Trudeau appoints NATO academic as foreign policy advisor


Trudeau Liberals treatment of important questions of war and peace

Roland Paris is former Founding Director of the Centre for International Policy Studies  (CIPS) at the University of Ottawa, from which he is now on leave. He is a NATO academic and involved with corporate think tanks and such subversive U.S. agencies as the Halifax International Security Forum (see here) advancing a warmongering foreign policy for Canada. The National Post called Paris “the man behind Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy.” A concern for Canadians is Paris’ foreign policy preoccupations, which include increasing military spending and Canada’s role in the aggressive NATO military bloc, as well as the so-called “digital diplomacy” – the Harper government’s use of social media tools to subvert sovereign governments that Washington deems hostile to its interests (see here and here). The Post reported on December 29 that Paris was working for the Liberals before the election was called and that “his fingerprints are clearly evident in the party’s election platform.” All the while Paris was also frequently quoted, before and after the election, as an independent academic and expert commenting on Liberal foreign policy prospects. Paris is also said to be present at “most, if not all, of Trudeau’s meetings with foreign leaders.”


Roland Paris is Senior Advisor to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He was appointed to this post in November 2015. Paris has played a significant role in the efforts of the Liberal intelligentsia and think tanks to sort out the problems of a Liberal foreign policy for Canada today. As a frequent commentator on Canadian foreign policy and collaborator with NATO and other institutions of U.S. imperialism such as the Halifax International Security Forum, Paris’ preoccupations are a cause for concern for Canadians, who would like to see Canada and its government as a force for peace.

Paris was the organizer of the Ottawa Forum 2014: Rethinking Canada’s International Strategy with Taylor Owen. Owen is an Assistant Professor of Digital Media and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia, editor of the Canadian International Council publication OpenCanada [1], member of the Board of Directors of the Centre for Governance and Innovation[2] and co-editor with Paris of the collection The World Won’t Wait: Why Canada Needs to Rethink its Foreign Policies.

In 2013, Paris became one of two Canadians recruited by the U.S.-based Halifax International Security Forum to participate in its “Agenda Working Group” to formulate priorities for its annual meeting. (The other is Janice Gross Stein, Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, is also a member of the board of the Canadian International Council [1] – TS)

Halifax says NO! to war outside Halifax International Security Forum, November 17, 2012 | Halifax Media Coop

Halifax says NO! to war outside Halifax International Security Forum, November 17, 2012 | Halifax Media Coop

In March 2014, Paris was appointed by then-Secretary-General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen to “an expert panel tasked with developing recommendations to strengthen the trans-Atlantic partnership.”

Paris is a proponent of “digital democracy” — a form of cyberwarfare in which governments use social media to intervene in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. He hailed the partnership of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade, and Development (now Global Affairs Canada) under John Baird with the Munk School to use social media to undermine the Iranian government in February 2014.

Self-admitted crisis of Liberal internationalism

Paris, Owen and others involved with private foreign policy think tanks are responding to the fact that the old Liberal theories used to justify Canada’s alignment with U.S. imperialism and aggression are in deep crisis. Owen writes in “Towards a new Liberal foreign policy,” published on the OpenCanada website 10 days after the October 19, 2015 federal election, “The world has changed since the Liberals were last in power. As a result, Trudeau needs to re-imagine a liberal internationalist agenda for Canada.”

No! to international gangsterism in the name of "Protection"

No! to international gangsterism in the name of “Protection”

For instance, Owen and Paris admit that the theory of Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the high ideal under which crimes were committed by Canada from the 1990s and beyond has been discredited. Paris claims that it “is trapped by its own internal logic” and that “the Libya intervention was problematic for R2P.”

Owen says post-war international institutions, which were part of a “rules-based, open and transparent global system, whose goal is to protect and enhance the freedom of the individual,” are now unable to “fulfill the very mandates they were built to advance.” Owen calls for the Liberal Party to “imagine a 21st century internationalism.” His concern is that, whether or not the Liberals’ election promises were sound, “there is not an underlying philosophy to bind them together.”

Owen asks, “How do the states that built the postwar international system continue to promote and protect the individual in a world where states have diminishing power?” He calls for a new era in which the state “works to protect the networks on which individuals empower themselves.”

In their reflections on the Ottawa Forum 2014, Owen and Paris wrote, “effective international strategies often require coalitions of state and non-state actors, private organizations, advocacy groups and individuals, both inside and outside Canada… Public-private networks can be diplomatic ‘force multipliers’ for Canada.”

