A former Canadian diplomat, Colin Robertson is Vice President and Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute and host of CGAI’s Global Exchange regular podcast. He is Executive Fellow at the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) at Carleton University. A member of the Department of National Defence’s Defence Advisory Board, he is also is an Honorary Captain (Royal Canadian Navy) assigned to the Strategic Communications Directorate.
Living in Ottawa, Robertson focuses on Canadian global policies. He writes and speaks on international affairs for various media including the Globe and Mail and Policy Magazine. The Hill Times has named him as one of those that influence Canadian foreign policy.
Robertson sits on the advisory councils of the Alphen Group, Johnson-Shoyama School of Public Policy, North American Research Partnership, the Sir Winston Churchill Society of Ottawa. He is a member of the Deputy Minister of International Trade’s NAFTA Advisory Council.
Robertson was a senior advisor to Dentons US LLP (formerly McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP) from 2010-2018 working for most of the time with the Business Council of Canada (formerly Canadian Council of Chief Executives). He served (2009-2016) on the board, of Canada World Youth, including as chair and vice-chair. He is a long-time member and former president (2009-11) of the National Capital Branch of the Canadian International Council. Robertson is a former member of Carleton’s President’s Advisory Council and a current member of the NPSIA Advisory Council. He is honorary chair of the Canada Arizona Business Council. He is a member of the Retired Heads of Mission Association. He served on the board and then advisory council of the Conference of Defence Associations Institute 2010=2019.
A career foreign service officer from 1977-2010, he served as first Head of the Advocacy Secretariat and Minister at the Canadian Embassy in Washington and Consul General in Los Angeles, with previous assignments as Consul and Counsellor in Hong Kong and in New York at the UN and Consulate General. In his final assignment he directed a project at Carleton University’s Centre for Trade Policy and Law with the support of the Federal and Provincial Governments and the private sector on Canada-US Engagement. A member of the team that negotiated the Canada-US FTA and NAFTA, he is co-author of Decision at Midnight: The Inside Story of the Canada-US FTA (1996).
Robertson has taught at Carleton University, Queen’s University Public Executive Program, Canadian National Defence College, the Canada School of Public Service and the Canadian Foreign Service Institute. Robertson is co-editor of Diplomacy in the Digital Age: Essays in honour of Ambassador Allan Gotlieb (2011).
Robertson served as president of the Historica Foundation. He was editor of bout de papier: Canada’s Journal of Foreign Service and Diplomacy and president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers.
Robertson was awarded the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle (2016), Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012), Alberta Centennial Medal (2005), the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal (2006), the Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association ‘Friend of the Industry’ (2004) and the distinguished alumnus award from the University of Manitoba (2004).
Robertson was given the “Hot Potato Award” for helping to increase collaboration between U.S. and Canada organizations and stakeholders at the 2012 Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) Summit.
Robertson was awarded a commendation by the Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy in 2019 for his strategic communications work.
His smartest decision was marrying his wife Maureen Boyd, a Vancouverite, former journalist and communications consultant. They have three children, Allison, Sean and Conor. Robertson reads voraciously, runs, swims, cycles and cross-country skis. A series of what Lemony Snicket would describe as ‘unfortunate circumstances’ have left him with low vision. This has obliged him to give up tennis, a sport he enjoyed but played badly.
Colin can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-6191867.