The foreign policy of Canada, as of any other state, may be defined as the course of action evolved, formulated, and applied by that state in its relations with other states.
The foreign policy of Canada, like that of other democracies, has been largely the outgrowth of the needs, fears, experiences, convictions, and ambitions of her citizens. These factors have been mainly responsible for the course of action which has been pursued by Canadian ministries in their relationships with other countries. Their courses of action have been related to trade, fisheries, immigration, waterways, extradition, defence, security, peace, war, and many other matters too numerous to list here. They may, however, be summed up under the general headings of: the desire for prosperity, the search for security, and the struggle for 'status'.
'Status' for Canada meant much more than national prestige. It registered the stage reached, at any time, by the colony in its transition from a state of dependence to that of independence. Any study of Canadian foreign policy, therefore, must take into consideration the fact that the foreign policy of Canada had usually a twofold purpose, namely the objective itself and the measure of autonomy acquired in obtaining it. Canadian ministries sought to increase trade, but at the same time to gain recognition for the right to negotiate and approve trade treaties. The obtaining of a treaty with the United States for the protection of the halibut fisheries in the north Pacific in 1923 gave far less satisfaction in itself to the King ministry and the Canadian people than did the fact that it marked the first occasion that a Canadian minister had negotiated and signed a treaty with a foreign power solely on the authority of his own government. Since the growth of Canadian diplomacy and the development of diplomatic representation abroad have been held to be indicative of increased 'status' and 'autonomy', and, therefore, an important objective of Canadian foreign policy, more space has been given herein to these subjects than would have been justified otherwise.
Canada early became conscious of defence and trade. She had suffered as a British colony from two invasions from the United States, and from the loss and annoyance of the Fenian raids. Her prosperity, she early realized, depended upon export markets for her natural products, such as timber, wheat, flour, fish, and furs. She was very willing to rely upon the mother country to supply both defence and markets as long as she considered these . . .