Jody Thomas, the national security and intelligence adviser to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, led the first Indo-Pacific Dialogue between Canada and the United States on March 10, discussing both economic and security issues in the region.
Thomas led the discussion in Washington, D.C., alongside Kurt Campbell, the American coordinator for Indo-Pacific affairs in the National Security Council and also deputy assistant to President Joe Biden.
A Privy Council Office (PCO) news release issued on March 11 says the dialogue focused on “key trends shaping the region” and also “identified new areas of economic, security, development, and technological cooperation.”
It added that Canada and the United States exchanged views on both “challenges and opportunities” in the region and “reaffirmed a shared commitment to a free and open region, which is prosperous and secure.”
The White House said in a separate press release that Canada and the United States also share intent to “expand engagement in Southeast Asia” and to “promote security and prosperity in South Asia.”
Both the PCO and the White House say Canada and the United States will work in close coordination to implement their respective Indo-Pacific strategies and will “meet again soon.”
The dialogue led by Thomas and Campbell comes several months after Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly released Canada’s new Indo-Pacific Strategy, in November 2022, which included an investment of roughly $2.2. billion over the next five years in dozens of projects in the region.
The first of the five objectives outlined in the new strategy is to address security threats to Canada from the region in both the physical and digital sphere.
Joly said on Nov. 27 when announcing the new strategy that Canada will be increasing its “collaboration with and contribution to the fight on foreign interference.”
“The targeting of Canadians will not be tolerated. No effort will be spared to protect Canadians and defend against these threats,” she said.
Joly at the time also called China an “increasingly disruptive global power,” and earlier she said Canada would challenge China “when we ought to” and cooperate with China “when we must.”
“Its sheer size and influence makes cooperation necessary to address the world’s existential pressures,” she said on Nov. 9.
Prior to Joly’s unveiling of the new strategy, Trudeau had also said Canada will be increasing its military presence in the Indo-Pacific by making new investments in Canadian Armed Forces engagement in the region.
“This will support our allies, Japan and South Korea, and all of us in the Pacific,” he said on Nov. 18.
Andrew Chen contributed to this report.