Canada in the Americas/Le Canada dans les Amériques

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Canada in the Americas/Le Canada dans les Amériques
Editorial Board / Comité de rédaction
Editor-in-Chief
Rédacteur en chef
Kenneth McRoberts, York University, Canada
Associate Editors
Rédacteurs adjoints
Isabel Carrera Suarez, Universidad de Oviedo, Spain
Carolle Simard, Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada
Robert S. Schwartzwald, University of Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Managing Editor
Secrétaire de rédaction
Guy Leclair, ICCS/CIEC, Ottawa, Canada
Advisory Board / Comité consultatif
Irene J.J. Burgers, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Patrick Coleman, University of California/Los Angeles, U.S.A.
Enric Fossas, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, España
Lois Foster, La Trobe University, Australia
Fabrizio Ghilardi, Università di Pisa, Italia
Teresa Gutiérrez-Haces, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico
Eugenia Issraelian, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
James Jackson, Trinity College, Republic of Ireland
Jean-Michel Lacroix, Université de Paris III/Sorbonne Nouvelle, France
Denise Gurgel Lavallée, Universidade do Estado da Bahia, Brésil
Eugene Lee, Sookmyung University, Korea
Erling Lindström, Uppsala University, Sweden
Ursula Mathis, Universität Innsbruck, Autriche
Amarjit S. Narang, Indira Gandhi National Open University, India
Heather Norris Nicholson, University College of Ripon and York St. John,
United Kingdom
Satoru Osanai, Chuo University, Japan
Vilma Petrash, Universidad Central de Venezuela-Caracas, Venezuela
Danielle Schaub, University of Haifa, Israel
Sherry Simon, Concordia University, Canada
Wang Tongfu, Shanghai International Studies University, China
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International Journal of Canadian Studies
Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
13, Spring/Printemps 1996
Canada in the Americas
Le Canada dans les Amériques
Table of Contents/Table des matières
Kenneth McRoberts
Introduction / Présentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Harold D. Clarke and Marianne C. Stewart
Public Beliefs About State and Economy:
Canada and the United States in Comparative Perspective . . . . . . . . 11
Christopher Kirkey
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives:
Canada’s Response To An American Challenge . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
Éloise Brière
Mère solitude d’Émile Ollivier :
apport migratoire à la société québécoise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Marie Couillard et Patrick Imbert
Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine au dix-neuvième siècle . . . . . . 71
Maria Bernadette Velloso Porto
En découvrant l’Amérique : la poétique de la circulation dans des textes
brésiliens, québécois et acadiens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95
Greg Donaghy
The Politics of Indecision: Canada and the Anglo-American Caribbean
Commission, 1941-47 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115
Gordon Mace and Claude Goulet
Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behaviour . . . . . . . . 133
Review Essays / Essais critiques
Victor J. Ramraj
West Indian-Canadian Writing in English . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 163
André C. Drainville
Le Québec, les États-Unis et l’Amérique. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169
David Leyton-Brown
Perspectives on Canada-United States Free Trade . . . . . . . . . . . . 177
Authors / Auteurs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 185
Canadian Studies Journals Around the World /Revues d’études
canadiennes dans le monde . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 187
Introduction
Présentation
The notion of “Canada in the
Americas” evokes many different
responses. If it were only a matter
of geography, then of course
Canada has been part of “the
Americas” since its founding. But
to what extent has Canada actually
functioned as part of the Americas
in economic and political terms?
And to what extent have
Canadians seen themselves as part
of the Americas? In particular,
what if we push the focus beyond
the American colossus to embrace
the hemisphere as a whole? What
if we do indeed look to “the
Americas”, rather than
“America”?
La notion du « Canada dans les
Amériques » provoque des réactions
diverses. Si l’on s’en tient
uniquement à la géographie, il est
entendu que le Canada a toujours
fait partie « des Amériques ». Mais
jusqu’à quel point est-ce le cas sur
les plans politique et économique?
Et jusqu’à quel point les Canadiens
eux-mêmes ont-ils ressenti un
sentiment d’appartenance face aux
Amériques? Que se passe-t-il si
nous agrandissons notre cadre de
référence au-delà du colosse
américain, pour embrasser la totalité
de l’hémisphère? Que se passe-t-il si
nous jetons notre regard sur « les
Amériques », plutôt que sur
« l’Amérique »?
