Soft Power

Clean break— Canada


A new robust approach to diplomatic relations marks a break with tradition for Canada. And many believe it has damaged the nation’s soft-power credentials.

Daryl Copeland, John Baird, John Kirton, Nicholas Cull, Stephen Harper

When Canada lost out to Portugal for a seat on the United Nations Security Council in 2010, it was regarded by many Canadians as confirmation of the country’s diminished stature in the world.

During the UN’s entire history, never before had Canada lost a bid for a temporary seat on the Security Council. Critics of Prime Minister Stephen Harper were quick to interpret the result as a repudiation of his foreign policy.

Since assuming office in 2006, Harper’s government had closed embassies and consulates, frozen aid spending and ­reduced the country’s…

Media footprint

Two of the country’s signature media outlets are conscious of the greater international role they can play. The Globe and Mail boasts world-class correspondents, but when it comes to news and business reporting, the paper has to think of itself as competing on an international level. Then there’s the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which provides radio and TV, both in English and French. One question often asked of it is why it can’t be more like the BBC – ad-free, known for quality news and entertainment, and with a similar international reach.


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