Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Canada and the Indo-Pacific Initiative

Canada ignores the Indo-Pacific region at our peril. To succeed in the coming decade, we must think differently about our ambition in the region.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute is seeking to significantly expand its capacity to change our national discussion about how Canada can best approach the opportunities and challenges in the Indo-Pacific. Rather than marginalize risk in the region, the emergence of COVID-19 has magnified the need for a clear and consistent Canadian approach to the region.

Of particular concern is the need for Canada to develop a robust role in the Indo-Pacific, as a critical means to promote and maintain a rules-based global order. Stronger collaboration with key partners such as the US, Japan, India, Australia – in addition to states in ASEAN and likeminded partners in Europe –  will serve to enhance our ability to safeguard a free and open Indo-Pacific region and ensure that no one country can impose its will in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

No one has yet laid out a strategy that could transform Canada’s role in the Pacific and Indian Ocean Rim region from a fair-weather trading partner to a regional power engaged on a number of fronts, from economic and trade to security and defence. As MLI has done on numerous issues ranging from Indigenous affairs to criminal justice reform to innovation policy, our ambition is to become the indispensable voice on how best to respond to the economic, strategic and diplomatic pressures of the Indo-Pacific. Given the growing strategic competition between Beijing and Washington, and continuing uncertainty surrounding US leadership, Canadians want answers about how their government should respond.

This project will bring together the top minds in Canada and the world in a long-term undertaking to develop a clear-eyed view of Canadian priorities, set a course for our country to embrace its role in the Indo-Pacific, with the goal of establishing a more durable global order in the Indo-Pacific.

Papers, Publications, and More
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Inaugural Webinar Event – On the Horizon: Security challenges facing the Indo-Pacific and why they matter to Canada

MLI hosted its inaugural event with the “Canada and the Indo-Pacific” initiative on December 11 with key thought leaders from Japan, the United States, Europe and Canada. The panelists discussed a range of maritime security issues in the region. As outlined in the session, the Indo-Pacific is facing a host of shared security challenges, from maritime piracy and crime to heated territorial disputes. Of particular concern has been Beijing’s repeated provocations in the South China Sea, aimed at ensuring its de-facto control of much of this key waterway. Meanwhile, Beijing also continues to raise regional concerns through its constant incursions into the maritime and airspace surrounding Japan’s Senkaku islands.

The panelists spoke about these maritime challenges and the potential frameworks to address these issues, including the Quadrilateral Dialogue (with Japan, the US, India and Australia) and the potential emergence of Quad Plus frameworks, or the D-10 concept. Finally, the panelists also provided insights on what realistic role Canada might look to play in the region going forward.

The full event can be watched here:

Event Details Time: 9 am – 10:30 am EST Date: December 11, 2020

Opening Remarks:

  • Brian Lee Crowley, MLI’s Managing Director


  • Ken Jimbo, Professor at the Faculty of Policy Management, Keio University
  • Greg Poling, Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia and Director of AMTI, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
  • Eva Pejsova, Senior Japan Fellow, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • Commodore (Ret’d) Eric Lerhe, Munk Senior Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute


  • Jonathan Berkshire Miller, Director and Senior Fellow, Indo-Pacific Program, Macdonald-Laurier Institute
Webinar Panel Video – Connecting After COVID: How Canada and its allies can partner on infrastructure and trade in the Indo-Pacific

Infrastructure development is sorely needed in the Indo-Pacific region to sustain growth among large and mid-sized economies alike. The Asian Development Bank estimates that more than $25-trillion will be needed by 2030. The region also continues to evolve when it comes to trade and the importance of supply chains. Under Japan’s leadership, the CPTPP has now been put in force – and next steps in terms of trade policy sorely need to be discussed. In addition to the CPTPP, another regional trade agreement – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – was signed last year.

Importantly, Canada has an opportunity to join the United States, Japan, Australia, and European countries (among others) in proposing a sustainable trade and investment strategy based on fair-lending, transparent institutions, and long-term growth.

To shed light on these issues, MLI hosted an event with experts from like-minded countries to discuss infrastructure development and trade in the Indo-Pacific, and what role Canada might play in these shifting dynamics.

The full event can be watched here:

Opening Remarks:

His Excellency Kawamura Yasuhisa, Ambassador of Japan to Canada


  • Dr. Amitendu Palit, Senior Research Fellow, National University of Singapore (Institute of South Asian Studies)
  • Mr. Bart Édes, Distinguished Fellow, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada
  • Ms. Yuka Koshino, Research Fellow for Japanese Security and Defence Policy, The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS)
  • Mr. Dan Ciuriak, Senior Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)


  • Jonathan Berkshire Miller, Director and Senior Fellow, Indo-Pacific Program, Macdonald-Laurier Institute