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Canada had proven to be a country that aimed for peace and prosperity, as it was actively engaged in projects that could benefit the developing countries and prevent a war from happening. The roles that Canada played in the NATO, UN and NORAD, and the actions in which it took during the Korean War and the Suez Crisis showed how valuable Canada’s contributions were. They were what acknowledged Canada to be a peacekeeping country on an international scale. In addition, the recognition of the communist government in People’s Republic of China by Trudeau helped to identify Canada as an independent nation willing to cooperate, trade and communicate with all nations. Furthermore, the acts that the federal government passed during 1945 and 2000, including the Veteran’s Land Act, special legislation regarding the veterans, the introduction of the Canadian Bill of Rights, the Canada Assistance Plan, the national Medical Care Act, the Free Trade Agreement, the Official Languages Act and the amendment of Canada’s Constitution in 1982 all contributed to Canada’s positive features that benefited Canadians greatly.
Canada’s approach in addressing the fear of communism was shameful, as it suspended many people’s rights. People who were thought to be communist spies received mistreatment and had their homes fully searched by police even though there was no definite evidence working against them. Its action in developing V-8 engines that could cause serious pollution to the environment and the cutting of federal government spending in order to address the debt crisis also contributed to the suffering of the people. In addition, the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Accord proved to be bad mistakes in resolving the tension between Quebec and the rest of Canada. Ultimately, the positive features overpower the negative features, since Canada did more good than harm from 1945 to 2000.
Canadian Flag and the New Constitution
To address the complaint in Quebec in terms of the too-British Canadian flag, Pearson suggested a new flag that would represent all Canadians. It was raised on Parliament Hill on February 15, 1965, and many Canadians were proud of what they were seeing. In addition, to further amend the relationship between Quebec and Canada, Trudeau’s government acted on the suggestion of “Bi and Bi Commission” and passed the Official Languages Act, making Canada a country with two official languages: French and English. Both languages were taught in schools and with the encouragement of Trudeau to young Canadians learning about both cultures, the relationship between Quebec and the rest of Canada was slowly improving. However, more effort was required to gain the trust of the Quebeckers. On April 17, 1982, the Canadian Constitution was revised, with the new Constitution recognizing Quebec as an equal partner in Canada. This brought many Canadians with joy and pride and signified a new forward stride toward peace.
The Charlottetown Accord and the Meech Lake Accord
During the 1980s, the Charlottetown Accord and the Meech Lake Accord both involved Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. The Meech Lake Accord had many changes to the constitution. They wish to recognize Quebec as a distinct society and wanted to give more power to the province. Many people protested that making Quebec a distinct society would separate Canada, making Canada into two distinct parts. This would not create unity in the country. Also, Aboriginal groups were concerned about their rights not being addressed. Meech Lake failed in June and created a stronger feeling of separation from Quebec. In October 1992, the Charlottetown Accord put out a national referendum to give Quebec more power. They also wished to reform the Senate and give more power to Aboriginal groups. The vote came and the rest of Canada decided the idea was bad, with most of the support coming from the east. Quebec also had no faith in the accord, because it felt it was not given enough power to them. The Aboriginal groups in Quebec caused voters to fear that they would have too much control over the provincial politics.
When the war veterans came back after World War II, they were unable to support themselves. They found their previous professions occupied by other individuals and were faced with extreme difficulty when trying to look for a new job. As a result, the government passed special legislation that allowed the war veterans to regain their old positions. They also gave hiring preference for veterans and war widows for government jobs and provided those who wished to pursue post-secondary free tuition and living allowances. With the Veteran’s Land Act passed, the veterans were able to obtain mortgages at a more manageable rate. In addition, the 165,000 displaced persons that came to Canada after the war was over were able to settle in communities across Canada. Their children attended schools and absorbed English at a fast rate and new job opportunities were opened up for the parents to support their families.
Massey Commission was established by the federal government to investigate the state of Canadian culture. The government was suggested by the Commission to become more actively involved in funding universities and the arts programs. As a result, scholarships were given to students in universities with high achievements in arts, money was poured into theatre productions and grants were given to writers and artists with amazing talents. Many institutions, including the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the National Ballet were becoming Canadian pride. Not only did the Commission recommend the government to invest money into these areas, it also advised that TV in Canada should be used for educational purposes, such as those in drama and music. As a result, the responsibility was on the CBC and the first two stations were established in 1952 in Toronto and Montreal. By 1960, 90% Canadians had access to television and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) was in charge of regulating programs that were shown on televisions in order to meet the requirements of Canadian content.
Improvement on Social Welfare
Following the introduction of the Canadian Bill of Rights, came the improvement of social welfare system under the leadership of Lester Pearson and his government. In order to make his plan work, Pearson first had to gain power from the provincial government before distributing taxes collected from the wealthy provinces to the less privileged ones. He offered the provinces government grants that would be used toward the providence of social services, the most prominent ones being health care and education. Along with the initiation of health care, the government also began the Canada Pension Plan, which was to provide governmental support to those who retired. Subsequent to the Pension Plan was the Medical Care Act that was passed in 1966 as a form of agreement between the federal and the provincial government sharing the medical costs. These acts all benefited Canadians greatly, as they no longer needed to face huge debt or declare bankruptcy due to the large amount of unpaid medical fees.
After succeeding Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau addressed the problem of unemployment issue and regional disparity, the economic gap between the rich and the poor regions of Canada, by spending millions of dollars on projects that would open up new job opportunities for people. The Free Trade Agreement with the U.S under Trudeau’s government also served as an economic stimulus that would enable businesses to thrive and increase government revenues.
