Mandate letter results so far: Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland
Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland updates the media on the NAFTA negotiations in the foyer outside the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, Sept. 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
November 03, 2017 - 12:31 PM
OTTAWA - FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Trudeau's original foreign affairs minister was Stephane Dion, whose first task was to improve relations with the United States, including by reducing impediments to trade. Much of this went out the window when President Donald Trump got to the White House, and Trudeau shuffled Dion off to Europe and put Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland in charge of the file. Still, Dion did work with the immigration minister to lift the Mexican visa requirement and host the Three Amigos summit in Ottawa last year, which led to a North American clean energy and environment agreement. The 2016 budget also made good on a promise to restore funding intended to promote Canadian culture overseas, devoting $35 million over two years to a new version of the program.
Working on it
Minister Freeland's top task is to make sure Canada gets a good deal out of the renegotiations of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which remains a work in progress with no obvious end in sight. In a major speech this spring, Freeland outlined the Liberal government's foreign policy priorities, which include Canada taking on a bigger leadership role backed up with military power. The legislation that would have Canada accede to the arms trade treaty was introduced in April, but has only reached the committee stage.
Not at all, or at least not yet
Global Affairs Canada runs the Peace and Stabilization Operations Program that was given $450 million over three years in part to co-ordinate missions and develop the policy behind the promised UN peacekeeping mission. The Liberal government has yet to reveal where it plans to send up to 600 troops for UN peacekeeping operations.
Will it matter?
The Liberals did not put a major emphasis on foreign affairs during the 2015 election, but with the renegotiation of NAFTA and an unpredictable president in the White House, it has become a top priority for both the government and the economy. The ultimate success or failure of the NAFTA talks is largely out of Freeland's hands, but if Canada emerges in a worse position, then voters will be looking for someone to blame.
Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version of the story said Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan had the lead on the peacekeeping file.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2017