Post World War Two Canada- notes



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Post World War Two Canada- Notes

Canada’s Role on the International Stage

1945- Canada is one of the world wealthiest nations

- King wins his final election in 1945 and will stay in power until Louis St. Laurent becomes Canada’s next PM in 1948

-after the initial post-war turmoil- Canada settles into a era of prosperity -GNP has doubled since the start of the war

-Population grows by 1.7 million (war brides, refugees, D.P.’s)

King still wanted to preserve Canada’s fundamental character

Limited immigration laws to white and Christian preferably northern European-blocking Arabs, Asians and Jews where possible (book- Strangers at the Door)

-The baby boom starts –12 million to 18 million (1946-61)

-Suburbia is created – consumer society is created by TV

-Average family has 4 kids

-between 1945-60 Canada grows very wealthy by supplying natural resources to the US (trees, oil from Alta, hydro)

- 1948 Louis St. Laurent (Lib.) replaces King as PM-1948-57

-Europe and Asia are once again on the brink of bankruptcy


Canada and the Cold War


-Canada is militarily strong with the third largest navy and fourth largest air force in the world

Canada and the US are closer than ever before afterWWII:

-Odensburg Agreement 1940- Permanent Joint Defence of North America and the Hyde Park Agreement 1941- Coordinated war effort for production.

-Canada was an important ally during WWII and a future ally to the US in the upcoming Cold War

-1945 Igor Gouzenko (a clerk in the Soviet Embassy) defects with proof of a Soviet spy ring in Canada, the US and Britain. Spies are found in the Dep’t of External Affairs, British High Commission and an MP in the Labour-Progressive Party- Fred Rose (Canadian Communist Party) he is convicted of espionage for six years. There are also moles in the US State Department

-The Soviets want the technology for the A-bomb

-Churchill coins the phrase an “Iron Curtain had descended on Europe”–an ominous wall of silence between the two WWII allies

-The Cold War was a 40 year conflict using propaganda, espionage, economic and political pressure rather than full-scale war with nuclear weapons (arms race)

-both the US and USSR divided up the globe after the war into an East vs West struggle (Communist vs. Democratic)

-Stalin is extremely paranoid and the USSR is aggressively expansionist to include as many satellite states as possible in its “sphere of influence” by economic or military means. The US spent the post-war period in witch hunts looking for suspected communists. Louis St. Laurent reminded Canadians that such tactics were trademarks of a dictatorship not a democracy.

The US and Canada helped to rebuild war-torn Europe through the Marshall Plan which spent $13.5 billion in economic aid to get western allies “back on their feet” (1948-53) -of which Canada spent $706 million on food and equipment –Soviets wanted a weakened Europe. The US also took control of many areas of the Pacific and Central America mainly by economic means. The “Truman Doctrine’s” goal was to contain the spread of communism.

-1949- Canada joins the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) a defensive military alliance of western nations created to slow Soviet expansion. Louis St.Laurent is instrumental in NATO’s creation (as Min. of External Affairs and then PM)

-12 original members – today there are 16+ members pg.297

- was Canada a “lap dog” of American or was it in position to have a say as part of an alliance?

-Soviets create an alliance of satellite states known as the Warsaw Pact in 1955 in response to NATO because they had been invaded twice in the 21st century by western powers

1957- Canada joins in the North American Air Defence System (NORAD) to help protect N. America from aerial nuclear attack bombers -three lines of radar defence – Pine tree, Mid-Canada and Distant Early Warning or DEW line.


Canada as a Middle Power


Canada assume the role of a “middle power”- “moderate mediatory middle power” in the post war era. Not a superpower but wealthy enough to have an influence.

“Being a middle power is like bragging about being a C- student” -From Why I Hate Canadians

1944-United Nations-is created as a place where nations can solve conflicts peacefully-UN Charter was drafted at Dumbarton Oaks before the end of war. The UN is founded in April 1945 in San Francisco-had 51 original delegates- today more than 150-pg 290

-The Universal Declaration of Human Rights were drafted by a Canadian - John Humphrey

“All humans beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” Article 1 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

