Greg Donaghy has performed an important service in pro- viding us with this detailed and useful chronicle of Canada-United States relations during the Pearson- Johnson years. The story may be famil- iar to some and has been told before, but never with such careful attention to detail, based on such an exhaustive review of the archives and other pri- mary sources, and providing such a comprehensive account. The result is a compelling narrative and a convincing explanation of these important years in Canada’s development as a nation. It is likely to become the standard account of these years.

The book’s importance lies as much in its lessons for con- temporary politicians and policy wonks as it does in explaining events during this five-year period. In the concluding chapter, Donaghy notes that Ottawa faced ”œa fundamen- tal choice: Canada could either seek an integrated and more structured eco- nomic partnership with the United States, or it could pursue its future alone, without the security provided by the large and lucrative American market.” True then and still true today, despite the many years in between and the significant breakthroughs in strengthening the structures for man- aging the bilateral partnership. As Donaghy illustrates, a dynamic, intense relationship requires dynamic and innovative leadership, and past triumphs will never be sufficient to deal with new challenges. Ottawa and Washington were called on to find some creative solutions in the 1960s, from the Autopact to nuclear co- operation, solutions that have proved critical to Canadian well being and have stood the test of time.

During the five years that Lester B. Pearson led the government in Ottawa, Canada’s relationship with the United States reached new heights and depths, calling on deft management by the president and prime min- ister and their closest advisors. The years leading up to the centenary of Confederation were good years for Canada: the economy grew, as did Canadian self-confidence. The eco- nomic growth was largely fueled by domestic demand, but also unleashed a nationalist backlash against the large US presence in Canadian economic life as the largest source of imports, the main export market, the princi- pal source of investment capi- tal, and the mainstay of things new and exciting. Much of this was the product of develop- ments over the previous 30 years, but it reached a new level of public consciousness in the 1960s. Some welcomed the US presence; others railed against it; meanwhile, Canadians as a whole, in their daily choices about what to eat, wear, hear, read, watch, drive, and produce, steadily deepened the ties that bound the two societies together.

The 1960s was also the decade of Vietnam, of US race riots, of intergen- erational protest and more, all of which spilled over into Canada, influ- enced Canadians’ attitudes toward the United States and complicated the management of bilateral relations. The United States emerged from the Second World War as the world’s premier power; the 1960s demonstrated the challenges raised by the exercise of that power, internationally and domestical- ly, again an experience pregnant with meaning for the challenges raised by the opening years of the 21st century. Donaghy captures much of this in his deft retelling of the tensions that marked the Pearson years in government: tensions among members of Pearson’s cabinet; tensions among senior bureaucrats, tensions among various social, economic and political interests in Canada; and ten- sions between the governments in Ottawa and Washington.

Similar forces are once again at work today: a need to address the gover- nance of deepening integration while at the same time other forces are pulling the two societies apart: Iraq, the new terrorism, and the US drift toward a new conservative consensus. Each has had a spillover effect on Canada and each has complicated the management of bilateral relations, but with perhaps a less skilled set of actors at the helm. While at times Pearson’s government seemed to reel from one crisis to another, Donaghy’s account suggests that on the Canada-US front, Pearson skillfully balanced the politi- cal need for populist jingoism and the longer-term need to protect and advance Canadian economic and secu- rity interests. As the recent Policy Options ranking of prime ministers of the last 50 years suggests, Mr. Chrétien is not in the same league as Mr. Pearson on foreign policy. The same goes for the two cabinets. It will be interesting to see if 40 years from now a chronicler of these years will be able to speak of ”œtolerant” allies.

As Donaghy demonstrates, the  management of relations and the reso- lution of problems to the mutual ben- efit of the two countries relied importantly on the trust and good will  built up over many years, both institu- tional and personal. Pearson had amassed impressive credentials in Washington and knew the players inti- mately, as did some of his key cabinet members and civil service advisors, with the notable exception of Walter Gordon. On a range of fronts, Gordon reflected well the views of a small but influential part of Canada, but his ignorance of the United States, com- pounded by an abysmal lack of judg- ment on critical issues, complicated relations tremendously and called on all the skills of others to overcome.

