Foreign affairs rarely dominate the early days of a new government. Typically, domestic issues are top of mind because they can directly affect citizens’ pocket books. And to be sure, the first Trudeau budget is likely the biggest event on the political horizon. Still, after Saudi Arabia executed 47 people, controversy has grown over the $15-billion sale of armoured vehicles from a Canadian company, General Dynamics Land Systems, to the Saudi regime. Should the new government step in and cancel it—or will they stick to the view that the sale can go ahead as planned?
The Saudi question, plus the ongoing debate about the combat mission in Iraq and Syria and the government’s stated intention for more trade with China, has pushed foreign policy onto front pages. Just what do all these issues tell us about the kind of Canada we will see on the world stage over the next four years? Fen Hampson has emerged as one of the Trudeau government’s foreign policy critics, arguing that Trudeau’s brand on the world stage is based more on a nostalgia for a bygone era than on the current reality. Hampson, a distinguished fellow and director of Centre for International Governance Innovation’s Global Security & Politics program and most recently the co-author with Derek Burney of the book Brave New Canada: Meeting the Challenge of a Changing World, spoke with Evan Solomon about Trudeau’s foreign policy vision.