Navigating a New World: Canada's Global Future


450 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-676-97463-5
DDC 327.17




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


These are the memoirs of Lloyd Axworthy, undoubtedly the most productive
foreign minister of Canada since Lester Pearson and Mitchell Sharp. The
Land Mines Treaty of 1999, signed in Ottawa, was one of his most
significant accomplishments. The International Criminal Court, which in
2002 received the requisite 60 signatures to become a reality, was
another. On both he encountered bitter opposition from the
administration of George W. Bush, for whom he clearly has no admiration.
Even when Bush was Governor of Texas, Axworthy notes, the indications
were ominous. A Canadian named Stanley Faulder, convicted of murder and
sentenced to death in a Texas court, did not have the contact with
Canadian officialdom guaranteed to him by the Vienna Convention.
Axworthy drew this to the attention of Governor Bush, who responded that
“he didn’t really care if he broke an international covenant even if
it was ratified by the U.S.” Faulder was executed regardless. As far
as Axworthy is concerned, George W. Bush has behaved like an outlaw
throughout his presidency.

Fidel Castro, on the other hand, has been a disappointment. Early in
1997, as Canada’s foreign minister, Axworthy went to Havana in a vain
attempt to consolidate Canadian–Cuban relations. However, the Cuban
government refused to sign the Land Mines Treaty and, despite appeals
from Prime Minister Chrétien and Axworthy, the Castro regime imposed
harsh sentences on political dissidents. As a result, the Canadian
government froze its aid programs to Cuba.

The impression from these pages is that Axworthy is a decent
humanitarian who used his office to create a happier planet, for
Canadians as well as for residents of the Third World. He deplores the
massive expenditures on military causes, even in the post–Cold War and
pre–September 11 environment in which he served. The book describes
his relations with other members of the Chrétien cabinet, as well as
with foreign leaders. Navigating a New World will be required reading
for anyone who wants to understand Canadian diplomacy in the 1990s.


Axworthy, Lloyd., “Navigating a New World: Canada's Global Future,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed December 2, 2023,