Donaghy picked a felicitous title: these five years do illustrate the extent to which the two countries were toler- ant allies on a number of fronts. It should be noted, however, that for most of these years, it was the United States that had to exercise the greater degree of tolerance. Canadian sensitiv- ities on issue after issue tested the lim- its of President Johnson’s patience and called on deft management by his team. From the irascible and overbear- ing Walton Butterworth, the US ambas- sador in Ottawa for most of these years, to George Ball, Canada’s best friend in the State Department, and his able assistant, Phil Trezise, all bent over backwards to accommodate what must at times have seemed like tiresome efforts to gain a further Canadian con- cession or insert a Canadian dimen- sion. The book bears out well one of Pearson’s most telling insights about the relationship: ”œThe picture of weak and timid Canadian negotiators being pushed around and browbeaten by American representatives into settle- ments that were ”˜sell-outs’ is a false and distorted one. It is often painted, how- ever, by Canadians who think that a sure way to get applause and support at home is to exploit our anxieties and exaggerate our suspicions over US power and policies.” While he may not have been thinking of his mentor and cabinet colleague, Walter Gordon, as he penned these words, he certainly had some of Gordon’s admirers in mind. Lloyd Axworthy’s forthcoming book is likely to tell us these sentiments remain alive and well among some members of the Liberal party.

One of the distinguishing features of Donaghy’s analysis is that he properly assigns a central role to eco- nomic factors in explaining Canada-US relations. Most discussions of Canada- US relations by political and diplomatic historians have found the ins and outs of trade negotiations and balance-of- payments consultations too complex to describe and have opted instead to place them at the margin. Donaghy places them at the center, and provides fasci- nating detailed insights into some of the machinations in Ottawa and Washington in addressing these two sets of issues. These details would mean more to the general reader, however, if Donaghy had devoted a few pages to providing context and explanation. Balance-of-payments issues in particu- lar, which loomed large in bilateral rela- tions in the 1950s and 1960s, have all but vanished today as a result of the adoption of floating exchange rates. Similarly, the Kennedy Round of multi- lateral GATT negotiations and the Autopact bilateral negotiations, critical as they were to Canada’s emergence as a modern industrial economy, need a lit- tle bit more background if the reader is to fully appreciate the finer points raised in Donaghy’s discussion of the tensions between Canada and the United States.

Donaghy, after opening chapters describing the economic issues, makes a smooth transition to the prin- cipal political problems of the day, with security and Vietnam at the cen- tre. As the narrative makes clear, the most difficult bilateral issues were eco- nomic in nature and engaged compet- ing interests. The most difficult political issues emerged from broader geopolitical factors that went well beyond the bilateral and involved fall- out from the Cold War and more; they tended to arise less from competing interests than from differing values, ideals and responsibilities. Americans found it hard to accept that Canadians talked a better line than they acted and pushed Canada to match words with action; Canadians, in turn, resented American bullying. Plus ça change, plus c’est la mé‚me chose. In the final analy- sis, and that too has not changed, Canadians and Americans had more in common with each other than with any other society, and therein lay the basis for partnership, co-operation, misunderstandings and resolution.

Donaghy brings his analysis to a satisfying conclusion by drawing the narratives on economic and political factors together through the lens of the competing nationalisms that roiled Canadian political discourse in the 1960s. The principal focus here is on two irritants that preoccupied contem- porary officials, in large measure as a result of efforts to satisfy the Gordon wing of cabinet: the Time and Reader’s Digest and the Mercantile Bank affairs. At one point Secretary of State Dean Rusk asked Canadian ambassador Ed Ritchie if ”œanti-Americanism was good politics in Canada.” The ambassador’s answer is not recorded, but as Donaghy demonstrates, it was good politics in the 1960s, and too often Canadians paid the price for this predilection. Here one can only hope that time has brought some relief from this colonial mentality.

In sum, there is much food for thought in this engaging book, for his- torians and policy analysts alike.

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