Push to increase military spending

Writing for the Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS) website on June 18, 2014 Paris said, “Last year, defence spending increased in all the world’s regions but three: North America, Western and Central Europe, and Oceania. While the United States remains the foremost military power today, if these investment patterns continue, Western militaries will eventually lose the technological advantage that they have long relied upon for their effectiveness.”

NATO calls for all its member states to devote at least two per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to military spending. This target was set in 2006 at the insistence of the U.S. which spends more than 3.5 per cent of GDP on the military, well above other NATO members. Only the UK, Turkey, Greece and Estonia are estimated to have reached the 2 per cent target in 2015. As of 2014, Canada spent approximately 1 per cent of GDP on the military. According to an article by Robert Greenhill[3] and Megan McQuillan for OpenCanada, Canada’s “global engagement” spending, combined spending on official “development assistance” and defence was roughly 1.2 per cent of GDP in 2014.

Paris authored another article on the CIPS website on September 24, 2015 discussing Canada’s military spending-to-GDP ratio. Paris referred to a “striking longer-term trend” of what Greenhill and McQuillan call Canada’s “global engagement gap,” where Canada’s “defence expenditure as a percent of GDP has been falling since the Mulroney years.”

The military spending-to-GDP ratio measure “remains important,” Paris said. “NATO members have decided that it is a significant indicator, and it serves as a benchmark to examine trends in Canadian spending in relation both to previous years and to other countries’ levels of defence spending.”

Paris lamented that “only five NATO countries spent less than Canada on defence as a per cent of GDP. That’s in an alliance of 28. […] One of them is Luxembourg.”

“Adapting the global system of rules and institutions”

120520-ChicagoNATOSummit-02crParis published an article in the Globe and Mail, June 20, 2014 where he said that NATO “needs to get its house in order to face a more dangerous world.” He laid out the situation which he said political leaders “on both sides of the Atlantic need to describe” to “their publics.” They “need to explain that the world is becoming more dangerous and that ignoring [the] risks is not a solution. If we do not reinvest in both our diplomatic and military capacities today, we will likely pay a much higher price later.”

The risks referred to are what Paris calls “four major shifts taking place in world affairs.” These are the alleged threat to a “rules-based order” posed by Russia; “the sudden unravelling of states and political order across parts of the Middle East and North Africa;” the “rapid escalation of tensions between China and its neighbours;” and “the increasingly strained system of international rules and institutions, which seems less and less able to manage the security challenges arising from the first three shifts.”

Paris has not a word to say about whether the actions of U.S. imperialism posed any challenge to a “rules-based” order. According to the view he puts forward, all international problems and crises originate from outside the imperialist system of states and are ones to which the imperialist system must respond and adapt. Paris’ predictable “solutions” include his call for NATO to “adopt a firm stance towards Russia” which includes “regularly exercising NATO combat forces in the eastern areas of the alliance,” and “preparing the NATO Response Force to be deployed at shorter notice” as well as building up military equipment on Russia’s frontiers.

Paris also says NATO countries must “develop the doctrines, instruments and techniques” to combat “non-linear types of aggression” and reduce consumption of Russian energy products in Europe. Of course, NATO must also focus on the Middle East and China’s “more aggressive posture.”

“NATO countries, including Canada, have benefited enormously from the relatively peaceful and open international order that has prevailed for nearly 70 years,” Paris writes. “If they commit to doing so, the Western allies and their global partners should be able to extend this period for decades longer. But it will not happen by itself, and cracks in the foundations of this order are already visible.”

“A more comprehensive approach to the problems of failed and fragile states”

Paris is a supporter of Canada’s military mission in Iraq and Syria. However, in a January 2015 CIPS Policy Brief, he points to “challenges” and “hard lessons” illuminated by previous imperialist interventions.

One such “hard lesson” according to Paris was on the “sometimes-counterproductive effects of deploying massive Western ground forces as front-line combatants in Muslim countries where there is widespread suspicion and resentment of Western power, even among our nominal allies.” One presumes that Paris thinks the deployment of “massive Western ground forces” in non-Muslim countries is greeted with balloons and streamers. Has he forgotten about Viet Nam, Korea and the anti-fascist war, to name a few? The problem in Paris’ view is not the deployment of “massive Western ground forces” but that “Muslim countries” are suspicious and resentful, i.e., that the people resist imperialist occupation.

According to Paris, “Canada can and should be a leader in an international campaign for a more comprehensive approach to the problems of failed and fragile states.” Besides “lack of security,” the problems of “failed and fragile states” are “poor governance and lack of economic opportunity,” he says. Important in this regard is, “Employment for young people, education against radicalization, investment to promote sustainable market-driven growth, and governments that serve their people rather than preying on them,” Paris says.

