Canada in World Affairs: Volume XVII, 1971-1973


471 pages
Contains Index




Reviewed by Ashley Thomson

Ashley Thomson is a full librarian at Laurentian University and co-editor or co-author of nine books, most recently Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, 1988-2005.


What Dobell, currently the Director of the Parliamentary Centre for Foreign Affairs and Trade in Ottawa, has given us is a concise and considered overview of the period in question. Rightly, in this reviewer’s mind, he begins with an examination of our relations with the United States —  most especially, our reaction to President Nixon’s economic statement of August 1971 in which that worthy imposed duties on all foreign imports, including Canada’s. The book moves on to examine other facets of our relations with the United States, and then with other regions. Also included is a detailed examination of Canada’s multilateral activities, for example, with the Commonwealth.

In these earlier parts of the book, one is left with the impression that the government of the day handled affairs well, if not quite the way it might have liked. The most interesting fact that emerges from the grand tour is that, during the period in question, Canada’s interest in world affairs continued to shift from security and political questions to those of trade, ownership, fisheries management, the environment, and cultural exchanges.

Not surprisingly, then, the author follows his first sections with a serious analysis of the policies of departments and agencies, other than those in external, that impacted on our foreign relations. He also examines the roles of individual provinces and parliament. It is the author’s view that the participation of provinces and of parliament during the period under review constituted significantly new factors in foreign policy-making.

Despite its date of publication, the book is based almost exclusively on contemporary sources, to the point that it reads a bit like a Maclean’s year-end survey — with footnotes.

Nonetheless, the author has resisted the temptation to let interesting stories die when his time frame runs out, and readers will appreciate his ability to tell how “things turned out” without significantly impairing his chronological framework.

The book is a worthy addition to an important series; future books, however, could be improved by the inclusion of a list of abbreviations, preferably at the front of the book.


Dobell, Peter C., “Canada in World Affairs: Volume XVII, 1971-1973,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,