Cars became a huge environmental concern after the V-8 engines were installed. They were a serious atmospheric pollutant that could cause damage to the ozone layer. Not only were the engines problematic, many people who were driving were not concerned with the safety of themselves and the safety of others. Automobile accidents caused by drunk drivers were common, and people not wearing seatbelts while driving was also a frequent sight.
The federal government was faced with a huge debt after the introduction of Medicare, since it was an extremely costly system. The taxes collected were insufficient to pay for all the medical fees and other medical technologies. As a result, the federal government had to borrow money from other countries, thereby making Canada looked as though it was losing control of its economy after the United States invested a large amount of money in Canada to gain possessive of its natural resources. Many large corporations were U.S. owned and Canada was slowly becoming increasingly dependent on the U.S. However, after the Finance Minister Paul Martin began cutting federal government spending, the economy was slowly improving. A major drawback to this approach was that now Canadians had to deal with other problems: the increase in tuition fees since universities and colleges were given smaller funds by the government, and less benefit in health care system resulted in the dismissal of staffs and the close down of hospitals. All of these contributed to the rising number of homeless people in Canada, who had to rely on food banks for their survival.
Canada made a commitment to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that it would allow military bases be built in Canadian soil, track the movements of Soviet submarines through aircraft hovering in the sky, be involved in the military training program with other allies, and most significantly, adapt to the same defense policy as its allies. Together with Britain, France, the United States and other European countries, Canada was taking measures to protect its people and doing what it could to fight against the aggressors. Canada’s role in the United Nations (UN) was also noteworthy, as it had been keenly engaged in external affairs, such as accepting refugees from developing countries that were going through conflicts and providing aid to where it was needed. The establishment of schools, the construction of wells, dams and roads were some of the projects that Canada was involved with. Henceforth, Canada was recognized as a peacekeeper for its engagement in every peacekeeping projects initiated by the U.N. since its start of missions in 1956.
The Korean War
During the Cold War, there were several conflicts that Canada was and was not involved in. The ones that Canada participated were the Korean War, and the Suez Crisis. The Korean War was particularly significant, as the battle between North Korea and South Korea would have turned into a disastrous warfare, had Canada’s Minister of External Affairs not insisted on calling a ceasefire on both sides. This was especially true, since North Korea was a communist country supported by the USSR and China, and South Korea was a democratic country supported by the United States. Therefore, the battle was fought indirectly between the USSR and the United States. Fortunately, the conflict was resolved before it could turn into a total nuclear war.
The Suez Crisis
In 1956, Egypt took over the Suez Canal and attempted to prevent ships from delivering goods to and from Israel. Britain, France and the United States all supported an open canal. The Soviet Union offered Egypt arms and finance to defend against a possible Israeli attack. As a result, tensions rose between the superpowers and a nuclear threat loomed as a possible scenario. Lester Pearson, the Canadian foreign minister was able to begin a diplomatic solution to the problem and to achieve a peaceful outcome to the crisis. For his efforts, Pearson received the Nobel Peace prize in diffusing the explosive situation.
Recognition of the People's Republic of China
In 1970, Pierre Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada decided that his government should recognize the Peoples Republic of China. Although it was against the will of United States, he saw that China was a huge power and a potential major trading partner of Canadian wheat and other goods. He did not wish to offend the US, but realized that the relationship with China had to be good and perhaps it could help reduce some of the tensions caused by the arms race. His foreign policy helped to identify Canada as an independent nation willing to cooperate, trade and communicate with all nations.
The Spread of Communism
The fear of communism had made many Canadians suffer greatly. They experienced both discursive and physical dehumanization throughout the duration of the Cold War. Anyone who was suspected of communist sympathies were dismissed from their jobs without any further explanation, union leaders who fought for the good of the workers were also under suspicion. The RCMP Special Branch regarded artists, peace activists, union leaders and individuals who were seen to have discontentment toward the Canadian government a security risk. Police even conducted a full house search and raided offices to find any forms of “revolutionary” material. Even when a poorly built bridge collapsed in Trois-Rivieres in 1951, Premier Maurice Duplessis directed this cause to the communist activities.
Canada’s International Role
In this section, discussions will center on some of the most prominent influences that Canada has made on the international relations between 1945 and 1970. This includes Canada’s important role in diffusing tension arose over the Suez Canal, its active involvement in the United Nations and North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its recognition of the communist government of the People’s Republic of China. Discussions will also reflect upon the negative aspects during this time period, including Canada’s dehumanization of those who are suspected of having any forms of relation with the spread of communism, or the “red menace.”
Changing Canadian Society
In this section, discussions will be made on the actions that the federal government took in order to deal with the drastic social changes. This includes the fate of the veterans who had gone off to war and came back facing financial difficulties, the protection of Canadian culture from U.S. influences, the introduction of the Canadian Bill of Rights, the improved social welfare system under the leadership of Lester Pearson and the addressing of concerns of unemployment and regional disparity during the Trudeau era. Some of the misconducts that Canada made during this time include the installation of V-8 engines that can cause serious atmospheric pollution, the dependence on U.S. companies that seemed to make Canada look as though it was losing control of its economy and the cutting of federal government spending in order to address the debt crisis
Changing Canadian Identity
In this section, discussion will be made with regards to the Quebeckers feeling of separation from Canada, the passing of the Official Languages Act by the Trudeau government, and the revision of Canada’s Constitution on April 17, 1982 that promised to recognize Quebec as an equal partner in Canada. Also, the negative approaches in which the government took concerning the Constitution debate will be evaluated. This includes the Meech Lake Accord and the Charlottetown Accord, packages of amendments to the constitution proposed by Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Although his intentions were to resolve the growing tension between Quebec and the rest of Canada, his government failed to realize that by directly amending the Constitution in favor of those in discontentment, he was ultimately pleasing a certain group rather than improving the current situation.