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  • Introduction:Canada and the World in 25 Years—Will Anyone Be Listening?
  • Elizabeth Cobbett and Ray Silvius

This special issue began life as a lively panel at Visions for Canada 2042, a series of events held in March 2017 to commemorate 75 years of Carleton University's Faculty for Public Affairs. This collection of short articles builds upon, and offers a variety of answers to, our lead question: "Will anyone be listening to Canada as it negotiates the world of 2042?"

If bold predictions are the preferred method for prognosticators and pundits, our contributors are decidedly more circumspect in offering a straightforward picture of how the world will receive Canada and Canadians in 25 years' time. Nonetheless, the analytical and imaginative undertaking that we offer here is governed by the understanding that the global environment Canada faces at present and in the medium future is very different than that to which it was accustomed during the "long twentieth century." It comes across very clearly from all contributors that not all regions of the globe will be "listening" or paying attention to Canada to the same degree as the world undergoes important political and economic shifts. This raises the question of whether countries around the world will need to listen to Canada in 25 years, the matter to which contributors to this special issue broach through a variety of arguments. While our predictions are tentative, and although our individual analyses focus on different components of the shifting world order of which Canada is a part, there is broad consensus that Canada's foreign policy needs to speedily adjust to a profoundly different set of global circumstances. In excavating the present to better determine the various factors that have led to prevailing articulations of Canada's international identity and conduct, our endeavour enables us to reimagine the past as much as envision the future.

Beginning with reference to the concluding contribution, Germain argues that the North Atlantic corridor of power is in the process of coming under what he calls the "shadow of geopolitics." As Germain reminds us, debates as to whether the American century is over are hotly contested—and, frankly, nothing new. An emerging China will challenge, but ultimately not unseat, the United States as the primary organizing power in the global political [End Page 5] economy. Nonetheless, the current distribution of global power relations is under a profound reorganization due to the complex economic, cultural, and demographic variables embodied in the so-called emerging powers. Shadows cast by these new geopolitical hot spots and spheres of influence are, in turn, shaping Canada—its place in the greater scheme of global politics—and will increasingly and necessarily shape its foreign policy. In Germain's estimation, the longue durée of American financial, political, and cultural power in the North Atlantic sphere will rediscipline Canada into reorienting its relations to American-led structures, despite increased pressures, and opportunities, from China.

China is not "rising" alone, and a corresponding question pertains to how Canada will adapt and respond to a global system reshaped by countries beyond the West. Consequently, there is a need to reconsider the guiding assumption of much Anglo-American (and indeed Canadian) thinking that the structuring power for world order is vested in the trilateral relations of North America, Europe, and Japan. One way, therefore, to answer the question of whether anyone will be listening to Canada is to ask where the core of global political economic power will be in 25 years. As Cobbett sets out, the global political economic "core"—the average location of economic activity across geographies, taking into account all gross domestic product (GDP) produced across the planet (Quah 2011)—is moving east, toward Asia and away from the North Atlantic corridor of power. Doing so, it pulls on Canada in two directions. The first is a tug across Europe, in the direction of India and China, as the centre of economic gravity gradually moves toward China and the Asia-Pacific Rim. This is turning Europe eastwards as it makes new connections to China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The second is a westwards movement, as the North American landmass continues to turn to...


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