Unilateralism in Canadian Foreign Policy: An Examination of Three Cases

by Stromberg, Rhiannon Erin

Abstract (Summary)
Though often overlooked, unilateralism as a foreign policy approach deserves to be studied, even in the case of Canada, a country that has developed a reputation as a staunch defender of its opposite, multilateralism. This thesis studies does precisely that, and is prompted, by a proposition recently put forward by Allan Gotlieb, the former Canadian Ambassador to the United States, that, when other methods have proven ineffective, unilateralism has been a very real option for Canada. The thesis explores the validity of Gotliebs claim by examining three cases cited by Gotlieb as examples of a unilateral approach taken by Canada: the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act in 1970, its declaration of straight baselines around the Arctic Archipelago in 1985, and the so-called Turbot War launched by enforcement of amendments to the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act in 1995. Were these in fact cases of determined unilateralism, prompted as Gotlieb argues, by a basic need to defend the most basic of Canadas core interests, its territorial sovereignty?

Further investigation of the cases cited by Gotlieb reveals that he is correct in one sense but not in another. In all of the cases Canada undeniably acted unilaterally. But Gotliebs analysis misses the larger reality that the three initiatives were pursued within a framework of multilateralism. Canada acted unilaterally not simply for the purpose of protecting Canadas territorial integrity, but in the hopes of reinvigorating a multilateral process.

Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Story, Donald

School:University of Saskatchewan

School Location:Canada - Saskatchewan

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:arctic waters territorial sea boundaries fisheries disputes unilateralism multilateralism canada foreign policy


Date of Publication:10/17/2006

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