Worldwide: The Rise Of Emerging Powers: Security And Foreign Policy Challenges For Canada

Last Updated: March 4 2013
Article by Len Edwards

Excerpts from Remarks to the 2013 Ottawa Conference on Defence and Security, February 21-22, 2013

The rise of Emerging Markets such as China, Brazil, India, Turkey and Indonesia presents major opportunities and challenges for Canadian business and governments over the coming years.

The key economic challenges and opportunities were set out in the Gowlings-sponsored report Winning in a Changing World: Canada and Emerging Markets, presented to the Prime Minister in June of 2012. It made recommendations to government and business leaders on how Canada can best forge winning strategies in this changing environment.

But the rise of these emerging powers also presents serious security and foreign policy challenges to the Canadian government — challenges that the Report did not cover.

What follows are some thoughts about those challenges, and how they are fundamentally linked to our success on the economic front.

Canada needs an emerging powers element in its foreign policy that does three things:

First, helps Canadians extract benefits from the opportunities being created by these new players in a fundamentally changing global economy,

Second, works to bring these increasingly powerful players into responsible global decision-making, and

Third, together with these new players and our traditional friends, ensures we have the most stable and peaceful security environment possible, and that we avoid major conflict.

Achieving these objectives will not be easy.  There are four particular challenges or themes that need to be addressed.

The first is the question of how Canada "plays" on the major geopolitical issue of our time: the future relationship between a resurgent China (the main emerging power) and today's one superpower, the United States of America.

Canada's starting point is that the United States will remain our major economic partner and closest ally.  Canadians will overwhelmingly want the United States to remain a powerful force for global stability, as well as a leading voice for western values, democratic government, and the open, market based economic model.

But that still leaves room for policy making.  For instance:

  • how do we use our influence with Washington to help ensure American reactions to China's rise remain reasonable and open to the inevitable changes it will mean for America's relative place in the world 
  • how to we work on our own and with other countries and groups (such as Australia, Korea, ASEAN) to create a conducive environment, particularly in the Asia Pacific region, in which America and China can keep the inevitable tensions well managed while building further habits of cooperation. 
  • how do we design and implement our own policies towards China that encourage positive behaviors and reduce tension with the United States.  We want the economic benefits from its dynamic economy, but we will at times need to speak "truth to power". 

We have a deep understanding of the United States from our long and close relationship with America.  Fundamentally, we need to develop a more profound understanding of China.

Our foreign policy approach towards China represents the most important and difficult of all challenges going forward.  But let's not despair: on that matter we have much company.

Our second foreign policy challenge is to understand better the main emerging market countries that will be the "giants" of the mid-century global economy, and develop more in-depth and sophisticated interchanges and relationships with them at all levels.

This will best facilitate the successful economic outcomes we wish, while encouraging more responsible engagement on global economic and security affairs.

The list of countries need not be long: China(as mentioned already), India and Brazil at the top of the list, with Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Korea, Poland, South Africa, Colombia, Vietnam, and maybe Nigeria and a few others.  Focus is key.

Our foreign policy must of course concentrate on completing the economic and trade, investment, double taxation and other agreements so essential to business success.  This it now being done by the Canadian government, with the backing of the provinces, and business.

But more is needed. Our foreign policy must also strive to build solid political, people-to-people, educational, and cultural and other components. These components together can create lasting foundations for achieving the high priority economic objectives, and provide the shock absorbers for weathering the inevitable disputes that close economic ties create.

This is especially true for Asia, where these broader elements of long-term beneficial relationships are highly valued. And this is where the bulk of the economic opportunities lie.

Canada's third foreign policy challenge is to re-calibrate our approaches to the management of global economic, political and security tensions and crises, to take into account the approaches and roles of emerging powers.

Emerging powers are changing the dynamics.  They are exerting their right to a voice, and are asserting themselves on global and regional issues; such as Turkey has been doing in the Syrian situation and in its neighborhood.  Last year Turkey and Brazil surprised everyone with an unsuccessful proposal to try and resolve the Iranian nuclear issue.

Some tensions and crises will be caused by the emerging markets themselves, as they flex their new muscles, promote their interests. China's more robust approach to its traditional claims in the South China Sea and vis-à-vis Japan are the most worrisome examples.

And where should Canada be in these situations? And do we have the capacities to be present and make a difference?

As regards the global economy, the answer is yes on both questions.

Canada's solid fiscal, monetary and regulatory policies (and a bit of luck) have enabled us to punch above our weight in helping the G20 deal with the global financial crisis and its aftermath.  The G20 is also putting in place new arrangements and regulatory frameworks that should help prevent its reoccurrence.

This has been good for Canada and our brand. We have gained in reputation and expanded our ability to influence.  And we have helped build the G20 as a forum where the emerging powers are being brought into decision-making.

In the security field our major Afghanistan contribution in blood and treasure, joined by the smaller action in Libya, have also enhanced Canada's positive reputation and credibility on international security affairs.

But the road ahead will present many threats to stability and sources of conflict, some of them are different models from what we saw in Afghanistan and Libya.

And some of them, such as insecurity arising within fragile states, will require soft assets — diplomatic engagement and advocacy, development assistance, policing resources, governance capacity building, and so on.  While we have lots to offer, we will find our own resources inadequate to meet demand.

Working with others of similar size and interest can help make up part of this shortfall.

Fortunately, we do not have to be everywhere. Canadian foreign policy should ensure that we focus our security efforts in those regions and situations where Canada's interests are most directly affected.

For economic reasons, that would have to include the Asia-Pacific, where we are now relatively absent, and where we are seeing worrisome developments.

Not only should we be there in the interest of Canada's own security, but our Asian partners expect us to be there given our economic stake.

The fourth challenge for Canadian foreign policy is in the domain national security.

The media coverage on February 19 of the Mandiant report regarding alleged Chinese military cyber-attacks on the U.S. and others drives home this point forcefully.

It underlines how important it is that we use all our foreign policy tools, our diplomatic and other resources to protect our country's national security, our people and our businesses.

But foreign policy should also include participation in international efforts to treat the threats to our national security pro-actively at source, before their effects end up on our shores.

In addition to cyber-threats, international crime, human trafficking and corruption are also factors that undermine Canada while de-stabilizing states and governments around the world, and causing conflict, particularly in Africa.

In this new world we have no choice but to engage emerging powers in the solutions, even though some of the problems could have their origin in the actions of these same countries.

As their own stakes in a stable and secure world grow, emerging powers will be increasingly interested in positive outcomes.  Canada must be part of the effort to find them, while serving our own interests in the process.

As the Globe and Mail pointed out in an editorial February 20, that should even include working with China on cyber-security.

The report Winning in a Changing World noted that Canada cannot take for granted that emerging powers will always play by the international rules and norms of economic behavior we have helped establish over the past decades.

The same applies in the security domain.  Yet while we must remain prepared to look after our national security ourselves, we also must make every effort in our foreign policy to work with these increasingly powerful and influential new players to build a safer and more secure world.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions