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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Middle power continuity : Canada-US relations and Cuba, 1961-1962 O'Reilly, Steven


This thesis examines the work of Canada’s Department of External Affairs and its Undersecretary of State for External Affairs Norman Robertson during tense relations between Canada and the United States in 1961 and 1962. More specifically, this project uses the topic of Cuba in Canada-US relations during the Diefenbaker-Kennedy years as a flash point of how the DEA developed its own Canadian policy strategy that exacerbated tensions between Canada and the United States. This essay argues that the DEA’s policy formation on Cuba during the Kennedy years both reflected a broader continuity in Canadian foreign policy and exacerbated bilateral tensions during a period when tensions have often been blamed primarily on the clash of leaders. The compass guiding Canadian bureaucrats at the DEA when forming policy was often pointed towards Canada’s supposed middle power role within international affairs, a position that long-predated the Diefenbaker years but nevertheless put his government on a collision course with the United States.

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