The Impact of 9-11 on Human Security in Canada’s Foreign
Draft: Please do not quote
Paper to be presented on
C10: Responses to the American
“War on Terrorism”: Political Parties and Democracy
Canadian Political Science Association,
Saskatoon, June 1, 2007
Dr. Stefan Gänzle
Visiting Assistant Professor (DAAD)
University of British Columbia
Institute for European Studies/Political Science
182 C. K. Choi, 1855 West Mall
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2
Abstract: This paper presents an analysis of Canadian foreign policy and its changes in the post-September 11th (9/11) world focusing of the emergence and sidelining of the ‘human security’ (HS) agenda. The paper argues that the securitization of the HS agenda has reduced its normative power substantially, and that domestic politics have reshaped the HS agenda into a US-led security dialogue in which the Canadian state has lost its impetus as a prime mover or the normative weight acquired in the 1990s by the advancement and attainment of key HS agenda items such as the Ottawa Convention and Treaty.
Throughout the second half of the 1990s, the concept of ‘human security’ became closely associated with Canadian foreign policy. The then foreign minister Lloyd Axworthy was clearly seen as a norm entrepreneur within various international organizations popularizing a ‘new’ approach in international politics which emphasizes the importance of protecting individuals and communities from any form of political violence in contrast to national security (albeit mutually reinforcing) which, in turn, focuses on the defense of the state from external attack. 1 Although human security declined conceptually as soon as Lloyd Axworthy had left Ottawa in 2000, its agenda did not entirely lose momentum – as this paper will show. As a normative concept it has contributed to inform a number of Canadian foreign policy domains, soften domestic policies vis-à-vis (international) terrorism and still seems to be rather well-entrenched in the foreign affairs bureaucracy. In the aftermath of 9-11, Ken Roach suggested that Canadian foreign policy should insist that “terrorist threats be integrated into a broader human security agenda and separated from American geo-political interests.” 2 Thus, how much of human security survived in Canadian post 9-11 (foreign) policy, 3 or, alternatively, was human security nothing more than an ‘Axworthy doctrine’ destined to disappear once the prominent close to Nobel prize-winning foreign minister had left office?
Without downplaying the terrorism-related areas on which Canada has stood firm and opposed US action, I argue that, at the level of domestic politics, Canada took many post 9-11 actions in direct response to US concerns or in an effort to align Canadian efforts with those of the United States. In contrast, however, Canada pursued a more liberal, multilateral and comprehensive approach – ultimately spurred by human security – similar to other civilian powers such as Japan or Germany. 4 Thus, while it is right to assume that a “continental divide” emerged between Canada and the United States internationally (albeit somewhat remedied by the new Conservative government coming into power in March 2006), domestically pragmatic cooperation (in the shadow of US domination) between both partners prevailed.
This paper proceeds in a threefold way: first, it situates the concept against the backdrop of Canadian foreign policy demonstrating that human security, in principle, subscribes to the multilateral tradition of an “activist state” 5 or middle power. Second, it analyzes human security as well as its development as a theoretical and practical tool of Canadian foreign policy starting in the late 1990. Third, it provides an analytical assessment of Canada’s major anti-terrorist measures introduced in the aftermath of 9-11. In the context of this analysis, it evaluates the role human security played in Canada’s efforts to counter terrorist threats.
