With Friends like These: Entangled Nationalisms in the Canada-Quebec-France Triangle, 1945-1970

By McKercher, Asa | British Journal of Canadian Studies, July 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

With Friends like These: Entangled Nationalisms in the Canada-Quebec-France Triangle, 1945-1970


McKercher, Asa, British Journal of Canadian Studies


History David Meren, With Friends Like These: Entangled Nationalisms in the Canada-Quebec-France Triangle, 1945-1970 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2012), 372 pp. Cased. $90. ISBN 978-0-7748-2224-4. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-7748-2225-1.

Simply put, David Meren has produced a marvellous book. Based on research conducted in Ottawa, Paris and Quebec City, as well as a vast range of secondary literature, With Friends Like These is an exemplar of the new international histor y and should ser ve as a model for Canadian international historians. By fully delving into the Canada-France- Quebec triangle Meren has put this odd relationship into context. Indeed, in the book he endeavours to 'put de Gaulle in his place' (p. 5), by explaining how the General came to stand on a Montreal balcony, proclaim the need for Quebec's independence, and thus brazenly interfered in the internal affairs of a close ally, one which had twice fought for French freedom in the twentieth century. Contextualising the incident is both important and intriguing.

The key to answering the question of how France and Canada drifted from allies to adversaries - chiefly, though not exclusively, on the issue of Quebec - stems, Meren shows, from a shared Franco-Canadian fear of American domination. Seeking to safeguard France, de Gaulle took an independent line in Europe; as Meren shows, he also took the line that an independent Quebec was the only way to safeguard the Québécois from absorption from the South. Oddly enough, he thought that his policy would aid the Canadians out of a belief that Quebec's independence would lead to a stiffening of Canada's spine and prompt Canadians to stand up to Uncle Sam. French policy - or at least the General's policy - toward Canada reflected the broader Gaullist challenge to US hegemony. …

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