The Domestic Mosaic: Domestic Groups and Canadian Foreign Policy


120 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-919084-47-8




Reviewed by Ross Willmot

Ross Willmot is Executive Director of the Ontario Association for
Continuing Education.


This author, who expanded a Ph.D. qualifying essay for the University of Toronto to this useful survey of over 200 domestic “interest groups,” deserves our thanks. Her emphasis is on description and classification rather than on theory. Other monographs, also supported by the Donner Canadian Foundation, which will explore particular types of domestic influence on Canada’s policies abroad, are to follow.

Institutional categories dealt with include: business, including the resource sectors; agricultural; labor; professions, including educational associations; consumer; veteran/military support; women’s; religious; ethnic; citizens’; and “special” foreign policy.

As well as general conclusions regarding the groups and their representations on foreign policy issues, the booklet has a bibliography mostly of academic studies; an alphabetical listing of the groups with addresses, telephone numbers, and persons to contact; a list of interviewees from whom information was obtained, including officials of the Department of External Affairs; and an index of references to the groups dealt with in the text. Fewer than half of the group contacts were interviewed and further information was obtained by questionnaires and available publications. An initial draft of the study was checked by the CIIA’s 1982 conference on domestic groups and foreign policy.

With the growth in size and increase in complexity of Canada’s government, the number of these groups has also increased; in addition, the government has an increased awareness of their legitimate role in the political process. Although recognized and registered in Washington, where even the Canadian Government hires a lobbying agency to protect its interests, similar agencies in Canada avoid the word “lobbying.” To them it implies “conniving to exert undue, or perhaps even improper influence,” to use the author’s words. She points out another reason for this Canadian aversion: “Groups with charitable tax status risk losing it if they lobby the government.” Perhaps this is part of the reason the list of these over 200 “special interest” groups does not seem to be complete.

This study is a worthwhile contribution to an understanding of how Canada’s foreign policy evolved. Future studies should not only update present and add other groups involved but deal with such subjects as how they operate, what success they achieve, and what means they use.


Riddell-Dixon, Elizabeth, “The Domestic Mosaic: Domestic Groups and Canadian Foreign Policy,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 25, 2024,