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

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

Select Publications

  1. Smith, Gordon 2011 "Global Leadership in Transition" The G8 and G20: What Relationship Now? In edited by Colin Bradford and Wonhyuk Lim The Brookings Institution
  2. 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
  3. Smith, Gordon 2007 "Canada in Afghanistan: Is it Working?" Canadian Defence and Foreign Affairs Institute March
  4. Smith, Gordon and Barry Carin 2005 "Reforming from the Top: a Leaders' G20 Summit" Making Change Happen at the Global Level. In edited by John English Ramesh Thakur and Andrew F Cooper Tokyo: United Nations University Press
  5. Smith, Gordon 2000 "Altered States: Globalization, Sovereignty and Governance" Ottawa: International Development Research Centre

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