The first two pieces focus on the
conventional pairing of Canada
and the United States, but in ways
that offer new insights. Clarke and
Stewart compare and contrast how
Canadians and Americans see the
role of their respective states. Over
the years, scholars have examined
this question from a wide variety
of disciplines and approaches but
rarely have they brought to bear
the results of public opinion data
as these scholars do. Through their
careful and comprehensive
analysis of survey data Clarke and
Stewart show that in fact there are
important similarities in Canadian
and American views of the
appropriate economic and social
roles of the state, as well as in the
ways in which economic
conditions affect their electoral
choices. For his part, Christopher
Kirkey examines in careful detail
one of the most celebrated
instances of tension between the
Canadian and American
Les deux premiers textes se
concentrent sur le jumelage
conventionnel du Canada et des
États-Unis, mais en mettant en
lumière certains aspects nouveaux.
Clarke et Stewart font ressortir les
similarités et les différences entre
les façons dont les Canadiens et les
Américains perçoivent le rôle de
leurs gouvernements respectifs. Au
fil des ans, les chercheurs ont
abordé cette question du point de
vue de nombreuses disciplines, mais
n’ont que rarement réussi à faire
ressortir les résultats des données
obtenues au moyen de sondages
d’opinion avec autant d’éloquence
que ces deux auteurs. Par leur
examen habile et extensif des
données, Clarke et Stewart
démontrent qu’il existe en effet
d’importantes similarités, aussi bien
dans la façon dont les Canadiens et
les Américains perçoivent les rôles
économique et social de l’État que
dans l’influence des conditions
International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
13, Spring /Printemps 1996
IJCS / RIÉC
governments: the 1969 sailing of the
S.S. Manhattan through Arctic
waters. On the basis of interviews
with key public officials of the time
as well as public documents, Kirkey
shows how the two governments
persisted in diametrically opposed
views of the legal status of the
waterway, ensuring that a mutually
satisfactory outcome would be
impossible. Drawing upon bargaining
theory, he suggests that an alternative
approach might have been mutually
beneficial.
The following pieces take us beyond
the Canada-U.S. duo to reveal the
complexity of Canada’s insertion in
the “Americas”. Éloise Brière
explores how the intellectual and
literary life of one part of Canada,
Quebec, has been affected by its
relationship with another former
French colony, Haiti. She shows
how, during the 1960s, exiled Haitian
writer Émile Ollivier not only
influenced the work of native
Québécois writers but helped to
establish an allophone variant of
Quebec literature centered on the
experience of migrant peoples. For
their part, Marie Couillard and
Patrick Imbert compare the
experiences of French Canadians and
Argentines showing how as they
struggled to develop their own
national identities during the
Nineteenth Century they followed
similar cultural, ideological and
political currents. Yet, Couillard and
Imbert also illustrate that these
commonalities derived less from
direct contacts than from a common
dependence on Great Britain — and a
common fascination with the United
States. Finally, Maria Bernadette
Velloso Porto shows how Brazilian,
Québécois, and Acadian writers are
still in the process of discovering,
4
économiques sur leurs choix
électoraux. Pour sa part,
Christopher Kirkey effectue un
examen détaillé de l’un des points
de tension les plus importants
entre les gouvernements canadien
et américain; soit le S.S.
Manhattan dans les eaux de
l’Arctique. En se fondant autant
sur des entrevues avec des
personnalités publiques clés de
l’époque que sur des documents
publics, Kirkey montre comment
les deux gouvernements ont
persisté à maintenir des
perceptions diamétralement
opposées du statut juridique des
eaux de passage, rendant
impossible toute entente
mutuellement satisfaisante. En se
référant à la théorie des
négociations, il suggère qu’une
approche de rechange aurait pu
être mutuellement avantageuse.
Les textes suivants nous amènent
au-delà du duo Canada-É.-U.
pour révéler la complexité de
l’insertion du Canada dans « les
Amériques ». Éloise Brière
explore l’impact des relations du
Canada avec une autre ancienne
colonie française, Haïti, sur la vie
intellectuelle et culturelle d’une
partie du Canada, le Québec. Elle
montre comment, au cours des
années 1960, l’écrivain haïtien en
exil, Émile Ollivier, a non
seulement influencé les travaux
d’écrivains québécois, mais
également aidé à instaurer au sein
de la littérature québécoise une
variante allophone qui s’appuie
sur l’expérience des immigrants.
