Foreign relations of Canada

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The foreign relations of Canada are Canada's relations with other governments and peoples. Canada's most important relationship, being the largest trading relationship in the world, is with the United States.[1] However, Canadian governments have traditionally maintained active relations with other nations, mostly through multilateral organizations such as the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations, La Francophonie, the Organization of American States, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).


Colonial era

The British North American colonies which today constitute modern Canada had little control over their foreign affairs until the achievement of responsible government in the late 1840s. Up to that time, wars, negotiations and treaties were carried out by the British government to settle disputes concerning the colonies over fishing and boundaries and to promote trade. Notable examples from the colonial period include the Nootka Convention, the War of 1812, the Rush–Bagot Treaty, the Treaty of 1818, the Webster–Ashburton Treaty, and the Oregon Treaty. Before the granting of responsible government, British diplomats handled foreign affairs and had the goal of achieving British goals, especially peace with the United States; domestic Canadian interests were secondary. The Canadian–American Reciprocity Treaty of 1854 signaled an important change in relations between Britain and its North American colonies. In this treaty, the Canadas were allowed to impose tariff duties more favourable to a foreign country (the U.S.) than to Britain, a precedent that was extended by new tariffs in 1859, 1879 and 1887, despite angry demands on the part of British industrialists that these tariffs be disallowed by London.[2]

Dominion of Canada: 1867

Soon after Confederation, the first prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald appointed Sir John Rose as his lobbyist in London. When Alexander Mackenzie became prime minister, he sent George Brown to represent Canada in Washington during British-American trade talks. After the Conservative Party came back to power in 1878, the government sent Alexander Galt to London, as well as to France and Spain. Although the British government was concerned about this nascent Canadian diplomacy, it finally consented to giving Galt the formal title of High Commissioner in 1880. A trade commissioner was appointed to Australia in 1894. As High Commissioner, Charles Tupper helped negotiate an agreement with France in 1893 but it was countersigned by the British ambassador as the Queen's official representative to France. Meanwhile, in 1882 the province of Quebec made its first of many forays into the international community by sending a representative, Hector Fabre to Paris in 1882.[3]

Canada's responses to international events elsewhere were limited at this time. During 1878 tensions between Britain and Russia, for example, Canada constructed a few limited defences but did little else. By the time of the British campaign in Sudan of 1884–85, however, Canada was expected to contribute troops. Since Ottawa was reluctant to become involved, the Governor General of Canada privately raised 386 voyageurs at Britain's expense to help British forces on the Nile river. By 1885, many Canadians offered to volunteer as part of a potential Canadian force, however the government declined to act. This stood in sharp contrast to Australia (New South Wales), which raised and paid for its own troops.[4]

The first Canadian commercial representative abroad was John Short Larke. Larke became Canada's first trade commissioner following a successful trade delegation to Australia led by Canada's first Minister of Trade and Commerce, Mackenzie Bowell.[5]

In 1909, Prime Minister Sir Wilfrid Laurier reluctantly established a Department of External Affairs and the positions of Secretary and Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs, largely at the urging of the Governor-General Earl Grey and James Bryce, the British ambassador in Washington, who estimated that three-quarters of his embassy's time was devoted to Canadian-American matters. The Alaska boundary dispute was resolved by a commission in 1903, at which the British delegate sided with the Americans, stunning Canadians into a realization that the Empire's interests were paramount to Canada's. The Canadian judges refused to sign the award (issued 20 October 1903) as a protest and angry anti-British feeling erupted in Canada.[6][7]

World Wars

Due to Canada's important contributions to the British war effort in 1914–18, Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden insisted that Canada be treated as a separate signatory to the Treaty of Versailles. In 1920 Canada became a full member of the League of Nations, and acted independently of London. It was elected to the League Council (governing board) in 1927. It did not play a leading role, and generally opposed sanctions or military action by the League. The League was virtually defunct by 1939.[8]

The government operated a Canadian War Mission in Washington, 1918 to 1921, but it was not until William Lyon Mackenzie King became Prime Minister in 1921 that Canada seriously pursued an independent foreign policy. In 1923, Canada independently signed the Halibut Treaty with the United States at Mackenzie King's insistence – the first time Canada signed a treaty without the British also signing it. In 1925, the government appointed a permanent diplomat to Geneva to deal with the League of Nations and International Labour Organization. Following the Balfour Declaration of 1926, King appointed Vincent Massey as the first Canadian minister plenipotentiary in Washington (1926), raised the office in Paris to legation status under Philippe Roy (1928), and opened a legation in Tokyo with Herbert Marler as envoy (1929).

Canada achieved legislative independence with the enactment of the Statute of Westminster in 1931, although British diplomatic missions continued to represent Canada in most countries throughout the 1930s.

