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Canadian Govt. & Politics: International Relations — Finding & Evaluating

International Relations: Finding & Evaluating Substantive Information

The general sources for contemporary Canadian goverment and politics covered in the main portion of this guide should also be used for this topic. The following are more specialized sources for international relations and related fields.

Finding Sources

Core Journals:
The following are some key Canadian academic journals for research on contemporary Canadian international relations, foreign policy, diplomacy, international development and related issues. These should be consulted in addition to the list of core journals in the main part of this guide. There are also many academic journals published elsewhere on international relations that will include relevant articles. (See the indexes and databases tab for doing broader searches.)

Canadian Foreign Policy Journal. By Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, 1993 - . 3/year. ISSN: 1192-6422 (Print); 2157-0817 (Online). Published by Taylor & Francis.

Description: A core journal: This peer-reviewed journal provides analysis of contemporary issues related to Canadian foreign policy such as trade, economics, politics, security, defence, development, environment, immigration, and intelligence.
Includes: Policy-oriented research articles, commentaries and book reviews.
Indexed in: ProQuest, Taylor & Francis.

Canadian Journal of Development Studies. Ottawa: Canadian Association for the Study of International Development and the University of Ottawa, 1980 - . Quarterly. ISSN (print): 0225-5189; (online): 2158-9100.

Description: A peer-reviewed, interdisciplinary, bilingual (English and French) journal on international development planning and policy.
Includes: Theoretical analyses, research findings, case studies, review essays and book reviews.
Indexed in: Canadian Periodical Index, America History & Life, Historical Abstracts, International Political Science Abstracts, ABC Pol Sci, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, Social Science Citation Index, Sociological Abstracts, PAIS International, Taylor & Francis, etc.

Études internationales. Quebec: Université Laval, (Formerly Institut des hautes études internationales.) 1970 - . Quarterly. ISSN: Print: 0014-2123; Online: 1703-7891. Open access after 1 yr.

Description: A French-language, multi-disciplinary, academic journal on international relations. Topics covered include reviews of Quebec's and Canada's international policies as well as broader social science issues with international aspects in political science, economics, law, history, etc.
Includes: Analytical articles, book reviews.
Indexed in: ABC Pol Sci, America History and Life, Historical Abstracts, PAIS, Canadian Periodical Index, International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, Peace Research Abstracts, Érudit, Point de repère.

International Journal. By Canadian International Council (Formerly by Canadian Institute of International Affairs). 1946 - . Quarterly. ISSN: Print: 0020-7020; Online: 2052-465X. Published by Sage.

Description: An important Canadian peer-reviewed journal on post 1945 international relations. Articles cover Canadian foreign and defence policies as well as broader issues in international relations.
Includes: Scholarly articles and commentary.
Indexed in: Canadian Periodical Index, CBCA Reference, Political Science Abstracts, ABC po sci, America History & Life, Historical Abstracts, Social Science Citation Index, ingenta, Sage, etc.

Other Relevant Journals and Magazines:

Behind the Headlines. Canadian International Council.
Bout de papier: Canada's Magazine of Diplomacy and Foreign Service. Official publication of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers.
Canada World View. DFAIT magazine 1998-2006.
Canadian Army Journal. Department of National Defence.
Canadian Military History. Laurier Centre from Military & Strategic & Disarmament Studies.
Canadian Military Journal. Official professional journal of the Canadian Forces and the Department of National Defence.
Commentary. Canadian Security Intelligence Service.
External Affairs. DFAIT journal 1948-1971, then became International Perspectives, Peacekeeping & International Relations by Can. Institute of Strategic Studies to 2001.
Global Agenda: Canada's Foreign Policy and the Environment. External Affairs and International Trade Canada/DFAIT. 1991-1997.
Journal of Military & Strategic Studies. Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute and Centre for Military & Strategic Studies, U. of Calgary.
NATO Review. NATO's flagship magazine.

Indexes and Databases:
Indexes and databases useful for finding articles and other sources on contemporary Canadian government and politics in general are listed in the main part  of this guide and should be consulted in addition to these, more specialized tools for finding information on Canadian international relations:

Canadian Foreign Relations Index (CFRI). Canadian Institute of International Affairs.

Description: The online continuation of the CIIA's 6-volume: A Bibliography of Works on Canadian Foreign Relations containing over 49,000 Canadian and foreign works on Canada's foreign relations, defence, economic relations, foreign aid, international law, and international environmental issues.
Coverage: 1945 - 2007. Citations (no abstracts) to journal articles, books, theses, research papers, chapters from edited works, conference proceedings, unpublished papers, selected government documents, statements, news releases and treaties in French and English.
Tips: Search interface available in English and French.

Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO). Columbia University and Columbia University Press.

Description: A full-text database of theory and research on international affairs.
Coverage: 1991 - . Includes working and occasional papers from universities, research institutes and NGOs, conference proceedings, some electronic books published by Columbia U. Press, journal article abstracts, policy briefs, case studies and more.
Tips: Provides a monthly email update service.

Jules Léger Library Catalogue. Global Affairs Canada.

Description: A searchable database of thousands of print and digital books, government documents, journals and newspapers with a focus on Canada's international relations, trade and development, as well as related topics of international law, human rights, peacekeeping, and country/region-specific information.
Coverage: The library has material from the beginning of the department's establishment in 1909.
Tips: For materials not available through the online catalogue, members of the public can request a visitor's pass to use the library or can request materials through interlibrary loan.

Peace Research Abstracts Journal. Peace Research Institute. (Formerly Canadian Peace Research Institute.)

Description: Bimonthly abstracting journal provides citations and abstracts of works in peace and conflict studies and related fields.
Coverage: 1964 - . Descriptive summaries of international books, journal articles, research reports and government documents on many topics such as foreign policy, international law, international relations, disarmament, environmental issues, military policy, etc.

Books and other Academic Work:
To find books, theses, conference papers, and publications by research institutes, and other organizations, use library catalogues. Additional sources listed below.

Useful LC Subject Headings: (Name of province can be substituted for Canada)

Canada — foreign relations
Canada — foreign relations — 1945 -
Canada — foreign relations — [name of other country]
international relations
Canada — foreign economic relations — [name of other country]
Canada — commercial policy
economic assistance, Canadian
Canada — military policy
free trade — Canada
foreign trade regulation — Canada
national security — Canada
Canada — defenses
(NOTE: Library of Congress subject headings use American spelling, e.g. defense with an 's')

Conference Papers:
Besides the papers published from the Canadian Political Science Association conferences, universities, research institutes and others periodically organize conferences from which the presentations are published. To find these, search your library catalogue or the National Union Catalogue, Voilà using the appropriate subject heading and the sub-heading "congresses" (e.g. Canada -- foreign relations -- congresses). You can also try a keyword search in the subject field: (e.g. Canada and foreign relations and congresses in the subject field).

Canadian government departments and agencies, Royal Commissions and other fact-finding task forces at times sponsor conferences from which the proceedings or summaries are available. For example:
Canada in the Global Economy: Proceedings of a Conference held by the Bank of Canada, Nov. 2004. Ottawa: Bank of Canada, 2005. 537 p.
An Agenda for Mine Action: A Global Ban on Landmines, Ottawa, Canada, December 2-4, 1997. Ottawa: Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, 1997, 1 vol.

The many international summits and meetings of high-level officials on international issues that take place each year rarely provide any published proceedings or research material. The bulk of the information surrounding these meetings will be press releases announcing the meeting, sometimes backgrounders on the key topics under discussion, and occasionally a statement of agreement on an issue or other brief media reports. Some examples of these in which Canada is involved: Francophonie summits, NATO summits, G7 & G8 Summits, World Trade Organization Ministerial Conferences, Summit of the Americas, APEC Economic Leaders Meetings, Annual Conference of the New England Governors and the Eastern Canadian Premiers, and the recent Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America.


Many excellent theses have been written in Canadian universities on topics relating to Canadian foreign relations. Search the Theses Canada Portal for these. Library and Archives Canada maintains a collection of every M.A. and PhD thesis written at Canadian universities. Where a link to an online thesis is not available, and for print theses, request an inter-library loan through your library.  Most universities also maintain a collection of the electronic theses written at their institution. Some are accessible through their institutional repositories.

CFC Papers. Canadian Forces College.

A database of the theses produced by students of the College's Master's programs.

Royal Military College of Canada theses are included in the Theses Canada Portal from 1984 on, and in the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses database from 1962 on.

Research Reports:

See the "Research Organizations" tab for examples of organizations that publish research on this topic.


Current Events / News:

The Hill Times. Ottawa: Hill Times Publishing Inc. 1989 - . Online daily news website and twice weekly print newspaper. (Absorbed and includes archive of Embassy: Canada's Foreign Policy Newsweekly 2004-2016.) 

News service covering Parliament, federal government and politics. Includes a regular section on Foreign Affairs.

SOMNIA: Spotlight on Military News and International Affairs. Canadian Forces College, Department of National Defence.

Provides daily links to selected news stories on military and international affairs issues from many sources. Articles organized into four types: Canadian news, Canadian commentary, international news and international commentary. Articles archived for one week.

See also the websites of the government departments, advocacy groups and research organizations involved with foreign affairs, international trade, foreign aid, security issues, etc. and look for "What's New", press releases, media rooms, newsletters, events calendars, and contact information. You may also be able to subscribe to an emailed version of their newsletters or press releases. See Primary Sources -- What's Happening Now in this Special Topics guide and in the main part of this guide for more details and examples.

Government Information:

Global Affairs Canada is currently the main federal government department responsible for international relations. Search the website for current information. Since its founding in 1909, the department name and focus has changed several times. A rough breakdown:

1909-1989: Department of External Affairs
1989-1995: External Affairs and International Trade Canada
1995-2013: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade
2013-2015: Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development
2015- : Global Affairs Canada

(For more details see Departments and Roles, 1867 to Today by the Library of Parliament.)

Global Affairs Canada Digital Library.

This online collection of some of the department's publications is provided by the Global Affairs Canada Jules Léger Library, and includes:

  • Annual reports (1982-1988, 1989-1991)
  • Communiqués (1948-1995)
  • Canadian Representatives Abroad (1949-1967, 1968-2003)
  • CanadExport (1989-2007)
  • Report of the Canadian Delegates to the Assembly of the League of Nations (1923-1934)

There are several other government departments and agencies involved in Canada's international relations. Key for foreign policy, defence, national security, humanitarian and development aid, and international trade are the following:

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). 1968-2013. Established to administer Canada's official development assistance program.

Department of National Defence is responsible for the Canadian Armed Forces and matters relating to Canada's national defence.

Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). The official intelligence-gathering and analysis agency of the federal government, CSIS advises the federal government on threats to national security.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.
(See Special Topic: Immigration Policy.)

International Development Research Centre (IDRC).  A Crown corporation that funds and publishes research on sustainable development issues.

(See more under Primary Resources -- What was Written -- Government)

Canada is a member of numerous international government organizations (e.g. UN, OECD, NATO, OAS, G8, WTO, etc.). The publications of these organizations can be valuable research material for certain topics in Canadian foreign relations. GAC maintains a list of international organizations in which Canada participates:

The provinces and territories have some say in international relations (e.g. Quebec and New Brunswick as part of the Francophonie), through regional meetings such as the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers, trade missions, etc. They each have a Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs which deal mainly with interprovincial issues, but may also play minor roles in international affairs, mostly trade-related. Quebec is the only province with a Ministry of International Relations: Ministère des Relations internationales et de la Francophonie:

Besides their annual report to Parliament, budget priorities, Estimates, and other reports on their operations, many of these government bodies have published research reports and other useful documents. Some of the most recent ones published will be available on their websites. Check your library catalogue, the national union catalogue Voilà, or a large research library for these and earlier documents. Library and Archives Canada also has archival collections of the records created by federal departments.

Briefs to Committees: One of the important ways in which government agencies, as well as research organizations, advocacy, and interest groups advise and lobby government is to submit briefs to Senate and House of Commons committees, advising them on the impact of proposed legislation, or of their views on issues under study. These briefs or reports may be found as publications by authoring group, or as part of the "Evidence" of parliamentary committees.

See Selected Primary Sources -- What was Written for more details and examples of these and other government documents and their finding aids.

Political Party Information:
Besides statements made to the press, or in Parliament, or briefs submitted to committees, political parties generally include statements on their foreign policy ideas in their platform or principles documents. Parties may also form task forces or special committees to consider their foreign policy. See the sources listed in the main part of this guide for finding news items, Parliamentary information, party platforms, etc. Some separately published documents are also available in libraries and political party archives.

See Selected Primary Sources for examples.

Research Organizations:

There are a great many research institutes and other organizations that publish research on topics in international relations involving Canada in general, or which focus on Canada's relations with specific regions or on one specific aspect of foreign relations. Many textbooks and related websites provide lists of these. The following are selected major Canadian organizations that publish research on Canadian foreign policy, international trade issues, foreign aid, defence and military policy:

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA).
An independent, nonpartisan research institute founded in 1980, the CCPA publishes articles, backgrounders, policy briefs, research studies, etc. on many public policy issues including international trade, military spending, etc. Publications can be searched by type and topic. Some examples:
The Rise and Demise of NAFTA Chapter 11. By Scott Sinclair, 2021. 62 p.
Unprepared for Peace? The Decline of Canadian Peacekeeping Training (and What to do About it). By A. Walter Dorn and Joshua Libben, 2016. 72 p.
Whose Canada? Continental Integration, Fortress North America, and the Corporate Agenda. By Ricardo Grinspun and Yasmine Shamsie, 2007. 592 p.

Canadian Foreign Policy Institute (CFPI).
Established in 2020, the research fellows of this independent, non-partisan institute seek to inform the public with their critical foreign policy analysis. The website has links to articles, books, films and a wiki authored by its fellows and others.

Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI). (Formerly Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI).
A high profile non-profit funded by the Department of Defence, NATO, and many large corporations including some from the military industry, and partnered with the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, the CGAI publishes a lot of commentary in the media. Their website includes policy papers, policy perspectives, and primers said to be "subject to rigorous review".

Canadian Institute of International Affairs (CIIA). 1928-2007. (Became Canadian International Council in 2007.)
CIIA was a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public on foreign policy and global issues. It organized conferences, seminars, speaker series, and published several key publications. Its best known are the Canada in World Affairs series from 1941-1985, A Bibliography of Works on Canadian Foreign Relations (now the Canadian Foreign Relations Index), International Journal, Behind the Headlines, and hundreds of research reports and books.

Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies (CISS). 1976-2008. (Joined with CIGI to form the Canadian International Council in 2008.)
This independent, nonprofit research organization published lectures, proceedings of seminars, commentary, analytical papers and books on defence and security issues affecting Canada. For example:

Canadian Defence Policies for the Future. 1980. 56 p.
New NATO, New Century: Canada, the United States, and the Future of the Atlantic Alliance. Ed. by David Haglund, 2000. 248 p.

Canadian International Council (CIC).  (Formerly Canadian Institute of International Affairs.)
Continues the work of the former CIIA, publishing research in the peer-reviewed International Journal, and the policy paper series Behind the Headlines. Part of its mandate is said to be to " involve Canadians in defining our country’s place in the world". Branches across the country organize speaker events, online discussions, and conferences, including continuing the Couchiching Conference.

Centre for International and Defence Policy. (Formerly Queen's Centre for International Relations.)
Established in 1975, this research organization's mandate is to conduct research on national and international security and other aspects of international relations. It organizes conferences, workshops and seminars, and publishes books, occasional papers, reports, research papers, policy briefs and more. Some examples:

The Arms Control Experience Re-examined: Arms Control in Theory and Practice 1958-1981. By Robin Ranger, 1981. 76 p.
Canada in NORAD, 1957-2007: A History. By Joseph T. Jockel, 2007. 250 p.
Canada's Feminist Foreign Policy and Women, Peace and Security Norms. Martello Papers, 43. By Charlotte F. Blatt, 2020. 240 p.
War with Iraq: Canada's Strategy in the Persian Gulf 1990-2002. By Sean Maloney, 2002. 78 p.

Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).
A Canadian-based international research institution founded in 2002 to study multilateral governance issues. Their work includes peer reviewed studies on Canadian foreign policy issues and the broader international situation, peacekeeping, globalization, international trade, etc. often co-published with partners. Their publications include books, policy briefs, working and technical papers, essays, conference and research reports, etc., such as:

The Asian Economic Revolution and Canadian Trade Policy. By John Walley, 2006.
Canada's Economic Interests in the Middle East. By Bessma Momani and Agata Antkiewicz, 2007.
Tests of Global Governance: Canadian Diplomacy and United Nations World Conferences. By Andrew Cooper, 2004. 298 p.
Toward a Free Trade Agreement with China: Opportunities, Challenges and Building Blocks for Canada. By Patrick Leblond, 2017. 44 p.

Centre for International Policy Studies (CIPS). University of Ottawa.
In operation since 2007, CIPS promotes evidence-based discussion of international policy issues in Canada by hosting speakers and workshops and publishing policy briefs, working papers, and more. The site also hosts the graduate student journal Potentia.

Institute for Research on Public Policy (IRPP).
Established in 1972, this national, independent, nonprofit research organization's aim is to improve public policy in Canada through research. The focus of their research projects varies but has often included aspects of Canada's international relations. Some examples:

Accountability for National Defence: Ministerial Responsibility, Military Command and Parliamentary Oversight. By Philippe Lagassé, 2010. 62 p.
Canada and Military Coalitions: Where, How and with Whom?. By Douglas Bland, 2002. 52 p.
Geopolitical Integrity. Edited by Hugh Segal, 2005. 336 p.
A National Security Framework for Canada. By W. D Macnamara and Ann Fitz-Gerald, 2002. 28 p.

Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. Carleton University.
Provides a graduate program in international affairs, supports several research centres and publishes Canada Among Nations and Canadian Foreign Policy Journal. The NPSIA website lists publications by its faculty and links to The Paterson Review of International Affairs, a peer-reviewed scholarly journal of articles by graduate students of international affairs. The students also manage iAffairs, an online source for commentary on current issues, and the monthly podcast  "Policy Talks".

North-South Institute. 1976-2014.
The NSI was Canada's first non-partisan research institute focused on international development. It was forced to close after the Canadian government cancelled funding. NSI published research on Canada's relations with developing countries and on related foreign policy issues. The annual Canadian International Development Report was its flagship publication, starting in 1997. The website has been maintained, with online access to publications from 1997 to 2014. Examples:

AIDS, Development and Canadian Policy: Achieving Universal Access by 2010. By Paul Thomas and John W. Foster, 2007. 48 p.
Development and the Private Sector: Canada's Approach. By Graeme Douglas and Shannon Kindornay, 2013. 20 p.
Human Security, Sustainable and Equitable Development: Foundations for Canada's International Policy. By Roy Culpepper et. al. 2004. 37 p.
key Issues for Canada's Foreign Policy: Canada and the Developing World. By Ann Weston, 1994. 56 p.
World Food and the Canadian "Breadbasket". 1978, 68 p.


Videos and Films:

Documentaries. Canadian Foreign Policy Institute.
Established in 2020, this new institute's "Documentaries" page links to films critical of Canadian foreign policy. It includes a trailer for the film: "For the Past Seven Years" on Canada's role in Haiti, and the full 58-minute, 2009 film: "Myths for Profit: Canada's Role in Industries of War and Peace" written and directed by Amy Miller.

National Film Board of Canada Catalogue.
The NFB online catalogue can be searched by keyword or browsed by subject. Relevant subject categories include "War, Conflict & Peace", "National Security & Defence" or "Politics and Government -- Canada", then "International Relations".

See Primary Sources -- Recorded Images for selected examples.

Evaluating Sources

Please refer to Evaluating Information in the main part of this guide.