Pour leur part, Marie Couillard et
Patrick Imbert comparent
l’expérience des Canadiens
français et des Argentins, en
montrant comment les uns et les
autres ont développé des courants
Canada in the Americas
Le Canada dans les Amériques
rediscovering, and learning to
understand the “America” which
they have always shared. The act
of walking figures heavily in this
process of taking possession of
“America” and of the term
“American”.
The next two pieces examine the
Canadian state’s relations with the
other states of “the Americas”.
First, Greg Donaghy reconstructs
a 1940s debate within the
Canadian government over its
relations with the Caribbean.
Wartime conditions intensified
Canadian economic involvement
in the Caribbean and repeated
invitations to join an AngloAmerican Caribbean Commission
provided an opportunity to solidify
Canada’s relations with the region.
Yet, ultimately the invitation was
declined out of fear that by joining
Britain on the commission Canada
might be drawn into Britain’s
colonial relationship with the area,
and into a subordinate relationship
to Britain itself. In effect, if
Canada was to be more clearly
part of “the Americas”, it was to
do so on its own terms. Focussing
upon the contemporary period,
Gordon Mace and Claude Goulet
systematically trace how Canada
now has indeed established a
complex of relations with Latin
America and the Caribbean.
Through a quantitative analysis
they demonstrate that since the
late 1960s Canada’s relations not
only have grown but have became
more clearly structured while at
the same time affording greater
attention to differences among
sub-regions.
Finally, three review essays assess
the recent literature on specific
aspects of Canada’s insertion in
culturels, idéologiques et politiques
similaires dans leur lutte pour
développer leur propre identité
nationale au cours du dix-neuvième
siècle. Ils montrent aussi comment
ces similarités résultent bien
davantage d’une dépendance
commune à l’égard de la GrandeBretagne et d’une fascination
partagée pour les États-Unis que de
contacts directs. En dernier lieu,
Maria Bernadette Velloso Porto
illustre comment les écrivains
québécois, acadiens et brésiliens
découvrent, redécouvrent et
apprennent à connaître, de façon
continue, l’« Amérique » qu’ils
partagent depuis toujours. La
déambulation domine ce processus
de possession de l’« Amérique » et
du terme « américain ».
Les deux textes suivants examinent
les relations qu’entretient le Canada
avec les autres États « des
Amériques ». D’abord, Greg
Donaghy reconstruit un débat des
années 1940 au sein du
gouvernement canadien sur les
relations entre le Canada et les
Antilles. Les conditions de guerre
avaient accentué les engagements
économiques du Canada dans les
Antilles et des invitations répétées à
se joindre à la Commission angloaméricaine lui donnaient l’occasion
de resserrer ses liens avec la région.
Il devait néanmoins éventuellement
refuser l’invitation, craignant qu’en
se joignant à la Grande-Bretagne au
sein de la commission, il pourrait se
voir entraîné dans les relations
coloniales de cette dernière dans la
région, et, de même, se retrouver en
position de subordonné par rapport à
elle. En effet, si le Canada devait
plus clairement s’insérer dans les
« Amériques », il lui fallait luimême définir les conditions de cette
5
IJCS / RIÉC
the “Americas”. Victor Ramraj
explores one way in which the
“Americas” have directly contributed
to Canada’s cultural life, namely
through the rapidly growing writings
of West Indian-Canadians. While
most of these authors are recent
immigrants and their writings tend to
focus upon the immigrant
experience, the perspectives vary
widely reflecting both differences in
individual viewpoints and the
complexity of West Indian-Canadian
communities. André Drainville
focuses on studies of Quebec’s
insertion within the North American
economy or, more simply,
“America”. He shows how
differences in approaches of three
different studies themselves reflect
the emergence of an American social
and political space.
Finally, David Leyton-Brown
compares and assesses three recent
studies of the processes leading up to
the Free Trade Agreement, which,
with its NAFTA successor, wedded
Canada’s future even more strongly
with the American colossus. The
three studies offer important insights,
reflecting their different approaches
and perspectives, but they do not
provide definitive answers about the
FTA’s impact. Indeed, one might
presume that, given the centrality of
the North American political
economy to so many aspects of
Canada’s existence, such questions
do not admit definitive answers.