In the 1930s, the Mackenzie King government strongly supported the appeasement policy of the Chamberlain government in London toward Nazi Germany.[9][10]

After the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Canada rapidly expanded its diplomatic missions abroad. While Canada hosted two major Allied conferences in Quebec in 1943 and 1944, neither Prime Minister Mackenzie King nor senior generals and admirals were invited to take part in any of the discussions.[11]

Since 1945

The period from 1945 to 1957 is considered the golden age of Canadian diplomacy under Lester B. Pearson, when Canada had its greatest impact on world diplomacy.

In 1982, responsibility for trade was added with the creation of the Department of External Affairs and International Trade. In 1995, the name was changed to Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

Canada has often carried out its foreign policy through coalitions and international organizations, and through the work of numerous federal institutions.[12] Under the aegis of Canadian foreign policy, various departments and agencies conduct their own international relations and outreach activities. For example, the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence conduct defence diplomacy in support of national interests, including through the deployment of Canadian Defence Attachés,[13] participation in bilateral and multilateral military forums (e.g., the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces), ship and aircraft visits, military training and cooperation,[14] and other such outreach and relationship-building efforts.

There are two major elements of Canadian foreign relations, Canada-US relations and multilateralism.

Greg Donaghy, of Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs, argues:

Since taking power in 2006, Prime Minister Harper's government has clearly abandoned the liberal internationalism that had so often characterized Ottawa's approach to world affairs, replacing it with a new emphasis on realist notions of national interest, enhanced capabilities, and Western democratic values.[15]


Canada's international relations are the responsibility of the Department of Global Affairs, which is run by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, a position currently held by Stephane Dion. Traditionally the Prime Minister has played a prominent role in foreign affairs decisions. Foreign aid, formerly delivered through the Canadian International Development Agency, has been administered by DFATD since March 2013.[16]

Foreign aid

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Haiti Ministerial Preparatory Conference addressing earthquake relief in Montreal, January 25, 2010

Canada's foreign aid was administered by the Canadian International Development Agency, which provided aid and assistance to other countries around the world through various methods. In March 2013 CIDA ceased to exist when it was folded into DFAIT, creating DFATD.[16] The strategy of the Canadian government's foreign aid policy reflects an emphasis to meet the Millennium Development Goals, while also providing assistance in response to foreign humanitarian crises. However a growing focus on development, defense, and diplomacy in recent decades has produced a concentration of foreign aid funding to countries determined to be security risks to Canadian policy. For example, in 2004-2005 the largest recipients of Canada's official developmental assistance were Afghanistan and Iraq, two nations in conflict with the United States of America and its allies at the time. The structural emphasis on security and industry development has contributed to a fixed foreign policy that generally fails to consider global health and international social and economic inequalities.[17]

In addition, although Canada’s foreign aid policies has been molded with the intentions to be in accordance to the Millennium Development Goals, its focus on human security has slowly shifted away as new policy developments arose. The foreign aid provided by the country became less "people-centered" and less health-related. Canada’s contributions have been quite inconsistent with regards to human security, which indicates that the reputation that the country has built throughout the years, in fact, exceeds the country’s actual record. Canada’s contributions internationally have been detrimental and crucial but it needs redirecting back to its original goals.[17]

Federalism and foreign relations

One of the most unusual aspects of Canadian foreign policy is the high level of freedom the provinces have to operate internationally. Despite the fact the federal government worked to strengthen its foreign affairs responsibilities as relinquished by Britain, the provinces have always had pretensions in this area, dating from Quebec's first representative to France in the 1886, Hector Fabre. Alberta has had representatives abroad, starting with Alberta House in London (37 Hill Street), since 1948, and British Columbia around 25 years before that.[18] By 1984 Quebec had offices in ten countries including eight in the United States and three in other Canadian provinces while Ontario had thirteen delegations in seven countries.[19] Most provincial governments have a ministry of international relations, both Quebec and New Brunswick are members of La Francophonie (separately from the federal delegation), Alberta has quasi-diplomatic offices in Washington (currently staffed by former cabinet minister Gary Mar). Provincial premiers were always part of the famous Team Canada trade missions of the 1990s. In 2007, Quebec premier Jean Charest proposed a free trade agreement with the European Union.

Provinces have always participated in some foreign relations, and appointed agents general in the United Kingdom and France for many years, but they cannot legislate treaties. The French-speaking provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick are members of la Francophonie, and Ontario has announced it wishes to join. Quebec has pursued its own foreign relations, especially with France. Alberta opened an office in Washington, D.C., in March 2005 to lobby the American government, mostly to reopen the borders to import of Canadian beef. With the exception of Quebec, none of these efforts undermine the ability of the federal government to conduct foreign affairs.

Bilateral relations


Country Formal relations began Notes
 Argentina1940-04 See Argentina–Canada relations

Canada’s first Ambassador to Buenos Aires, began his assignment in 1945. Argentina has an embassy in Ottawa.[20] and two consulates general (in Montreal and Toronto).[21] Canada has an embassy in the capital city of Buenos Aires.[22] In 2011 Canada's largest imports were decorative items gold, wines and Iron and steal pipes.[23] Canada's largest exports to Argentina were Energy-related products; telephones sets, and fertilizers.[23] Bilateral trade in 2014 was $2.19 billion.[24] Both countries are members of the Organization of American States and the Cairns Group.