Is this like the fairytale about “building schools” in Afghanistan? “Of course, Canada must also maintain combat-capable military forces, which are a kind of insurance policy in an uncertain world. Indeed, we should re-invest in our military and reverse recent cuts. Further, we must be willing to deploy these forces, including in combat roles, when it is in our interest to do so,” Paris clarifies.

But we are comforted to learn that, “In the long run, however, we cannot kill our way to a safer world.”

Paris concludes that on the mission in Iraq it would be “politically difficult for any Canadian government” to withdraw its forces and that instead, the government “has an obligation to ensure that the larger campaign is well-conceived and achievable.”


1.The Canadian International Council (CIC) began in 1928 as the Canadian Institute of International Affairs. Its national secretary was Escott Reid, later chief aide to Prime Minister Lester Pearson during the creation of NATO and a diplomat in a variety of positions. In 2007 it was given its present name. The Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies, another Liberal think tank, was absorbed into the CIC in 2008.

The CIC has working groups on strategic studies, Arctic sovereignty and security, border issues, Canada and the Americas, Canada-India relations, China and energy.

Its Board of Directors includes Bill Graham, Chancellor of Trinity College and former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Defence under the previous Liberal government; Janice Gross Stein, Director of the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto (and a member of the agenda working group of the Halifax International Forum – TS); Jodi White, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in Ottawa; Scott Burk, an investment management firm executive; and Gerald Wright, former president of the Atlantic Council of Canada, vice-chairman of the Atlantic Treaty Association, and vice-president of the Donner Canadian Foundation.

Former directors include Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce; Jim Balsillie, former Research in Motion CEO; Raymond Chrétien, a lawyer and diplomat and nephew of Jean Chrétien; and Doug Horswill, Senior Vice President of the mining monopoly Teck Resources.

OpenCanada is a digital publication founded in June 2011 by the CIC in collaboration with Taylor Owen. OpenCanada is produced through a partnership of the Centre for International Governance Innovation, the Canadian International Council and the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History.

2.The Centre for Governance and Innovation (CIGI) is “an independent, non-partisan think tank focused on international governance. Led by experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements.” Its founder and chair is Jim Balsillie, former CEO of Research in Motion, who is also the namesake and primary benefactor of the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Ontario.

CIGI’s government sponsors include:

The Government of Canada; the Canadian Foundation for Innovation; the Canadian International Development Agency; Environment Canada; the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council; the International Development Research Centre; the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade; Industry Canada; the Government of Ontario; the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation; the Ontario Research Fund; the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation; the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities; and the City of Waterloo.

International sponsors include:

The Economic and Social Research Council; the Geneva Centre for the Public Control of Armed Forces; and the United Kingdom Department for International Development.

Private sponsors include:

Encana Corporation; Power Corporation; Scotiabank; TD Friends of the Environment Foundation; the Rockefeller Foundation; Jim Balsillie; Mike Lazaridis (Founder of Blackberry); and Brookfield Asset Management (Formerly Brascan).

3.Robert Greenhill is the Executive Chairman of the Global Canada Initiative and also Senior Fellow at CIGI. Greenhill is former Managing Director and Chief Business Officer of the World Economic Forum, Deputy Minister and President of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), and President and Chief Operating Officer of the International Group of Bombardier Inc. Greenhill also sits on the board of the UN Global Compact, a pseudo-United Nations body made up of senior executives in global monopolies who work to “transform the world through business,” calling for companies to “align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals.”

The Global Canada Initiative is a “not-for-profit, multistakeholder” organization based on the idea “Canada’s ability to have a global influence cannot be taken for granted” and that “it is in Canada’s strategic interest to increase its global impact.” Its mission statement says, “In an increasingly multistakeholder world, the responsibility for global impact cannot rest with government alone. All stakeholders — including the private sector, universities, social entrepreneurs and philanthropists — have an important role to play.”

It seeks to create “an exciting community of “Global Canadians” — Canadians in leadership positions at home and abroad who are passionate about Canada’s global role;” An “up-to-date narrative on Canada’s global engagement;” and determine “issues on which Canada can truly have a world-scale impact.”

The Global Canada Initiative is privately funded. Its Board and Advisory Board include:

executives with Bell Canada; telecommunications firm BCE Nexxia; venture capital firm BDC Advantage; U.S. consulting firm McKinsey; marketing firm Aimia; Zed Graphic Communications; and the Canadian Business Council (formerly the Canadian Council of Chief Executives).

Source: TML Weekly, February 6, 2016 – No. 6


Filed under Canada

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