In sum, as these articles reveal,
Canadians are still struggling to
understand the nature of their
country’s insertion in the
“Americas”. Certainly, the
consequences for Canada of its
“American vocation” are greater than
ever before. As these articles also
clearly demonstrate, the insights of
6
appartenance. En se concentrant
sur la période contemporaine,
Gordon Mace et Claude Goulet
retracent systématiquement les
chemins qui ont amené le Canada
à établir le réseau complexe de
relations qu’il entretient
aujourd’hui avec l’Amérique
Latine et les Antilles. Au moyen
d’une analyse quantitative, ils
démontrent que, depuis la fin des
années 1960, les relations du
Canada se sont non seulement
resserrées, mais qu’elles se sont
mieux structurées, tout en
témoignant d’une attention plus
marquée aux différences entre les
sous-régions.
Enfin, trois essais critiques
procèdent à une évaluation de la
documentation récente portant sur
certains aspects spécifiques de
l’insertion du Canada dans les
« Amériques ». Victor Ramraj
explore la façon par laquelle les
« Amériques » ont contribué
directement à la vie culturelle
canadienne, notamment grâce à la
floraison rapide d’œuvres
littéraires émanant de Canadiens
d’origine antillaise. Alors que la
plupart de ces auteurs sont des
émigrants récents et que leurs
œuvres sont largement axées sur
l’expérience de l’immigrant, leurs
perspectives varient
considérablement, reflétant à la
fois des différences de points de
vue individuels et la complexité
des diverses communautés
canado-antillaises. André
Drainville se concentre sur des
études de l’insertion du Québec
dans l’économie nord-américaine
ou, plus simplement, dans
« l’Amérique ». Il montre
comment la différence d’approche
de trois études distinctes reflète
Canada in the Americas
Le Canada dans les Amériques
scholars who not only represent
different disciplines but are
themselves based in different parts
of the “Americas” are instrumental
to any attempt to chart the course
of Canada’s hemispheric future.
Kenneth McRoberts
Editor-in-Chief
elle-même l’émergence d’un espace
américain aux plans social et
politique.
Enfin, David Leyton-Brown
compare et évalue trois livres
récents qui étudient le processus
menant à l’Accord de libre-échange,
dont la signature, avec celle de
l’ELÉNA, unit davantage l’avenir
du Canada à celui du colosse
américain. Bien que ces trois
ouvrages fassent plusieurs
observations pénétrantes, qui
reflètent leurs perspectives et
approches respectives, ils n’offrent
pas de réponses définitives quant à
l’impact de l’ALÉ. En effet, compte
tenu que l’économie politique de
l’Amérique du Nord soit si centrale
à tant d’éléments de la vie
canadienne, on peut présumer que
de telles questions ne peuvent que
demeurer sans réponses définitives.
En somme, ces articles révèlent que
le Canada est toujours aux prises
avec sa tentative de comprendre la
nature de son insertion dans les
« Amériques ». Et, assurément, les
conséquences de sa « vocation
américaine » augmente de plus en
plus. Comme le démontrent
clairement aussi ces articles, les
observations de ces universitaires —
qui représentent non seulement
différentes disciplines mais qui
proviennent de divers endroits des
« Amériques » — contribuent
grandement aux efforts visant à
déceler l’avenir du Canada au sein
de cet hémisphère.
Kenneth McRoberts
Rédacteur en chef
7
Harold D. Clarke and Marianne C. Stewart
Public Beliefs About State and Economy: Canada
and the United States in Comparative Perspective
Abstract
This paper investigates the economic components of political culture in
Canada and the United States. Comparative analyses of national survey data
reveal important similarities in the cultural basis of political economy in the
two countries. Canadians and Americans structure their evaluations of
national and personal economic conditions in very similar ways and, in both
countries, the impact of these evaluations on support for governing political
parties and their leaders depends on the nature of political discourse in
particular election campaigns. Canadian-U.S. similarities extend to the
values that undergird a capitalist economic system; both Canadians and
Americans take balanced perspectives on the virtues and vices of capitalist
economics. Also, despite sharply escalating budget deficits and the electoral
successes of neoconservative politicians promising major reductions in the
scope of government involvement in economy and society, Canadians and
Americans continue to express strong support for numerous social programs.
This gap between demand and supply provides a motor for public discontent
that threatens not only the tenure of incumbent political parties, but also the
continuing viability of long-standing governmental institutions and processes.