 Antigua and Barbuda1981
  • The Canadian High Commission in Bridgetown, Barbados is accredited to Antigua and Barbuda.[25]
 Barbados1966-11-30See Barbados–Canada relations

In 1907, the Government of Canada opened a Trade Commissioner Service to the Caribbean region located in Bridgetown, Barbados. Following Barbadian independence from the United Kingdom in November 1966, the Canadian High Commission was established in Bridgetown, Barbados in September 1973. There is a Barbadian High Commission in Ottawa and a Barbadian Consulate in Toronto. The relationship between both nations today partly falls within the larger context of Canada–Caribbean relations.

 Belize1981-09-21See Foreign relations of Belize
 Brazil1941-05See Brazil–Canada relations, Embassy of Brazil in Ottawa, List of Brazilian ambassadors to Canada

Brazil-Canada relations have been cordial but relatively limited, although the relationship between the two countries has been gradually evolving over time.

 Bolivia1961See Foreign relations of Bolivia

Since 1997 Canada and Chile's trade relations have been governed by the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, Chile's first full free trade agreement and Canada's first with a Latin American nation.[27]

 Colombia1953-01See Canada–Colombia relations
 Costa Rica1961See Foreign relations of Costa Rica
 Cuba1945See Canada–Cuba relations

Canada has maintained consistently cordial relations with Cuba, in spite of considerable pressure from the United States, and the island is also one of the most popular travel destinations for Canadian citizens. Canada-Cuba relations can be traced back to the 18th century, when vessels from the Atlantic provinces of Canada traded codfish and beer for rum and sugar. Cuba was the first country in the Caribbean selected by Canada for a diplomatic mission. Official diplomatic relations were established in 1945, when Emile Vaillancourt, a noted writer and historian, was designated Canada's representative in Cuba. Canada and Mexico were the only two countries in the hemisphere to maintain uninterrupted diplomatic relations with Cuba following the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

 Dominica1979See Foreign relations of Dominica
 Dominican Republic1954See Foreign relations of the Dominican Republic
 Ecuador1960See Foreign relations of Ecuador
 El Salvador1961See Foreign relations of El Salvador
 Grenada1974-02-07See Grenada–Canada relations
 Guyana1964See Canada–Guyana relations
 Guatemala1961See Foreign relations of Guatemala
 Honduras1961See Foreign relations of Honduras
 Haiti1954See Canada–Haiti relations

During the unsettled period from 1957 to 1990, Canada received many Haitian refugees, who now form a significant minority in Quebec. Canada participated in various international interventions in Haiti between 1994 and 2004, and continues to provide substantial aid the Haiti,[30] the poorest country in the western hemisphere.[31]

 Jamaica1962See Canada–Jamaica relations
  • Since 4 March 1963, Canada has a High Commission in Kingston.
  • Jamaica has a High Commission in Ottawa.
 Mexico1944-01See Canada–Mexico relations, Embassy of Mexico in Ottawa, List of Canadian ambassadors to Mexico

Despite the fact that historic ties between the two nations have been coldly dormant, relations between Canada and Mexico have positively changed in recent years; seeing as both countries brokered the North American Free Trade Agreement. Although on different sides of the Cold War spectrum (Canada was a member of NATO while Mexico was in the Non-Aligned Movement, the two countries were still allies in World War II.)

 Nicaragua1961See Foreign relations of Nicaragua
 Panama1961See Canada–Panama relations
 Saint Lucia1979-02-22See Foreign relations of Saint Lucia
 Saint Kitts and Nevis1983-09-19See Foreign relations of Saint Kitts and Nevis
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines1979-10-27See Foreign relations of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
 Trinidad and Tobago1962-08-31See Trinidad and Tobago–Canada relations
 United States1927-02-18
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (left) and President Barack Obama (right) meet in Washington in March 2016

See Canada–United States relations, Embassy of the United States in Ottawa, Embassy of Canada in Washington, United States Ambassador to Canada, List of Canadian ambassadors to the United States

Relations between Canada and the United States span more than two centuries, marked by a shared British colonial heritage, conflict during the early years of the U.S., and the eventual development of one of the most successful international relationships in the modern world. The most serious breach in the relationship was the War of 1812, which saw an American invasion of then British North America and counter invasions from British-Canadian forces. The border was demilitarized after the war and, apart from minor raids, has remained peaceful. Military collaboration began during the World Wars and continued throughout the Cold War, despite Canadian doubts about certain American policies. A high volume of trade and migration between the U.S. and Canada has generated closer ties, despite continued Canadian fears of being overwhelmed by its neighbour, which is ten times larger in population, wealth and debt.[39]

Canada and the United States are currently the world's largest trading partners, share the world's longest shared border,[40] and have significant interoperability within the defense sphere.

