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Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada)

Updated: 2017-06-10T10:31Z
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Government of Canada signature.svg
Chrystia Freeland - India Economic Summit 2011.jpg
Chrystia Freeland

since 10 January 2017
Department of Global Affairs
StyleThe Honourable
Member of
AppointerGovernor General of Canada
Term lengthAt Her Majesty's pleasure
Inaugural holderAndré Ouellet
Formation4 November 1993
Salary$255,300 (2017)[1]
St Edward's Crown with maple leaves.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

The Minister of Foreign Affairs (French: Ministre des Affaires étrangères) is the Minister of the Crown in the Canadian Cabinet who is responsible for overseeing the federal government's international relations and heads the Department of Global Affairs, though the Minister of International Trade leads on international trade issues. In addition to the Department, the Minister is also the lead in overseeing the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development and the International Development Research Centre.

From 1909 to 1993, the office was called Secretary of State for External Affairs. The first two Secretaries of State for External Affairs, from 1909 until 1912, (Charles Murphy under Sir Wilfrid Laurier and William James Roche under Sir Robert Borden) concurrently served as Secretary of State for Canada. The two portfolios were permanently separated in 1912, and the External Affairs portfolio was then held by the Prime Minister of Canada until 1946.


Ministers holding the External Affairs and Foreign Affairs portfolios have sometimes played prominent international roles:

As in Pearson's case (and that of Louis St. Laurent, his predecessor), the portfolio can be a final stepping stone to the Prime Minister's Office. Until 1946, it was customary for the office to be held by the sitting Prime Minister. John Diefenbaker would hold the portfolio on two subsequent occasions.

List of Ministers


  Historical conservative parties: Liberal-Conservative, Conservative (historical), Unionist, National Liberal and Conservative, Progressive Conservative

Secretaries of State for External Affairs (1909–1993)

No.PortraitNameTerm of officePolitical partyMinistry
1Charles Murphy.jpgCharles MurphyMay 19, 1909October 6, 1911Liberal8 (Laurier)
2William James Roche.jpgWilliam James RocheOctober 10, 1911April 1, 1912Conservative (historical)9 (Borden)
3RobertLBorden.jpgRobert BordenApril 1, 1912October 11, 1917Conservative (historical)
October 12, 1917July 9, 1920Unionist10 (Borden)
4Former PM Arthur Meighen.jpgArthur Meighen
1st time
July 10, 1920December 29, 1921National Liberal and Conservative11 (Meighen)
5Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpgWilliam Lyon Mackenzie King
1st time
December 29, 1921June 28, 1926Liberal12 (King)
(4)Former PM Arthur Meighen.jpgArthur Meighen
2nd time
June 29, 1926September 25, 1926Conservative (historical)13 (Meighen)
(5)Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpgWilliam Lyon Mackenzie King
2nd time
September 25, 1926August 7, 1930Liberal14 (King)
6Richard Bedford Bennett.jpgRichard Bedford BennettAugust 7, 1930October 23, 1935Conservative (historical)15 (Bennett)
(5)Wm Lyon Mackenzie King.jpgWilliam Lyon Mackenzie King
3rd time
October 23, 1935September 3, 1946Liberal16 (King)
7Louisstlaurent.jpgLouis St. LaurentSeptember 4, 1946September 9, 1948Liberal
8Lester B. Pearson with a pencil.jpgLester B. PearsonSeptember 10, 1948November 15, 1948Liberal
November 15, 1948June 20, 195717 (St. Laurent)
9John G. Diefenbaker.jpgJohn DiefenbakerJune 21, 1957September 12, 1957Progressive Conservative18 (Diefenbaker)
10Sidney Smith.JPGSidney Earle SmithSeptember 13, 1957March 17, 1959Progressive Conservative
John G. Diefenbaker.jpgJohn Diefenbaker
2nd time; Acting Minister
March 19, 1959June 3, 1959Progressive Conservative
11Howard Charles Green.jpgHoward Charles GreenJune 4, 1959April 21, 1963Progressive Conservative
12PJJ Martin.jpgPaul Joseph James MartinApril 22, 1963April 20, 1968Liberal19 (Pearson)
13Mitchell SharpApril 20, 1968August 7, 1974Liberal20 (P. E. Trudeau)
14Allan MacEachen.jpgAllan MacEachen
1st time
August 8, 1974September 13, 1976Liberal
15Don-Jamieson.jpgDon JamiesonSeptember 14, 1976June 3, 1979Liberal
16No image.svgFlora MacDonaldJune 4, 1979March 2, 1980Progressive Conservative21 (Clark)
17No image.svgMark MacGuiganMarch 3, 1980September 9, 1982Liberal22 (P. E. Trudeau)
(14)Allan MacEachen.jpgAllan MacEachen
2nd time
September 10, 1982June 29, 1984Liberal
18Jean Chrétien1.jpgJean ChrétienJune 30, 1984September 16, 1984Liberal23 (Turner)
19JoeClark.jpgJoe ClarkSeptember 17, 1984April 20, 1991Progressive Conservative24 (Mulroney)
20No image.svgBarbara McDougallApril 21, 1991June 24, 1993Progressive Conservative
21No image.svgPerrin BeattyJune 25, 1993November 3, 1993Progressive Conservative25 (Campbell)

Ministers of Foreign Affairs (1993–present)

No.PortraitNameTerm of officePolitical partyMinistry
1No image.svgAndré OuelletNovember 4, 1993January 24, 1996Liberal26 (Chrétien)
2No image.svgLloyd AxworthyJanuary 25, 1996October 16, 2000Liberal
3John Manley IMF.jpgJohn ManleyOctober 17, 2000January 15, 2002Liberal
4Bill Graham by Rod Brito.jpgBill GrahamJanuary 15, 2002December 11, 2003Liberal
December 12, 2003July 19, 200427 (Martin)
5PierrePettigrew.JPGPierre PettigrewJuly 20, 2004February 5, 2006Liberal
6Peter MacKay 2014.jpgPeter MacKayFebruary 6, 2006August 14, 2007Conservative28 (Harper)
7Maxime Bernier.jpgMaxime BernierAugust 14, 2007May 26, 2008Conservative
8No image.svgDavid Emerson
Acting Minister until
June 25, 2008
May 26, 2008October 20, 2008Conservative
9Lawrence Cannon on March 29, 2010.jpgLawrence CannonOctober 30, 2008May 18, 2011Conservative
10John Baird - Canadian MP.jpgJohn BairdMay 18, 2011February 3, 2015Conservative
11Rob Nicholson 2013 crop.jpgRob NicholsonFebruary 9, 2015November 4, 2015Conservative
12Stéphane Dion.jpgStéphane DionNovember 4, 2015January 10, 2017Liberal29 (J. Trudeau)
13Chrystia Freeland - India Economic Summit 2011.jpgChrystia FreelandJanuary 10, 2017IncumbentLiberal

Prior and subsequent diplomatic services

Lester Pearson is the only minister to have been a diplomat prior to their appointment. Pearson entered the Canadian foreign service in 1927 and rose to become Canadian Ambassador to the United States from 1944 to 1946.

Paul Martin, Sr. served as Canadian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom after his retirement from active politics. Following his defeat in the 2011 election, Lawrence Cannon has served as Canadian Ambassador to France since 2012, while Stéphane Dion was named Canadian Ambassador to the European Union and Germany immediately after leaving cabinet in 2017. Unlike Pearson, none were career diplomats.


  1. ^ "Indemnities, Salaries and Allowances". Parliament of Canada. 

External links

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