- The UN goals are to: 1)promote international peace and security 2)provide a forum for international debate 3)assist economic, social and cultural development 4)expand basic human freedoms. Every member nation has a seat in the General Assembly of the UN in New York- they meet yearly to discuss issues of global concern. The Security Council has 15 member – ten elected for two year terms. The “Big Five” USSR, USA, Britain, China and France are permanent members of the Security Council -have veto power on any peacekeeping force actions and often they will not agree on actions and use veto power. The UN has an International Court of Justice at The Hague in the Netherlands. Other council include UNICEF, WHO, UNESCO, GATT (pg.291)

1950-53 Korean War

-first true test of the UN’s powers

-Korea is split after WWII into North (Soviet controlled) and South (US controlled). North Korea invades (over the 38th parallel) South Korea with 100,000 troops armed with Soviet weapons. A U.N. “police action” is demanded by the US to this aggression and a force is sent in to stop the invasion – 16 countries come to the aid of the US led operation. Soviets were boycotting the Security Council.

Canada sends 3 battleships and air support and eventually troops who are armed with American made equipment, tactics and training (symbolic shift from British).

-North Koreans are almost successful until a major offensive at Inchon is led by General Douglas MacArthur that pushes them back. Red China under Mao throws hundreds of thousands Chinese troops into the war and the US debates using nuclear weapons- 3 million die in war. In 1953 a ceasefire is declared with the border being the 38th parallel. 30,000 Canadians served in war - Costs 1,550 casualties and 516 deaths

Suez Crisis –1956

1860’s – French construct Suez Canal (British invested heavily) to link Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea for trade (link to India and Arab oil). In 1955 British and French troops withdraw from Canal Zone and Egyptian leader Gamal Nasser seizes it because it is in Egyptian territory. Britain and France make a secret pact with Israel to invade Canal Zone and they then orders a withdrawl of troops to keep the area free for international trade. Egypt doesn’t comply and BR and FR begin to bomb canal zone- both US and USSR agree to condemn this attack (USSR threaten to bomb London and Paris). Canada is asked for support by BR and is told that Canada’s first obligation is to the UN Charter (more symbolism). Louis St. Laurent (PM) sends Lester Pearson- Canada’s top diplomat and former president of the UN General Assembly to step in and argues for the creation of a UN peacekeeping force to position themselves between warring factions and impose a ceasefire. Nasser rejects Canadian troops because they wear Union Jacks on uniform (when Pearson becomes PM he insists on a new “Canadian” uniform and new flag). Pearson wins the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 – St. Laurent takes the heat for turning his back on Canada’s two founding nations. Canada has been used in 40 UN- sanctioned peacekeeping missions and six non-sanctioned peacekeeping mission in the last half century. 1% of the world’s population has provided 10% of the world’s peacekeeping forces

Canada’s peacekeepers have served all over the world.


Canada In the 1950-60’s


Unlike WWI Canada prospers after WWII (after a little turmoil).Troops return from war to a cheap land, free education, low interest rates and plenty of work. This new wealth leads to political and labour stability and the good life.

-40 hour work week-good wages-two weeks annual vacation

-the idea of Medicare is introduced –passed 1968

-Unemployment Insurance 1945

-Family Allowance 1944

-Old Age Security 1951

Queen Elizabeth II is coronated in 1953

The middle class now has a disposable income for cars, TV’s, kitchen appliances. The average family has four kids (no birth control quite yet). Influence of the church is decreasing

Canada is in the forefront of many international conflicts as a mediator. Canada is well protected defensively. The Cuban Missile Crisis scares many Canadians because of brinkmanship by Kennedy and Khrushchev.

The 1960’s see the influence of the baby boomers protesting the war in Vietnam. 10,000 Canadian will go off to Vietnam-32,000 American draft dodgers to come to Canada. 500 Canadian firms supply war materials (napalm, Agent Orange) Pearson questions Johnson’s tactics.

American influence continues to impact on Canada both economically and culturally through TV (fashion, music, radio

A movement starts to protect Canadian Culture. The Canada Council and CRTC are created (30% Canadian content of broadcast) and a new CBC TV promotes Canadian culture.



The Quiet Revolution

Union Nationale comes to power in Quebec under Maurice Duplessis in 1936. He is a strong authoritarian leader who has strong ties to business and is anti-labour, he supports foreign business investment and maintaining French culture and the Roman Catholic church in Quebec. Quebec workers are under paid and treated like 2nd class citizens. In 1959 Duplessis dies and the Quiet Revolution begins to bring reform to Quebec. The 1960’s prove to be a decade of change on many levels because of the “baby boom” generation reaching voting age and declaring their independence. The attitudes of the time demand social change (rebellion, anti-authoritarian, well educated, Peace Movement, Civil Rights etc.). Quebec wants equality.

