Southern (Over) Exposure? Quebec and the Evolution of Canada’s Grand Strategy, 2002–2012

With David Haglund


One of the most persistent themes in the debate on Canadian foreign policy over the past few decades concerns the influence Quebec is thought to possess over the design and implementation of Canadian foreign and defense policy. Our purpose in this article is to situate this general debate within a more specific context, of Canada’s grand strategic choices as they principally involve the country’s security and defense relations with the US. To do this, we adopt somewhat of a “counterfactual” tack; to wit, we inquire whether, in the absence of Quebec from the Canadian confederation, we should expect to have seen a fundamentally different grand strategy fashioned by Ottawa, one with different significance for relations with the US. We focus on two specific cases, both of which have figured prominently in recent Canadian–American strategic relations: the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. We conclude that while there is something to the claim that Quebec can and does boast of a certain “specificity” in the matter of Canada’s grand-strategic preferences, it is hardly the same thing as arguing that the country without Quebec would have adopted policies on both Afghanistan and Iraq that were fundamentally different from the ones it chose to follow.


Haglund, D., Massie, J. (2016). « Southern (Over) Exposure? Québec and the Evolution of Canada’s Grand Strategy, 2002-12 », American Review of Canadian Studies, vol. 46, no 2, p. 233-253. DOI:

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