What Foreign Diplomats Need to Know about Canada: Personal Reflections
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What Foreign Diplomats Need to Know about Canada: Personal Reflections

1 October 2023


Table of Contents Preface Introduction Colony to Nation O Canada A Compromise with Geography, Climate and Diversity The Great White North Settling Canada Resources: “Quelques arpents de neige” A Trading Nation but Not Yet a Nation of Traders The Constitution National Unity in a diverse and decentralized federation Warriors when necessary Middle Power: Balancing Realism and Romanticism, Self-interest and Internationalism The U.S.… … And the Rest Canada: A Work in Progress Further Sources About the Authors Canadian Global Affairs Institute Preface Originally written in 2019 for Carleton University’s Initiative for Parliamentary and Diplomatic Engagement annual Orientation for Newly-Arrived Diplomats to Canada that is now delivered by the Parliamentary Centre through its EngageParlDiplo program, with the collaboration of my wife and fellow CGAI Fellow, Maureen Boyd, who is Chair Emerita of the Parliamentary Centre. These notes are revised annually in response to readers’ feedback which I continue to welcome, and this edition includes a section on Canadian foreign policy. A consolidation of material to brief foreign diplomats on Canada, it is a personal reflection, drawing on my travels across every province and territory, as well as my diplomatic experience, much of which involved working with our provincial governments. Some will quibble with the generally upbeat and optimistic tone of my reflections. One can point, correctly, to the fact Canada is not immune from populism or polarization and as we approach the next federal election our politics are getting uglier. The barricades blockading our rail and roads by indigenous people in the spring of 2020 and the occupation of downtown Ottawa by those opposing the vaccine mandate in the first months of 2022 underline the discontent of those who feel left out. While we are proud of our social safety net, especially our health system, its imperfections are evident. There is inequality. While we need and welcome newcomers, the increased pressures on housing, education and social services risk undoing public support for immigration

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security economics international trade canada culture defence primer colin robertson diplomacy & global governance maureen boyd