Canada's decision may reflect a growing trend among 'middle power' states to avoid 'great power' conflicts being embraced by President Trump.
NEW YORK – Canada joined a new German- and French-led “Alliance of Multilateralism” this week, the latest attempt by U.S. allies to build new coalitions focused on tackling issues like climate change and income inequality.
“Alliance is a bit far-fetched. I think what this is really trying to accomplish is a bit of agenda-setting – trying to stay one step ahead of Donald Trump.”
David Carment is a fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute, and says that while the alliance lacks a military component, there’s still plenty to work on.
“In particular in the domain of global commons or global interests like climate change and also obviously free trade or improving trading relationships between states there’s going to be some common interests amongst these so-called alliance members.”
“This is very much a typical ‘middle power’ strategy.”
Christopher Sands directs the Center for Canadian Studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced and International Studies.
“Countries that aren’t great powers often look for coalitions and platforms that they can use to be more influential in international organizations or as counterweights to ‘great power’ politics.”
President Trump has escalated great-power confrontation in office, putting many countries in the difficult position of choosing whether to side with the U.S. in larger struggles against the likes of China.
With Japan already an alliance member and Australia, India and Mexico thinking about joining too, there seems to be an appetite for avoiding the superpower slugfest.
And for a country like Canada that’s long balanced its relations with the U.S. against relations with the rest of the world, joining the alliance is, at the very least, a useful insurance policy in uncertain times.
“With an election coming up in October, the Trudeau government wants to be able to balance a somewhat troubled relationship with the U.S. with at least ideas and engagement and maybe some new partnerships abroad to reassure Canadians that not only is the Trudeau government doing its best with Trump, but it’s trying to give Canadians some options if the going gets rough.”