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RBC Letter

October 1946 — Vol. 27, No. 10 —
Canada and the United States

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(This is the second of two articles dealing with the relationship between Canada and the United States.)

Canadian—American history is not made up of wars, reigns of kings and terms of presidents. It is composed of the play of constructive forces in culture, economics and politics.

The flurry which grew out of objections to the stamp tax and the duty on tea back in the 1770's changed into a dispute on the principle of the right of Great Britain to legislate for the colonies. This was fanned by the ineptitude of the king, who did not learn until the battle of Yorktown that the attempt must be abandoned. Then he found that he had also lost his royal supremacy over parliament, so the uprising in America contributed in no little measure to the victory of the principle of parliamentary government in Great Britain, and may be regarded as the primary element in colonial self—determination. The American Revolution not only brought into being the United States, but it founded English Canada, and through the years events in the United States and Canada have had reciprocal effects.

Canada has been twice invaded by Americans (1775 and 1812) when the southern neighbours truly thought they were going to conquer Canada for Canada's good. A "friendly invasion" was launched upon Montreal and Quebec with the idea of carrying the country into Union as a fourteenth state. Chateau de Ramezay, which still stands as a museum a few city blocks from the Head Office of The Royal Bank of Canada, was headquarters for the American General Montgomery. To it there came Benjamin Franklin, armed with arguments of permanent peace, in an effort to coax the ministry into transferring Quebec to the United States. A half century later, in the war of 1812, the Americans burned York, now - Toronto, at a time when of the total 80,000 population of what is now Ontario only 35,000 were Loyalists and 25,000 were American settlers. In true reciprocal fervor, the British burned Washington a year later. These things seem old and remote. Canadians have long ago wiped from the slate of their memory the feelings of an old feud in which blood ran high at the time, and both nations refuse to allow judgment on present—day relationships to be warped by ancient memories. In this they show the Old World a sterling example.

There lingered for many years a feeling on the American side that Canada's "manifest destiny" was union with the United States, though belligerency gave way to a complacent wait—fulness which was quite irritating to the now nationality—conscious Canadians. This attitude dated from the very beginning of the United States. In one section of the Articles of Confederation a special dispensation was given Canada, alone among the nations, to join the Union: "Canada, acceding to this Confederation, and joining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this Union; but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine states." As MacCormac writes in "America and World Mastery," Americans were "astonished and even pained to find that Canadians preferred the shackles of monarchy." In 1867 the New York Tribune commented on Canada's confederation of its provinces in this way: "When the experiment of the 'dominion' shall have failed, as fail it must, a process of peaceful absorption will give Canada her proper place in the great North American Republic."

Thus developed the relationship of these two countries, from single sovereignty through revolution to separation; from attempts by arms to return the Loyalists to the fold of the republicans to negotiation for union as one of the new states; from predictions that the Dominion would fail to function in its new status to the present—day union of friendship which needs no constitution. Only an occasional lonely, and to Canadians rather silly, voice is raised in these days in favour of the old annexationist ideas. Such expansionist aspirations are at odds with the expressed desires of the whole people of United States and Canada for a world in which small nations shall be safe from molestation.

How the two nations work together in amity, even in deciding difficult matters, is shown by their wholesale introduction of the principles of consultation and arbitration into practically all affairs. The long habit of peaceful settlement has consolidated friendship on a base of realism, which passes the test of practicality as well as the test of idealism. In addition there is close liaison, if not outright identity, in non—government organizations which range through all activities and interests of life: economic, cultural, professional, political and aesthetic. The trend was intensified during the late war, when Canada and the United States had places on combined boards, where they shared problems, pooled knowledge and united their skills and resources.

As an example of how the goodwill method of settling differences works, consider the International Joint Commission. This was set up with three Canadian and three United States members with the objective: "...to settle all questions between the United States and Canada involving the rights, obligations or interests of either in relation to the other along their common frontier." This commission, which has been operating smoothly since 1909, is an unmatched demonstration of a method for just settlement of difficulties between unequal powers. The commissioners work, not as two groups of three, but as one group of six, determined to deal impartially with matters brought before them. Part of the secret of continued amity seems to be that these countries do not wait for irreconcilable ideas to collide at the border. They tackle them early, and use common sense, ingenuity, and a blind eye to get around, over or under obstacles.

