Canada: We're Not U.S. 'Handmaiden'

Published April 19, 2005

| Associated Press

Canada's long-awaited foreign policy blueprint will recognize the need to satisfy U.S. security concerns, but ensure Ottawa does not become a "handmaiden" to anyone, said Prime Minister Paul Martin (search).

The document, which establishes official policy for Canada's top government ministries, was to be released Tuesday after months of delays when Martin demanded rewrites to the initial draft.

Canadian trade, diplomacy, international development, and military policy will be revamped to fit three global trends, Martin said. Those new realities are Canada's evolving relationship with Washington, the rise of economic superpowers and the emergence of fragile democracies.

Canada must demonstrate its ability to defend its borders, Martin said. But its role in the world must be more than that of a junior partner to one superpower, he added, a clear jab at the United States.

"Let there be no doubt: We are not going to be out there as the handmaiden of any country," Martin told a group of foreign-policy experts in the French-speaking province of Quebec on Monday.

"We are going to exercise an independent foreign policy in those areas where we believe we have a role to play and others don't," Martin was quoted as saying by The Canadian Press (search) news agency.

Martin noted Ottawa has pushed for the reform of world institutions, including the expansion of the G-8 (search) to create a new group of 20 members, to coincide with the power of growing economic giants such as China, India, Brazil, Russia and the European Union.

"(We) are going to be facing a world of giants — China, India, Brazil, Europe," Martin said. "The countries of the world ... have got to learn to work together today."

The rise of superpowers presents a renaissance for Canada's natural-resource exporters as booming middle classes in Asia drive demand for materials. He said other countries fear the rise of China and India because it could devastate their manufacturing sectors.

"Maybe. But not for Canada," he said. "I think that we are about to enter into a new golden age when in fact, the natural resources of our country are going to once again be one of our great strengths."

The foreign policy review will also address changing demographics and Canada's role in helping to build stability in countries such as Haiti and Sudan, as well as in the Middle East.

Goodwill gestures must be supported by a stronger, larger and better equipped Canadian military, Martin said.

"You cannot have the kind of robust foreign policy I believe Canada has to have if all you're prepared to do is to engage in empty moralizing," he said.

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