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Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute

Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute
File:CDFAI Logo 2012 - Vertical Colour.png
Abbreviation CDFAI
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Purpose To be a catalyst for innovative Canadian global engagement
Headquarters Suite 1600, 530 8th Ave. SW
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Formerly called
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The Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute (CDFAI) is an independent, non-partisan research institute based in Calgary with offices in Ottawa. Incorporated as a charitable organization in 2001, the institute pursues new ideas to focus the national debate and understanding of Canada’s international policies with the ultimate aim of ensuring a more globally engaged Canada. CDFAI believes that doing so enhances Canadian security and prosperity. CDFAI is dedicated to educating Canadians, and particularly those who have leadership roles in shaping Canadian foreign policy, about the importance of Canada being proactive in world affairs with tangible diplomatic, military and aid assets.

CDFAI's Fellows program brings together talented and experienced academics and practitioners with backgrounds in the defence, diplomacy and development. The Fellows support the institute by authoring research papers and responding to media queries. CDFAI also runs conferences and courses, initiates polling, and develops outreach and education projects.


The Dispatch

CDFAI produces a quarterly newsletter called The Dispatch. The Dispatch brings together CDFAI fellows to provide critical insight on international issues important to Canada in the world.

Papers and Research

The research that is undertaken by CDFAI through its Fellow program is designed to raise the level of knowledge and appreciation about issues of Canadian defence, foreign policy, development and international aid. The institute produces Research Papers, Policy Papers, Policy Updates, Country Studies, and periodical columns by distinguished Fellow Jack Granatstein and Vice-President Colin Robertson which are meant to give an introductory "need to know" overviews, from a Canadian perspective, of important world events.

Strategic Studies Working Group

The Strategic Studies Working Group (SSWG) is a partnership between the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute and the Canadian International Council (CIC), which incorporates the former Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies. The SSWG is administered by CDFAI which also conducts research and produces publications on security and defence issues on behalf of the partnership. All projects undertaken by the SSWG are first approved by CIC and are co-published or co e-published according to CIC standards.

The SSWG has begun to host E-Conferences on issues related to defence and security. The e-conferences are structured to take place over a number of weeks, with each week having a specific topic. The e-conferences include regular commentaries by academics and practitioners, Twitter Q&A's, live chats and major articles placed in national media.

  • The Future of Fighting conference focused on the what the Canadian Forces might look like in the coming decade to reflect the changing funding and combat environment.
  • The Drone Week conference was focused on understanding some of the practical, legal and moral questions surrounding the current use of drones and what future lies ahead for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The SSWG produces Research Papers which keep in line with the partnership's purpose of focusing on defence and security topics. The Strategic Profile Canada is a project which provides a comprehensive overview of Canada's demographic, economic and military information.[1]

3Ds Blog

The 3Ds Blog is a site managed by CDFAI and provides defence and security news from Canada and around the world. Blog updates are made by CDFAI fellows, the majority coming from Mark Collins.

Speakers Series

CDFAI organizes a speakers series which is annually themed on a specific topic of importance to Canadian defence and foreign affairs issues. The speaking events are held quarterly in Calgary and brings together business people, academics, and praticioners to listen to some of Canada's mosat important and influential thinkers. Former speakers include Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence; Michael Bell, former diplomat; and Yuen Pau Woo, president and CEO of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada among others.[2]


From 2002 to 2010 CDFAI hosted annual conferences in Ottawa around critical issues in Canadian defence and foreign policy. These conferences attracted high-calibre speakers, key policy makers, prominent academics, and a large number of the interested public.

Past Conferences:

  • Canada's Changing Role: The New Cold War and Canada's Place In The World
  • Trilateral Border Issues Symposium
  • SSWG e-Conference: Drone Week
  • Canada's National Strategic Relations: NATO & NORAD
  • Canada & The United States: What Does It Mean To Be Good Neighbours?
  • Canada as the “Emerging Energy Superpower”: Testing the Case
  • Foreign Policy Under a Conservative Government: An Interim Report Card
  • The World in Canada: Demographics, Diversity & Domestic Politics in Canadian Foreign Policy
  • Defining the National Interest
  • Changing Canadian Foreign Policy
  • Canada-US Strategic Partnership

Ross Munro Award

The Ross Munro Media Award was initiated, in 2002, by the Conference of Defence Associations, in concert with the Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. Its purpose is to recognize, annually, one Canadian journalist who has made a significant and outstanding contribution to the understanding, by the general public, of Canada’s defence and security issues. Submissions can be made in either of Canada’s official languages.

Previous Ross Munro Award Recipients[3][4]

Military Journalism Course

The Military Journalism Course was started in 2002 as a nine-day course which introduces university students to military journalism and the Canadian Armed Forces. The course is run in partnership with the Centre for Military and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary and includes a combination of media-military theory in a classroom setting, coupled with field visits to Armed Forces regular and reserve units. The stated goal of the program is to enhance the military education of future Canadian journalists who will report on Canadian military activities domestically and abroad. In 2007, the program introduced its first Francophone Military Journalism course held at the Université de Montréal and Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, near Québec City.[5]

Advisory Council

Fifteen advisors provide feedback on current and future programs.

Fellowship Program


CDFAI currently has one Senior Analyst to regularly provide commentary and analysis for Canadian and international media on issues surrounding defence, security and international relations.


Distinguished Alumni


CDFAI Fellows regularly provide expert commentary and analysis of ongoing international events in TV and print new media.[6]

CDFAI Vice-President Colin Robertson was named in Embassy Magazine 2012 edition of the “Top 80 Influencing Canada Foreign Policy”.[7]

The University of Pennsylvania has consistently ranked CDFAI in the top 5 of its list of Top Think Tanks in Canada, finishing 4th in 2012 and 5th in 2013 and 2014.[8][9][10]


External links