Randall, Stephen J.; Dowding, Jillian
September 2008
Canadian Foreign Policy (CFP);2008, Vol. 14 Issue 3, p29
Academic Journal
This paper provides an overview and analysis of recent Canadian policy toward Latin America, with specific attention to Colombia and the security agenda associated with its role in international narcotics trafficking, its long standing guerrilla insurgency, and the emergence over the past few decades of major paramilitary forces, each of which have been labeled as terrorist organizations. The point of departure in the paper is the renewed focus on Latin America which has been articulated by the Conservative government of Stephen Harper, reflected not only in his brief but high profile official visits to Colombia, Chile, Haiti, and Barbados in mid-2007 but also in speeches in which he reiterated Canada's commitment to "active and sustained re-engagement with the hemisphere to advance security, prosperity and democracy." Although the basic orientation and goals of Canadian policy have not changed, the current Conservative government has wed the softer power dimensions of the former Liberal government's approach to human security to a more practical economic and defence-oriented understanding of Canada's security agenda in Latin America. The underlying assumptions behind policy are straightforward. Open trade and investment regimes promote economic development, which in turn contributes, along with other concrete measures, to alleviation of poverty and conflict, as well as to improving the security environment. The primary goals of Canadian policy toward Colombia have not changed in the past decade even though the Harper government has given far more public attention and profile to those goals. The objective has been consistently to work with Colombian authorities to strengthen the state, improve the judicial process to reduce impunity, promote peacebuilding and a negotiated settlement to the armed conflict. Policy priorities include counterterrorism, combating organized crime, and in particular addressing the serious challenges associated with international narcotics trafficking. In recent years Canadian officials have also been addressing challenges of aviation and maritime security.


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