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Canadian Military Journal

Gouzenko to Gorbachev: Canada’s Cold War

J.L. Granatstein
Jack Granatstein, OC, PhD, one of Canada’s most renowned historians, has written extensively on Canada’s military history and defence issues. He was Director and CEO of the Canadian War Museum from 1998 to 2000.
Abstract :

For Canadians, the Cold War was a matter of great importance—some of the time. For them, it began in September 1945 with the defection of Soviet embassy cipher officer Igor Gouzenko and revelations of major Soviet spy rings in Canada. Moscow’s brutalist policies under Stalin did nothing to ease growing concerns. Because they shared a continent with the superpower leading the democracies, their largest trading partner and ‘best friend,’ they soon found themselves living under the flight path for bombers and missiles from the Soviet Union, and that sharpened the collective mind and pushed them toward continued military cooperation with the United States. At the same time, Canada’s two mother countries, Britain and France, and nations such as Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy that Canadians had fought to liberate, were under threat from what was generally perceived as an expansionist Soviet Communism. These and economic concerns led to a newly internationalist Canada being an enthusiastic supporter of a North Atlantic Treaty, and the first peacetime stationing of troops abroad. In Asia, the Hong Kong debacle of 1941 aside, Canada had never been active until the Korean War opened another front in the ‘Cold’ War. Again Canadians participated with troops.

Defence spending rose sharply in a booming economy, but very soon, pressures began to arise. There were widespread concerns about U.S. policy, Canadian nationalists and anti-Americans began to ‘kick against the pricks,’ and demands for expensive and expansive domestic social welfare policies led to pressures for defence cuts. By 1968 and the advent of Pierre Trudeau as prime minister, the calls for foreign policy change had become unstoppable, and until the arrival of Mikhail Gorbachev and the subsequent demise of the Cold War, Canadian policy was one of limited cooperation with Alliance partners, defence spending cutbacks, and planned military obsolescence. The Cold War if necessary, therefore, but not necessarily the Cold War, or, at least, not all Cold War all the time…

Keywords :
Gouzenko to Gorbachev: Canada’s Cold War

Date Deposited : 08 Apr 2015 10:08

Last Modified : 08 Apr 2015 10:29

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Volume 12, Number 1, - 2012

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