Co—operation and achievements of the two countries during the late war would fill many volumes, and can be mentioned here only to the extent of saying how splendidly they worked together. Canada did not benefit from United States lend—lease, (which Churchill called "that most unsordid act in the history of nations") but paid in goods and cash. At the same time, Canadians surprised themselves by their ability to send a billion dollars' worth of goods as an outright gift to Great Britain. More than that, in 1943 Canada passed her Mutual Aid Act, and under it the next two years saw $2,360 million worth of further supplies allocated on grounds of strategic need to Britain, the Soviet Union, China, France, Australia, New Zealand and India, with $1,892 million in other kinds of financial accommodation also provided. She gave 20,000 tons of wheat to Greece every month from 1942, an amount that kept alive almost half the population of that country, and contributed 100,000 tons of wheat to relieve the famine in India in 1943. In his article in the January issue of Foreign Affairs, the American Quarterly Review, Lionel Gelber says: "To Britain alone Canada furnished per capita as much as the American program gave everyone. Mutual Aid being her own variation of lend—lease, Canada could have received but did not ask for reciprocal assistance; she herself, dispensing rather than consuming help of that sort, drew no lend—lease at all from the United States. She paid for her own American imports by the manufacture of war material and equipment."

As to Canada's manpower, out of a population of less than 12 million there were 1,031~000 enrolled in the three fighting services. Canada was third among the United Nations in sea power, and was the main protector of the North Atlantic convoy route. She was fourth in air power, and in addition a host of her airmen served in the Royal Air Force.

This brief glimpse of what was achieved in war and how the lessons are being carried into peace is enough to indicate the possibilities, and to emphasize the natural desire of the two countries for co—operation, but it is not meant to indicate that strong similarities exclude significant differences. The disparity in population is important in itself, because it makes Americans thoughtless and Canadians hypersensitive. Canadians are characterized by introversion, as against the American extroversion, and perhaps this, as in marriage, helps toward a peaceful and successful partnership. In their temperament Canadians have a redoubtable slowness to match their neighbours' precipitancy, but one must admit that it has an air of majesty and that in the long run it works with fewer upsets than are suffered by their speeding co—continentals. Canadians are adept at reaching working compromises which are nearer realities of the times than would be ambitious theories. They take their work calmly, and are more serious about their pleasures. John MacCormac said in his book "Canada: America's Problem" that a political convention in the United States bears the same relation to its Canadian counterpart as bedlam does to a cemetery. To this he adds: "Organized racketeering is unknown, and no hooded figures have ever dominated the night scene. The law tolerates fewer technicalities and is far swifter. Relatively fewer Canadians murder each other and many more are hanged when they do. Trial by newspaper is not tolerated. The law of slander is more strictly enforced."

In a letter to the Royal Bank, Arthur W. Calhoun, of Sterling College, Kansas, remarked: "I think the people of the United States take Canada for granted, without understanding or interest. I am sure, however, that it is very important that we should recognize the equal nationhood of Canada, and that we should prize and profit by the cultural achievements of our neighbours. " People on both sides of the border know well the art, literature and entertainment leaders in the United States, but it is to be feared that not even Canadians themselves know as well their own people who have excelled, and certainly it is not widely appreciated in the United States that Canada has an art, literature and entertainment life of its own. Sheer weight of numbers and cash resources crowd the air with United States radio programs, and the screens with United States movie shows.

Canada has achieved undisputed leadership in documentary films, of which her National Film Board has become the world's largest producer. Canada's actors and actresses, including Walter Huston, Walter Pidgeon, Mary Pickford, Raymond Massey, and Deanna Durbin became as beloved by American audiences as by Canadian. The popular novels of Mazo de la Roche, the poems of Robert Service, and the gentle ironies of the late Stephen Leacock are familiar to Americans, and attention is being widely paid recent works by Hugh MacLennan and Gwethalyn Graham. A publication by the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers' Associations lists 122 Canadian composers, including Dr. Healey Willan who has to his credit nearly 200 original published compositions as well as over 100 arrangements of folk tunes and gregorian melodies.

In the realm of sports, the two nations play in much the same repertoire, but there is a lack of exuberance in Canada compared with the United States. A famous American professional athlete returned home after a visit to Mexico and remarked it was not much fun playing for the crowds down there because "they yelled just as loud for the opposing team as they did for their home team." He might well say the same thing about Canadians, since they inherit the sporting instinct of the British who are inclined to cheer the fox as well as the hounds.

