Pledge of Allegiance: The Americanization of Canada in the Mulroney Years

Description

296 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
$29.99
ISBN 0-7710-5663-X
DDC 971.064'7

Year

1993

Contributor

Reviewed by Graham Adams, Jr.

Graham Adams, Jr., is a professor of American history at Mount Allison University in New Brunswick.

Review

Canadians frequently complain that Americans know little about their
northern neighbor, while most Canadians remain acutely aware of the
United States and its influence. Lawrence Martin is concerned with what
he sees as the Americanization of Canada during the Mulroney years.

Martin declares that the chief characteristics of the “American
Way” are limited government, a market-driven economy, economic
individualism, and dog-eat-dog laissez-faire capitalism. Canada,
according to the author, has traditionally emphasized social welfare,
government control over corporate power, and federal support of cultural
activities. Brian Mulroney and his Bay Street “border boys,” who
inordinately admired American capitalism, the author states, overturned
these historical Canadian policies and in effect Americanized the
economy. They accomplished this through such measures as cutting social
programs, underfunding cultural endeavors, deregulating industries,
slashing federal transfer payments, and pursuing tax policies favorable
to the rich. Free trade represented the latest stage in the integration
of Canada into an American-dominated continentalism.

It is unfortunate that the author misunderstood and ignored the thrust
of American history during the current century. America’s businessmen
may have rhetorically trumpeted laissez-faire and social Darwinism, but
the American government always played a vital role in the economy.
Regulation of business in the U.S. started early this century with the
Federal Reserve System, the Federal Trade Commission, the Pure Food and
Drug Act, workmen’s compensation, and eight-hour laws. In the 1930s,
Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal laid the foundation for the welfare
state with unemployment insurance, social security, massive public
works, farm subsidies, and support of collective bargaining. In 1935,
R.B. Bennett, in a bid for re-election, tried to catch up with America
by advocating measures borrowed from the New Deal.

A return to conservative economics over the past decade cannot be
attributed to “Americanization.” Rightists equally triumphed in
Margaret Thatcher’s Britain and Helmut Kohl’s Germany. Swedish
conservatives ended 50 years of social-democratic rule, and a right-wing
alliance led by Silvio Berlusconi won a landslide victory in Italy.
Martin’s misinterpretation of American history and his failure to view
Canada in a global context diminish the value of his work.

Citation

Martin, Lawrence., “Pledge of Allegiance: The Americanization of Canada in the Mulroney Years,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/13305.