Hillmer is author or editor of more than 20 books on Canadian history and politics, most dealing with Canadian foreign, defence and trade policy. For Hillmer, Canada's international policies are interwoven with domestic politics and national identity, and are far too complicated to be forced into a single model or paradigm. For Better or For Worse: Canada and the United States into the Twenty-First Century (1991, 2007) and Empire to Umpire: Canada and the World into the 21st Century, both co-authored with J.L. GRANATSTEIN, portray Canada and the United States as both rivals and partners, with a relationship characterized by conflict and cooperation.
Hillmer has argued against the notion of Canadians as instinctively anti-American, most notably in Canada's International Policies: Agendas, Alternatives, and Politics (2008), co-authored with Brian W. Tomlin and Fen Osler Hampson. Instead, Hillmer has emphasized the interdependence of Canada and the US and has described Canadians as living in the contradiction between their wish for independence and their desire for the benefits of cultural, economic and military integration with the United States.
Hillmer's work also seeks to understand Canada's early twentieth-century connection with Great Britain, and her empire. He has written extensively on O.D. Skelton, the founder of the modern Department of External Affairs who sought independence from Britain at a time when few Canadians supported the idea.
Author STEPHEN AZZI