This tabulation may well conclude with reference to Canada's place in science and engineering. Mercury Digest recently named a few of Canada's outstanding men: Lord Rutherford, once an instructor at McGill University, who was the first man to split the atom; Sir Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best, who discovered insulin; Sir Charles Saunders, who bred rust—resisting Marquis wheat; Gilbert Labine who discovered the Eldorado mine by recognizing pitchblende territory from the air; Ben Chaffey, well—known for his irrigation projects in California and Australia, and Sir William Osler, whose contribution to medicine was made "just as much at McGill as at Johns Hopkins or Oxford."

These, then, are characteristics and personalities of the two nations. Neither of these two nations is perfect, nor have all their leaders in the past worn wings. Every country is inclined to picture its native sons as being more sober, industrious and inflexibly honest than those of any other nation. But sensible persons know that it cannot be true that one party or one nation alone produces celestial harmonies, while the others make up that Mephistophelian Pandemonium pictured by Milton, out of which came only self—seeking imperialism.

Canada and the United States have many important features in common. Their strongest tie is the community of their daily life. They pursue their democratic convictions and aspirations in the same way, in similar environment, but beyond all their profitable and pleasant surface resemblance and exchange there are sound principles. The most precious common possession of Canada and the United States is democracy; their common heritage is Magna Carta, the basic document on which democracy is built. From the same roots sprang both the American and the Canadian way of life, and though Canada has no inspiring document to place alongside the Declaration of Independence, the same principles are hers." Both Canada and the United States are devoted to the idea of human progress; they believe in the capacity of all men for betterment, no matter to what level they have attained, and they affirm the freedom of the lowliest individual to work his way up to the top of his capacity.

Nor are these rights and aspirations limited to people of native birth. Canada and the United States challenge all the concepts of those who used "race purity" as a rallying point for a dreadful war. America has been called a "melting—pot" which takes in all manner of foreign elements and turns them out good citizens of a new country. For proof of the fact that the system works, though not blueprinted, it is necessary only to look at the names on the success roster of any enterprise from a hockey team to a steel mill. There are 150 million persons in this part of the earth, and they can all be different from one another and still be good Americans or good Canadians, so long as they have the grasp and practice of fundamental principles of thought and conduct.

It is being realized by other nations that these North American neighbours must play the great part in world affairs worthy of their status and potentialities, if democracy everywhere is not to decline. While some nations prefer to follow a vacillating policy depending upon immediate self—interest, these two must pursue policies based upon intelligent appraisal of long—range world interests. Each has peculiar qualifications, and together they make an important team. They need the outside world as customers and suppliers, but more than that, they need to participate in world political affairs and not merely to sit back as umpires for consultation but not participation. Americans should remember that, powerful as their country is, they are, after all, a relatively small part of the world's population. Dorothy Thompson once wrote: "We are just 132,000,000 people out of a world containing over two billions of other people, all of whom can manufacture tanks and guns and make coalitions, and who have a historic tendency to gang up together when any one nation claims too much for itself."

Canada has her own problems. Just now she is on top of the world, but being a small nation with enough wealth for a large one she faces particular responsibilities and dangers. To those who have learned to view the globe from the top, it is clear that Canada is at the centre of world power, surrounded by the United States, Great Britain and Russia. Her position used to mean safety, but the strategy of air war has made her land mass a crucial point in event of war. Her political integrity is assured, her external relationships are clean of all selfish imputations, and she has many friends throughout the world. Her innate conservatism keeps the nation a political sobersides; her racial dualism gives her a tolerance and an understanding important in international dealings; her national feeling, based upon pride in her industrial, agricultural and military achievements, prevents her from becoming a drag upon progress. She is playing her part on international committees and in conferences and international work. Her plans for monetary stabilization and for control of civil aviation contributed much to agreement between Great Britain and the United States on these prickly subjects. She has a place on nine peace bodies; PICAO and ILO have their headquarters in Montreal; the first United Nations conference on food and agriculture was held in Canada with a Canadian chairman; she is the largest contributor of supplies and third largest contributor of money to UNRRA; and when the atom bomb fell on Hiroshima she was revealed as a partner with the United States and Great Britain in that world—resounding enterprise.

