In the decades following World War Two, there were a number of movements which focused on global developments. Groups such as the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were centres of international cooperation. In these dealings there were, of course, great powers; the countries that had the greatest riches and militaries often dominated the global political stage. Beyond that, there were countries which were not the biggest or strongest, but were influential through other means. These were middle powers, and Canada is one of them.
A middle power is a country that uses its influence on issues which are perceived as “minor” in the scale of international politics – often because the great powers are too busy with other incidents1. influential through soft power and multilateralism. Soft power can be defined as having a culture and policies that appeal to other states2. A middle power is also influential because its policies are credible and it is an independent state3. Essentially what this means is that a middle power takes part in international politics (and in doing so, has an influential role) through international organizations and also through multilateral discussions – often during crises. Canada played the role of middle power exceptionally well in the two decades following World War Two by taking part in international organizations and playing an influential role in multilateral discussions.
International organizations such as NATO and the UN are essential not only for global peace, but also as a place where middle powers can exert their influence. It is understandable that since the inception of such organizations that many crises have been averted, resolved, or dealt with in some way through such groups. Because “Canada had come of age during World War II,”4 it was in a strong position to take part in these developing international assemblies.
And so, the United Nations was born in June of 1945. It is through the UN that Canada began to show its ability as a middle power. Even early on, Canadian diplomats were careful in selecting items to debate, focusing on “what was possible, as opposed to what was desirable,”5. It is difficult, if not impossible, to talk about Canada and the UN without referring to Lester Pearson. Almost elected as the first Secretary General, Pearson believed that “Canada had a responsibility to participate as actively as possible in any international activity that might lessen the chance of war's breaking out,”6. Pearson, one of Canada's most recognized diplomats, saw the potential in the UN to maintain world peace, but in order to do this it needed a military force in order to be effective7. Pearson was instrumental in the creation of the UN Emergency Force during the Suez Crisis8. Canada did not only take part in the UN, but even further. Canada was was a major driving force during the early years of the organization and, through diplomacy and political influence,...