 Uruguay1953-01See Canada–Uruguay relations
 Venezuela1953-01See Canada–Venezuela relations

In February 1948 there was a Canadian Consulate General in Caracas and a Venezuelan Consulate General in Montreal. In that year the Venezuelan Consul General, on behalf of the government of Venezuela, made a rapprochement with Canada in order to open direct diplomatic representations between the two countries;[41] but the Canadian government delayed the opening of a diplomatic mission in Venezuela because of the lack of enough suitable personnel to staff a Canadian mission in Venezuela and the impossibility of Canada beginning a representation in Venezuela in that year without considering a policy of expansion of Canadian representation abroad.[42]

In the interest of protecting Canadian trade with Venezuela and considering the difficulties for business in being without a Canadian representation in Caracas, Canada was pushed to accept the Venezuelan offer of exchanging diplomatic missions.[43] Finally Canada elevated the former office of the Canadian Consulate General in Caracas to the category of embassy in 1953.[44]

On the other hand, Venezuela established an embassy in Canada in 1952.[45] Since then there have been good commercial relations between the two countries, especially in technology, oil and gas industry, telecommunications and others.


Country Formal relations began Notes
 Albania1987-09-10 See Albania–Canada relations
  • Canada is represented in Andorra by its embassy in Spain.
  • Andorra is represented in Canada by its embassy in New York. It also has a consulate in Montréal.
  • Both states are members of La Francophonie.
  • Azerbaijan is represented by their embassy in Ottawa.
  • The Canadian embassy in Ankara, Turkey is accredited to Azerbaijan.
 Belgium1939-01See Belgium–Canada relations
 Bosnia and HerzegovinaSee Foreign relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina
 Cyprus1960-08-16See Canada–Cyprus relations

Canadian bilateral political relations with Cyprus stemmed initially from Cypriot Commonwealth membership at independence in 1960 (that had followed a guerrilla struggle with Britain). These relations quickly expanded in 1964 when Canada became a major troop contributor to UNFICYP. The participation lasted for the next 29 years, during which 50,000 Canadian soldiers served and 28 were killed. In large measure Canadian relations with Cyprus continue to revolve around support for the ongoing efforts of the UN, G8 and others to resolve the island's divided status. Canada has an honorary consul in Nicosia.

 Czech Republic1993See Canada–Czech Republic relations

Canada has an embassy in Prague. The Czech Republic has an embassy in Ottawa, two consulates general (in Montreal and Toronto) and honorary consuls (in Calgary, Vancouver and Winnipeg).

 Denmark1949-10-14See Canada–Denmark relations
Office of the Embassy of Canada to Estonia in Tallinn
 France1882See Canada–France relations, Embassy of France in Ottawa, Embassy of Canada in Paris, List of French ambassadors to Canada, List of Canadian ambassadors to France

In the 2007 and 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy,[56] Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Quebec Premier Jean Charest[57] all spoke in favour of a Canada – EU free trade agreement. In October 2008, Sarkozy became the first French President to address the National Assembly of Quebec. In his speech he spoke out against Quebec separatism, but recognized Quebec as a nation within Canada. He said that, to France, Canada was a friend, and Quebec was family.[56]

 GermanySee Canada–Germany relations, Embassy of Canada in Berlin, Embassy of Germany in Ottawa
  • Until 2005 Canada's embassy was in Bonn, but in April 2005 a new embassy opened in Berlin. Canada also operates consulates in Munich, Düsseldorf and Hamburg.
  • The provinces of Ontario and Alberta have representatives in Germany, co-located in the consulates. Quebec runs a stand-alone bureau in Munich, with an "antenne culturelle" office in Berlin.
  • In addition to its embassy in Ottawa, Germany maintains consulates in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Additional diplomats responsible for specialized files are also accredited from Washington.
 Greece1937See also Embassy of Greece in Ottawa
 Holy See1969See Canada – Holy See relations

Although the Roman Catholic Church has been territorially established in Canada since the founding of New France in the early 17th century, Holy See–Canada relations were only officially established under the papacy of Paul VI in the 1960s. Canada has an embassy on the Via della Conciliazione and the Holy See has an apostolic nunciature in Ottawa's Rockcliffe district.

 Hungary1964 See also Canadians of Hungarian ancestry
 Ireland1929-12-28See Canada–Ireland relations, Embassy of Ireland in Ottawa, List of Canadian ambassadors to the Republic of Ireland

Canada and Ireland enjoy friendly relations, the importance of these relations centres on the history of Irish migration to Canada. Roughly 4 million Canadians have Irish ancestors, or approximately 14% of Canada's population.

