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Canada’s Role in Cold War

by Suleman
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Background of Cold War

In order to succeed in this competitive and political environment, numerous countries around the world are making an untiring attempt to cope with rivalry. Different facets and incidents have brought considerable significance to the political experience of the world in this regard. In this article, we would attempt to address one of the most significant developments in history, the Cold War, which affected the lives of millions of citizens and the world’s superpowers. We will attempt, in specific, to explore, investigate, and interpret numerous Cold War incidents that were relevant to Canada. Afterwards, we will attempt to address the role played by Canada during the Cold War era.

After the World War I, the rivalry and hostility were developing their roots among the regions of the United States and USSR. In October 1917, the ouster of the Russian government occurred, and subsequently, the Russian leader Vladimir Lenin decided to call back his troops from the war. In the year 1918, the United States of America supported by Canada, the Great Britain, Japan, and France interfered with the militaries of the Vladimir Lenin in Russia. The above mentioned countries made intervention to avert collapse against Germany, but Russian premier Lenin and his colleagues considered such intervention as an assault on Russia, which was highly offended by his government.

Canada’s Role in Cold War

The United States, Canada, and the European countries were aggrieved about the Russia’s new government.  They showed their concerns against the capitalism and conversion of the local communist parties into an international campaign. Later on, the Union of Society Socialist Republic (USSR) was converted into the Federal Union of Russia and its adjoining areas were brought under the Communist control. However, the United States of America did not recognize the Soviet State until 1933.[1]

The differences between the United States and the USSR worsen in the regime of Russian leader Joseph Stallion during the period of 1929 to 1953. During the World War II, in August 1939, Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler signed a no-aggression agreement, which was aimed to avoid any kind of attack on each other and which also divided the areas of influence that were available between the Germans and the Soviet Union.

However, Adolf Hitler breached his agreement, and in June 1941, he ordered his armies for aggression against the USSR, the United States, and the Britain. In the result, a defense coalition was formed, in order to defeat the Germany in the preceding four years. The coalition among American-British-Soviet Union, which was known as the grand alliance, proved the mistrusted coalition on the part of the Soviet Union. The USSR claimed to bore heavier price, as compared to other nations, which were active in continuity of the war. When victory seemed to be closer in the year 1944, the conflict became more visible within the alliance. [2]

            By the passage of time amid tensions, the two great blocks came in to the existence, one of which was led by the United States and was known as the Western block. It was consisting of the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Philippines, Japan, and many other Western- European and Latin American countries. The second block was led by Russia, and was known as the Eastern block. The countries included in the later block were Albania, Bulgaria, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Romania.[3]

Canada’s Introduction

In the Cold War, an occasional but important and middle-power role was played by Canada. Throughout the struggle during the war, the United States and the West were supported by Canada. In this paper, we will try to understand the role of Canada during the Cold War, as well as its consequences from the Cold War, which were confronted by it.[4]

Early Cold War

            During the Cold War, it was very predictive that Canada would take the side of the United States and the West, as the United States was already very close to Canada in terms of their economic, cultural, and historical ties with each other. Additionally, the United Kingdom was also having close relationship with Canada. Therefore, it was usual that these two regions will be receiving endorsement and support from Canada. [5]

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which is mostly referred as the NATO was founded by Canada. In fact, the NATO was ardently supported by Canada, and an economic and cultural organization was formed by the country. In particular, this was proved as an addition as Canada was already a military alliance member in the region.

