The Harper Era in Canadian Foreign Policy

Parliament, Politics, and Canada’s Global Posture

Table of contents

Introduction: Conservative Foreign Policy in the Harper Era / Adam Chapnick and Christopher J. Kukucha

Part 1: Setting the Context

1 Debating the Proper Role of Parliament in the Making and Conduct of Canada’s International Policies / Denis Stairs

2 Foreign Policy and Minority Government: The Cases of Lester Pearson and Pierre Trudeau / John English

3 The Constitutional Politics of Parliament’s Role in International Policy / Philippe Lagassé

Part 2: Key Issues

4 Did Minority Government Matter? Thinking Counterfactually about the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan / Jean-Christophe Boucher and Kim Richard Nossal

5 The Evolution of the Harper Government’s Defence Policy: Minority versus Majority or Surplus versus Deficit? / David Perry

6 Stephen Harper’s Israel Policy / Adam Chapnick

7 Explaining Canada’s Foreign Environmental Policies during the Harper Era / Michael W. Manulak

8 Canada and the United States in the Harper Years: Still “Special,” but Not Especially Important / Greg Anderson

9 The Harper Government’s Approach to Energy: Shooting Itself in the Foot / Monica Gattinger

10 Canadian Aid Policy during the Harper Years / Stephen Brown

11 The Shaping of a Conservative Human Rights Policy in the Harper Era / David Petrasek and Rebecca Tiessen

12 Canada’s Incremental Foreign Trade Policy / Christopher J. Kukucha

13 Diaspora and Canadian Foreign Policy: The World in Canada? / David Carment and Joseph Landry

Part 3: Additional Perspectives

14 Minority Report: Covering Canadian Foreign Policy in a Minority and Majority Government / Lee Berthiaume

15 Foreign Policy and the Senate: Microscope and Telescope in Turbulent Times / Hugh Segal

16 Concluding Thoughts: The Prime Minister of the Few / Norman Hillmer



Leading scholars and analysts of Canadian politics assess the Harper era in foreign policy.


In 2015, the Harper era in Canadian foreign policy was over, suggesting a return to the priorities of a gentler, more co-operative Liberal government. But was the Harper era really so different? And, if so, why? The chapters in this collection, written by leading scholars and analysts of Canadian politics, provide an excellent overview of foreign policy in a number of different policy areas. They also explore whether the transition from a minority to majority government in 2011 shaped the way the Harper Conservatives conceived of, developed, and implemented international policy.


Adam Chapnick and Christopher Kukucha [present] a more nuanced reality [of Harper’s foreign policy]: that while there was an impulse on Harper’s part to deviate from the norm, external and systemic factors, like the Canadian economy, American policy and the dynamics of the international community, ensured that Canada’s foreign policy under Harper wasn’t as much of an aberration as some might think.

- Catherine Tsalikis

The Harper Era is an important first look at nearly a decade of Canadian foreign policy that will likely, and deservedly, be the standard work on foreign policy in this period, just as Nelson Michaud and Kim Richard Nossal’s Diplomatic Departures is the principle book on Brian Mulroney’s handling of foreign affairs. Until the archives have opened, 30 years hence, persons interested in this controversial and complicated period in Canadian foreign policy would be well advised to consult this collection.

- Asa McKercher, McMaster University