Canada and the OAS

Canada and the OAS: From Dilettante to Full Partner

Peter McKenna
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 287
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Canada and the OAS
    Book Description:

    This book traces the developing relationship between Canada and the oas (Organization of American States) and the pau (Pan American Union) before Canada's accession to full membership in the former organization in 1989.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8332-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-12)

    Since the founding of the organization of american states (OAS) in 1948, successive Canadian governments have— until only recently—opted consistently for a distinct but aloof role from the body.² Prior to the Conservative government’s announcement of its intention to seek admission to the “club” in late 1989, the official file on the OAS had been opened and closed on several occasions. While Parliament mused over possible advantages and disadvantages of membership in the hemispheric forum for decades, the answer was almost invariably that Ottawa was not prepared to drop its remote Garboesque mentality and become one of a “cast...

  5. I The Evolution of Inter-American Institutions
    (pp. 13-36)

    The history of Hispanic-American relations, to which Bolivar alludes, records times of indifference and distrust as well as periods of harmony and co-operation. Not surprisingly, the movement toward Pan-Americanism—originating officially in the late 1800s—has oscillated in a similar way. We must first grapple with the unfolding of this movement to gain a better understanding of inter-American affairs, both past and present. It not only sets out the dynamics at work in hemispheric interactions, but also establishes how and why the inter-American system evolved the way it did. This is crucially important because too often analysts tend to reduce...

  6. II The OAS in Action: A Mixed Record
    (pp. 37-64)

    Just as the results of Pan-Americanism were mixed, so, too, was the specific record of accomplishment of the Organization of American States (OAS). While the institution developed a shiny image in the late 1940s and 1950s, the sheen soon began to fade in the mid-1960s. By the 1980s the OAS seemed, at least in the eyes of many of its members and such non-members as Canada, to be suffering from a host of chronic ailments. Former Venezuelan President Jaime Lusinchi even went as far as to suggest in 1980 that “it is on the road to becoming a cadaver.”¹ And...

  7. III Canada and the Inter-American System, 1890-1968
    (pp. 65-84)

    Canada’s involvement in Inter-American affairs, particularly for the years 1910-1968, can best be characterized as irregular or inconsistent. Successive Canadian governments have blown hot and cold over the question of drawing closer to the hemisphere’s principal political institutions—namely, the Organization of American States (OAS) and its predecessor, the Pan-American Union (PAU). Their seemingly “on-again, off-again” disposition toward greater involvement in the inter-American system has engendered a panoply of confusing and contradictory signals—domestically as well as internationally. This chapter will elucidate the reasons behind such peculiar behaviour, which in turn will explain why Canada has adopted such an ambivalent...

  8. IV Canada-OAS Relations: The Trudeau Years
    (pp. 85-102)

    With the arrival in Ottawa of Pierre Trudeau as canada’s fifteenth prime minister, the nature of Canadian-Latin American relations experienced a subtle metamorphosis. No longer would the Canadian government view our hemispheric cousins as an afterthought or, more important, as peripheral to Canada’s external relations. Indeed, Latin America would be given a higher priority within government circles and singled out as a region deserving of greater Canadian foreign policy attention. Accordingly, the seemingly dormant issue of OAS membership was once again brought to the forefront of Canada’s hemispheric relations.

    This chapter examines the dynamics of the membership question during the...

  9. V OAS Membership: The Actors and the Debates
    (pp. 103-130)

    Deliberations on the issue of membership in the OAS have dominated Canadian-Latin American relations for decades. According to R. Craig Brown:

    When Canadians have debated Canada’s relations with the Latin American nations they have most often done so within the context of joining the Organization of American States, thereby assuming that that was the only way in which to pursue a more active policy in Latin America.¹

    Successive Canadian governments, as indicated in previous chapters, have frequently grappled with the question of joining the hemispheric body. Until recently, those same governments—almost invariably after some period of discussion and debate—...

  10. VI Canada Joins the OAS
    (pp. 131-146)

    Although past government statements on OAS Membership were often preceded by a period of public discussion and input, this was not to hold true in the final months of 1989.¹ Unlike previous Canadian governments, which would periodically express their views on the membership question, the Conservative government of Brian Mulroney had not clarified very precisely where it stood on the issue. Hence, when word that his government was on the verge of opting for full membership in the hemispheric forum reached the public domain in late August 1989, it came as a startling development to many.²

    The Prime Minister s...

  11. VII Canada and the OAS: The Early Years
    (pp. 147-162)

    The actual decision to join the OAS was merely the end of the beginning.¹ From the time that Ottawa deposited its instrument of ratification of the OAS Charter, the real issue became the role Canada would play within the hemispheric forum. The focus quickly shifted away from the long-standing debate over membership to the more central question: what is Canada going to do now that it has joined the organization? Some analysts suggested that membership in the body would be a complete waste of time, if Canada failed to undertake constructive and creative initiatives.² Others contended that Canada’s international experience,...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 163-170)

    Although the decision by the Mulroney government to join the OAS brought Canada’s hemispheric relations more into focus, it was in some ways more of an ending than a beginning. Indeed, a host of Canadian governments—reaching back as far as the government of Sir Wilfrid Laurier—have flirted with the inter-American system. Many of them expressed an interest in developing contacts with the region and in exploiting any available trade and investment opportunities. And while there was a willingness on the part of some of these governments to join a select group of hemispheric bodies, there was also a...

  13. Postscript
    (pp. 171-190)

    As of the writing of this book, Canada has reached the five-year plateau as a full-fledged member of the OAS. Interestingly, a new Liberal government in Ottawa, an ongoing foreign policy review, and a new Canadian Ambassador (Mr. Brian Dickson) to the hemispheric forum has not altered in any substantive fashion Canada’s role within the organization. In many ways, Canada’s “OAS record” for 1993-1994 has been very reminiscent of the government’s performance for its first three years of full membership—although perhaps not as vigorous.¹ For example, it has maintained a continuing interest in a core grouping of issues, including...

  14. References
    (pp. 191-256)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 257-276)