Black, David
June 2009
Canadian Foreign Policy (CFP);2009, Vol. 15 Issue 2, p41
Academic Journal
Is the Harper Conservative government backing away from Africa in its foreign policy? Much public commentary has argued that it is. Two closely related trends have also been highlighted: a new "tilt" towards Latin America, and an erosion of Canada's commitments to development assistance. This paper argues, first of all, that these accounts of a new direction in relation to the developing world are in some respects overdrawn. Less has changed in practice, both with regard to Africa and Latin America, than many accounts have suggested. There are, however, some real changes of interest, emphasis, and engagement with the potential to bring more far-reaching changes in practice over the medium term. If this potential is fulfilled, it would mark a clear shift not only from the focus on Africa articulated in the latter years of the Chrétien government, but from fifty years of broad bipartisanship, especially in policies toward Africa. The paper therefore explores three overlapping explanations for these emergent changes: prime ministerial leadership; party-political influence in the form of the "new" Conservative party; and ongoing changes in Canadian political culture, involving the further erosion of what Cranford Pratt, two decades ago, characterized as "an eroding and limited (humane) internationalism." Each arguably captures an important dimension of the trends that have been taking shape.


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