Creating space for transformative conversations
Canada's World: Historic Timeline (1994-2000)
To fulfill the project’s goal to create a new story for Canada’s role in the world that reflected historical experiences, Canada’s World included an historic timeline exercise in many of its dialogue events, including the national dialogue. This exercise invited participants to document moments in Canada’s history that have contributed to the story of its role in the world.
Below are some major initiatives and events that participants included in their timeline activities that have affected Canadian foreign policy and Canada's role in the world from 1931 to 2009.
Browse the timeline by historical period:
You can also contribute to the Canada’s World citizens’ timeline here.
April to July 1994
- Hutu gunmen in Rwanda begin systematically killing Tutsis. Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, head of the United Nations peacekeeping force, is ordered not to intervene. General Dallaire attempts to alert the international community about the severity of the genocide, and requests that his force be doubled to 5,000 troops. His request is denied. The UN Security Council votes to withdraw 90 per cent of the peacekeeping troops from Rwanda, leaving General Dallaire with only 420 ill-equipped men. By May, the international community reconsiders and agrees to send a mostly African UN peacekeeping force. Bureaucratic paralysis and a lack of contributors means troops don't start arriving until July. By this time, 800,000 Rwandans are dead and the Tutsi RPF have taken the capital Kigali, driving thousands of Hutu refugees into Zaire.
- Canadian troops arrive in Haiti as part of the first peacekeeping mission, UNMIH.
November 23, 1994
- Canada and Israel begin formal bilateral free trade talks.
March 9, 1995
- The Canadian Navy, following repeated violations of territorial waters and international fishing agreements by European Union fishing vessels, boards and arrests the crew of the Spanish trawler Estai. This act became known as the "Turbot War". Canada claimed that European Union factory fishing trawlers were illegally overfishing the nose and tail of the Grand Banks, just outside Canada's declared 200 nautical mile (370 km) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Brian Tobin, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, calls a press conference in New York where the illegal net employed by the Estai is displayed, thereby shaming the EU.
- The Liberal government launches a major review of Canada's foreign policy. The result, "Canada in the World" sets out three major foreign policy pillars:
- The protection of Canadian security within a stable global framework
- The promotion of prosperity and employment
- The promotion of Canadian values and culture
- Development Aid remains a part of general foreign and economic policy, however, the first Liberal federal budget (February 1994) slashes spending on foreign aid by 20.5 per cent over 3 years.
June 15-17, 1995
- G7 Summit is held in Seattle.
September 4-15, 1995
- The United Nations convenes the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China. The conference leads to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which sets out measures for national and international action for the advancement of women over the five years until 2000.
January 1996 - October 2000
- Foreign Minister of Canada Lloyd Axworthy's major initiatives included support for the establishment of the International Criminal Court, leadership in the international campaign to ban landmines, and systematic promotion of the concept of human security and the responsibility to protect.
- The Arctic Council is established as a result of a political declaration signed in Ottawa by representatives of the governments of Canada, Denmark/Greenland/Faroe Islands, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russian Federation, Sweden, and the United States of America.
- The Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Singapore leads to an agreement on core labour standards, with the statement that these will not be used for protectionist purposes.
- As an alternative track to the failed UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), Minister Axworthy launches the Ottawa Process to breathe new life into the international movement to ban anti-personnel (AP) landmines. Canada announces an immediate moratorium on the use, production, trade, or export of anti-personnel mines.
- Canada supports the Guatemalan peace accords, assisting in a peaceful transition to an open society.
December 15, 1996
- Canada contributes to the establishment of SHIRBRIG, the Multinational Stand-By High Readiness Brigade for United Nations Operations, a multinational brigade that can be made available to the UN as a rapidly deployable peacekeeping force.
April 23, 1997
- Minister Axworthy announces the creation of the Child Labour Challenge Fund, which provides up to $200,000 annually to fund private sector initiatives aimed at addressing child labour exploitation internationally.