 Kazakhstan1992See Canada–Kazakhstan relations

See also International reaction to the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence

Canada recognized Kosovo on 18 March 2008.[71]

 Latvia1991-09-03See Canada–Latvia relations
  • Canada re-recognized Latvia’s independence on 26 August 1991.
  • Canada has an embassy in Riga.
  • Latvia has an embassy in Ottawa and honorary consuls in Quebec and Toronto.
  • The Republic of Macedonia and Canada established diplomatic relations on 4 July 1996.
  • The Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia was opened in Ottawa on 4 June 1997.
  • Shortly afterward, a consulate general was opened in Toronto on 1 September 1997.
  • In September 2007, Canada decided to recognize Macedonia under its constitutional name, the "Republic of Macedonia", for bilateral purposes.
  • Moldova has an embassy in Ottawa, and consulate general in Toronto.
 Netherlands1939-01See Canada–Netherlands relations
 Norway1942See Canada–Norway relations
 Poland1935See Canada–Poland relations
  • The Canada-Poland diplomatic relationship goes back from the first bilateral agreement, a Convention on Merchant Shipping, which was signed in 1935.
  • Canada has an embassy in Warsaw.
  • Poland has an embassy in Ottawa and consulates general (in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver).
  • There are over 800,000 Polish-Canadians living in Canada.
  • Both countries are full members of NATO and OECD.
 Portugal1946See Canada–Portugal relations
 Romania1967-04-03 See Canada–Romania relations, Embassy of Canada in Bucharest, Embassy of Romania in Ottawa
 Russia1942-06-12See Canada–Russia relations

Canada and Russia benefit from extensive cooperation on trade and investment, energy, democratic development and governance, security and counter-terrorism, northern issues, and cultural and academic exchanges.

 Spain1922See Canada–Spain relations
 SwedenSee Canada–Sweden relations

Both countries have strong commitments to peacekeeping, UN reform, development assistance, environmental protection, sustainable development, and the promotion and protection of human rights. In additional, there are more than 300,000 Canadians of Swedish descent.[89] Canada has an embassy in Stockholm and two consulates in Gothenburg and Malmö. Sweden has an embassy in Ottawa and ten consulates in Calgary, Edmonton, Fredericton, Halifax, Montreal, Quebec City, Regina, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

 Turkey1944See Canadian–Turkish relations

The recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Canadian parliament has soured relations between the two countries.[92]

Canada-Turkey bilateral merchandise stood at $2.3 billion in 2012. Turkey is Canada's 34th largest trade partner. Canadian merchandise exports to Turkey were $850 million in 2012, and consisted mainly of oils (not crude), minerals, iron/steel and vegetables.[93]

 Ukraine1992See Canada–Ukraine relations, Embassy of Ukraine in Ottawa

Diplomatic relations were established between Canada and Ukraine on 27 January 1992.[94] Canada opened its embassy in Kiev[95] In April 1992, and the Embassy of Ukraine in Ottawa opened in October of that same year,[96] paid for mostly by donations from the Ukrainian-Canadian community. Ukraine opened a consulate general in Toronto in 1993[96][97] and announced plans to open another in Edmonton in 2008.[98] Canada also has a consulate in L'viv.

The main bilateral agreement signed between the two governments is the joint declaration of the "Special Partnership" between the two countries signed in 1994 and renewed in 2001.[96]

 United Kingdom1880 See Canada–United Kingdom relations, High Commission of the United Kingdom in Ottawa, High Commission of Canada in London, List of High Commissioners from the United Kingdom to Canada, List of Canadian High Commissioners to the United Kingdom

London and Ottawa enjoy cooperative and intimate contact, which has grown deeper over the years; the two countries are related through history, the Commonwealth of Nations, and their sharing of the same Head of State and monarch.


Country Formal relations began Notes
1968 (officially)
See Afghanistan–Canada relations, War in Afghanistan, Embassy of Afghanistan in Ottawa, Embassy of Canada in Kabul, List of Canadian ambassadors to Afghanistan

The Canadian government announced in February 2009 that it was adding Afghanistan to its list of preferred countries to receive foreign aid. This list includes 18 countries and the West Bank and Caribbean.[38]

 Australia1939-09-12See Australia–Canada relations, High Commission of Australia in Ottawa, High Commission of Canada in Canberra, List of Australian High Commissioners to Canada, List of Canadian High Commissioners to Australia
 Brunei1984-05-07See Brunei–Canada relations
 India1947-08-15See Canada–India relations

In 2004, bilateral trade between India and Canada was at about C$2.45 billion.[99] However, India's Smiling Buddha nuclear test led to connections between the two countries being frozen, with allegations that India broke the terms of the Colombo Plan.[100] Although Jean Chrétien and Roméo LeBlanc both visited India in the late 1990s, relations were again halted after the Pokhran-II tests.[100]

 Indonesia1952See Canada–Indonesia relations
 Iran1955 ended 2012See Canada–Iran relations

Canadian-Iranian relations date back to 1955, up to which point the Canadian Consular and Commercial Affairs in Iran was handled by the British Embassy. A Canadian diplomatic mission was constructed in Tehran in 1959 and raised to Embassy status in 1961. Due to rocky relations after the Iranian Revolution, Iran did not establish an embassy in Canada until 1991 when its staff, which had been living in a building on Roosevelt Avenue in Ottawa's west end, moved into 245 Metcalfe Street in the Centretown neighbourhood of Ottawa which was upgraded to embassy status, however in 2012. Canada severed all diplomatic ties with Iran in regard to Iran's treatment of human rights.

