Diplomatic Missions: The Ambassador in Canadian Foreign Policy
D.M.L. Farr is professor emeritus of history at Carleton University,
where he taught Canadian political history and the history of Canada’s
Diplomatic Missions is a successor to David Reece’s Special Trust and
Confidence: Envoy Essays in Canadian Diplomacy (1996). Whereas the Reece
book brought together an eclectic group of essays by retired Canadian
diplomats who had held interesting assignments, this collection is more
tightly structured. It results from a workshop held in the Department of
Foreign Affairs and International Trade in June 1997, attended by
members of the department and a number of academics interested in the
practice of Canadian diplomacy. It was published by the Department’s
training arm, the Canadian Centre for Foreign Policy Development and the
School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University. Thus it has a
semi-official cast. The essays by serving ambassadors convey a somewhat
self-congratulatory tone that contrasts with the more freely expressed
accounts in the Reece volume.
In 1997, Canada maintained 157 missions and offices in 107 countries.
The range of this representation makes it impossible to do justice to
the varied interest and functions of the missions and their personnel.
Diplomatic Missions makes a good effort. It sets Canadian missions
overseas in their historical context, discusses the surprisingly large
literature on the subject, and looks at a group of diplomatic posts
carrying out different functions in different circumstances in Pakistan,
Nigeria, Germany, the Czech Republic, and the United States. A final
group of essays considers the ambassador as trade commissioner; how
ambassadors are recruited (a groundbreaking essay by Hector Mackenzie,
historian at Foreign Affairs); and how they relate to nongovernmental
organizations and to provincial representatives who might be stationed
at the same locations. Appendixes list Canadian missions and offices
abroad and provide a summary of letters of instruction envoys receive, a
necessarily bland document whose helpfulness can be questioned.
Diplomatic Missions is a useful work of reference for students of
diplomacy or aspiring practitioners. It is not absorbing for the general
reader, who will find more interest in the lively recollections
contained in the David Reece collection.