This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Inside History

"This was an attack on Canadian nationalism and the attempt at greater Canadian autonomy."
"From Canada's point of view [former U.S. President John F. Kennedy] was an absolute bully."
"Kennedy was told that Canada is essential to the national security of the United States, and this Canadian nationalism was therefore dangerous to the United States and had to be crushed."
"As a leader, he [Kennedy] was inspirational and still is. As a man, he had a great number of flaws."
John Boyko, author, Cold Fire, an account of Canada's role in the Cuban Missile Crisis
With the latest publication probing the decision-making authority of the 35th president of the United States, the relationship between Canada and its southern neighbour is placed into its perspective that the past and the present validate; that the larger, more powerful country is an implacable bully, one resentful of its northern neighbour's sovereign autonomy, willing on occasion to pull in a direction different than the one the elephant would prefer to impose upon the mouse.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Mitchell    President Richard Nixon and Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau talk in Trudeau's office in Ottawa in this Apr.14, 1972 photo

Newly released documents from the Kennedy Presidential Library and data taken from the Canadian National Archives in Ottawa have provided the author with more than ample documented historical fact and pressures from which to draw his impressions and conclusions. That relations between the two countries have served from amicable to hostile is not new; famously MacKenzie King and Brian Mulroney were two Prime Ministers who deferred to their U.S. counterparts.

One a Liberal, the other Conservative. While Pierre Elliot Trudeau in his time chafed at the influence the U.S. exerted on Canada and before him John Deifenbaker -- again that Liberal/Conservative divide -- echoed a certain loathing for the United States that President Kennedy returned in spades. His successor Lyndon Johnson had no love for Lester B. Pearson who made no secret of his criticism of American actions in Vietnam, causing Johnson to snarl: "You don’t come here to piss on my rug."

Postmedia News file
Postmedia News file   Lester Pearson and Lyndon Johnson in 1965

Currently, there's a bit of a mutual admiration love-in between newly-elected Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Democratic President Barack Obama. While Barack Obama made his first foreign visit a trip to Canada after his 2008 election, warmly welcomed by then Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the courtesy of a state visit invitation was never extended by Obama to Mr. Harper, whereas Justin Trudeau was immediately invited to the White House on a state visit.

CTV QP: Trudeau-Obama meeting 'sends a message'
"At the time of the greatest peril in their history, New York City and Boston are being guarded by Canadians. How many Americans know that?", Mr. Boyko offered, speaking of Canadian aircraft and naval vessels taking part in a patrol of the American East Coast, RCAF planes identifying and tracking up to seven Soviet submarines during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The United States does not normally publicly identify and give credit to Canada as an ally, however. As for Canada, it tends to do what it thinks it should, usually without fanfare, not an American trait.

During the 1962 and 1963 Canadian elections, President Kennedy was particularly focused on Canada. "[Kennedy] hated Diefenbaker ... He obviously couldn't say anything publicly. But every day or two he would want to know how the election was going", explained Lou Harris the American pollster back in a 2013 interview, speaking of the U.S. President's antipathy toward John Diefenbaker whom he once hung up on when he was informed he would not place Canada on a war footing during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

And nor was he endeared to Deifenbaker during a 1961 visit when he reinjured his back after the Prime Minister insisted the American President plant a tree at Rideau Hall. the Governor General's residence and grounds. President Kennedy was unwilling to see a Canadian government move away from following American foreign policy, a situation that had prevailed after the Second World War. He interpreted Canada's moving away from the U.S. toward a more Canada-centric position on world affairs as deleterious to America's interests.

According to Mr. Boyko the later 1963 budget of Prime Minister Lester Pearson limiting American ownership in Canadian companies raised President Kennedy's ire, insisting that the measure was "economically nationalist", an impressive bit of hypocrisy since the  United States and the American Congress have always been and remain "economically nationalist", never straying from policies that are seen to be in the U.S.'s best political/economic interests irrespective of decisions that harm their neighbour.



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