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The UN at 70: A Canadian Perspective

Published on March 2, 2015

 Friday 12 June 2015, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON

The Wilson Institute for Canadian History at McMaster University, one of the premier organizations devoted to Canadian history in the country, invites registrants to sign up for a one-day seminar to mark the 70th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations on 12 June 2015 that will be held at McMaster in Hamilton, Ontario.

In 1970, to mark the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau addressed the House of Commons and told those in attendance:  “Canada has consistently sought, within the measure of her resources and influence, to strengthen the UN’s institutions in the service of peace and the improvement of quality of life for all... it is timely to pledge this government and the people of Canada to continuing support for the UN as the best hope we have that the grave challenges facing Canada and the world can be met." As we approach the 70th anniversary of what was a remarkable achievement in international cooperation, the attitude of the Canadian government towards the UN seems drastically different. A greater emphasis has been placed on Canada’s part in NATO, the G8, and even the British Commonwealth of late. Yet, according to recent polls, Canadians continue to regard UN peacekeeping as the most important international action this country undertakes. This provides some indication that a renewed Canadian interest in the UN would be both possible and welcomed by many Canadians. 

We invite those interested to attend a one-day symposium that will bring together an interdisciplinary mixture of scholars whose interests lie in the history of the UN, Canadian foreign policy, development studies, peace studies, and political science. It will assemble those who study the UN using a number of different approaches, not simply the study of policy. These include: the efficacy of the UN as a progressive force; Canadian interactions with the UN; and Canada's future with the UN. The first of these topics will capture some of the idealism that greeted the UN’s birth in 1945 and measure the effectiveness of this project for a better world through the decades to the end of the Cold War. The second topic will focus on the intellectual, political, and financial investments that Canadians have made in the United Nations. Prominent and ordinary people alike have had remarkable encounters with the UN, and this panel will delve more fully into how the UN and Canada have mutually constituted one another. Our final panel will look at the UN in the present and offer cogent analyses of its current operations and how it might move to become a more effective organization in the near future. Our keynote speaker will be former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lloyd Axworthy.

This symposium will offer a chance to debate the past, present, and future of Canadian involvement with the UN in a constructive and collegial manner. We hope that you will count yourself among those interested in this event!

Please sign up for the conference at the following link:

Further inquiries can be directed to or to Colin McCullough, L.R. Wilson Post-Doctoral Fellow, McMaster University at or Prof. Robert Teigrob, Ryerson University at

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