Canadian International Council

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Canadian International Council
Canadian International Council logo.svg
Formation1928 (as Canadian Institute of International Affairs)
HeadquartersToronto, Ontario, Canada

The Canadian International Council (CIC) is Canada's foreign relations council. It is an independent, member-based council established to strengthen Canada's role in international affairs. The CIC uses its historical roots, cross-country network, and research to advance debate on international issues across academic disciplines, policy areas, and economic sectors.

The Council is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, with 16 volunteer-run branches across Canada. CIC branches present offer CIC members speakers' programs, study groups, conferences, and seminars. Branches are located in Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Hamilton, Montreal, National Capital (Ottawa), Nipissing (North Bay), Saskatoon, South Saskatchewan (Regina), Thunder Bay, Toronto, Quebec, Vancouver, Victoria, Waterloo, and Winnipeg.

The CIC's digital media platform, is Canada's hub for international affairs. Building on the CIC's mandate to promote discussion on international affairs, the platform is the Canadian venue for those discussions.


The CIC has its roots in 1928, in the Canadian Institute of International Affairs (CIIA), when it was founded by Sir Robert Borden. In 1932, Escott Reid was appointed as the Institute's first full-time National Secretary and began organizing annual study conferences where ideas could be exchanged. The conferences were largely round-table discussions and members of branch study groups were invited to participate. Reid also encouraged expansion of the CIIA's membership and greater public participation in the work of the Institute. The CIC's first corporate record dates to 1950, with the objective "to give attention to Canada's position both as a member of the international community of nations and as a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations."[1]

Under insurance magnate Edgar Tarr, 1931 to 1950, it went beyond the original neutral and apolitical research role. Instead it championed Canadian national autonomy and sought to enlarge the nation's international role, while challenging British imperialism. Numerous diplomats attended its conferences and supported its new mission. Canada's foreign policy moved away from imperialism and toward the sort of anti-colonialism promoted by the United States. CIIA leaders and Canadian officials worked to encouraged nationalist forces in India, China, and Southeast Asia that sought to reject colonial rule and Western dominance.[2]

In October 2007, Jim Balsillie (the former co-CEO of the Canadian information technology company Research In Motion ('BlackBerry')) initiated the formation of the CIC as a partnership between the CIIA and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), a think-tank based in Waterloo, Ontario that works on global issues, in order to create a research base on Canadian foreign policy similar to the American Council on Foreign Relations and the United Kingdom's Royal Institute of International Affairs.[3] In making the announcement, Balsillie wrote, "CIC will be a research-based, non-partisan vehicle. Applying expert and fact-based research to complex issues is the essential foundation for creating effective policy."[3] In November 2007, members of the CIIA voted to become the Canadian International Council | Conseil international du Canada.

In May 2008, the Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies (CISS) folded its operations into the CIC as the Strategic Studies Working Group.[4]

In 2019, the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs was merged into the CIC, and continues as an annual Couchiching event which the CIC hosts.


The CIC has been recognized at the Canadian Online Publishing Awards for its work with OpenCanada.[5] In 2013 the site won the Content of the Year award, as well as two gold medals for best overall online-only publication and online-only article or series in the academic and nonprofit media category.[6]



IRDTP logo

The International Relations and Digital Technology Project (IRDTP) is managed jointly Between the CIC, the Liu Institute for Global Issues and the University of British Columbia's Graduate School of Journalism. IRDTP is a new and innovative research initiative analyzing the impact of ubiquitous digital technology on the theory and practice of International Relations.

Annual Research Program

The CIC's annual research programs have produced the following reports:


The president of the CIC's Board of Directors is Ben Rowswell, Former Ambassador to Venezuela from 2014 to 2017. The CIC is overseen by a Board of Directors chaired by former Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham.


International Journal  
Publication details
Standard abbreviations
ISO 4Int. J.

International Journal (IJ), established in 1946, is the CIC's scholarly publication and Canada's pre-eminent journal of global policy analysis. IJ is cross disciplinary, combining the insights of history, political science, and economics with anthropology and other social sciences to advance research and dialogue on issues of global significance.

In 2013 the CIC partnered with the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History and SAGE Publications to publish International Journal.

The CIC also publishes Behind the Headlines. First published in 1940 as a pamphlet series focused on contemporary Canadian foreign policy, Behind the Headlines evolved first into a quarterly current affairs magazine, and then into its current form as a policy paper series.


The Canadian International Council is a non-for-profit organization and a registered charity with Canada Revenue Agency. Funding comes from private sponsorship, membership fees, donations, and events.


  1. ^ Federal Corporation Information - 347591 - Corporations Canada - Corporations - Industry Canada. (2013-10-17). Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  2. ^ Priscilla Roberts, "Tweaking the Lion's Tail: Edgar J. Tarr, the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, and the British Empire, 1931–1950." Diplomacy & Statecraft, 23.4 (2012): 636-659.
  3. ^ a b Balsillie, Jim. "Why we're creating the Canadian International Council". Centre for International Governance Innovation. Archived from the original on 1 April 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  4. ^ Canadian International Council – Canada's hub for international affairs » Strategic Studies Working Group Archived 2013-05-12 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2013-10-23.
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-06. Retrieved 2014-01-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-17. Retrieved 2014-01-16.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-21. Retrieved 2013-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2013-05-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)