A political science graduate of McGill University (B.A.) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph.D.), Gordon Smith became interested in international security and global interdependence while attending university in the United States during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. After graduation, Gordon returned to Canada to work on these issues, and began a long and distinguished career as a public servant with the federal government.
Initially, Gordon worked on Canada’s relationship with NATO and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) within the Ministry of Defence and Department of External Affairs, but he quickly advanced to more demanding positions in the Privy Council Office. In 1979, Gordon became the deputy under-secretary of state at External Affairs, and in 1985, deputy minister. Shortly thereafter, he was dispatched to Brussels as the permanent representative and ambassador to the Canadian delegation to NATO, and subsequently, was named Canada’s ambassador to the European Union.
Returning to Canada in 1994, Gordon was appointed deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, where he fondly remembers establishing a global issues bureau in the ministry to better understand emerging transnational trends affecting Canada. During this time, Gordon began his personal involvement with the G7/G8, as the Sherpa (personal representative) for the prime minister at the G7/G8 summits in Halifax, Lyon and Denver.
After retiring from the Government of Canada that same year, Gordon joined the University of Victoria as executive director of the Centre for Global Studies (CFGS), and was appointed chair of the board of governors at the International Development Research Centre. During this period, he also lectured as a visiting professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the University of Westminster in London and Paris.
After collaborating with the think tank for many years on various projects, Gordon joined CIGI in 2010 as a distinguished fellow, and has since been a key contributor to its G20 research activities, events and publications. His current work focuses on the convergence of technology and global affairs, as he leads CIGI’s project on the future of Internet governance (you can follow Gordon on Twitter @GordonSmithG20). Gordon is also the Deputy Chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance.
Notable Media & Presentations
- Smith, Gordon (2010). “Don’t turn back from the Summit,” Ottawa Citizen. June 25.
- Smith, Gordon (2010). “The last thing we need is a G12 competing with a G8,” The Globe and Mail. July 9.
- Smith, Gordon, Barry Carin and Peter Heap (2009). “Reaching a new global climate pact requires a body with authority and broad representation: the Group of 20,” South China Morning Post. October 23.
- Walkom, Thomas (2007). “Maybe Layton was right about Afghanistan,” The Toronto Star. March 17.
- Smith, Gordon (2000). “Globalization in a World of Bad Governance,” The Globe and Mail. April.
- Smith, Gordon (2011). “The G8 and G20: What Relationship Now?” In Global Leadership in Transition, edited by Colin Bradford and Wonhyuk Lim. The Brookings Institution.
- Smith, Gordon, Paul Heinbecker, Barry Carin and Ramesh Thakur (2010). Making the G20 Summit Process Work: Some Proposals for Improving Effectiveness and Legitimacy. CIGI G20 Paper. No 2.
- Smith, Gordon (2007). Canada in Afghanistan: Is it Working? Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute. March.
- Smith, Gordon and Barry Carin (2005). “Making Change Happen at the Global Level.” In Reforming from the Top: a Leaders’ G20 Summit, edited by John English, Ramesh Thakur and Andrew F. Cooper. Tokyo: United Nations University Press.
- Smith, Gordon (2000). Altered States: Globalization, Sovereignty and Governance. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre.
In the News
- Attendees impressed with Xi Jinping's keynote speech at WIC, eNCA, December 17, 2015
- Nu begynder det globale slag om fremtidens internet, Claus Kragh, Mandag Morgen (Article in Danish), February 10, 2014
- Independent commission to investigate future of internet after NSA revelations, Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, January 22, 2014