Canadian Politics with Relation to United States during Cold War

            The consequences of the Cold War in 1980s have dared the historians and political analysts to inquire and analyze about Canada’s indulging in the international politics. Any of the solutions to this issue could be attributable to the colliding stakes of the superpowers of some of the hypotheses. In terms of communism, however, expansion was targeted by the Soviet Union, which forced a strong opposition from Canada. Due to harsh experiences in Vietnam, the United States had already faced a lot of criticism. The United States had also gone through some diplomatic crisis. In that situation, Canada gave its support to the American stability as well as the government. Availability of the support and back-up that was done by the Canadian government encouraged the analytical reviews, and provided new dimensions for the evaluation of the past events of the war and as well as of the future.[6]

            Interestingly, the Cold War provided a global stage to the superpowers to showoff their supremacy in front of the other countries. In this regard, an opportunity was provided to Canada, which was able to represent its support, cooperation and powers in front of the rest of the world. However, Canada was rarely able to prove itself as a practical combat between the powerful countries of the Soviet Union and the United States.

The contradictions between capitalism and communism is another source of this battle. The Democratic Imperialist bloc’s candidates were the nations of the United States, Canada, and several other Western European countries. However, the Communist block was led by the Soviet Union.

In the Communist block, China was also analyzing the teaching, and evaluating the members of the Communist block, which concerned its teachings and theories. The geopolitical occupation over natural resources was one of the other factors of this war. Another reason that played a crucial role in the consequences of the war was the selection of the right identity to take and supervise the responsibilities under the umbrella of the internationals agreements.

The struggle was also contributed by the Language Ideology. In this regard, a fear of elimination was felt by each of the above mentioned blocks. Therefore, we can analyze and state that different grounds were being able to elaborate different ideologies on different scales around the world, which were very deep during their distribution.

            Since the inception of party system in the United States of America, the necessity of ideology had been used significantly in the Canadian politics. For example, before the formation of the parties, there was a struggle between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists over the acceptance and confirmation of the country’s constitution. During this struggling time, the Canadian government once again showed its support to the United States in its struggle.

In the regime of George Washington, ideological dispute was experienced between the cabinet members, which were aimed for setting the direction of the nation, in terms of true nature of the human conditions. These struggles paved the way of formulating political parties that were Democratic-Republicans versus Federalists. However, at that time, it was found that each group was trying to hold the control of the government for the implementation of their ideas of democracy. [7]

Briefly, these are only some of the perspectives of the American politics which was supported by the Canadian government and which played a crucial and vital role in supporting the United States during the Cold War.

Communist Espionage

            Canada witnessed one of the most early and important events related to the Cold War. In Ottawa, defection of cipher clerk, that is, Igor Gouzenko was the beginning of a series of defections in Canada. However, this cipher clerk was used to work at the Soviet embassy, which was located in the capital of the country. Both the governments and their people were shocked by some of the revelations of espionage of the Soviets against the west.[8]

            The Canadian government and its military planned and implemented different strategies and programs through which security threats were removed from the country. Nevertheless, these strategically planned steps were taken in a much hidden manner, which were later on widespread in the country. During this program, the suspected communist sympathizers were also detached from the country, which were believed to be a threat for the country. In addition, homosexuals were also thrown out of the country during these harsh actions by Canada.

            In this regard, different technological advancement was used by the Canadian government, which made every step to ensure safety of its responsible and civilized inhabitants. For example, homosexuality in a person was even tested by a device that was developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and which is often known as the RCMP. The United States was unlikely to perform these kinds of steps as taken by the Canadian government.

However, the similar steps were taken privately by the United States with its suspicion of intense anti-Communist in the country, which was often known as McCarthyism in the United States. In this way, Canada began its endeavor to remove suspicious individuals and bodies from its country, which were related to the Cold War. [9]

Subsequently, the Canadian government was expected to support the United States government further. This expectation was regarding the purge of trade unions, which was anticipated by the Canadian government. In contrast, this step was taken as an American hysteria by the Canadian government.

In the year 1951, the secret anti-communist screening program of the United States also included some of the sailors in their screening processes. Unlike the United States, outlawing of the Canadian communist party was never done by the government. In fact, two official communist parties were found in only one Western country, which is Canada.

