If the academic literature on Canadian foreign policy is to be believed, trade and economic policy form at best a minor part of Canada’s external relations and occupied very little of the time and energy of ministers and officials in the Department of External Affairs during the post-war years.2 Some will suggest that this changed in 1982, with the integration of the trade components of the former Department of Industry, Trade and Commerce into External Affairs to form the new Department of External Affairs and International Trade, but with the unvoiced suggestion that this was perhaps a retrograde step. To the academic community, foreign policy as practised by Canada’s diplomats is largely focused on political and humanitarian issues and only rarely on economic matters.
Nothing could be further from the truth. From the outset, Canadian foreign policy was more a matter of foreign economic policy than anything else, with the political, security, and other dimensions only emerging over time as Canada’s role in the world matured and required a broader focus. The economic dimension, however, always remained a critical dimension