 Iraq1961-02 to 1991-12
see Canada and the Iraq War, Embassy of Iraq in Ottawa
 Israel1950See Canada–Israel relations, Embassy of Israel in Ottawa, List of Canadian ambassadors to Israel

At the United Nations in 1947, Canada was one of the thirty-three countries that voted in favour of the creation of a Jewish homeland. Canada delayed granting de facto recognition to Israel until December 1948, and finally gave full de jure recognition to the new nation on 11 May 1949, only after it was admitted into the United Nations (UN). A week later, Avraham Harman became Israel's first Consul General in Canada. In September 1953, the Canadian Embassy opened in Tel Aviv and Israeli Ambassador to Canada, Michael Comay, was appointed, although a non-resident Canadian Ambassador to Israel was not appointed until 1958.

 Japan1928-12See Canada–Japan relations, Embassy of Japan in Ottawa, Embassy of Canada in Tokyo, List of Canadian ambassadors to Japan

The two countries enjoy an amicable companionship in many areas; Diplomatic relations between both countries officially began in 1950 with the opening of the Japanese consulate in Ottawa. In 1929, Canada opened its Tokyo legation, the first in Asia;[103] and in that same year, Japan its Ottawa consulate to legation form.[104]

 Lebanon1954See Canada–Lebanon relations

Canada established diplomatic relations with Lebanon in 1954, when Canada deployed "Envoy Extraordinaire" to Beirut. In 1958, Canada sent its first Ambassador. The Embassy was closed in 1985 and reopened in January 1995. Lebanon opened a consulate in Ottawa in 1946. A Consulate-General replaced the Consulate in 1949, and it was upgraded to full embassy status in 1958.

 Malaysia1957-08-31[105]See Canada–Malaysia relations
  • Canada has a High Commission in Kuala Lumpur
  • Malaysia has a High Commission in Ottawa.
  • Both countries are full members of the Commonwealth of Nations.
  • Canada's trade relationship with Malaysia includes commerce across several sectors.[106]
 Mongolia1973-11-30See Canada–Mongolia relations
  • Canada is represented in Mongolia through its embassy in Ulan Bator.
  • Mongolia has an embassy in Ottawa.

Though Canada and Mongolia established diplomatic ties in 1973, ad hoc linkages and minor activities occurred between the two countries mainly through the Canada-Mongolia Society, which disbanded in 1980. When Mongolia formed a democratic government in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Canada began to support Mongolia with donor activities through the International Development Research Centre, Canadian International Development Agency and several non-governmental organizations.[107]

 Federated States of Micronesia1998-03-03See Foreign relations of Federated States of Micronesia
 New Zealand1942See Canada–New Zealand relations, List of High Commissioners from New Zealand to Canada, List of Canadian High Commissioners to New Zealand

New Zealand and Canada have a longstanding relationship that has been fostered by both countries' shared history and culture, by their membership the Commonwealth of Nations and links between residents of both countries. The two countries have a common Head of State, currently Queen Elizabeth II. New Zealand and Canada also have links through business or trade relations, the United Nations, the Commonwealth and mutual treaty agreements. New Zealand-Canada relations are important to both countries.

 North Korea2001–02-06 to 2010-03-26See Canada–North Korea relations

Canada and North Korea share very little trade due to the destabilizing element North Korea has caused in the Asia Pacific region. Canada is represented by the Canadian Ambassador resident in Seoul, and North Korea is represented through its office at the UN in New York City.

 Pakistan1947-08-15See Canada–Pakistan relations

See also Pakistani Canadian, High Commission of Pakistan in Ottawa

 People's Republic of China1970-10-13See Canada–People's Republic of China relations, Embassy of China in Ottawa, List of Canadian ambassadors to the People's Republic of China

Since 2003, China has emerged as Canada's second largest trading partner, passing Britain and Japan. China now accounts for approximately six percent of Canada's total world trade. According to a recent study by the Fraser Institute, China replaced Japan as Canada's third-largest export market in 2007, with CA$9.3 billion flowing into China in 2007. Between 1998 and 2007, exports to China grew by 272 percent, but only represented about 1.1 per cent of China's total imports. In 2007, Canadian imports of Chinese products totaled C$38.3 billion. Between 1998 and 2007, imports from China grew by almost 400 percent.[110] Leading commodities in the trade between Canada and China include chemicals, metals, industrial and agricultural machinery and equipment, wood products, and fish products.[111]

 Saudi Arabia1973-05See Canada–Saudi Arabia relations, Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Ottawa

Saudi Arabia is Canada's second largest trade partner among the seven countries of the Arabian Peninsula,[114] totalling more than $2 billion in trade in 2005,[115] nearly double its value in 2002, trade totaled $3.8 in 2014.[116] Canada chiefly imports petroleum, and oil from Saudi Arabia, while The largest exporting good are such as cereals, railway/tramway equipment; machinery equipment and paper in 2010.[117]

 Singapore1965-12-15 See Singapore–Canada relations
 South Korea1963-01-14[119]See Canada–South Korea relations
 Republic of China1949-1970 official; 1991-quasi-official
 Vietnam1973-08-21 See Vietnam-Canada relations
 Yemen1975-12 (North Yemen)
1976-05 (South Yemen)
1989-09 (united Yemen)


Country Formal relations began Notes
 Algeria1962See Algeria-Canada relations, Embassy of Algeria in Ottawa, List of Canadian ambassadors to Algeria
  • Algeria is Canada's top trading partner in Africa.
 Angola1978See Embassy of Angola in Ottawa, List of Canadian ambassadors to Angola
 Egypt1954See Canada–Egypt relations

Both countries established embassies in their respective capitals in 1954. Canada has had an embassy in Cairo. Egypt has an embassy in Ottawa and a Consulate-General in Montreal.

