Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (Canada)

From Academic Kids

The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT) is a former department in the Government of Canada which had responsibility for foreign policy and diplomacy, as well as import/export and international trade policies.

Prior to 1993, the department was referred to as the Department of External Affairs. A new government altered the name to DFAIT and formalized this change under a formal Act of Parliament in 1995. DFAIT maintained two separate ministers: the Minister of Foreign Affairs with lead responsibility for the portfolio, and the Minister of International Trade. The Minister for International Cooperation, with responsibilities for agencies such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), also fell under DFAIT.

DFAIT was headquartered in the Lester B. Pearson Building on the bank of the Ottawa River in the nation's capital.

Significance of nomenclature

It should be noted that the change of terminology from "External Affairs" to "Foreign Affairs" marked an important milestone in Canadian foreign policy. At the time when the External Affairs portfolio's inception in 1905, Canada was a self-governing dominion in the British Empire and did not have an independent foreign policy. Most foreign diplomacy was conducted with other parts of the British Empire which were not considered "foreign" lands; diplomacy outside the Empire (eg. between Canada and its non-Empire neighbours, the United States, Russia, St. Pierre and Miquelon, and Greenland) were conducted by the foreign office of the United Kingdom.

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