Trudeau’s foreign policy towards Russia: perfunctory

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko share a laugh at the end of joint news conference at the Presidential Administration building in Kyiv, Ukraine Monday July 11, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Why is Canada, under Justin Trudeau, poking the bear?

In 1984, when Reagan likened the USSR to a dangerous bear in the woods, it stuck with us.  His campaign ad conveyed the message that if there is a bear in the woods that has the potential to be dangerous, shouldn’t we properly protect ourselves, regardless if the bear attacks or not?

Indeed, the Cold War has been over for almost two decades now, yet our government insists of the ever-looming threat of the bear, still prowling in the woods.

Maybe the threat of Russian aggression still exists.  Maybe it doesn’t.  The existential threat of Russia is certainly still up for dispute.

What’s not up for dispute is that the West, under NATO, is certainly well-armed enough to deal with the Russian threat should it ever arise.  Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that if any country, including Russia, were to attack any member-state, it represents a collective attack on all members of NATO. Certainly if this were to happen, NATO would crush Russia in warfare.

So why have we, under Trudeau, decided to commit such an insignificant show of force towards Russia?

Under Operation Unifier, Canada is renewing a contingent force of 200 soldiers to lead training missions in western Ukraine.

Regardless of the fact that Trudeau has pledged support for a government and army which contain a glaring prevalence of Neo-Nazi sympathizers, surely, our commitment to Ukraine is not truly going to make a significant impact on the outcome of the civil war.

Indeed, it would be one thing if we led and committed a formidable amount of artillery, funds and troops which would signify Canada’s proclivity to actually end the conflict – albeit an aggressive one – however, still a decision that shows an assertiveness and a willingness to help work towards a change in the conflict.

Conservative foreign affairs critic Peter Kent, said the Ukraine commitments were not enough.  Indeed, a decision to commit 200 troops will simply continue the conflict, will not change Russia’s tone in Ukraine and will only further serve to anger Putin.

Moreover, Canada’s decision to station troops in Latvia is a rather perplexing one.  Aside from the fact that this mission hurts our diplomatic relations with Russia and Putin, would he decide to foolishly invade the former Soviet state, the battalion of 450 Canadian troops stationed in Latvia would surely not be enough to deter Putin from doing so.  Indeed, like our mission in Ukraine, this move only serves to further perpetuate conflict; without actually making a significant change in Russia’s mindset.

Canada should take a more nuanced stance towards Russia and Putin.  We have demonstrated to Russia that we disagree with their policies; yet we have not made any bold moves which demonstrate our willingness to actually solve any conflicts.

With US foreign policy tied up under Trump, Trudeau has an opportunity to elevate Canada’s role to a grand stage and lead by example.   Unfortunately, Trudeau’s policies seem uninspired and emanate NATO subservience.

Indeed, it was Pierre Elliot Trudeau who said, “It is a false perspective to have a military alliance determine your foreign policy.”

Perhaps it’s time for young Justin to take a page out of his father’s playbook.

About Jake Beaumont 58 Articles
BA in Media Studies from the University of Guelph. Graduated from the University of Guelph-Humber with a Diploma in Journalism. Former Research Analyst for Honest Reporting Canada. Published in the Huffington Post, Vancouver Province and many other newspapers across Canada. Specializes in Middle-East politics. Currently situated in Toronto.


  1. In order to normalize relation with Russia Trudeau appointed Nazi collaborator granddaughter as a foreign minister. We probably do not have any other good person in Canada to fill that position . She was probably not influenced growing in her family.

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