 Ethiopia1956See Canada–Ethiopia relations
  • Since 1966, Canada has an embassy in Addis Ababa.
  • Ethiopia currently has an embassy in Ottawa.
  • The Ethiopian ambassador is also accredited to: Cuba, Jamaica and the International Civil Aviation Organization.
 Kenya1965See Canada–Kenya relations
 Mali1978See Canada–Mali relations
 South Africa1939 See Canada–South Africa relations
  • Canada established diplomatic relations with numerous countries, including South Africa, as World War II broke out.
 South Sudan2011-07-09
  • Canada currently has no true diplomatic relations with South Sudan and does not have an embassy in Juba. Although Canada has a non resident embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Canada recognized South Sudan's independence on July 9, 2011.
  • Canada has an office of the High Commission located in Lusaka.
  • Zambia's High Commission to Canada is in Ottawa.

Canada currently has a development assistance program in Zambia, which is focused on the health sector to provide Zambians with equal access to quality health care. Canada and Zambia are currently in the process of negotiating a Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement.[132]

  • Canada has an embassy in Harare
  • Zimbabwe has an embassy in Ottawa

Because of Zimbabwe's poor record on human rights and democracy, Canada has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe which include aid suspension and visa-ban to some members of the Harare government. Bilateral trade totalled C$16 million in 2011, down from C$430 million in 1999. Canadian investment in Zimbabwe is primarily in the mining sector.[133]

Other bilateral and plurilateral relations

One important difference between Canadian and American foreign policy has been in relations with communist governments. Canada established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China (13 October 1970) long before the Americans did (1 January 1979). It also has maintained trade and diplomatic relations with communist Cuba, despite pressures from the United States.

Arms Control

Main article: Canadian Arms trade
Countries on the Canadian Automatic Firearms Country Control List

Canadian Government guidance for export controls on weapons systems is published by Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada.[134][135] Automatic Firearms Country Control List, comprises a list of approved export nations which include as of 2014; (Albania, Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Bulgaria, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States).

Selected dates of diplomatic representation abroad


Canada is and has been a strong supporter of multilateralism. The country is one of the world's leading peacekeepers, sending soldiers under U.N. authority around the world.[136] Canadian former Minister of Foreign Affairs and subsequent Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, is credited for his contributions to modern international peacekeeping, for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.[137] Canada is committed to disarmament, and is especially noted for its leadership in the 1997 Convention in Ottawa on the prohibition of the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines.[138]

In the last century Canada has made efforts to reach out to the rest of the world and promoting itself as a "middle power" able to work with large and small nations alike. This was demonstrated during the Suez Crisis when Lester B. Pearson mollified the tension by proposing peacekeeping efforts and the inception of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force. In that spirit, Canada developed and has tried to maintain a leading role in UN peacekeeping efforts.[139]

Canada has long been reluctant to participate in military operations that are not sanctioned by the United Nations, such as the Vietnam War or the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, but does join in sanctioned operations such as the first Gulf War, Afghanistan and Libya. It participated with its NATO and OAS allies in the Kosovo Conflict and in Haiti respectively.

Despite Canada's track record as a liberal democracy that has embraced the values of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Canada has not been involved in any major plan for Reform of the United Nations Security Council; although the Canadian government does support UN reform, in order to strengthen UN efficiency and effectiveness.[140]

Canada hosted the third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

Canada is working on setting up military bases around the world, while reducing aid and diplomatic efforts.[141][142] In the late 90s, Canada actively promoted the notion of human security as an alternative to business-as-usual approaches to foreign aid. However, by invoking the "three Ds" (defense, diplomacy, and development) as the fundamental basis for Canadian foreign policy, and then implementing this in a manner that conforms more to military security and trade interests, Canada has successfully distanced itself from the humanitarian objectives of foreign aid, with the human security goal far from being achieved. [143] Under the Harper government, emphasis on promoting Canada's military presence internationally has included an effort to rebrand Canada historically as a "warrior nation", in large measure to counter the image of only supporting peacekeeping and multilateralism.[144]

Canada–Asia relations

In 1985 the Parliament of Canada passed an Act to create the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, a think-tank focusing on Canada-Asia relations, in order to enhance Canada-Asia relations. Canada also seeks to expand its ties to Pacific Rim economies through membership in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC). In addition, Canada is an active participant in discussions stemming from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Canada joined the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1990 and has been an active member, hosting the OAS General Assembly in Windsor, Ontario, in June 2000.

