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HomePolicy Articles Article Summary

Romanticism and Realism in Canada’s Foreign Policy

"Benefactors Lecture" by Allan Gotlieb

This lecture, delivered by former Canadian Ambassador to the United States Allan Gotlieb, presents a review of Canada’s past foreign policy while drawing a picture of how the nation can best pursue its interests abroad. Gotlieb’s key point is that Canada’s postwar foreign policy has shifted uneasily, and often to the country’s detriment, between realism and romanticism. He argues that romanticism does not serve the nation well when it fails to promote Canada’s practical interests.

Gotlieb argues that Canada needs a reality-based foreign policy that both recognizes the dominance of the United States as a superpower and (while not automatically supporting the foreign initiatives of that colossus) resists often widespread pressures to go against the U.S. – just to differentiate itself. At the same time, he argues that Canadian policy-makers should break away from romantic utopianism – an approach that, in Gotlieb’s view, puts rule-making and the promotion of Canadian values abroad, at the top of Canada’s foreign policy agenda.

Gotlieb argues that Canada should deepen its economic and security relationships with the United States, to make a difference around the world. He also recommends that Canada liberate itself from the belief that the United Nations is a sacred foundation for our foreign policy.

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Policy Publication Details

Author(s): Allan Gotlieb;
Publisher: C.D. Howe Institute [ Visit Website ]
Year Published: 2004; Publisher Type: Research Institute
Publicly Available: Yes Research Focus: International; National;
Registration Required: Yes Language: English
Payment Required: No Publication Format: Adobe PDF

Subjects / Categories:

Policy Articles / International Law & Politics / Canada - U.S. Relations
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics / Canada - U.S. Relations / 2004
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics / Foreign Policy
Policy Articles / International Law & Politics / Foreign Policy / 2004

Keywords / Tags:

Canadian foreign policy; relationship to the United States; reality-based foreign policy; romantic foreign-policy; United Nations;