Robert Robertson

Robert Robertson

Gordon Robertson, also known as R.G. Robertson, was a key participant (as a very young an junior member of External Affairs) in the discussions and development of policy for the exile of Japanese Canadians. b. 1917, served in the Prime Minister’s Office (1941-48), Privy Council Office (1948-53). In August 1943 Gordon was tasked with preparing the post-war Japanese Canadian policy memorandum for under Norman A. Robertson’s direction. Went on to a distinguished career in pulic service. Bothwell describes him as the "most influential public servant of his day." In the 1960s and 1970s he was the Clerk of the Privy Council, the highest civil service position. See
He is the author of many important memos on the postwar policy, including drafting the memorandum was presented by Mackenzie King in the House of Commons on 4 August 1944. (House of Commons Debates, 19th Parliament, 5th Session : Vol. 6, p. 5915-17) Robertson describes the development of this policy in his autobiography Memoirs of a Very Civil Servant: MacKenzie King to Pierre Trudeau. It seems that Gordon continued to relate Japanese Canadian issues to MacKenzie King. Gordon’s fonds contain his personal reflections relating to the development of the Claims Commission, as well as the minutes and memorandum from the related Cabinet Committee meetings. (MG31 E87)


Regularized NameRobert Robertson


Readers of these historical materials will encounter derogatory references to Japanese Canadians and euphemisms used to obscure the intent and impacts of the internment and dispossession. While these are important realities of the history, the Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective urges users to carefully consider their own terminological choices in writing and speaking about this topic today as we confront past injustice. See our statement on terminology, and related sources here.