Canada Great Britain Comparison
Comparative Analysis of Canada’s Relationship Between Great Britain and the United States Introduction For centuries, the British Empire was comprised of multiple dominions, colonies, and territories ruled by the United Kingdom of Great Britain. The British Empire was present in areas all over the globe. Around the early 1900’s the Empire was said to govern a total population of almost 500 million people, and covered about one quarter of the total land mass on Earth, which was spread all around the world.
This empire was known to be the largest formal empire that the world had ever seen. The empire reached its greatest extent at the end of World War I, and at that point the empire included some of the following land territories: British Isles, British West Indies, British Guiana, British West Africa, British East Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and Canada. Around the end of the 19th century, the economic lead that Britain had successfully kept for many years was beginning to become eroded.
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With this erosion of leadership came a great decolonization movement by most of the territories that were under control of the British Empire. Both World War I, and World War II put extreme financial and population strains on Britain, and even with the large amount of territorial extent the Empire no longer had the industrial or military power it once had. The empire relied heavily on the territories till the end of the Second World War. By the end of World War II, the Empire had no choice but to grant independence to most of its territories, which most joined the British Commonwealth of Nations.
The Commonwealth of Nations is known as an intergovernmental organization of 54 independent states that were once part of the British Empire. Within in the Commonwealth the states cooperate with a framework of common values and goals, which include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace. There is no political union in the Commonwealth, but the groups of states are regarded as equal in status.
The “Head of the Commonwealth” is considered to be Queen Elizabeth II, who also is considered as reigning constitutional monarch of 16 different Commonwealth members, including Canada. In this paper I want to focus on the important historic relationship between Canada and Great Britain, and also touch on the growing relationship of Canada and the United States. Also, I want to examine what Canada might be doing in the future within the international community. Canada was a very unique member within the Commonwealth.
Canada was considered to be a senior player in the Commonwealth of Nations, because until the early 1900’s it carried the title of ‘dominion’ alone. It wasn’t until the British Colonial Conference that the title of dominion was given to any other independent state. Canada was considered to be the most advanced member of the Commonwealth in terms of population and economic development, and also its relations with Britain were the most complex due to it’s geographical location with the United States. The relationship between Britain and the Canadian Dominion moved along a ‘decentralist’ path very quickly.
Canada is known to be the largest member of the Commonwealth in total landmass, and its border with the United States is known to be the longest border in the world. Canada also has the fourth largest gross domestic product in the Commonwealth with a total of 1. 5 trillion dollars, and ranks ninth highest in the world. Canada ranks very well in the international rankings for education, quality of life, governmental organization, and economic freedom. Canada was first of Commonwealth Nations to participate in large economic groups such as the G7 and G8. Association With Great Britain
In 1867, after Canadian delegates discussed the details of the British North America Act (BNAA) in London, the term Dominion was adopted to describe the status of Canada in the British Empire. The dominion delegates of Canada had made it obvious that they were starting to feel more independent from Britain, but even with the beginning of separation Canada still followed the parliamentary structure of Britain. After the British North America Act was adopted by Canadian officials, and was accepted in 1867 as the constitution of the Dominion, the Parliament of Canada came into existence.
The Parliament of Canada was modeled exactly from the British Parliament. The Canadian Parliament was granted limited power in regards to the amending of the constitution. When Canadian parliament sought after any amendment change of the BNAA it was required that there be a ruling by British law. As stated earlier, Canada held this status solely until the Colonial Conference in 1907, which was the time when the remaining self-governing colonies also took on the status of Dominion. After the BNAA was solidified the relationship between Canada and Britain quickly began to decentralize.
The Prime Minister of Britain, Arthur Balfour, stated to the British House of Commons “that these children of empire were now grown up, referring generously to ‘those self-governing Colonies of the Empire over which no office in this country has any control at all’,” (Wigley pg. 7). During the first decade of the 1900’s, Canadian government leaders formulated three questions in regards to their position in the Empire; rendering solicited assistance to the mother country of Britain, the extent of association with British defense and foreign policies, and the ways in which they and Britain would discuss imperial problems in confidence.
Officials then participated in conferences in order to figure out the British-dominion affairs. The Imperial Conference of 1923 was a very important conference for the British-dominion affairs. It created debates that focused on the unified partnership between Britain and the dominions, and whether they should proceed together or independent from each other in the areas of foreign policy, defense, economic affairs, and the making of international treaties. After the 1923 Imperial Conference, another conference was held in regards to the economic standings between Canada, other dominions and Britain.
