This article aims to explain the evolution of Canada’s relationship with NATO during the tenure of the Conservative governments of Stephen Harper (2006–14). A long-standing pillar of the country’s international policy, engagement with NATO has been noticeably weakened as Canada withdrew from joint Alliance programmes, ended participation in its operations, and paid less attention to relationships with NATO partners. Based on analysis of primary sources and interviews conducted among Canadian and NATO policy-makers, we argue that the loosening attachment to NATO has two sources, both underpinned by a particular interpretation of morality shaping the Conservative approach to foreign policy. One source is Canadian foreign policy becoming ‘unfixed’ from what was broadly termed its ‘middle power’ identity; the second, the experience of the ISAF mission in Afghanistan (2006–11), which made NATO as an institution seem incompatible with the Conservatives’ approach to foreign policy.


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pp. 43-69
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