Academic journal article Canadian Journal of History

Reconcilable Differences: A History of Canada-US Relations

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of History

Reconcilable Differences: A History of Canada-US Relations

Article excerpt

Reconcilable Differences: A History of Canada-US Relations, by Stephen Azzi. Don Mills, Oxford University Press, 2013. xvii, 301 pp. $59-95 Cdn (paper).

Twelve narrative chapters take us from the American Revolution to the end of Paul Martin's government in 2006, with a short conclusion. Each chapter contains several discrete themed sections (thus, "Brian Mulroney and the Americans," "Dismantling the Nationalist Legacy," "Free Trade," "Acid Rain") followed by a brief "Summary," questions for further (class?) discussion, and a useful "Further Reading" section. The book combines coverage of political and inter-state issues with that of Canadian social and economic trends. It is written from the perspective that anglophone Canadians are, and always have been, very much like Americans outside the South, that Canadian leaders have best advanced their country's interests by pursuing good relations in Washington, and that more "often than not ... a cooperative ... negotiated settlement [best] serves the interests of both sides" (p. 265).

There is much that one can endorse and approve. For instance Azzi stresses the relationships successive Canadian Prime Ministers since Mackenzie King have had with US Presidents and he doubts whether, without Mulroney's connections to the White House, "Canada would have entered into a comprehensive free trade agreement" with the US (p. 266). In a book of this size, it may be harsh to regret the absence of other things. But some of Azzi's themes require a more quantitative treatment: how did Canadian trade with and investment from the US compare, over time, with that with Britain, and with estimated Canadian GDP? Also though Azzi cites John Turner's 1988 claim that "We built a country east and west and north" with "an infrastructure that deliberately resisted the continental pressure of the United States" (p. 218), he does not mention such major elements in this process as the Crowsnest Freight Rate, the monopsony of the Canadian Wheat Board, federal establishment and support of Trans-Canada Airlines/Air Canada, or the Trans-Canada Highway. …

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