For both political and ideological reasons, the conference obtained a theme of independence, and there seemed to be no hidden implications for Canadian autonomy. Britain and Canada stood side by side with each other, and accepted their equality as commonwealth partners. All dominions, including Canada, felt as though their own particular conditions were required to be dealt with in the best interests of the Empire, but could be promoted by allowing for each to do with the conditions what they wished.
During the 1930’s and 1940’s, Prime Minister William Mackenzie King had been working hard and successfully to obtain national unity in Canada. He felt that that Canada needed to be cautious with its foreign policy and should avoid commitments. This is why many believe that Canadian policy during this time was summed up in two words ‘no commitments’. Many thought it was best to avoid controversy and division in Canada since unity was so fresh in the minds of the Canadian people. The Canadians had become very comfortable with their autonomy, which was made very apparent at the start of World War II.
For the first time, Canada had made a decision to declare war separate from Britain. The Canadian government felt that cooperating too closely with Britain at that point might negatively affect constitutional developments for Canada in later years. Throughout the 1940’s the Canadian parliament kept putting up a wall in between Canada and all other dominions and Britain. Prime Minister King would not meet with any of the dominion prime ministers or British parliament other then for personal consultations, and rejected to offer new support for the Commonwealth.
One might conclude that highlight of Canadian independence had come from the interactions during World War II. Canadian Participation in The World Wars In the early years of the 1900’s, when the problems that started World War I were beginning to brew, the relations between Britain and the dominions remained in a highly unresolved state. The British Empire, even though had granted dominion independence to Canada, still relied heavily on their military support. During this time the British parliament created the Imperial War Cabinet.
The purpose of the cabinet was to register the dominions’ claims as regards to their constitutional and functional place in the empire, to brief their representatives on current problems. The cabinet brought all overseas dominion and colonial government officials together during the Imperial War Conference in 1917. In 1914, Britain had declared war on Germany, and by doing so the British forces called for the Empire’s support. While many British leaders thought that there would be little participation from Canada, they were surprised to see the willingness Canada had to participate right from the start of the war.
After two months from the start of the war Canada had armed around 30,000 men and sent them to Britain. In 1910, Britain had given control of Canadian Naval defense completely to the Canadian Parliament, which allowed for Canada to have completely control over navy bases located in Halifax and Esquimalt. By 1918, there were a total of 619,636 men and women who had served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Out of all the dominions and colonies, Canada’s contribution, for a population of less than 8 million people, was considered to be an outstanding contribution. Canada’s participation in the ar was to support its mother country of Britain, but by the time the war ended Canada had become a unified nation, proud of their achievements and sacrifices. They were ready to play a larger role in the international community. During the years after World War I, Canada and other dominions had continued to meet with the British Parliament in regards to the autonomy of their countries. In 1939, British Parliament passed the ‘Statute of Westminster, which gave Canada and the other dominions the constitutional right to make their own decisions in all of their affairs.
So when it came time to commence the Germans again in 1939, Canada was not so quick to jump up to show support. The Canadian Parliament had decided that if Canada was going to show support in the war they wanted to do so as an independent declaration. The purpose behind this later declaration of war was to formally underline Canada’s independent status. When Canada declared war the idea was to contribute mostly in the form of war materials, there was no immediate decision to secure a large army for the use overseas.
The Canadian Parliament created a set of goals to do the following: Maintain defense and security of Canada including the development of the Royal Canadian Air Force and Royal Canadian Navy, provide vital food supplies to Britain, create an industrial program for weapons and ammunition, provide training courses for Allied pilots. Also, proposals for a British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was implemented in December of 1939, which allowed for the building of 65 training schools in Canada for Commonwealth countries.
As in the First World War, Canada quickly sent around 23,000 untrained ground troops to Britain while Canada’s Air Force and Navy was built. In the Early 1940’s, the Royal Canadian Air Force grew substantially to around 206,000, which ended up playing a major role in the war against Germany. The Royal Canadian Navy also played a major role all around the world. The Canadian ships were helpful in operations not only in Europe but also in the Mediterranean and Pacific Ocean. Canada was applauded for keeping the lifeline to Britain open in the Atlantic. If Canada had not generously contributed men, aircraft, and ships to the battle, and if the ports of Canada and Newfoundland had not been available, the war would certainly have dragged on much longer,” (Munro pg. 60). The wars benefited Canada on an economic level, as well as a military level. Although Canada was showing signs of industrial economic growth before the wars, the growth was very slow. At the state of the First World War, industrial and agricultural products were in great demand by the Allies, Canada gladly offered up their products. Also the wars forced the government to create wartime regulations for the economy.