All this indicates that Canada has an importance in the world of nations far beyond her meagre population, and through it all she stands as an autonomous nation. Full stature was reached in 1931, when Canada accomplished peacefully the same result that the War of Independence achieved 155 years previously for the United States: recognition as an independent nation. The extent of this independence was illustrated by the fact that Canada declared war on Germany seven days later than Great Britain; she declared war on Japan before either Great Britain or the United States, and she need not have declared war on anybody if she had wished to stand aside. So independent is Canada that she refuses to consider allowing even British authorities to set up military establishments in her territory for the training of troops: she is willing to have the armed forces of friendly nations use her facilities, provided the establishments are owned, maintained and controlled by the Canadian government. This was demonstrated in the air training plan during the late war, when Americans, Britishers, Australians, New Zealanders, Norwegians, and men of all the fighting United Nations were trained in Canada for service with their own national military forces. As Lionel Chevrier, Minister of Transport, told Kiwanis International at Atlantic City this summer: "Canada is a nation with the same independence, rights and obligations as the United States"

At the same time, Canada is a partner in the British Commonwealth of Nations, which stands by itself in history as a remarkable political institution. It is a world wonder that the British mother country, a mere dot on the map, can inspire such tenacious loyalty as to bind far—off nations such as Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa to herself in spite of powerful attractions of environment and difference an living. Commonwealth members enjoy all the elements of freedom, and yet are bound together by loyalty to the Crown, a great inheritance of political and social and moral precepts, and by traditions time has been unable to weaken. Field Marshal Jan Christiaan Smuts, who fought with distinction against the British in the Boer War, and is now a leading Empire statesman, describes the British Empire as "the widest system of organized freedom which has ever existed."

The part that the United States and Canada can play on the stage of world affairs is enhanced by this connection of Canada with the Empire, but there are people who demand why Canada is the only American State which is not a member of the Pan American Union. Fortunately, it is widely recognized that Canada's associations with the old world are not only ineradicable facts, but facts which have certain advantages to the Americas. When Canada speaks in the family councils of the Commonwealth, her voice is the voice of America. She does not accept the role of mere interpreter. She fulfils that office by being true to herself, not as an intermediary but as a principal. Her position in the British Commonwealth does not make her less an American nation, and she pursues a friendly and mutually helpful cultural and business relationship with all the nations in the Americas.

One thing is much needed: information. Canadian publicity has not been noticeably brilliant. Politicians and public servants often fail to understand that resentment to change, and opposition to new ideas, do not spring from cussedness but failure to understand the reasons. Advance education and information of the general public, not on partisan or emotional lines but on facts and logic told interestingly, would avert many headaches. Continental thinking is a necessary prelude to international thinking, something to be fostered in both countries. It can be done if the immediate and temporary pleasure of recounting the more sensational and lunatic aspects of life is supplanted by features vital to the future and the permanent.

In addition to publicity, there is an opportunity to be found in education. There are upwards of 30 million school children in the two countries, growing up into the next adult generation. These figures drive home the irresistible fact that the partial instruction now given with regard to the neighbouring country is evidence of neglect of a grand opportunity. In the spring of 1944 the American Council on Education, with support of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, took the initiative in bringing together a group of educators from Canada and the United States. As a result, a continuing Canada—United States Committee on Education came into being. This bilateral committee, for whose work high hopes are held, has the support of many teachers' and education associations.

There are obstacles in the way of the most complete correlation of effort by these two countries for their own advancement and the good of the world, but there exist in the hearts and minds of their people powerful generative impulses which need only to be set free by interest to bring about wonders. The need for striking off any restraining shackles is more important now than ever. The international collaboration in which United States and Canada are engaged with other nations extends to all human activities, and involves every citizen, and is not any longer the prerogative of ministers plenipotentiary. The domestic welfare of these North American nations, because of the impact of their economy on world business, makes their internal activities of interest "to all the world. There are few sceptics in these countries among patriotic and thinking people, because it would be very un—American (in the broad sense of "American" which includes Canada) to entertain any doubt that this continent will come out all right. But realization is needed of the truth that a happy future does not lie in the path of do—nothing—ism. Having agreed on ideals which are the growth of centuries, and having planned how the ideals are to be sought in a world passionately realistic, then the people of Canada and the United States must face actualities, think intelligently and pronounce intelligibly, build durably, and work without ceasing.

Readers desiring further information on various facets of Canadian cultural and economic life may obtain any of the following articles from a branch of The Royal Bank of Canada, or from Head Office, Montreal:

Canada and the British Empire

Canada's Northland

What is This Canada?

Social Welfare

Canada's Government

Banking in Canada

Education

Airway Transport

International Trade

Canadian Women

 

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