TITLE

A FINE BALANCE: MULTILATERALISM AND BILATERALISM IN CANADIAN POLICY IN THE NORTH AMERICAN REGION

AUTHOR(S)
Macdonald, Laura
PUB. DATE
September 2010
SOURCE
Canadian Foreign Policy (CFP);2010, Vol. 16 Issue 2, p111
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This article examines the multilateral and bilateral dimensions of Canadian foreign policy within the North American region. Bilateralism and multilateralism in the North American setting are not two distinct and contradictory trends, but have been closely linked together in a delicate balancing act since the Second World War. The article draws upon theoretical debates on multilateralism to help explain the relative weakness of the regionalization process in North America, and recent trends toward the reinforcement of dual bilateral tendencies. Traditional theories are excessively statist, and underestimate the importance of symbols, values, and ideas in the construction of multilateralist regimes. During the postwar period, a specific combination of external and domestic political factors permitted multilateralism and bilateralism not just to co-exist but to flourish together in a symbiotic relationship in Canadian foreign policy. The bilateralist moment of the Canada-United States free trade agreement was relatively short-lived, and Canada was reluctantly drawn into the multilateralist NAFTA regime. In practice, however, NAFTA did not generate the higher levels of trust and mutual identity that would sustain multilateralism, particularly when the region had to deal with issues that went beyond trade. In recent years, the fine balance between multilateralism and bilateralism in Canadian foreign policy has been threatened as a result of changes in the regional and global political economies, and the political repercussions of the events of 9/11.
ACCESSION #
59244853

 

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