Friday, September 17, 2021

Scholar gives talk on Canada-China relations

Dr. Kim Richard Nossal presented “On Pivots and Anchors: Canadian Policy in the Asian Pacific” at the Center for the Study of Canada on Friday, Feb. 9, as seven PSUC faculty listened and jotted notes.

Nossal is the Center for the Study of Canada’s 2017-2018 Distinguished Fulbright Scholar, a program in which the center annually invites a Canadian academic, government practitioner or public figure, Center for the Study of Canada Director Dr. Christopher Kirkey said at the presentation.

Nossal explained some reasons why Canada has been more reluctant than the U.S. to project themselves over to the Asian Pacific, particularly in terms of defense policy.

“The pivot is a reference to a policy shift that the administration of Barack Obama took in the Asian Pacific in 2011. [It was] essentially in response to the rise of China,” he said.

The Canadian government never implemented that policy pivot, and the anchor represents the drag created by Canada’s focus on the Atlantic.

“The government in Ottawa knows it should be pivoting to the Asian Pacific,” he said. “[But] our attention is inertially held by the demands of transatlantic.”

Resources play a large part in Canada’s relative lack of Asian-Pacific defense policy. Though Canada sustains economic ties to China, many Canadians don’t desire to conduct large-scale governmental or security operations in the Pacific. It’s expensive to engage with Asia, and Canada spends only about one percent of its GDP on defense, he noted.

“Canadians love to spend as little as they possibly can on anything defense-related, so Atlantic focus of foreign and defense policy absorbs a huge amount of these resources.”

Nossal also delivered this year’s Distinguished Canadian Address, “The Trump Challenge: A New Era in Canadian-American Relations,” at the Valcour Inn and Boathouse on Thursday, Feb. 8, to an audience larger than 50 people from the local businesses and PSUC communities.

In addition, he presented to two sections of the college’s Intro to Canada class.

Freshman marketing major Hanh Nguyen listened to Nossal’s presentation, and thought it was informative and well-structured.

“Dr. Nossal tailored his lecture to work with the subject we are currently discussing in class — Canadian geography,” Adjunct Lecturer Charles Deshaies said.

Nossal has accrued more than 40 years of experience in political science and political studies departments between McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and Queens University in Kingston, Ontario. He’s written, co-written and edited numerous books, chapters, and articles on Canadian and Australian foreign and defense policy. He is currently a fellow in the Queen’s University Centre for International and Defence Policy.

“The reality is that Canadians, simply, in peacetime, do not, cannot and will not conceptualize the importance of spending their wealth on the military,” Nossal said.

Email Kody Mashtare at

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