Canadian foreign minister: US has abandoned global leadership, Canada must step up

Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Tuesday criticized the United States for abandoning its role as a global leader, and called on Canada to step up in response.

“Many of the voters in last year’s presidential election cast their ballots, animated in part by a desire to shrug off the burden of world leadership. To say this is not controversial: it is simply a fact,” Freeland said in a speech to parliament.


“For Canada that course must be the renewal, indeed the strengthening, of the postwar multilateral order,” she added. “We will follow this path, with open hands and open hearts extended to our American friends, seeking to make common cause as we have so often in the past.”

While Freeland did acknowledge that the U.S. has been “the indispensable nation” in its “seven-decades-long” contribution to shared peace and prosperity, she said a “Canada first” view would “be wrong” — a clear jab at President Trump’s “America first” policies.

“You could easily imagine a Canadian view that says, we are safe on our continent, and we have things to do at home, so let’s turn inward. Let’s say Canada first. Here’s why that would be wrong,” Freeland said. “[Canada’s] ability to act against threats alone is limited. It requires cooperation with like-minded countries.”

Freeland went on to offer climate change as an example of such a threat that requires global cooperation and leadership. 

“Let me pause here and address the United States, directly,” she continued. “As the Prime Minister said last week: Canada is deeply disappointed by the decision by the U.S. federal government to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate.”

Trump announced last week that he was pulling the U.S. out of the agreement.

Under Trump’s decision, the U.S. will stand with only two nations in not participating in the Paris agreement: Syria and Nicaragua. All other 194 countries in the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change have signed on, and 146 have ratified the agreement.

Freeland ended her speech by urging the parliament and House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan to continue to seek a stronger relationship with the U.S. in its trade relationship, border security, the fight against the Islamic State, and efforts in NATO. 

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