with both the United Kingdom and the EU.
Perhaps Canada could resolve the Hans Island dispute with a border with Denmark down the middle, to remind Canadians that the Europeans are our neighbours as much as the Americans. –agropyre1
Canada is not blameless in this situation as our government has abandoned neutrality when dealing with U.S. administrations of different parties. We admired Bill Clinton, derided George W. Bush, worshipped Barack Obama and flaunt our disdain for the present President. Chrystia Freeland’s Washington speech in the fall of 2016 attacking Donald Trump certainly did not help. It may be a good idea to stop self-righteously lecturing the United States (or any other country) and stick to doing business. –Rouser9
Canada, like every other nation, is alone and always has been alone. The alliances of the past have been born of self-interest and a desire to exploit our country. The situation today is an opportunity for Canadians to grow-up and focus on strengthening our independence, our economy and the security of our assets. Only by strengthening our nation can we afford the social programs and way of life that most Canadians believe in.
For most of my career, I worked with Americans and the business attitude was clear (way before Donald Trump): the United States comes first and the rest of the world is theirs to exploit. Any aid, military or financial, is given with that ulterior motive.
Two areas where we are mistakenly failing is the exploiting of our natural resources and the protection of our northern coastline. Our government must promote the export of our oil and gas to strengthen our economy. Second, it must invest in our navy to provide them with ships capable of patrolling our northern shores all year round and not just in the summer months. Exporting from a northern port is not so unrealistic. –Whitehorseman
Canada is mainly a producer of raw materials that are mostly attractive to reasonably developed countries with good manufacturing capabilities and limited agricultural opportunities in North America, Europe and Asia. Our energies might be better spent promoting trade for Canadian products within the frame of recently negotiated treaties in these three regions, rather than looking for new associations with countries in Africa and South America.
Even though it might sound defeatist, we might also assess whether some of the goods and services we massively import could not be produced competitively in Canada, be it with marginal and temporary public assistance. While anathema to open trading and World Trade Organization rules, there is a limit to the extent we need to shackle ourselves to look good, while other countries get away with it. The way the trading environment has evolved over the last decade or so, we may not afford “virtue signalling” any more. –MRouil
I think the country standing alone is the United States. They are not united among themselves and other countries are quite frightened of their actions with Donald Trump leading (to think that there’s a possibility that he could be re-elected is shocking). They are completely isolated and even if Mr. Trump is defeated, it will take the country some time to regain the trust of the world community.
Canada has taken some important stands recently and participates in gatherings of leaders in an intelligent and vital way, I believe. Working with NATO and the United Nations isn’t popular with some Canadians, but I think they’re wrong to be cynical. We have to stick with the only organizations and alliances we have and work from there. –Judith M.
The United States is certainly no friend of Canada’s any longer. I don’t even consider it an “ally” any more. It is “a vital commercial customer” – no less, no more. Now we must do everything we can to make the U.S. less crucial to us for our own survival. –Biff24
Sadly, Canada has not been a good ally to the United States. As our best customer, we want the U.S. to buy our products, but we don’t treat our best customer well. And the contempt that Canada has shown Donald Trump is a disgrace. It’s so sad and Canada will not do well by this. –gordonmacrae1
This has to start at home. As long as Canada remains a Balkanized collection of fiefdoms – also known as provinces – it is hard to take us seriously as a country. As a people we are well-educated, resourceful and generally optimistic, but we are led by politicians of little vision beyond their own piece of geography who prefer to focus on division rather than unity. –Ed Case
A fair question to ask is, since 2015, has Canada advanced its position on the world stage, remained the same or been somewhat diminished? While it is tempting to choose “diminished,” I would lean toward “remained the same.” Certainly we have had a government that has talked up our abilities, but unfortunately that’s all it has been – talk. –JeffSpooner
Excellent piece. Wake up, Canada! –argreid
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