July 5, 1997
- Canada's bilateral free trade agreement with Chile, the CCFTA, enters into force. By 2006, bilateral trade increases 226 per cent to $2.34 billion.
August – November 1997
- Canadian Air Force CF-18s are involved in Operation Mirador, providing air patrols to support NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
November 24-25, 1997
- Canada hosts a meeting of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), a forum for Pacific Rim countries to discuss the regional economy. Activists protest the presence of non-democratic leaders such as General Suharto of Indonesia and are pepper sprayed by members of the RCMP, leading to an inquiry.
March 2, 1998
- Canadian Louise Fréchette assumes her duties as the first-ever UN Deputy Secretary-General.
April 29, 1998
- Canada signs the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, committing to cut its emissions to 6 per cent below 1990 levels by 2012.
- The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers is created, with Canada as a major funder.
May 11, 1998
- Canada and Norway negotiate the Lysoen Declaration as a way to engender international awareness of human security and map out an action plan to advance the objectives embodied in the human security agenda. This initiative gives rise to the Human Security Network.
October 8, 1998
- Canada is elected for a sixth term as a non-permanent member on the Security Council. Our stated goals include reform of the Council to make it more effective, transparent, and responsive to the concerns of member states, and focusing attention on the concept of human security.
- Canada plays a central role in the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), chairing a coalition, the "Like-Minded Group" that helps to motivate the wider international community to adopt the Rome Statute, the final text of the ICC. Canadian senior diplomat, Philippe Kirsch, chairs the committee that produces the final document in July 1998.
December 18, 1998
- Canada is the 14th country to sign the Rome Statute of the ICC.
March 23, 1999
- The Canadian House of Commons in Ottawa passes Motion M-239 in support of the Tobin Tax, by a vote of 164 to 83. The motion states: "in the opinion of the House, the government should enact a tax on financial transactions in concert with the international community."
March 24 – June 11, 1999
- NATO begins bombing Yugoslavia in Operation Allied Force with the intention of forcing Serbian troops and police out of Kosovo. The Canadian Air Force contributes 18 CF-18s. Canadian pilots fly 2,577 hours and perform 120 defensive counter-air escorts for Allied strikes, and 558 bombing strikes. Canadian bombing strikes comprise 10 percent of all air-to-ground strikes performed by NATO aircraft during this period.
- The Eighth Francophonie Summit is held in Moncton, New Brunswick. The final declaration places greater emphasis than previous declarations on peace and security, the protection of civilian populations and human rights.
- Canadian economist Herbert Grubel proposes the idea of a North American Monetary Union (NAMU). Although never endorsed officially by a federal political party, NAMU continues to stimulate policy discussions surrounding North American economic integration.
June 4-6, 2000
- Canada hosts the Organization of American States' General Assembly in Windsor, Ontario.
June 27-30, 2000
- Lloyd Axworthy, as the current Chair of the OAS General Assembly, goes to Peru alongside Former Colombian President and OAS Secretary General César Gaviria as part of the OAS High level mission to restore democracy in the country.
June 29, 2000
- Canada enacts the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, becoming the first country in the world to adopt comprehensive legislation implementing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
July 17, 2000
- Canada ratifies the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
- Canada launches the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. The Commission's final report, The Responsibility to Protect is presented to the UN in December 2001, offering principles to guide a timely international response to governments’ inadequate protection of their own citizens.
September 28, 2000
- Canada begins free trade talks with El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
October 17, 2000
- After a two-hour debate in the House of Commons, the government agrees to send Canadian peacekeepers to Ethiopia and Eritrea as part of the UN mission there. A 450-strong Canadian Forces contingent made a six-month commitment to help establish the international effort in the region, and the bulk of the troops returned home in June 2001. This Canadian presence includes armoured reconnaissance, mechanized infantry, an engineer troop, and support elements. Six Canada forces members part of a larger international UN force of Military Observers remain until 2003.