As Canada formulates a new strategy for the Indo-Pacific, the region will be a key component of its foreign affairs policy as evidenced by its mention in the agenda before the new parliament.
As the House of Commons met for the first time after the September elections, Canada’s governor-general Mary Simon outlined the policy priorities of the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and among those was “making deliberate efforts to deepen partnerships in the Indo-Pacific”.
The outlet Globe and Mail reported earlier this month the Global Affairs Canada, the country’s foreign ministry, is working on a new policy for the Indo-Pacific. A spokesperson for Canada’s new foreign minister Melanie Joly told them that it will comprise “a new integrated approach to the Indo-Pacific region with a view to diversifying Canada’s engagement and deepening its diplomatic, economic, security and sustainable development partnerships”.
The special secretariat tasked with developing the policy is being headed by veteran diplomat Jonathan Fried.
Canada has also had discussions with India in recent times about the region. In fact, Fried recently met India’s high commissioner Ajay Bisaria in Ottawa.
Last week, in her keynote address to the Halifax International Security Forum, Canada’s new defence minister Anita Anand said, “In the Indo-Pacific, Canadian military ships, aircraft, and sailors maintain a solid presence.”
She added that “through Operation Projection, Canadian warships work in lockstep with our partners to maintain a meaningful, and interoperable, allied presence in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world”, referring, in this context, to a recent “sail-through in the Taiwanese strait” in October.
Pressure has been increasing on Canada to be more assertive in the region even as the threat posed by China increases. This matter was also discussed when Trudeau met US President Joe Biden in Washington earlier this month.
Also speaking at the Halifax Forum, North America’s premier event related to global security, Admiral John Aquilino, commander of the United States Indo-Pacific Command, argued that the world’s “military and economic centres of gravity have shifted to the Indo-Pacific”.
This new reality was reflected in the speech delivered by Canada’s governor-general on Tuesday. Without mentioning China, Mary Simon said, “In the face of rising authoritarianism and great power competition, Canada must reinforce international peace and security, the rule of law, democracy, and respect for human rights.”