Invisible and Inaudible in Washington: American Policies Toward Canada


252 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7748-0702-4
DDC 327.71073





Reviewed by Graham Adams, Jr.

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


In their analysis of American policies toward Canada, the authors find
little evidence of a systematic coordinated U.S. strategy. Washington,
they assert, has usually dealt with Canadian issues on a case-by-case

Notwithstanding the ad hoc approach of America’s policymakers, Mahant
and Mount discern certain patterns in U.S.–Canada relations. They
identify one of these patterns as liberal internationalism. Here the
United States viewed Canada as a strong ally, helping America and
sometimes moderating U.S. attitudes when they appeared too militant.
This approach found its fullest expression during the early years of the
Cold War in such issues as the joint North American defence effort,
Canada’s role as a supplier of uranium and nuclear technologies, and
the founding of NATO.

At times the United States treated Canada as an exceptional nation
entitled to special exemptions, as seen in the Free Trade Agreement and
the Autopact. America also excused Canada from controls and taxes as
they applied to outward-flowing foreign investment. On other occasions,
such as during the later stages of the Korean and Vietnam wars, the
United States regarded Canada simply as one more ally among several.
Sometimes U.S. policymakers perceived Canada as a satellite that was
expected to follow the American lead in its policies toward Cheddi
Jagan’s leftist government in British Guiana and on the International
Control Commission in Vietnam. America did not consult Canada with
respect to the Cuban missile crisis, the reorganization of the Panama
Canal Zone, or the Dominican Republic crisis.

This well-researched and valuable study tends to refute its own title.
American leaders may not have crafted a preconceived strategy toward
Canada, but neither has Canada ever pursued such a course in its
dealings with the United States. Most evidence clearly demonstrates that
with only a few exceptions, Washington has remained quite aware of
Canada’s presence. Its policies toward its northern neighbor have
proved neither invisible nor inaudible.


Mahant, Edelgard, and Graeme S. Mount., “Invisible and Inaudible in Washington: American Policies Toward Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 13, 2024,