Nonetheless, the anti-Communist hysteria was not immune to Canada, as the United States had already been afflicted by it. The preceding years provided various other events that were regarded as the consequences of the Cold War. In this regard, the leaping of the Canadian Ambassador to Egypt, Herbert Norman was witnessed on April 04, 1957. One of the reasons of his suicide was the re-opening of his case by the United States Senate Internal Security Subcommittee. During this case, his loyalty to Canada, as well as, to the United States was questioned and investigated publicly by the officials, which depressed him at a very high extent.

However, it was known that in the year 1950, the RCMP had already cleared him seven years ago, and in the year 1952, the Canadian minister of External Affairs had cleared him from this case. In the result, the already-mentioned Canadian minister of the External Affairs, Lester B. Pearson denied providing any secret information to the United States government regarding the citizens of the Canada, unless, the Executive branch of the government would not slip the confidential information beyond their limits.

Canada & Peacekeeping

            In addition, the international influence asserted by Canada during the period of the Cold War. The high reputation of Canada during the World War I and World War II was also the result for this impact in the international world. In Korea, noteworthy contributions made by the moderately sized contingent of the Canadian volunteer soldiers. Specifically, the United Nations forces were also supported and contributed by the above mentioned Canadian volunteers during the Cold War. Particularly, the Battle of Kapyong was contributed by the Canadian Light Infantry of the Princess Patricia.[10]

            In addition, peacekeeping was implemented and innovated by Canada during the Cold War, which is even considered as one of its major contributions to the international politics in the modern world. Different other adoptions and proposals were provided by the Canadian government during the period of Cold War. One of the examples is the proposal and advocating a United Nations military force by some of the Canadian representatives, which were sent by the Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King during his government in the country.[11]

In June 1945, Louis St. Laurent, who was the Secretary of State for External Affairs also made efforts for different innovations in the international politics. The United Nations Conference on International Organization also witnessed some of the other related proposals, which presented the efforts and contributions of the Canadian government during the Cold War. [12]

In the year 1956, the implementation of the above mentioned proposal of the United Nations military forces was done by the Canadian government during the period of crisis of the Suez Canal. In the result, potential flashpoint was developed by Israel, Egypt, France, and Britain, which were involved in the conflict. The United States and the Soviet Union emerged between this flashpoint, as they regarded as the promising superpowers of the world.

In the result, an over threat of nuclear attack was given by the Soviet Union, and London and Paris were targeted for the usage of all types of modern weapons and equipments that were meant for the destruction of these areas. In the result, the Canadian government played a crucial role by representing its proposal of an emergency force, which was aimed to oppose the enemy forces by interceding and creating division of the combatants of the proposed military force.

In this regard, the Canadian Diplomat, Lester B. Pearson played a vital role in the coordination and efforts of the Canadian Prime Minister, Louis St. Laurent during the above mentioned period of the Suez Crisis, as well as, the Cold War. In this way, a human shield was prepared by Canada, which was able to form a buffer zone between the two forces, which were having intentions of a nuclear attack with each other.

In this regard, the first force to perform the objectives of peacekeeping was the United Nations Emergency Force led by Canadian Pearson, and is often refer as UNEF by the experts and researchers. Subsequently, the hostilities ended by drawing up of the above mentioned force, and a cease-fire and combatants separated by its deployment in the region.[13]

Canada – U.S. Tensions

            In 1950s, the planning and implementation were done very closely by the United States and Canada. This collective collaboration was begun, in order to defend a possible attack of the enemy on the North America. In this regard, a joint air-defense system was created by the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which has often being referred as NORAD. This joint system was supported and coordinated by the United States and Canada for better safety of the region during the Cold War

            In the Northern Canada, Soviet bombers who were found heading over the pole were given warning by the establishment of the Distant Early Warning Line, which is also known as the Dew Line, as given in different studies and researches. However, the acceptance of nuclear weapons of the United States in the Canadian territories became a hot topic of argument during the governing period of the Canadian Prime Minister, John Diefenbaker. [14]

The Americans were already notified with the requirements of the BOMARC missile system by the Canadian Prime Minister. However, the absence of nuclear warheads in these missile systems made them useless for the military operations. Nevertheless, the entrance of Americans weapons and equipments were permitted by the Canadian Prime Minister.  

