Minister of Foreign Affairs (Canada)
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 Government of Canada's international relations and is the lead minister responsible for Global Affairs Canada, though the minister of international trade leads on trade issues. In addition to Global Affairs Canada, the minister is also the lead in overseeing the 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.
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.