Has the Silence Been Broken? Gender and Canadian Foreign Policy in the Trudeau Era: Heather Smith (University of Norhtern British Columbia), Rebecca Tiessen (University of Ottawa) Abstract: In 1994, Deborah Stienstra wrote one of the first articles interrogating gender and Canadian foreign policy from a critical feminist lens. In her analysis, she first asks ‘where are the women in Canadian foreign policy?’ Second, recognizing the limits of the ‘add women and stir approach’ she argues that we need to ‘ask in what ways the words, ideas, practices and institutions of Canadian foreign policy are gendered’ (Stienstra, 1994, 117). After providing a wide ranging analysis, she concludes that adding women and stirring is not enough and to break the silence, approaches based on a critical understanding of gender relations, including an intersectional lens, must be incorporated in Canadian foreign policy.
Using Stienstra as our starting point, and informed by a wide range of gender and Canadian foreign policy literature (Sjolander, Stienstra and Smith, 2003; Tiessen and Baranyi, 2017; Tiessen and Swan, 2018; Smith, 2017), we problematize the question of are we in an ‘historical turn’? Relative to the era investigated by Stienstra, the silence has been broken. In contrast to the Harper government, the discourse of the Trudeau government is a welcome relief for many feminists. But an historic turn? Current analyses of the ‘Canadian feminist foreign policy’ suggest it’s far too early to make claims of substantive policy changes of historic proportions. Ultimately, we argue that there might be turn signals but whether they lead to rhetorical dead ends remains to be seen.
Reconciling with Whom? A Gendered Analysis of Trudeau’s Engagement with Indigenous Organizations: Liam Midzain-Gobin (McMaster University), Caroline Dunton (George Washington University) Abstract: As of June 2017 the Trudeau government signed three agreements with Indigenous representative Organizations: the Métis National Council, a collection of Inuit organizations, and the Assembly of First Nations. These agreements established ongoing consultative mechanisms between Indigenous organizations and the federal government for the first time in Canadian history, and have been described as important steps in – as well as representative of – the ‘renewed relationship’ between Indigenous peoples and the Government of Canada under Trudeau. Indeed, when paired with the increased funding for Indigenous communities which has been promised by the Government, the commitment to ongoing engagement with each of Canada’s Indigenous peoples signals a potentially important move in the practicing of reconciliation.
This paper seeks to contextualize and evaluate this claim through a feminist and practice-based lens. Specifically, it looks to the way in which the Trudeau government has excluded organizations including the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and other organizations representing Indigenous women from these ongoing dialogues. In doing so, it argues that despite the Trudeau government’s feminist rhetoric, his governance practices continue to marginalize Indigenous women. This contributes to the reproduction of a particularly patriarchal settler colonialism. By studying the way in which this is continually reproduced, the paper contributes to the building of a decolonized approach to policymaking.
A Professed and Purportedly “Feminist”, “Open Door” Canada: Problematizing Equality and (Im)migration in the Justin Trudeau Era: Alexandra Dobrowolsky (Saint Mary's University) Abstract: In their 2015 federal election campaign, and first term in office, the Trudeau Liberals were intent on portraying Canada in a very different light from the Conservative Harper years. Justin Trudeau proudly identified as a feminist and his government heralded innovations including: two “feminist” budgets, “feminist foreign policy” and a “feminist G7”; an inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls; initiatives to support LGBTQ2 communities; and a national dialogue on racism. It also upgraded Status of Women of Canada to a Department and promised GBA Plus in its policy development. Concomitantly, and in contradistinction to the conservative economistic, securitized, and racialized approach to immigration and citizenship, under Prime Minister Harper, Justin Trudeau championed refugees and immigrants, initially at least, evoking an “open door” welcome.
Nonetheless, through a review of scholarly work and primary sources (including government documents, speeches and media accounts) leading up to and throughout Justin Trudeau’s first term in office, I will argue that certain contemporary manifestations of liberalism, along with more longstanding market and human capital priorities, resulted in the Liberal government’s priorities benefiting the few, rather than the many, when gender, race and class are taken into consideration. More specifically, I will illustrate how and why liberal ideas and practices around social investment, roll-out neoliberalism, and neoliberal feminism along with the lack of intersectional analysis in recent immigration policy priorities, and their market and human capital logic, fall well short when when it comes to promoting equality and diversity in Canada.
Intersectionalities of Opportunism: Trudeau’s Distorted ‘Diversity’: Tammy Findlay (Mount Saint Vincent University) Abstract: In the paper, I outline how the values, principles, practices, and representations of Canada are undergoing a process of distortion and redefinition under the current Liberal government of Justin Trudeau. Diversity, as used in intersectional, feminist and critical race scholarship and activism, is being appropriated and reconstituted by Trudeau as an opportunistic political device that undermines equitable public policy. While ‘diversity’ rhetoric is manipulated in numerous ways in this Trudeau era, my paper focuses specifically on its equation with regional difference, in which provincial/territorial ‘diversity’ is unquestioned, unscrutinised, and naturalized. Using three policy examples (climate change, child care, and genetic discrimination), I argue that a substantive intersectional policy analysis reveals Trudeau’s celebration of regional policy ‘diversity,’ as actually a defence of inequality and disparity marked by uneven access, unrealized rights to social citizenship, and further entrenchment of Canada’s (neo)liberal welfare regime.