Canada Among Nations 1996: Big Enough to Be Heard


325 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-88629-282-4
DDC 327.71




Edited by Fen Osler Hampson and Maureen Appel Molot
Reviewed by Lawrence T. Woods

Lawrence T. Woods is an associate professor of International Studies at
the University of Northern British Columbia.


Unlike many of the previous volumes in this usually illuminating series,
Canada Among Nations 1996 has a decidedly central-Canadian tilt. The
book’s overarching assumption holds that Canada is big enough to be
heard in late–20th-century international affairs; one is left to
wonder whether all parts of Canada are big enough to be heard in the
domestic-policy debate, given that all of the contributors are
associated with institutions in the Ottawa–Kingston–Toronto
triangle. Beyond this, one might also wonder about the editors’
decision to deal only in passing with the issue of whether or not their
volume’s subtitle should include a question mark. Are there not
arguments against our alleged prominence?

The most interesting and provocative chapters are found in the closing
section, which deals with the United Nations system. Those on
peacekeeping (by David Carment), nongovernmental organizations (Kenneth
Bush), and public versus governmental perceptions of UN reform (Gregory
Wirick) are highly recommended. The most insightful chapters earlier in
the volume are Evan Potter’s piece on official diplomacy under fiscal
austerity, Hal Klepak’s review of defence policy (addressing the
question “Does Canada need a military?”), and the assessment of the
impact of communications technology on cultural relations presented by
Keith Acheson and Christopher Maule.

Broadening the range of contributors in future volumes would go a long
way toward restoring the value of this series.


“Canada Among Nations 1996: Big Enough to Be Heard,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 25, 2024,