Canada Among Nations 2004: Setting Priorities Straight


291 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-2836-9
DDC 327.71




Edited by David Carment, Fen Osler Hampson, and Norman Hillmer
Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom, Chile and the Nazis, and The Diplomacy of War: The Case of


In this latest volume of Canada Among Nations, highly qualified writers
offer their annual series of essays on Canada’s place in the world.

Dalhousie’s Denis Stairs says that Canadians have a choice between
“token participation everywhere (almost) without much evidence of
decisive impact anywhere (almost)” and “niche diplomacy.” He
favours the latter but admits that cutbacks will be difficult. Gordon
Smith, a former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, agrees that Canada
must establish priorities but is short on specifics. Carleton’s
Philippe Lagassé disagrees that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are too
weak to defend Canadian interests but admits that there may have to be
choices between Afghanistan and Bosnia or Haiti and the Golan Heights.
Expectations that the CAF should be everywhere, he says, are
unreasonable. Nancy Gordon of CARE says that Iraq and Afghanistan have
been the highest government priorities for humanitarian aid. Canadians,
she says, are interested in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Haiti. Most of Africa
and earthquake-stricken Iran lack the same appeal. Carleton’s Jean
Daudelin disagrees that Canadian authorities have “been sleeping at
the switch.”

There are several articles on Canada–U.S. relations. John
Higganbotham and Jeff Heynen note that the unpopularity of President
Bush in Canada makes any deal with his administration politically risky
for a minority government. From Toronto, Professor Bothwell agrees. In
fewer than 12 pages, Bothwell provides a brilliant review of the
bilateral relationship from George Washington to George W. Bush. The
Toronto Star’s Graham Fraser offers an excellent summary of Canada’s
place in the world during the Chrétien years, while Carleton’s
Eleanor Sloan discusses defence since 9/11.

The collection ends with five speculative essays that range in topic
from communications, technology, and water to the United Nations and
Paul Martin’s proposed G-20. Paulo Heinbecker, a former Canadian
ambassador to the United Nations, laments the Bush administration’s
unjustified hostility to the United Nations, and former diplomat George
Haynal likes the G-20. The U.N., he thinks, is unwieldy and the G–8
too restricted. Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and South Africa deserve
seats at the table.

Anyone interested in Canada’s foreign relations will find this a most
stimulating anthology.


“Canada Among Nations 2004: Setting Priorities Straight,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 20, 2024,