The Ambiguous Champion is the first comprehensive and critical study of Canadian foreign policy towards South Africa. Linda Freeman challenges the conventional belief that successive Canadian governments took the high road, leading the international struggle against apartheid. She shows that Canadian policy, like the policy of other Western states, was complex, ambiguous, and contradictory. Freeman's approach offers an alternative understanding of the forces shaping Canadian foreign policy.
Legend has it that Canadian prime ministers, from Diefenbaker to Mulroney, led the way in the international campaign against the apartheid state in South Africa. Yet before Mulroney came to power, except on a few occasions in the Commonwealth, Canadian prime ministers did little to support the anti-apartheid cause. While Mulroney did significantly better, invoking concrete economic sanctions and tackling Margaret Thatcher's policies within the Commonwealth, the actions of his government were compromised and limited; the claims made for it excessive. The state championed a cause, but followed through in a highly ambiguous way. Central to the explanation is an exploration of the impact of influence groups, especially those within the private sector, on the formation of state policy. Attention is also given to the role churches, trade unions, universities, anti-apartheid groups, and the media played in calling for a stronger Canadian policy against apartheid.
Awarded the Harold Adams Innis Prize 1998-999.