Canada–Caribbean relations

Many Caribbean Community countries turn to Canada as a valued partner.[145] Canadians, particularly Canadian banks, played an important economic role in the development of former British West Indies colonies. Efforts to improve trade have included the idea of concluding a free trade agreement to replace the 1986 bilateral CARIBCAN agreement. At various times, several Caribbean countries have also considered joining Canadian Confederation as new provinces or territories, although no Caribbean nation has implemented such a proposal.

Canada–Commonwealth of Nations

Canada maintains close links to the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms, with which Canada has strong historic ties and shares a monarch. It also remains a member of the Commonwealth.

Canada–European Union relations

Canada–Latin American relations

In recent years Canadian leaders have taken increasing interest in Latin America. Canada has had diplomatic relations with Venezuela since January 1953 and the relations are based on mutual commercial interests, especially in technology, oil and gas industry, telecommunications and others. Canada has an ongoing trade dispute with Brazil.

International organizations

Canada is a member of the following organizations:[146]

ADB (nonregional member), AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, Arctic Council, ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, Commonwealth of Nations, CDB (nonregional member), EAPC, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-20, G7, G8, G-10, IADB, IAEA, IBRD (also known as the World Bank), ICAO, ICC, ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC, MIGA, MINUSTAH, MONUSCO, NAFTA, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS, OECD, OIF, OPCW, OSCE, Paris Club, PCA, PIF (partner), SECI (observer), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNDOF, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNMIS, UNRWA, UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, Zangger Committee

Relations with international groups

Organization Main article Mission to Canada Mission of Canada Heads of mission to Canada Heads of mission from Canada
North Atlantic Council ( NATO) relations n/a Mission of Canada to the North Atlantic Council (Brussels) n/a List of Canadian ambassadors to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
 Organization of American States see Canada–Latin America relations n/a Mission of Canada to the Organization of American States (Washington) n/a List of Canadian ambassadors to the Organization of American States
 United Nations relations n/a Permanent Mission of Canada to: the UN in New York, the UN in Geneva, UNESCO in Paris, various organizations in Vienna, the UN in Nairobi, the FAO in Rome, the ICAO in Montreal n/a Canadian ambassadors to the United Nations

Organizations with headquarters in Canada

Major treaties signed in Canada

Territorial and boundary disputes

Canada and the United States have negotiated the boundary between the countries over many years, with the last significant agreement having taken place in 1984 when the International Court of Justice ruled on the maritime boundary in the Gulf of Maine. Likewise, Canada and France had previously contested the maritime boundary surrounding the islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon, but accepted a 1992 International Court of Arbitration ruling.

Remaining disputes include managed maritime boundary disputes with the US (Dixon Entrance, Beaufort Sea, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Machias Seal Island).

Arctic disputes

A long-simmering dispute between Canada and the U.S. involves the issue of Canadian sovereignty over the Northwest Passage (the sea passages in the Arctic). Canada’s assertion that the Northwest Passage represents internal (territorial) waters has been challenged by other countries, especially the U.S., which argue that these waters constitute an international strait (international waters). Canadians were incensed when Americans drove the reinforced oil tanker Manhattan through the Northwest Passage in 1969, followed by the icebreaker Polar Sea in 1985, both without asking for Canadian permission. In 1970, the Canadian government enacted the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, which asserts Canadian regulatory control over pollution within a 100-nautical-mile (190 km) zone. In response, the Americans in 1970 stated, "We cannot accept the assertion of a Canadian claim that the Arctic waters are internal waters of Canada.... Such acceptance would jeopardize the freedom of navigation essential for United States naval activities worldwide." A compromise was reached in 1988, by an agreement on "Arctic Cooperation," which pledges that voyages of American icebreakers "will be undertaken with the consent of the Government of Canada." However the agreement did not alter either country’s basic legal position. Essentially, the Americans agreed to ask for the consent of the Government of Canada without conceding that they were obliged to. In January 2006, David Wilkins, the American ambassador to Canada, said his government opposes Stephen Harper's proposed plan to deploy military icebreakers in the Arctic to detect interlopers and assert Canadian sovereignty over those waters. [147]

Also, there is a dispute with Denmark over the sovereignty of the uninhabited Hans Island and surrounding waters in the Kennedy Channel between Ellesmere Island and Greenland.

Along with other nations in the Arctic Council, Canada, Sweden, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Denmark and Russia, the maritime boundaries in the far north will be decided after countries have completed their submissions, due in 2012. Russia has made an extensive claim based on the Russian position that everything that is an extension of the Lomonosov Ridge should be assigned to Russia.[148][149] Their submission had been rejected when first submitted by the United Nations in 2001.[150] The regions represent some of the most extreme environments on Earth yet there is a hope for hypothetically commercially viable oil and gas deposits.

See also


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    Primary Sources
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    Secondary Sources
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    Further reading

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