Ambassadors of Note

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Arthur Roy/Library and Archives Canada/PA-046945.

Raoul Dandurand

 

“In the League of Nations, Canada stands on equal footing with all the member nations of that organization.”

Raoul Dandurand

 

Senator Raoul Dandurand established an independent Canadian presence at the League of Nations. He was appointed president of the League of Nations Assembly in 1925 and led a successful campaign to secure one of the nine seats on the Council of the League of Nations in 1927. As Canada’s representative on the Council, he reported on matters ranging from child welfare to the resettlement of refugees, and played an active role in reforming the League’s procedure for monitoring the treatment of ethnic minorities in Eastern Europe. Dandurand’s interventions helped Canada establish its reputation as a leader in international governance.

The Canadian Delegation to the League of Nations, 3 September 1928 (L-R: O.D. Skelton, Philippe Roy, Raoul Dandurand, Rt. Hon. W.L. Mackenzie King, Charles Dunning, W.A. Riddell). Library and Archives Canada/C-009055.

From its foundation in 1920, Senator Dandurand took an active interest in the League of Nations. While Canada was still a self-governing dominion of the British Empire, Dandurand recognized that Canada could gain an independent voice in international affairs at the League of Nations. As a French Canadian, he felt a particular affinity for the League’s mandate to protect the rights of small nations and minority populations. At a time when Canada maintained less than a handful of overseas missions, Dandurand’s enthusiasm and initiative at the League of Nations pushed Canada to expand its diplomatic presence overseas and provided the growing staff of Canada’s foreign service with valuable experience in the work of multilateral cooperation.

Raoul Dandurand was born in Montreal in 1861. He studied law at Laval University and worked as a corporate lawyer until appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier in 1898. Dandurand served as Speaker of the Senate and as a cabinet minister in William Lyon Mackenzie King’s governments. Dandurand was inducted into France’s Légion d’honneur, in recognition for his work promoting Canadian trade with France.


Further Reading:

Dandurand, Raoul. Le sénateur-diplomate. Mémoirs 1861-1942. Québec: Les Presses de l’Université Laval et l’Institut québécoise des Hautes études internationales, 2000.

Paquin, Stéphane. “Raoul Dandurand: Porte-Parole de la Conscience Universelle” in Architects and Innovators: Building the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1909-2009, edited by Greg Donaghy and Kim Nossal, 41-55. Kingston: School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, 2009.

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