Résumé
Le présent article étudie les éléments économiques de la culture politique au
Canada et aux États-Unis. Des analyses comparatives des données issues
d’enquêtes nationales font ressortir des similitudes importantes dans les
fondements culturels de l’économie politique des deux pays. Les Canadiens et
les Américains organisent leurs évaluations des conditions économiques
nationales et personnelles de façon très semblable et, dans les deux pays, les
répercussions de ces évaluations sur l’appui aux partis politiques au pouvoir et
à leurs chefs dépendent de la nature du discours politique durant chacune des
campagnes électorales. Les similitudes entre le Canada et les États-Unis sont
présentes jusque dans les valeurs sous-jacentes au système économique
capitaliste. Tant les Canadiens que les Américains ont une perspective juste des
points forts et des faiblesses des économies capitalistes. Malgré l’intensification
de plus en plus marquée des déficits budgétaires et les réussites électorales des
politiciens néo-conservateurs à coups de promesses de réductions importantes
des déficits dans la mesure de la participation du gouvernement à l’économie et
à la société, les Canadiens et les Américains continuent d’exprimer un appui
marqué à de nombreux programmes sociaux. Cet écart entre l’offre et la
demande alimente la grogne populaire qui compromet non seulement le mandat
des partis politiques au pouvoir, mais aussi la viabilité des établissements et
processus gouvernementaux en place depuis longtemps.
International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
13, Spring/Printemps 1996
IJCS / RIÉC
The idea that economic conditions powerfully affect political outcomes is
conventional wisdom among politicians, pundits and public alike. Analysts
repeatedly have attempted to determine if, as George Stigler (1973:160) once
phrased it, “this fact is, in fact, a fact.” Reviewing many of these studies,
William Miller observes that they are characterized by conflicting findings
and unresolved controversies, and concludes that “the best prospect of further
advance will now come through a focus on better data rather than better
technique” (1989:169).1 Data concerning the political cultural contexts in
which economic forces operate are especially important. Economists’ strongly
held assumption of preference exogeneity notwithstanding, citizens do not
make demands on governments or assess governmental performance in a
vacuum. Rather, they respond to a complex of beliefs, attitudes and opinions
about the desirability and feasibility of government action over a broad range
of economic and other policy areas. To understand political economy, one
must understand political culture. And, as Almond and Verba (1963)
emphasized some thirty years ago, the nature and impact of political culture is
best appreciated in comparative perspective.
This paper investigates the cultural bases of political economy in two
contemporary North American countries — Canada and the United States.
There is a general consensus in previous comparative research on the cultural
bases of political life in these two countries (e.g., Bell and Tepperman, 1979;
Hartz, 1964; Horowitz, 1966; Lipset, 1970, 1990; Presthus, 1974) that their
citizens typically differ in their emphases on the efficacy and propriety of
collective versus individual effort for achieving a variety of socially desirable
goals. As Lipset (1990:136) argues: “[i]f one society [Canada] leans toward
communitarianism — the public mobilization of resources to fulfill group
objectives — the other [the United States] sees individualism — private
endeavor — as the way an ’unseen hand’ produces optimum, socially
beneficial results. The evidence on this score is abundant and clear.” It is
argued that this tendency of Canadians to rely on government and of
Americans to rely on themselves explains the historically more extensive
involvement of the Canadian state in society and economy. Given their
relatively stronger collectivist orientation, Canadians have not been prone to
question the utility of government for implementing a broad panoply of social
programs, while Americans have remained suspicious of and hesitant about
the benefits of the welfare state. For the same reason, Canadians more than
Americans have also endorsed state involvement in various aspects of the
economy, in the expectation that such involvement could and should have
beneficial effects on national and personal economic well-being.
Although these differences are claimed to characterize the political beliefs of
“ordinary” Canadians and Americans, systematic comparisons of survey data
on the economic components of mass political culture in the two countries
remain few and fragmentary.2 Just how different are the beliefs and attitudes
undergirding contemporary political economy in Canada and the United
States? To answer this question, we employ data from several recent, major
national surveys of public beliefs, attitudes and opinions. One is the Political
Support in Canada (PSC) project for which several large-scale national, crosssectional and panel surveys were conducted during the 1983-93 period. A
12
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
second is the 1988 Canadian National Election Study (CNES). Both the PSC
and CNES surveys posed many questions pertinent for understanding the
nexus between economy and polity in the minds of the Canadian electorate.