II. The pillars of Canadian foreign policy
Since the end of World War II, Canadian foreign policy unfolds in a (virtual) dynamic triangle defined by the interplay of three basic factors. The first one is set by the fact that Canada is a North American country sharing the largest land border of the world with the United States in the South and North West (Alaska), the “big elephant” to use an image by Pierre Trudeau. Since the late 1980s, there have been increasing efforts of regional (economic) integration on the North American continent. The Canada-US free trade agreement in force since 1989 was eventually superseded by the creation of the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) including Mexico in 1994. In March 2005, the
Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) was launched as a trilateral effort to compliment economic cooperation with greater cooperation and information sharing in the field of security. Canadian foreign and defense policy is strongly influenced by the overall climate of the US-Canada relationship, as are virtually all sectors of Canadian society. 6 The infrastructures of both countries are greatly interlinked, such as for instance the energy power grids, making Canada – given its size and resources –the more vulnerable partner in the bilateral relationship. Moreover, any terrorist threat targeting US domestic infrastructure in terms of water supply, energy and transportation is also likely to translate into an immediate threat to Canada. It is estimated that more than one third of Canada’s GDP is generated through trade with the US, and roughly 80 per cent of Canada’s trade in goods and services is with the US. 7 For many manufacturers in Canada, the US market is more important than the domestic one. Jennifer Welsh elucidates, “[t]he value of trade in goods and services that crosses the 49th parallel every day is now CDN $ 1.9 billion. Each day, more than half a million people and 45,000 trucks cross our common border.” 8 Against this backdrop, it becomes crystal clear why issues related to border security such as the USproposed Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) are of paramount importance to Canada. 9 In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the CanadianUS trade relationship was increasingly penetrated by security concerns articulated by Canada’s southern neighbor. 10 In contrast, south of the border, only 19 per cent of US exports are destined for Canada. Still, for 39 US states the Canadian market is the most important one for their exports. 11 From a US perspective, Canada is most significant as a reliable supplier of energy and raw materials.
Furthermore, the predominance of the US in the bilateral relationship became deeply entrenched in defense matters. Sharing a land border with the US, Canada’s territorial defense is more closely integrated with the US than with any other NATO member. Canada assumes commitments in various bilateral defense agreements established to secure the territorial integrity of the North American continent, such as NORAD and the Arctic Distant Early Warning defense system. The cooperative proximity between Canada and the US in matters of defense sees the Canadian Department of National Defense (DND) tend to lean much more towards NATO – and implicitly the United States –, whereas the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAIT) tends to be more UN-leaning. While human security was certainly more influential with DFAIT, it also resounded in DND: “…while for diplomats and humanitarian or development workers human security has created a paradigm within which it is now possible to act with the support of international institutions and against the previously sanctioned rights of a state, this is of little practical consequence to the Canadian military…DND does human security already; it just does not speak human security.” 12 It is very difficult for Canadians to escape the shadow of power projected by their southern neighbor; at the same time, it is also clear that Canadians want to distance themselves in many respects from the policies of the US, in particular with regards to social policy, environmental issues and international law. Hence, the permanent quest for differentiation has been a catalyst if not the engine of ‘Canadian identity’. Although these contentious issues have been on the US-Canadian policy agenda for a while, the rift has grown since the George W. Bush administration came into power; a rift including a wide range of norms and policy issues – ranging from softwood lumber trade, the role of
international trade courts in NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO) to questions concerning Canada’s internationally contested Northern sovereignty over the Arctic archipelago – has become discernible. A few public opinion polls have revealed that this rift also translates into an increasing “feeling of distinctiveness” between USAmericans and Canadians. Less Canadians today think of US as Canada’s “closest friend” (now 53 per cent, formerly 60 per cent). 13
The second factor is defined by the fact that Canada, in many regards of its sociopolitical life, is both a ‘European’ and multicultural country in terms of values and norms. 14 While it has always been an immigrant country, Canada has integrated a substantial inflow of immigrants from China, India and African states into its society over the past two decades. Moreover, the Canadian immigration experience is widely – within the country and outside – considered to be successful. 15 The existence of many different communities has been made possible by the presence of values such as societal openness, transparency and inclusiveness in Canadian political life. As a member of the Commonwealth, numerous historical affinities with Europe in general and the United Kingdom in particular still prevail. These affinities are also deeply entrenched in Canada’s constitutional, social and political life. Canada’s second founding nation, Québec maintains very close relations with Europe in general and France in particular. In many regards, the system of governance and the federal structures of Canada and the European Union share quite a few commonalities. Furthermore, both Europeans and Canadians hold similar views on a number of domestic (e.g. social policy) as well as international issues (e.g. Kyoto, ICC, UN). Still, the growing convergence in these policy areas has not translated to a deeper economic relationship. As trade has been stagnating over the past few years, both Canada and the EU now focus on improving the conditions for mutual investments and services.
The third factor is defined by Canada’s global vocation which has roots in a legacy of Commonwealth membership and the obligation to co-opt into Britain’s global role until the decline of the Empire. Today, however, it is mostly motivated by Canada’s...