The CIC and Canadian Middle East Policy: October 1973-- December 1988
The official Canadian response to the October 1973 War was typical of Canada's traditional aloofness toward the Middle East and its conflicts. In marked contrast certainly to the Americans, but also to many of its Western European allies, the Canadian government responded to the outbreak of hostilities with a discernible indifference ( Taras 1983). This indifference has been attributed to several factors. Canadians were preoccupied with a rapidly declining national economy, a minority Parliament, and all but imminent federal elections. Moreover, there was a widely held perception of Canada's limited capacity to influence events in the Middle East and an expressed desire on the part of Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to move Canada away from traditional internationalism and toward enhanced bilateralism ( Dewitt and Kirton 1983a, 68-75, 387-98; Kirton 1978). Also contributing to the Canadian government's limited response to the Arab- Israeli War was the fact that most decision makers were convinced that Israel "would win as quick and as decisive a victory as she had done in 1967" ( Taras 1983, 306).
Parliament was not in session when the war began on October 6, 1973. No suggestion was made to cut short the prime minister's state visit to the Orient or to bring Parliament back into emergency session. When the House of Commons reconvened on October 15, the war was already into its second week. Regardless of large scale superpower intervention in the conflict, there was "no visible manifestation of crisis" among Canadian parliamentarians ( Taras 1983, 311).