Major players like the US, Russia, Japan, South Korea, and even China have been leaving no stone unturned in the exciting geopolitical battle for Africa’s immense resources. But, in the midst of this high-stakes game, one player has declared it will no longer be a participant. And it’s Canada!
Did PM Trudeau’s administration just downgraded its long-awaited Africa strategy? Yes, they did to a framework, stating that it better corresponds with their original objective. Critics claim, though, that the Liberals are not taking the region seriously enough.
For more than a year, the Liberals have promised an Africa strategy that will explain Canada’s relationships with a variety of countries and capitalise on opportunities inside a new transcontinental trade bloc. Rob Oliphant, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly’s parliamentary secretary, had referenced working on an “emerging Africa strategy” and a diplomatic engagement document. However, Joly clarified that the strategy falls short of being complete.
Shift in tone
Joly, on the other hand, referred to it as a “Africa framework,” casting doubt on Canada’s commitment to the continent. The first plan was to examine Canada’s diplomatic presence, find suitable groupings to join, and develop clear goals to submit to African leaders. This was regarded as a critical move, given that Canada’s trade and aid programmes were more defined than its foreign-policy objectives.
Rob Oliphant, the parliamentary secretary to Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly, said in interviews last summer and fall that he was working on an “emerging Africa strategy” and “a strategy document for our engagement diplomatically.”
Yet in an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this month, Joly said the plan is not a full-blown strategy.
“Regarding the Africa strategy, well, this is a term that was used by my colleague, Rob Oliphant. I would say it’s an Africa framework,” Joly said in a phone interview from Nairobi, Kenya.
This has left us hung up on the terminology because the wording makes a real difference. Just a few months ago, Canada revealed big plans for Africa, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau suggesting a move away from traditional humanitarian aid and towards subsidising infrastructure projects in developing countries. Trudeau also hosted the African Union Commission’s Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for the inaugural High-Level Dialogue between Canada and the African Union Commission.
These attempts, however, appear to be useless as Canada shoots itself in the foot. Trudeau is oblivious to the fact that Canada’s geopolitical clout is fast dwindling.
Justin Trudeau leaves Middle East forever
To add insult to injury, Canada recently announced a rethinking of its Middle East strategy, including the withdrawal of its military presence in the region. This decision has elicited a range of emotions, with some welcoming Canada’s wish to avoid additional involvement in a historically volatile and deadly region.
To make matters worse, Canada already has a negligible presence in Asia. As the country’s worldwide influence dwindles, it finds itself in peril. Trudeau’s erroneous decisions indicate a lack of strategic insight, culminating in Canada’s loss of grandeur and rapid shrinkage.
It remains to be seen whether Canada can reverse its downward trend and reclaim its place on the world stage. One thing is certain: if Canada wants to be a genuine player in the volatile international affairs scene, it must reconsider its approach and prioritise meaningful involvement with places such as Africa.
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