Canada and the United States: The Politics of Partnership


191 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-7383-2
DDC 327.73071




Reviewed by Graham Adams, Jr.

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


This book examines Canadian foreign policy with respect to the United
States from 1945 to the present. Relations between the two nations met
with both peaks and valleys but rarely went to extremes.

Cordiality flourished between 1945 and 1950, when both countries
enjoyed unparalleled prosperity. Since Great Britain could no longer
guarantee Canadian security, Canada joined NATO and accepted American
leadership in matters of defence. Clouds appeared in 1950 when Lester
Pearson grew nervous over General Douglas MacArthur’s aggressive
designs in Korea. Pearson’s successor, John Diefenbaker, clashed with
the United States over Cuban trade, communist China, and nuclear
weapons. When Pearson was returned to power, his public criticism of the
Vietnam War greatly irritated President Lyndon Johnson.

U.S.–Canadian relations reached their nadir under Pierre Trudeau. In
an attempt to diminish American economic influence in Canada, the prime
minister established a National Energy Policy (NEP), strengthened the
Foreign Investment Review Agency (FIRA), and promoted his “third
option” of expanding trade with Europe and Asia. According to
Bothwell, NEP would have worked only if world oil prices rose; their
fall led to “galloping disaster.” Despite Trudeau’s “third
option,” the proportion of trade with the United States actually
increased during this time. American investment had already declined
before the augmentation of FIRA’s powers; Canadian investment in the
United States, on the other hand, moved dramatically upward in the same
period. Trudeau’s tactics, Bothwell concludes, only heightened
tensions between the two countries.

Brian Mulroney tried to create a new special relationship with the
United States based on free trade. It is too early to make a final
judgment on this approach, but, as the author notes, the end of the Cold
War and free trade with Mexico may demand further revision of Canada’s

Bothwell writes chiefly from a Canadian perspective. We need further
research into the thinking of American policy-makers on these same
issues. Nevertheless, this succinct, dispassionate, and balanced survey
is a valuable contribution to the history of Canadian–American


Bothwell, Robert., “Canada and the United States: The Politics of Partnership,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,