Jean Lesage and the Quebec Liberals come to power and the idea of “La Survivance” (survival) begins with the slogan “Maitres chez nous” (masters in our own house). Lesage moves towards a secular society that hopes to advance French-speaking Quebecois and the idea of “deux nations” (French and English Canada). An extremist group (Front du Liberation du Quebec) begin a terrorist campaign to drive out English Canadians from Quebec by bombing many federal sites. “Independence or Death”.

1963- Lester Pearson’s government sets up Bilingualism and Biculturalism Royal Commission to study the issue and it finds that Quebeckers need assurance that they are among equals. In 1968 Pierre Trudeau becomes PM (Trudeaumania for a “hip” young intellectual) he is a French speaking federalist who takes on the challenge of a separatist movement led by Rene Levesque and others. In 1969 Trudeau’s government passes the Official Languages Act to entitle French speakers to be educated and tried in a court of law in French. In 1970 “The October Crisis” shakes Quebec when the FLQ abduct James Cross and Pierre Laporte and eventually murder Laporte. The premier Robert Bourassa asks the federal government for help, Trudeau invokes the War Measures Act to maintain”peace and security”. The crisis is bought to an end quickly.



In 1974 Quebec passes Bill 22 and Bill 101 to make French the official language of Quebec and maintain a strong French culture. In 1976 the Parti Quebecois under Levesques becomes the government of Quebec and are elected on a promise of a referendum on Quebec independence or “sovereignty-association” which would give Quebec control of many traditional “federal responsibilities” (ex. immigration, taxes, social policies etc.) In 1980 Referendum Day results are a 60% “No” vote. In 1982 Canada’s constitution is patriated without the agreement of then Quebec’s premier Levesque. In 1987 at Meech Lake Mulroney gets Quebec to sign the accord with Quebec being recognized as a “distinct society” within Canada - but the accord is never ratified by all the other provinces.
Trudeau and Multiculturalism

During the 1960’s Diefenbaker had finally thrown out the old racial immigration policies and quotas of Mackenzie King.

Canada had opened up the country to people of all ethnic races and backgrounds. In 1971 the Multicultural Act was passed by the Trudeau Government. This Act put an emphasis on equality of all “cultural and ethnic groups”. Canadians took pride in being a nation that had an immigration policy that put an emphasis on education and skills rather than race. Immigrants were evaluated on what they had to offer Canada- immigrants were “pulled” to Canada looking for a better life. Refugees were taken in to Canada because they were fleeing or being “pushed” away from persecution or war. In 1971 it was the first time the majority of immigrants who came to Canada were not of European ancestry. Canada was becoming multicultural and the Canadian nation was moving in a new direction that would allow for a more diverse Canada that gave greater recognition to all its ethnic groups.



Canada’s Foreign Policy Takes a New Direction

As Trudeau dealt with the “Canadian Unity” issue at home he led Canada towards a foreign policy that was less dependent on U.S. approval. Canada recognized the People’s Republic of China in 1970 and began to encourage ties with many nations to promote trade and “aid” with the developing world and to open lines of communication with potential adversaries that the U.S. didn’t approve of (ex Cuba). Canada’s role as a middle power increased in importance as the Cold War intensified again in the 1980’s. Under Trudeau Canada lessened defence spending and removed nuclear weapons from its soil completely by 1984 (under Mulroney). Although Canada remained involved in NORAD and NATO for defence it also promoted trade and mutual respect for all nations –rich and poor- and the need for social and economic development of all nations. Brian Mulroney comes to power (in 1984-93) he works hard to re-establish a strong relationship (free trade as a focal point) with the U.S. and President Ronald Reagan. In the late 1980’s and early 1900’s Mikhail Gorbachev introduces “glasnost” in the Eastern bloc that eventually leads to the end to the Cold War. Jean Chretien come to power (in 1993) and Canada saw its role within the United Nations peacekeeping forces increase in places like Africa (Somalia and Rwanda), the former Yugoslavia, and the Persian Gulf.



As the Twenty-first century begins Canada finds itself dealing with issues around its involvement within the United Nations, its relationship with the United States and how a new era of “globalization” can benefit both Canada and its trading partners.


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