Canada Rediscovers Its History

Courtesy Reuters

DURING the past year a new tone in Canadian comment on relations with the United States has caught American attention. The tone is sharper and more critical; the complaints appear larger. American editorial writers and inquiring Congressmen have discovered Canada's dissatisfaction, and some of them have laid the blame at the door of United States policies. Others are at least ceasing to take it for granted that the neighborly relations between these two countries must automatically provide a model for the world. Two House Committees have sent investigating representatives to Canada where none had ever paid an official visit before. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has listed Canadian-U.S. relations as one of its dozen subjects for study at this session.

The present Ambassador to Canada, Livingston Merchant, one of the most perceptive Canada has ever received from the United States, said in a speech early this year: "When I came to Ottawa two years ago, I did not believe that, as the problems multiplied and became more complex, the atmosphere itself might change and with the change solutions become more difficult. But this I now believe may be happening. There have been for a year or more signs of a change in mood or climate which it behooves both our countries to look at." One of Mr. Merchant's virtues as an ambassador is his willingness to acknowledge differences and to reject the facile soothing phrases which have lamentably become the common language of Canadian-U.S. exchanges. His next sentences were characteristic: "I am convinced that there is a basic friendliness and respect between our two peoples," he said. "This is well, for we each have deep need of the other. This basic attitude, however, does not automatically produce good relations."

What has happened to cause the change of climate which Mr. Merchant remarks? Why is there so much new concern on both sides about relations between Canada and the United States? Has Canada suddenly become a difficult neighbor? Or

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