Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Dancing around the Elephant: Creating a Prosperous Canada in an Era of American Dominance, 1957-1973

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Dancing around the Elephant: Creating a Prosperous Canada in an Era of American Dominance, 1957-1973

Article excerpt

Bruce Muirhead, Dancing around the Elephant: Creating a Prosperous Canada in an Era of American Dominance, 1957-1973 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2007), 360pp. Cased. £42. ISBN 978-0-8020-9016-4.

Since the Second World War, Canada's economy has become increasingly dominated by that of its southern neighbour, the United States. During the 1960s Canadian nationalists alleged that the continentalist Liberal governments of Lester Pearson had 'sold out' Canada to the United States in contrast to the nationalist Progressive Conservative governments of John Diefenbaker.

Using the records of federal bureaucrats and politicians, Bruce Muirhead seeks to challenge this view. He finds that despite Diefenbaker's initial pro-British rhetoric, he was soon forced to face economic reality and to negotiate with the United States. Furthermore, Muirhead shows that far from selling out Canada, Pearson adopted a tough negotiating stance with his American counterparts. For example, the Auto Pact of 1965 benefited the Canadian motor car manufacturing industry more than its American equivalent.

From the late 1960s there was surging anti-Americanism in Canada, which was accompanied by growing support for economic nationalist policies. During the same time the American economy entered a difficult period of economic re-adjustment in response to the unsustainable cost of the war in Indochina. The economic relationship between Canada and the United States became increasingly fraught as the latter struggled to stabilise its economy. Pierre Trudeau, Pearson's successor as prime minister, embraced the Third Option, the reduction of Canada's economic dependence on the United States through the diversification of its foreign economic relationships. …

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