While Canada-US relations were particularly strained by the election of Donald Trump, the fear of US protectionism since 9/11 has sparked concerns in Canada of being too dependent on its southern neighbour. This threat has not necessarily abated under the Biden presidency, with Buy American provisions and the Line 5 dispute marking the persistence of tensions.
That said, given Canada’s strained ties with China and Biden’s relative popularity in Canada, the Trudeau government has been left with little option but to strengthen relations with the US. Yet Ottawa does not necessarily share Washington’s interest in an all-encompassing competition with Beijing. In an era of deepening great power rivalry, this raises questions concerning whether Canada is able to conduct a genuinely independent foreign policy.
How can Canada balance between the need for cooperation with the Biden administration and its desire to preserve an independent foreign policy? Is it time to revive debates over the “Third Option”? And are Ottawa and Washington likely to drift even further apart over the long run?
Jon Allen: Former Canadian diplomat; Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy
Jeremi Suri: Professor of Public Affairs and History and Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin
Colin Robertson: Vice President, Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Sarah Goldfeder: Former US State Department Official; Manager of Government Relations, Canada Public Policy Team, General Motors
Zachary Paikin: Research Fellow, Institute for Peace & Diplomacy