Professor Christopher Kirkey (State University of New York, Plattsburgh) – This paper seeks to identify and assess the most salient characteristics of the current unipolar international system and to examine what unipolarity means for Canadian foreign policy. Recent changes in the international political system have provided successive Canadian governments with increased freedom of action to pursue high profile foreign policy initiatives.
While not in and of itself determinative as an explanation for Canadian external behaviour – domestic variables are an integral component of Canada’s foreign policy activities – the structure of the current international political system has an important influence on Ottawa’s engagement with the international community. As Kenneth Waltz reminds us in Realism and International Politics, ‘structures shape and shove; they do not determine the actions of states.’ The post-Cold War unipolar system is ‘shaping’ and ‘shoving’ the foreign policy of Canada – and of other nations – and has created a situation where there is considerable unfettered latitude for them. This obviously has significant implications for Canada’s current and future foreign policy.
Christopher Kirkey, BA, MA (Queen’s University) & PhD (Brandeis University), is Director of the Centre for the Study of Canada and the Institute on Quebec Studies at State University of New York College at Plattsburgh, where he holds a concurrent position as full professor of political science. A scholar of comparative foreign policy and international relations theory, his recent works include the co-edited special issue (with Michael Hawes) ‘Canada in a Unipolar World?: New directions in Canadian foreign policy, of Canadian Foreign Policy Journal (Vol.18, No. 1, 2012). He is currently working on several projects, including a book volume (co-edited with Michael Hawes) on Canadian Foreign Policy in a Unipolar World (Oxford University Press) and a co-edited special issue (with Tony McCulloch) of the British Journal of Canadian Studies (Vol. 28, No. 2, 2015).
Refreshments available from 17:30, presentation starts at 18:00. Attendance is free of charge but registration is required.