Ambassadors of Note

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Department of External Affairs/Library and Archives Canada.

Marcel Cadieux


“A cultivated individual, Cadieux provided great moral support as well as sound advice … he knew that in diplomacy one must proceed by incremental steps.”

Paul Martin Sr.
Secretary of State for External Affairs (1963-1968)


Marcel Cadieux promoted biculturalism in Canada’s Foreign Service and foreign policy. A professor of international law, Cadieux became a leading legal advisor to the Department of External Affairs and won the distinction of being the first Canadian to sit on the United Nations Law Commission. Cadieux also earned a reputation as a skilled administrator. These combined skills put him in positions to lead change within the department. As head of the Personnel Division, Cadieux proposed changes in the department’s recruiting and hiring programs to attract more candidates from Quebec and produce a foreign service that better reflected Canada’s bicultural population. As Deputy Under-Secretary, Cadieux championed development projects in French-speaking African states to encourage more Quebec-based organizations to participate in Canada’s foreign aid program. As one of the first French Canadians to join External Affairs, Cadieux worked to open doors for other French Canadians to shape Canada’s place in the world.

Marcel Cadieux (right) sits alongside Secretary of State for External Affairs Paul Martin and French Ambassador François Leduc, as they sign the Franco- Canadian Cultural Affairs Agreement in November 1967. Department of External Affairs/Library and Archives Canada.

Cadieux joined the Canadian Foreign Service in 1941. His wartime service sent him to Canadian missions in London and Paris. In 1954, he joined the Canadian delegation to the International Control Commission in Vietnam. In 1977, he was appointed chief negotiator during Canada-USA fisheries and boundary disputes. Cadieux took on more responsibilities as an administrator and rose through the ranks of External Affairs to serve as Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs. Following his term as the senior civil servant in the department, Cadieux was the first francophone appointed Ambassador to the United States. He later headed the Canadian Mission to the European Economic Community as part of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s “Third Option.”

Cadieux was born in Montreal in 1915. He earned a master’s degree in law from l’Université de Montréal and studied constitutional law at McGill University. He was made a Companion of the Order of Canada for his dedication to public service.

Further reading:

Cadieux, Marcel. Le diplomate canadien; elements d’une definition. Montreal: Fides, 1962.

Embruns. Montreal: le Cercle du livre de France, 1951.

Première armes. Montreal: le Cercle du livre de France, 1951.

Bothwell, Robert. “Marcel Cadieux: The Ultimate Professional” in Architects and Innovators: Building the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, 1909-2009, edited by Greg Donaghy and Kim Nossal, 207-222. Kingston: School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, 2009.

Kelly, Brendan. The Good Fight: Marcel Cadieux and Canadian Diplomacy. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2019.

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