Canada’s proximity to the United States has been a boon to this country’s economy over many decades. Its importance has been affirmed and reaffirmed in such strategic arrangements as the Hyde Park Agreement, the International Joint Commission, NORAD and the 1989 Free Trade Agreement and its successors, North American Free Trade Agreement and Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). The deep economic integration of Canada and the United States may be long-established, but shared vision and shared purpose are not as explicit as they once were.

Today, Canada is heavily exposed to both the populist headwinds in U.S. politics and the emergence of more aggressive geopolitical tension. We find ourselves situated in a maelstrom arising from factors such as Russia’s war on Ukraine, China’s increasing economic and military belligerence, a rise in populist politics, the shortening of supply chains, the impacts of climate change and the energy transition, and recent advances in artificial intelligence. All this means that Canada is being drawn more deeply into the U.S. orbit just when that orbit is less stable.

Given the tight spot this leaves Canada in, the Public Policy Forum and the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy are partnering on this project to inject fresh strategic policy thinking into the Canada-U.S. relationship. The core objective is to re-energize the relationship to anchor critical transactions in a strategy that is fit for 21st Century stresses and opportunities. The fundamental question we want to answer is: “How can Canada and the U.S. matter more to each other and, in doing so, matter even more to the world?”

The plan for the project includes:

  • Virtual and in-person roundtables within policy, business, academic and media circles to inform the focus areas to strengthen the bilateral relationship.
  • One-on-one interviews with experts to gain a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges.
  • Publication of a strategy paper to help inform crucial policy discussions ahead of the 2024 U.S. presidential election and the 2026 CUSMA review.
  • A PPF members-only event for knowledge dissemination.

Canada needs to have a plan for the U.S., no matter who becomes president. That starts with making us matter more.

READ OP-ED: The Globe and Mail