Priority for Justin Trudeau: Repair the North American community

canada patch
October 21, 2015

by Ambassador Jeremy Kinsman

Justin Trudeau said in his debut campaign foreign policy speech he will rebuild mutual political confidence and cooperation at the top in Canada-U.S. relations, without jeopardizing Canadian identity and national character. He aims to use President Obama’s remaining time to advance the case and support for strengthening our North American neighborhood including Mexico, in ways that that can hopefully carry through to Obama’s successor.

In a more competitive and arguably less friendly world, North American partners can reinforce synergies for the 21st century, not just in our interests but as a cooperative example for the international community log jammed on vital overarching transnational issues like the climate change/energy swirl. The big test of our credentials will be the Paris climate change conference in December where I hope to see Canada again actively in the forefront of nations working for productive international outcomes, instead of hunkering down in disapproving isolation.

My lyrical wish is that travellers again will wander around the world with maple leaf flags on their backpacks. Until a decade ago, this was a sign the bearer (not always Canadian) identified with our earned reputation for interested outreach and aspirational commitment to international problem-solving. 

That emblem channeled to less fortunate peoples Canada’s exemplary record of tolerance and inclusivity. Our balance was knocked off course by xenophobic and divisive government tactics in this election campaign. I wish us success in repairing the hurt so we recover our balance and re-engage internationally and backpack maple leaves are again badges of honour.  

About the author
Jeremy Kinsman was a long-time Canadian ambassador under Liberal and Progressive Conservative Governments and now holds positions at the University of California, Berkeley, and Ryerson University. He participates in a non-partisan group that periodically meets to discuss global issues with Justin Trudeau. kinsmanj [at]