What Embassies Do?

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Canadian embassies are oriented towards economic issues. According to a 1981 article, “embassy program staff spend more time on trade and industrial development matters (25 percent of time for all programs) than on any other concern (immigration, diplomatic relations and public affairs are distant second, third and fourth priorities).”

In many poorer countries Canadian embassies play a particularly active role promoting mining investment. According to Africa’s Blessing, Africa’s Curse: The Legacy of Resource Extraction in Africa, “Canadian diplomatic missions in Africa spend much of their time making sure that mining companies and host governments are brought together and the companies are much praised by Canadian officials.” In addition to arranging meetings between local politicians and Canadian businesses, Canadian missions organize conferences and lobby local governments for mining sector reform.

Diplomats also make the case for Canada.  In Branding Canada Evan, Potter writes, “ambassadors spend large portions of their working days giving speeches to local business audiences, universities, and service clubs, in support of strategic communication objectives. There are also other information programs, such as sponsoring and hosting seminars … as well as publishing mission newsletters and managing the mission website.” As early as 1879 the High Commission in London advertised Canada in Britain.