The Good Fight
540 pages, 6 x 9
32 b&w photos, 1 b&w insert, 1 b&w insert
Release Date:01 Nov 2019
Release Date:01 Nov 2019
Release Date:01 Nov 2019

The Good Fight

Marcel Cadieux and Canadian Diplomacy

UBC Press

Before official bilingualism was established in 1969, francophones were scarce in the Canadian public service. Marcel Cadieux was one of the few, becoming arguably the most important francophone diplomat and civil servant in Canadian history.

Brendan Kelly’s insightful, entertaining biography reveals a complex figure. Born in 1915 to a Montreal letter carrier who believed that “having a son in Ottawa is like having a daughter who is a prostitute,” Cadieux held the nationalist views of many young French Canadians in the 1930s. Yet he made the distinctly unconventional decision to join the Department of External Affairs in 1941. Against the backdrop of rising Quebec separatism and the Cold War, he headed the department from 1964 to 1970 and served as Canada’s first francophone ambassador to the United States from 1970 to 1975. Drawing on Cadieux’s unpublished diary – where this blunt, witty, strong-minded man was at his most unguarded – The Good Fight offers a unique window to domestic and foreign events and personalities whose legacies are still being debated.

Cadieux believed deeply in the dignity of public service, writing several books on this theme. The principles reflected in his career still speak eloquently to readers today, when professionalism and expertise are often undervalued.

This book will appeal not only to diplomatic and political historians and political scientists but also to diplomats, public servants, and other Canadians seeking a broader understanding of their country’s diplomatic history.


  • 2020, Winner - J.W. Dafoe Book Prize, J.W. Dafoe Foundation
This excellent biography should be required reading for foreign policy practitioners and academics alike. Kelly has deeply mined his primary sources in both official languages and has offered up a narrative that convincingly challenges some existing precepts of this period in Canadian diplomatic history. He offers us a convincing portrait of one of the greats in Canadian public service. In his Marcel Cadieux we see a selfless diplomat of firm and fearless skill, as well as a Canadian and Quebecois patriot deeply devoted to national unity. Through Brendan Kelly’s rendering, we also see Cadieux as the epitome of the human, networked, and connected diplomat. Peter Boehm, Senate of Canada, International Journal
[B]y centering the French-Canadian perspective and focusing on the figure of Marcel Cadieux, The Good Fight enriches our understanding of Canadian international history in the mid-twentieth century. David Meren, American Review of Canadian Studies
Une excellente biographie consacrée à un haut fonctionnaire francophone d’une grande valeur, d’une grande intégrité professionnelle, et dont la contribution fût marquante au service du Canada et qui, à certains égards, demeure toujours d’actualité.'

Jean-Pierre Juneau, Forum: Bulletin of Canadian Foreign Service

This is an excellent biography of one of Canada’s most important diplomats and civil servants during a pivotal period in Canada’s international affairs. Robin Gendron, Canadian Foreign Policy Journal
[An] absorbing political biography.'

Bruce K. Ward, Literary Review of Canada

Brendan Kelly has produced a sensitive and insightful study that is not just a masterful biography of a major Canadian decision maker, but also an exploration of relations between English and French Canada, the evolution of the Canadian public service and diplomatic corps, and the development of Canadian foreign policy. In his exhaustive research, Kelly has made use of new sources that change our perspective on a crucial era in Canadian history. This is an important work. Stephen Azzi, associate professor, Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management, Carleton University
Marcel Cadieux was arguably the most important francophone in the Department of External Affairs yet he is conspicuously absent from most studies of Canadian foreign relations. By highlighting the art of Cadieux’s diplomacy, Kelly’s book remedies this oversight while breaking new ground in our understanding of Ottawa–Quebec City relations and the inner workings of government. Michael Carroll, associate professor, Department of Humanities, MacEwan University
Brendan Kelly is a junior fellow at the Bill Graham Centre for Contemporary International History and teaches in Trinity College’s International Relations program at the University of Toronto. He is also the book review editor of International Journal. His publications cover such topics as Canada’s treaties with Indigenous peoples, Canada during the Second World War, and Canadian international history.


1 The Birth of a French Canadian Nationalist, 1915–41

2 Premières Armes: Ottawa, London, Brussels, 1941–47

3 The Making of a Diplomat and Cold Warrior, 1947–55

4 A Versatile Diplomat, 1955–63

5 Departmental Tensions: Cadieux, Paul Martin Sr., and Canadian Foreign Policy, 1963–68

6 A Lonely Fight: Countering France and the Establishment of Quebec’s “International Personality,” 1963–67

7 The National Unity Crisis: Resisting Quebec and France at Home and in la Francophonie, 1967–70

8 The Politician and the Civil Servant: Pierre Trudeau, Cadieux, and the DEA, 1968–70

9 Ambassadorial Woes: Washington, 1970–75

10 Final Assignments, 1975–81


Notes; Bibliography; Index

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