by Joël Plouffe, Visiting Québec Professor, University of Washington
Joël’s talk looked at how Canada’s foreign policy for the circumpolar world started to emerge in the 1950s as part of bilateral Canadian and American defense relations in the North American Arctic. While both countries continued to engage bilaterally in that region throughout the 1960s till the 1980s, mainly (but not exclusively) because of the long-lasting legal dispute over the Northwest Passage, the Northern/circumpolar dimension to Canada’s foreign policy as we know it today was born in the early 1990s. Joël’s presentation also looked at how Canada was very active on circumpolar issues throughout the post-cold war period, being a major actor in the creation of the Arctic Council (Canada was the first country to Chair the Arctic Council in 1996 and will be starting its second mandate as Chair of the Arctic Council in May 2013). Today, Joël explained, because of climate change and emerging security issues, Canada is trying desperately to regain a role of influence in the circumpolar north but has yet to fine tune its approach to this changing region and also the changing role of the Arctic Council as the main forum for dialogue in the Arctic and with the rest of the world.
While visiting the Center for Canadian/American Studies at WWU, Joël had various meetings on Québec/US relations and studies with Dr. Don Alper, Director of Canadian American Studies at WWU, and Dr. Christopher Sands, 2013 Ross Distinguished Professor at WWU. In 2010, Joël was Québec Visiting Professor at WWU, teaching Québec Politics and Contemporary Issues. His two appointments in Washington State, at WWU in 2010 and, now, at UW for the Task Force on Arctic Security in 2013 were made possible through government funded grants from the Government of Québec, Ministère des relations internationals du Québec. He is grateful for their valuable support in funding research on Québec/US/Canada/North America related issues, and for allowing Québec scholars to visit and work with American colleagues around the United States.
Joël Plouffe from Université du Québec à Montréal is the 2013 Visiting Québec Professor at the JSIS, UW, co-teaching with Nadine Fabbi from the Canadian Studies Center a Task Force on Arctic Security. He is grateful to be working with Nadine at UW, and the outstanding JSIS IR major students part of the Arctic Task Force.