Chrystia Freeland says time has come for democracies to 'use hard power where necessary'

Canada’s foreign minister says the world’s democracies, including her own, need to be prepared to flex their military muscle going forward.

Foreign affairs minister says liberal international order won't last without some use of force

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks to members of the media following her foreign policy speech in the House on Tuesday. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Canada's foreign minister says the world's democracies, including her own, need to be prepared to flex their military muscle going forward.

"I am not shy about saying the use of force is sometimes necessary," Chrystia Freeland told Chris Hall, host of CBC Radio's The House.

"Of course it must be a last resort, but I really believe in this moment today — when, as I said in the [foreign policy] speech, there are many threats to the liberal international order — it is precisely the democracies, it is precisely the countries that stand for values and human rights that also need to be ready to say we are prepared to use hard power where necessary,"

"If the only powers that are prepared to use hard force are the cynical, authoritarian, might-is-right regimes, this liberal international order that I belive in so strongly, that I believe so strongly is in our national interest, is not going to last," she told The House.

Those arguments are at the core of the foreign policy speech Freeland delivered in the House of Commons Tuesday.

The next day, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan rolled out the Liberal's defence plan, which would increase the defence budget by 70 per cent over the next decade to $32.7 billion annually and pledges to buy 15 advanced warships and 88 new fighter jets.

This week's movement on the foreign affairs and defence front has already caught the eye of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, whose head says he hopes that means Canada will take part in more alliance missions.

"We are not able to tell exactly today what kind of missions and operations we will have in five to 10 years, but now we need more Canadian presence in Europe," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

'Made-in-Canada foreign policy'

Freeland said she drew inspiration from some of the great foreign policy speeches in Canadian history, including Louis St. Laurent's gray lecture back in 1947, where he told the crowd one of the principles of Canadian foreign policy would be "the rule of law in national and international affairs."

"I made a real point in working on this speech and preparing it, for this to be a made-in-Canada speech and a made-in-Canada foreign policy. If you look closely through this speech you'll notice every single reference is Canadian," she said.

"What I thought was important to do was to talk about our foreign policy from our perspective, to have a foreign policy that was totally rooted in Canadian soil and took as its starting point Canada's national interest and Canadian values."