Inexpensive Leadership: On Canada’s Global Normative Position and Its Potentials

S. Amir Mirtaheri


The paper deals with the apparent gap between Canada's considerable reservoir of international social capital on the one hand and its lack of visibility on the global stage on the other. It argues that Canada has certain advantages compared to other western powers to become a normative great power. To assume such position of (non-traditional) global leadership, however, Canada needs to break loose from lingering legacies of the Cold War and especially from middle-powerism. This can be facilitated by a departure from Cold-War Realism to post-Cold War Constructivism\Realism. The paper reviews the attempt to make the human security discourse a normative framework of Canada's foreign policy and analyzes its failure. Based on the insights provided by this analysis, the paper proposes two strategic normative discourses for a Canadian bid for global leadership. These include green lifestyle and multiculturalism. The paper also provides examples to show how the two can be put into concrete actions.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.