Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science


Kim Richard Nossal


This thesis is focused on Canadian policy towards Cuba from 1959 to 1984. The research is developed in such a way as to achieve three major objectives. 1) To explain and account for the controversial Canadian-Cuban relationship as it evolved during the period under study. 2) To examine the detrimental effects of this relationship on Canadian-American relations. 3) To use the Cuban case study to establish whether Canada has been conducting an "independent" foreign policy with Cuba and to see how far Canada can deviate from vital American foreign policy objectives before encountering elements of American displeasure and possible punishing political and economic retaliation .

The main underlying argument in the thesis is that Canada, contrary to the premises of the dependency theorists, does have a well-developed capacity to follow a distinctive foreign policy. One which is both independent from America's and conducted exclusively in the better interests of Canada and Canadians . The Cuban case study is used to develop and expand on this theme while remaining conscious of the fact that policies are not created in a vacuum but are subject to changing constraints and limitations. One important constraint in this case was Canada's long-standing relationship with the United States at a time when both nations chose to conduct very different policies in dealing with Cuba's revolutionary regime. This thesis therefore reiterates the geopolitical reality that Canada must often walk a fine line when dealing with countries hostile to America. The task in these cases is to attempt to develop distinctiveness while maintaining the vital "special relationship" forged with Washington over many years. The Cuban case study provides a good illustration of this ongoing balancing act as it describes the various phases the Canada-Cuba relationship experienced during twenty-five years of life in the shadow of the American feud.

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