THE TRADITIONAL Anglo - Canadian theory that diplomacy is a gentleman’s avocation rather than an intellectual’s career has been listing badly since the introduction of competitive civil service examinations shortly after (some say because of) World War I. Now, in Canada at any rate, a new school of thought — in fact two new schools — threatens to send it to the bottom once and for all.
The old theory had its origins in England where generations of inspired amateurs progressed from Knightsbridge through Eton and Oxford to don their pin-striped trousers and take command of the ship of state. (In Canada, with more egalitarian latitude, the line ran roughly from Rosedale through UCC, Trinity College and on to an Oxbridge accolade.) The principal qualifications were an innate conviction of social superiority garnished by smatterings of Burke, Macaulay, Gibbon and (perhaps) Plato.
An extension of the theory was that any attempt to teach people how to be public servants — particularly in the field of international affairs — was not only crude but academically disreputable. Even now most of the political science departments of Canada’s major universities concern themselves more with history and economics than with the basic problems of political administration and foreign relations.
Now two distinguished veterans of Canada’s External Affairs department are out to change all this. Both are career men who overcame the disadvantages of the old system and are fully aware of the modern-day necessity for fully trained professional diplomats. At Ottawa’s Carleton University Norman A. Robertson (UBC and Oxbridge), 61-year-old former ambassador to the U. S. and twice Canadian high commissioner in London, takes over this fall as head of Canada’s first graduate school of International Affairs. At Toronto’s York University Escott Reid (Trinity and Oxford), 60year-old former ambassador to Western Germany, is busily drafting blueprints for an undergraduate arts college that will specialize in grooming students for responsible posts in the public service — national and international.
The Carleton school, founded with
the help of a $400,000 grant from Senator Norman Paterson, offers an intensive two-year course leading to a Master’s degree. To begin with it will be restricted to 20 hand-picked students. Eventually, of course, Carleton will be the natural step up for graduates of Reid's proposed Glendon College. ( Although the schools interlock perfectly, they are the result of separate ideas.)
The graduate school grew out of a cocktail-party conversation between Robertson and Carleton’s president, Davidson Dunton, three or four years ago. Both agreed the absence of a high-level training ground for civil servants and diplomats was a serious educational gap. Robertson was the first person Dunton approached when Paterson’s grant made the project a definite possibility.
When Robertson accepted. Dunton and other Carleton officials couldn't hide their smugness. The appointment won editorial plaudits across the country. The Winnipeg Free Press praised Carleton for its “initiative in areas that more timid institutions have been hesitant to touch” and added that “Robert-
son, in his own person, virtually assures the success of the university's new graduate school.”
One of the most attractive aspects of the job for a man like Robertson is Carleton's location — only three miles south of Parliament Hill. He'll be able to tap a rich pool of nearby experts to give lectures and lead discussions. Already lined up as visiting professors: historian Frank H. Underhill and Dr. R. A. MacKay, former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations. Robertson himself will co-ordinate the overall program and conduct the main seminar sessions. At the same time he will continue as a special consultant to External Affairs. His last official posting was as Canada’s chief negotiator at the Kennedy-round tariff conference in Geneva.
The Carleton course will be patterned to some extent on the publicaffairs program offered at New York’s Columbia University. But Dunton feels the school w'ill be unique in Canada with its graduate-level approach, the scope of its academic subject matter and its proximity to the upper echelons of power.
“We hope to emulate Columbia's quality even if we can't match their size,” says Dunton. “Naturally, the qualifications for entry to the graduate school will be extremely severe.”
Any suggestion that the school will be churning out a steady stream of brilliant but narrow-minded, pin-striped automatons raises Dunton’s normally well-groomed hackles. The school is intended for journalists, businessmen and teachers as well as for prospective diplomats, he insists. This broadness of concept is shared by Reid, who hopes to make skill in the use and appreciation of the English and French languages the main foundation for Glendon College’s emphasis on public affairs. As Reid foresees it. only a small proportion of the college’s graduates may actually want to
become politicians or civil servants.
“But I also hope that almost all the graduates, whatever their walk of life, would have a deep and abiding interest in public affairs and particularly in the domestic and foreign affairs of Canada.” he says.
Despite their reservations. Robertson and Reid are opening up a new road to Ottawa — a road that runs from Central High School through Glendon and Carleton. And in a complex world growing increasingly weary of amateurs, it’s a road that few of our future men in Crisisville can afford to bypass. DOUGLAS MARSHALL and
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