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CIC Montreal: Canada: Alone in the World?

February 7, 2019 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm EST


With the arrest of Chinese telecoms executive Meng Wanzhou, Canada is caught between two superpowers, China and the United States.

Under President Donald Trump, Canada’s relationship with the US has become more fragile, with the president attacking Canada on trade. The U.S. has also retreated from important international agreements and agencies. Does Canada still have the U.S.’s back?

The United Kingdom, meanwhile, is too entangled in the looming exit from the European Union to focus on its relationship with Canada.

On the international stage, Canada is one of the few powers openly speaking out about human rights and the international rule of law. In August, the Saudi government expelled Canada’s ambassador to the kingdom and withdrew its own ambassador over Minister Freeland’s comment about human rights in Saudi Arabia. Few governments came to Canada’s defense.

As solidarity is weakening, is Canada alone in the world? Who are Canada’s allies now and what are its options? Could this moment be used as an opportunity or should Canada get used to being alone?

Robert Greenhill, Executive Chairman of the Global Canada Initiative, and Ben Rowswell, president of the CIC and former Canadian diplomat, will discuss these important questions during what promises to be a riveting talk about Canadian diplomacy and foreign policy

Speakers’ Biographies

Ben Roswell: President and Research Director of the Canadian International Council

Ben has 25 years of experience as a practitioner of international relations. He earned his expertise in international security serving with the United Nations in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993, as Canada’s first diplomatic envoy to Baghdad, Iraq, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and as the head of the NATO Provincial Reconstruction Team in Kandahar at the height of Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan.

Ben has advised top levels of government on international strategy in the Privy Council Office during the tenures of Jean Chrétien and Stephen Harper, and at the Washington DC Center for Strategic and International Studies from 2003 to 2004.

But his abiding passion is the defence of human rights and democracy. He established the Democracy Unit of Global Affairs Canada, worked closely with human rights movements as a political officer in the Canadian Embassy to Egypt, and most recently as Canada’s Ambassador to Venezuela from 2014 to 2017.

Throughout his career, Ben has sought to engage citizens in the practice of international relations. After a fellowship at Stanford University that introduced him to the powerful role that individuals can play in global affairs, he pioneered the practice of digital diplomacy at Global Affairs Canada. This same passion led him to join Farhaan Ladhani in founding software startup called Betterplace, which tailors opportunities for citizens to engage in civic action through a mobile app.

Robert Greenhill: Founder – Global Canada and Member of the Audit Committee and the Investment Committee, IGOPP

With a strong interest in global issues, Robert Greenhill has combined a career in international business with a commitment to public policy.

Robert Greenhill is Executive Chairman of the Global Canada Initiative. Previous roles include 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. Robert started his career with McKinsey & Company.

Robert sits on the board of the UN Global Compact, a unique initiative engaging business in support of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption principles and UN goals and activities.

Robert has a BA from the University of Alberta, MA from the London School of Economics, and MBA from INSEAD.


Free registration via Eventbrite. The event is free but contributions are highly welcomed

Please note that this event will be in English but both speakers can answer questions in French.


Avec l’arrestation de la dirigeante de Huwai, Meng Wanzhou, la Canada est pris entre deux grandes puissances : la Chine et le Canada. Sous l’administration de Donald Trump, les relations entre la Canada et les États-Unis se sont fragilisées. Le président Trump n’a pas hésité à critiquer les relations économiques avec le Canada et a retiré son pays d’importants accords internationaux et institutions mondiales. Peut-on encore compter sur le soutien des États-Unis? Le Royaume-Unis, pendant ce temps, est embourbé dans le Brexit et n’a guère de temps à se consacrer aux relations avec le Canada.

Au plan international, Ottawa est l’un des seuls gouvernements à parler ouvertement des droits de la personne et du respect du droit international. Au mois d’aout, le gouvernement saoudien a renvoyé son ambassadeur suite aux propos de la Ministre des Affaires étrangères Chrystia Freeland au sujet des droits de la personne dans le royaume. Peu de gouvernements sont venus à la défense du Canada.

Alors que la solidarité international entre allies semble en déclin, le Canada se retrouve-t-il seul sur la scène internationale? Qui sont ses alliés aujourd’hui et quels sont ses options ? Ce moment constitue-t-il une opportunité pour le Canada de se réaffirmer sur la scène internationale ou devrait-il s’habituer à être isolé ?

Robert Greenhill, directeur exécutif de Global Canada Initiative, et Ben Rowswell, président du CIC et ancien diplomate canadien, discuteront de ces questions lors d’un échange qui promet d’être fascinant.

*Cet évènement sera bilingue*

*Les contributions monétaires sont encouragées. *


February 7, 2019
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm EST
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Montreal, QC H3H 2T4 Canada
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CIC Montreal Branch