By the end of the Second World War the standard of living for most Canadians became higher then ever before, vastly exceeding those of other dominions in the Commonwealth. Growing Relationship With The United States During the first two decades of the 1900’s, the United States had drastically grown to become a world power. With the global emergence of the US, and the steady decline in power of Great Britain, Canada was affected more then any country in the world. The growth of a relationship between Canada and the United States seemed to be inevitable, because of the geographical location of the two.
Especially since the two countries shared borders, fisheries, and natural resources, which made the relations between the US and Canada become much more solidified, and the fact that the US economy had quickly boomed was an attraction for the Canadians since the Canadian economy had a much slower start at the beginning compared to the US. A big problem that Canada faced was the fact that some of Canada’s “best and brightest” had left Canada to go to schools, and find jobs in the United States, and never returned.
In 1908, the International Boundary Commission was created as a permanent organization, which was responsible for maintaining the border between the United States and Canada. This was the first important initiative noted for the beginning relationship between Canada and the US. With the solidified border came some issues that presented themselves. The fishery disputes had remained to be the biggest problem for the relations between the US and Canada, which had ended up lasting for a long period of time.
Since many of the rivers flowed from Canada directly across the American border the two countries had to create regulations to try and resolve the fishing issues. So the United States, Britain, and Canada worked together to create the International Fisheries Commission, which worked to settle disputes. One very large problem had come between the two countries, and almost ruined relations between them, this was the Alaskan Boundary dispute. The two countries worked with Britain’s cooperation to come to an agreement by signing 8 treaties, which would help to “clean the slate” of long-standing quarrels.
At the start of the World Wars, Canada and the US had joined forces in the defense of North America. The Canadian parliament and the US government worked together to create a joint board of defense, which would continue to grow and become useful even after the World Wars. When the wars were over, the economic boom allowed for Canada to pull itself out of a depression and allowed for closer ties to be created with the United States between the two economies. Canadians welcomed investment into Canada from the United States, which had grown immensely over the beginning of the 1900’s.
It seemed that less and less British trade unions were located in Canada, but more and more US unions where popping up all around Canada. It was starting to look as though American firms were beginning to take control of the Canadian industry, but it seemed for the time being that Canadians were unconcerned with this economic control. While many Canadians began to worry about the Americanization of Canada, they still had a strong ‘craving’ for reciprocal trade between the two. During the time when Canada was awarded an independent seat in the League of Nations they urged the Americans to also join.
When the US rejected Canadian leaders were disappointed. The Canadians felt as though the overall positive relationship that was had with the US was a prime example to Europe of how they should get along with each other. Canadian delegates reshaped the League by using the relationship that they had with the United States, expressing that “the world could learn from, ‘three thousand miles of undefended frontier’ between the US and Canada,” (Thompsan/Randall pg 101). After the end of World War II, the United States had complications arise with the Soviet Union, which began the Cold War.
Canada became an important player in the Cold War not necessarily by choice. Canada was located directly between the two rivals of the Cold War, which made it very hard for Canada to stay neutral. Also, in 1945, Canadian public opinion was swayed against the Soviet Union when documents were defected proving a Soviet spy ring was in Canada. Shortly after this the two neighboring countries sign a plan for joint air defense known as the North American Air Defense Agreement (NORAD), which was later changed to North American Aerospace Defense Command.
This combined the air defenses of the United States and Canada. The agreement brought the U. S. and Canada closer during the Cold War, because they relied on each other for detection of nuclear missiles. Even though the two countries quickly grew closer during World War II and the beginning of the Cold War their relations began to deteriorate around the time of the Vietnam War. The newly elected leaders of Canada did not feel that they could supply the support needed to the United States during the Vietnam War, and they openly expressed disagreement with American policies in Southeast Asia.
Many Canadians demanded that American influence be significantly reduced. For about twenty years after the Vietnam War the relations between the two countries stay strained. It was obvious that the governments had different perceptions on international events. Finally, in the late 1980’s, Canada and the United States reached a tentative trade agreement that would change the economic relations between the two. After the agreement came into effect trade between the two grew dramatically. The United States was taking around 80% of Canada’s exports, and Canada was receiving 70% of imports from the United States.
