A New Atlantic Role for Canada

Courtesy Reuters

With the success of the Liberals in the Canadian general election of last June, a forceful new Prime Minister (elected leader of his party only a couple of months earlier) received a clear mandate for political action. Attracted by the swinging style and obvious intellectual calibre of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, observers in other countries have been taking a greater interest than usual in Canadian affairs. And they have naturally been especially concerned to know about the new administration's views on international issues.

Mr. Trudeau has provided several examples of his thinking on foreign affairs, the most definitive appearing in a policy statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office in May, during the course of the election campaign. It was stated there that Canada planned "to recognize the People's Republic of China government as soon as possible and to enable that government to occupy the seat of China in the United Nations, taking into account that there is a separate government in Taiwan." The Canadian authorities would "explore new avenues of increasing our political and economic relations with Latin America, where more than four hundred million people will live by the turn of the century and where we have substantial interests." By way of "reflecting in our foreign relations the cultural diversity and the bilingualism of Canada," Ottawa intended to "strive to develop a close relationship with the francophone countries." And so on.

The Canadian position in the Atlantic community was given only a rather guarded reference in the May statement. The Canadian military presence in Europe, and "the whole range of our economic, political and cultural ties" with the European countries would, it observed, be subjected to detailed examination by a special "task force." In earlier verbal comments, however, Mr. Trudeau had argued that Europe "no longer needs us" militarily, as it used to, and that "our natural area of defence is in the North American continent." On the other hand, he had also expressed support for a free trade area

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