The evolving role of the Commonwealth in Canadian foreign policy, 1956-1965
This thesis examines the significance of the Commonwealth in Canadian foreign policy, the motivations behind Canadian policy and the reasons for changes in this policy in the period 1956-1965 in particular. It does so by evaluating Canadian policy towards the development and use of Commonwealth institutions for cooperation. The thesis begins by sketching the development of Canadian policy towards the Commonwealth between 1944 and 1955. It argues that Canadian behaviour during this period set a pattern, which as it evolved in the face of changing conditions, was generally pursued through the period 1956 to 1965. The Commonwealth's role in Canadian policy was as a 'bridge' between the West and the new members from the developing world in support of Western interests in the Cold War. The thesis then looks at the year 1956. When the Suez Crisis occurred, the Commonwealth seemed poised for another transformation as members prepared to admit the first African member and considered British plans for closer economic links with Europe. The Canadian government's actions highlight its efforts to counteract division within the Commonwealth and preserve the 'bridge' to the developing world. The next three chapters review the record of John Diefenbaker's premiership. When he came to office in 1957, he proposed upgrading Canadian foreign policy towards the Commonwealth. Diefenbaker launched initiatives on trade and aid, and had to react to changing patterns of membership, a Commonwealth crisis over South Africa and the British application for EEC membership. Where the Diefenbaker government diverged from the established pattern of Canadian behaviour, its policies failed. For the most part, however, it maintained this pattern as the only practical way to effectively use the modern Commonwealth in ways conducive to the maintenance and advancement of Canadian interests. The last chapter examines the Canadian government's support for the Commonwealth secretariat. The thesis argues that this was not a substantial shift in Canadian policy, but rather a reflection of changes which had taken place within the Commonwealth and was largely consistent with previous policy.