The agreement grew with the addition of Mexico in the 1990’s, which became known as the North American Free Trade Agreement, and trade between the U. S. and Canada remained high even to the present day. Now the economic relationship is known to be the largest in the world. The imports and exports between the countries still remain extremely high. Canada still remains the largest market for U. S. exports. The economies have become so intertwined that many businesses have developed internal production chains that operate back and forth across the border.
It has continuously been made obvious that the relationship between the United States and Canada has continued to grow. In 2011, the two countries released the ‘Beyond the Border’ agreement. This agreement basically deals with the security perimeter on both sides of the border. After 2001, the United States tightened its border, which made the bilateral trade relationship more difficult to maintain. The agreement allows for more participation with security forces between the U. S. and Canada, and creates trusted travel of manufacturers across the border.
This agreement has opened up the possibilities in the future for the United States and Canada to work closer with each other in order to harmonize rules in agricultures, food, energy, and the environment. What The Future Holds In present years, Canada has expressed great excitement in maintaining a relationship between both the United States and Britain. Current Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stated that he looks forward to working with the United States, while keeping communication with Great Britain.
One has to wonder how the relations between Canada, Great Britain and the United States will progress. Currently, Canada shows no signs of letting its relationship with Great Britain deteriorate. The Canadian people understand that their relationship with Britain is deeply rooted, and that they share common history and values. In late 2012, the two leading government officials of Canada and Great Britain came together and signed a ‘Memorandum of Understanding for Enhancing Mutual Support at Missions Abroad.
The signatures promote the co-locations of embassies, joint provision of services, and common crisis response. It is explained that their partnership on multiple global issues has caused the relationship between them to show an increase of strength. Canada still shows feelings of loyalty to the commonwealth, and is excited to maintain membership in it while making plans to work with Britain for future reform of the commonwealth. Canada could be considered the daughter of Great Britain who ended up marrying the United States.
The relationship between the United States and Canada is also deeply rooted, and the two countries understand each other very well, because they share similar cultures, norms and values, and share an economic relationship like no other two countries in the world. Also, growing numbers of people move back and forth for education and work. Another obvious reason why the relationship seems to have no future of deterioration is the fact that the two share the worlds longest, unprotected border, and share security of the border.
In years to come it seems that Canada will continue to work closely with the United States to build up its security alliance, and also reinforce the role as most trusted ally to the U. S. By doing this we would see a large focus on cooperation on trade issues, international policy and promotion of democratic norms. If this was to happen then we might see Canada address problems that they have with NAFTA, and strengthen their military relationship with the United States. Also, they might base their global relationship more on their relationship with the United States.
Since the world is changing, Canada needs to protect itself and reduce the likelihood of failure. While the political powers and economy of the U. S shows signs of becoming weaker and less vigorous, Canada should create options as a backup plan. Growing countries such as China could benefit from creating an economic relationship with Canada. Realigning some of its assets and interests with new rising powers makes good economic sense. Prime Minister Harper has recently met with the Chinese president to create an agreement that would better protect Canadian businesses that might want to capitalize on their growing economy.
In the coming years, it is possible that we could see Canada take some of its economic focus away from the United States, and shift it to other parts of the world to become more involved in the international community. Many are unsure of what course Canada will take into the future. The international community is always growing, and Canada has made sure to keep itself involved within the community. The future seems to hold much success for Canada as a strong economic player, whether it is to continue a close relationship with the United States or branch out and create new relationships with other strengthening countries.
Bibliography: -Canada’s World, Rising Powers: Future Directions, http://www. canadasworld. ca/learnmor/ninenewr/risingpo/futuredi. 2012 -Huffington Post, Beyond The Border: Deal to Bolster Security and Reduce Trade Barriers. http://www. huffingtonpost. ca/2011/12/07/beyond-the-border-perimeter-security-canada_n_1134463. html. 2012 -Government of Canada, Canada and the United States: No Two Nations Closer, http://www. canadainternational. gc. ca/can-am/Closer-etroites. aspx? view=d. 2012 -Lain Munro, Canada And The World Wars, Wiley Publishers Toronto, 1979.
Pgs 28-70. -Thompson, Randall. Canada and The United States, Georgia Press, 2008. Pgs 101-145. -Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Canada and the World: 1921-1939, http://www. international. gc. ca/history-histoire/world-monde/1921-1939. aspx? lang=eng&view=d 2011 -Peter Lyon, Britain and Canada: Survey of a Changing Relationship, London, England 1976. Pg. 141-150 – Philip Wigley, Canada and the transition to Commonwealth, Cambridge University Press, 1977. Pgs 1-20 -Andrew Porter, Britain’s Empire in 1815,