Parties Long Estranged: Canada and Australia in the Twentieth Century


288 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-0975-2
DDC 327.71094'09'04





Edited by Margaret MacMillan and Francine McKenzie
Reviewed by Graeme S. Mount

Graeme S. Mount is a professor of history at Laurentian University. He
is the author of Canada’s Enemies: Spies and Spying in the Peaceable
Kingdom, Chile and the Nazis, and The Diplomacy of War: The Case of


Literature on Canadian–Australian relations is sparse. The two
countries are of comparable size, with similar economies and histories.
Both were originally British Dominions that later attracted immigrants
from continental Europe, then from Asia. Both drifted from the British
into the U.S. orbit. The essays in this volume indicate that successive
governments of the two countries have not regarded each other as
friendly partners.

During World War I, Sir Robert Borden initially liked his Australian
counterpart, William Hughes, but subsequently found him tiresome and
unrealistic. To Borden, Hughes seemed unnecessarily antagonistic toward
the United States, and Borden joined forces with British Prime Minister
David Lloyd George in attempting to restrain him. Australia’s
revolution to autonomy was slower than Canada’s, and during World War
II, Canada concentrated its effort on Europe, Australia—from 1942
onward—on the South Pacific. Australia’s minister of external
affairs, Herbert Evatt, was furious that Canada would not join Australia
in opposing a veto for the Great Powers on the Security Council;
Canadian diplomat Charles Ritchie found Evatt “megalomaniacal and
irresponsible.” In 1946, Canada and Australia competed for the same
seat on the Security Council.

When the Liberal-Country Coalition led by Robert Menzies won the 1949
Australian election and ousted the Labour government led by Benedict
Chifley and Evatt, the writers note that Canadian–Australian relations
remained at arm’s length. Australia supported Great Britain during the
Suez Crisis of 1956, while Canada’s Liberal government did not. St.
Laurent and Pearson admired Nehru’s government in India, but Menzies
did not. Menzies doubted that a republic should remain in the
Commonwealth, and he disagreed with Nehru’s opinion that the North
Vietnamese were Vietnamese nationalists rather than Soviet surrogates
who threatened Australian security.

The editors deserve congratulations for this collection of fine essays
on the diplomatic and economic relationships between the two countries.
An essay on the era of John Howard (Australia’s prime minister since
1996) and Jean Chrétien would have completed the process and
reconfirmed the thesis. On the Kyoto Accord (which Howard rejected) and
the Iraq War (in which Australians participate), Canada and Australia
continue to travel different paths.


“Parties Long Estranged: Canada and Australia in the Twentieth Century,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,