The famed Canadian diplomat, Lester B. Pearson replaced the John Diefenbaker after the Canadian elections in the year 1963. Subsequently, the warheads were accepted by the new prime minister, which allowed the utilization of BOMARC missile system in the Canadian territories.

During the Vietnam War, the American role was criticized with relation to the Cold War by the Prime Minister Pearson, which developed further tensions between the United States and Canada. In addition, Pearson’s speech at the Temple University, which is in Philadelphia capital of the Pennsylvania, played the role of petrol in the fire of the pressure and tension that was evolving between the two of the Western superpower countries of the world.

In addition, the Cuban Revolution was followed by the maintenance of the economic and the diplomatic ties between Canada and Cuba, which was also one of the reasons of creation of the tensions between the two countries. In addition, the membership of Organization of American States was also refused by Canada, which once again offended by the United States. [15]

In this way, the tolerance and support of the Cold War, which was meant for the dictators, was disliked by Canada. Separation and isolation of the development and advancement of the US-Canadian policies were done by the Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who became the successor of the Canadian government after Pearson. The American nuclear weapons were removed from the Canadian soil by the Trudeau, which also tensed the situation between the two countries.

In addition, the People’s Republic of China was formally recognized by Canada, which again a step against the policies of the United States. In addition, a personal friendship with Castro was established by the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. Lastly, the number of Canadian troops was decreased by the Prime Minister, which found to be stationing at the NATO bases in the European continent.[16]

End of Cold War

            A far closer relationship was between the American President Ronald Reagan and the Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. However, widespread protests were witnessed during the 1980s, in which, the American cruise missiles and their testing operations in the Canadian territorial were opposed by the protestors.

            After ending of the Cold War, enlightenment was seen in Canada and in the rest of the world as most of the countries were affected by the Cold War in one way or other. Germany witnessed the withdrawal of the Canadian Forces from their NATO commitments. In Ottawa, removal of the air raid sirens and military budget was cut down significantly by the Canadian government.

            A new tourist attraction point was the result of restructuring process of the Canada’s elite fallout shelter, that is, the Diefenbunker. In addition, some of the Cold War institutions, such as, the NATO, as well as, the NORAD were actively contributed and participated by the Canadian armed forces. However, after the cold war, new missions and priorities were given to the Canadian armed forces, which were other than the previously given missions during the period of the Cold War.

            In addition, creation of glasnost and perestroika was helped by a sporadic, but important role, which was played by Canada during the Cold War. In the mid 1970s, the post of the Ambassador to Canada was given to Alexander Yakovlev, who was in this custody for almost a decade. During this period, close friendship was observed in the already mentioned Ambassador and the Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau.

            In the early 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev was accompanied by the Yakovlev. The agricultural sector of the Soviet Union was supervised by the Mikhail at that time. The Canada witnessed his visit during this period. The Canadian farms and the agricultural institutions were visited by the Mikhail who also accompanied Yakovlev during the visit. The Soviet Union hoped that the visit would help in learning lessons regarding the agricultural sector in their region.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we have sought to address numerous facets and incidents of the Cold War, relating to the position of the Canadian government and its various entities, and the implications of the Cold War that Canada experienced during the Cold War. As an intermittent yet necessary power, Canada joined the Cold War.

Throughout the cold war, Canada firmly endorsed the United States and the West. During the battle, Canada experienced too many ups and downs as well. It also had some conflicts with the US (the coalition partner) over a few issues such acceptance the People’s Republic of China. The visit of Mikhail Gorbachev (the rival country head) was helped a lot in reducing the tensions between the Soviet Union and Canada, which eventually led them in ending of the war.

