Centre for International and Defence Policy

Centre for International and Defence Policy
Centre for International and Defence Policy

Martello #41

Bilateral Agendas: Canadian Foreign Policy on the Ground

Authored by: Louis A. Delvoie. [2017]



Release Date: December 2017


152 pages

Download Format: PDF [1.0 MB]



Although Canada makes a positive contribution to, and works within, a number of multinational organisations, bilateral relationships are the critical foundation of international diplomacy and interaction. Consequently, Canadian diplomats are constantly engaging with their counterparts around the world to strengthen bonds across a whole spectrum of interests, often without great fanfare. If we are to fully understand and appreciate Canada’s position in the international system, acknowledging the role of these missions is critical. 

Taking a ‘cookie-cutter’ approach to international diplomacy is inadequate in the extreme, and effectively building and nurturing bilateral relationships requires sensitivity to the nuances of the temporal and geo-political context. Nevertheless, as the author suggests, while the global situation is fluid, the tools available to the Canadian government to navigate these sometimes choppy waters remain constant. Bilateral Agendas: Essays in Canadian Foreign Policy provides us with a fascinating insight into the way in which Canada’s bilateral diplomatic engagements have developed in a selection of countries, including some that might not have always appeared on the radar of any but the keenest of policy observers. Nevertheless, they represent locations in which Canadian diplomats have expended considerable time and energy, often with great effect. Each chapter can be seen as a stand-alone article that provides a close examination of the history and development of Canada’s relationships with particular countries. As a whole, however, they comprise a valuable lens through which we can observe the broader shape of Canadian diplomacy, giving us a penetrating analysis of a range of the challenges, considerations and circumstances that can affect the way that Canada develops its foreign policy and bilateral relationships. Versions of these chapters have appeared in a variety of high-quality publications over the previous twenty years, and the insights that they provide give not only an overview of Canada’s connection with a geographic region, but also a snapshot of the way in which the situation was viewed when the article was written. These insights remain remarkably prescient and enduringly valuable.