Nossal: Is Conservative foreign policy different from Liberal foreign policy?”
Director of the Centre for International and Defence Policy, Queen's University
Although the Harper Conservatives came to power in 2006 with little interest and even less experience in foreign affairs (the 171 words in the 2005-2006 election platform devoted to international affairs remain an embarrassing reminder of just how little thought was given to international policy), once in power the government quickly found its foreign policy footing. Not surprisingly, much of the substance of Canada’s international policies since 2006 reflects a continuity with the past. But there can be little doubt that thetone is different, a function of the considerable effort that the Harper government has devoted to distancing the Conservatives from many of the main ideational strands of Liberal foreign policy from the 1990s and early 2000s. And while the chatterati remain on the whole unimpressed, ordinary Canadians do not appear to be much fussed by the new tone—and therein lies a lesson.