References:
  • Adam Chapnick. 2005. The Middle Power Project: Canada and the Founding of the United Nations. University of British Columbia Press.
  • Balawyder, Aloysius. 2000. In the Clutches of the Kremlin: Canadian-East European Relations, 1945-1962. Columbia University Press.
  • Cavell, Richard, ed. 2004. Love, Hate, and Fear in Canada’s Cold War University of Toronto Press.
  • Clark-Jones, Melissa. 1987. A Staple State: Canadian Industrial Resources in Cold War. University of Toronto Press.
  • Cuff, R. D. and Granatstein, J. L. 1975. Canadian-American Relations in Wartime: From the Great War to the Cold War. Toronto: Hakkert.
  • Dewitt David and John Kirton. 1983. Canada as a Principal Power. Toronto: John Wiley.
  • Donaghy, Gred, ed. 1988. Canada and the Early Cold War, 1943-1957. Ottawa: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
  • Eayrs, James. 1972. In Defense of Canada III: Peacemaking and Deterrence. University of Toronto Press.
  • Farrell R. Barry. 1969. The Making of Canadian Foreign Policy. Scarborough: Prentice Hall.
  • L. Granatstein David Stafford. 1991. Spy Wars: Espionage and Canada from Gouzenko to Glasnost.
  • Maloney, Sean M. 2002. Canada and UN Peacekeeping. Ontario: Vanwell.
  • [1] Balawyder, Aloysius. 2000. In the Clutches of the Kremlin: Canadian-East European Relations, 1945-1962. Columbia University Press. pp 101-127.
  • [2] What was the Cold War? http://encarta.msn.com/text_761569374_5/Cold_War.html Retrieved January 12, 2007
  • [3] Clark-Jones, Melissa. 1987. A Staple State: Canadian Industrial Resources in Cold War. University of Toronto Press. pp. 129-176.
  • [4] Cavell, Richard, ed. 2004. Love, Hate, and Fear in Canada’s Cold War University of Toronto Press. pp. 43-57.
  • [5] Donaghy, Gred, ed. 1988. Canada and the Early Cold War, 1943-1957. Ottawa: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. pp 196 – 215.
  • [6] Dewitt David and John Kirton. 1983. Canada as a Principal Power. Toronto: John Wiley. pp 45-67.
  • [7] Philippe G. Le Prestre. Role Quests in the Post-Cold War Era. 1997. Page # 168-175.
  • [8] J. L. Granatstein David Stafford. 1991. Spy Wars: Espionage and Canada from Gouzenko to Glasnost. pp 73-98.
  • [9] J. L. Granatstein David Stafford. 1991. Spy Wars: Espionage and Canada from Gouzenko to Glasnost. pp 43-65.
  • [10] Adam Chapnick. 2005. The Middle Power Project: Canada and the Founding of the United Nations. University of British Columbia Press. pp 25-57.
  • [11] Maloney, Sean M. 2002. Canada and UN Peacekeeping. Ontario: Vanwell. pp 179-201.
  • [12] Eayrs, James. 1972. In Defense of Canada III: Peacemaking and Deterrence. University of Toronto Press. pp 235 – 265.
  • [13] Eayrs, James. 1972. In Defense of Canada III: Peacemaking and Deterrence. University of Toronto Press. pp 255 – 276.
  • [14] Cuff, R. D. and Granatstein, J. L. 1975. Canadian-American Relations in Wartime: From the Great War to the Cold War. Toronto: Hakkert. pp.156-178.
  • [15] Cuff, R. D. and Granatstein, J. L. 1975. Canadian-American Relations in Wartime: From the Great War to the Cold War. Toronto: Hakkert. pp 178-198.
  • [16] Farrell R. Barry. 1969. The Making of Canadian Foreign Policy. Scarborough: Prentice Hall. pp 39-56.

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