The 1988 and 1992 American National Election Studies (ANES) constitute the
primary U.S. data base. Although the questions in these U.S. surveys are not
identical to the Canadian ones, they are sufficiently similar to permit
comparative analyses of several important topics. Limited use also is made of
other ANES data, as well as 1980-92 data on citizens’ evaluations of national
and personal economic conditions gathered in quarterly surveys conducted by
the Decima organization (Canada) and the University of Michigan Surveys of
Consumers (U.S.).3
We begin by mapping the content and structure of public economic
evaluations in the two countries, and investigating if Canadians and
Americans hold government responsible for the state of the national economy
and for their personal economic circumstances. We next assess the impact of
economic judgments on voting behaviour in recent national elections in the
two countries. Then, we explore a broad range of attitudes and beliefs about
government’s role in economy and society. Particular attention is paid to
people’s preferences for government spending in various policy areas, and
whether these preferences have changed in recent years. In the conclusion, we
argue that some (not all) of the major findings demonstrate important
similarities in the economic aspects of Canadian and American political
culture — similarities often overlooked or discounted in studies that have
emphasized cultural differences between the two countries.
Public Economic Evaluations
Dynamics: The PSC and Decima surveys reveal that Canadians’ judgments
about the performance of the national economy vary sharply over time, and
that these changes parallel movements in the objective economy (see also
Johnston, 1986:ch. 4). For example, in 1983, when their country was
beginning to emerge from a serious recession, only a minority (44%) of the
PSC respondents judged that the economy was performing either “very” or
“fairly” well (Figure 1). However, as the economy subsequently improved, so
too did people’s evaluations of it, such that, by 1988, fully 81% judged that it
was doing at least fairly well. These sanguine views did not persist; with the
onset of another recession in 1990, the percentage making positive judgments
fell precipitously (to 16%) and the percentage making negative ones
skyrocketed (to 84%). As Canada’s economy continued to sputter in the runup to the 1993 election, public evaluations of it remained highly critical.
Dynamic relationships between subjective evaluations of the national
economy and objective economic performance can be calibrated with greater
precision using the more finely grained (quarterly) 1980--92 Decima data.
Similar to the PSC results, evaluations of current national economic conditions
among persons participating in the Decima surveys became markedly more
negative during the slumps of the early 1980s and early 1990s (Figure 2).
Moreover, indicative of the connection between people’s subjective economic
evaluations and actual economic conditions, the correlation between such
13
IJCS / RIÉC
Figure 1.
Evaluations of the Performance of the National Economy,
Canada, 1983-1993
evaluations and changes in the unemployment rate was strong and
(predictably) negative (r = -.63).
The political significance of these dynamics in understanding how the
economy affects support for governing parties and their leaders cannot be
assumed; as earlier studies have emphasized, much depends on whether
people attribute responsibility to government for the state of the economy
(e.g., Clarke et al., 1992:ch.1). In fact, large majorities of Canadians do make
such responsibility attributions; more than three-quarters of those interviewed
in each of the 1983-93 PSC surveys stated that the actions of the federal
government would have at least some impact on the anticipated performance
of the economy (Figure 3). The potential political import of these
responsibility attributions is apparent in that public evaluations of Ottawa’s
economic performance varies sharply over time; thus, the percentages judging
that the federal government has done a “very good” or “good” job climbs from
41% in 1983 to 71% in 1988, before falling sharply (to 20%) two years later
(data not shown). At the time of the 1993 national election that decimated the
governing Progressive Conservatives, only 14% believed the government had
done a good job in managing the economy, and a massive 83% judged that it
had done a “poor” or “very poor” one.
Canadians’ evaluations of their personal economic circumstances tend to be
both more positive and less variable than their judgments about the national
economy (Figure 2). Also, the dynamics of personal economic evaluations are
responsive to objective economic conditions, but the linkages are weaker than
those for judgments about the national economy. For example, the correlation
between perceived trends in personal economic prospects and changes in
unemployment rates is -.45 in the 1980-92 Decima surveys, and the percentage
of respondents in the 1983-93 PSC surveys stating that they are at least “fairly
satisfied” with their material standard of living increases from 82% in 1983 to
84% in 1988, and then decreases to 80% in 1990 and to 57% in 1993. Similarly,
in the face of the post-1988 recession, the percentage believing that their
14
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
Figure 2a.
Evaluations of the National Economy and Trends in Personal
Financial Prospects, Canada, 1983-1993
Figure 2b.
Retrospective Evaluations of National Economy and Personal
Financial Conditions, United States, 1980-1992
financial condition is better now than three or four years ago falls from 41% in
1988 to 32% in 1990 and to 20% in 1993. Regarding responsibility
attributions, sizable majorities (averaging 64% between 1983 and 1993) in the
PSC surveys indicate that they believe the federal government is responsible to
some extent for their personal economic circumstances. However, responses
to a question that permits a direct comparison of the extent of responsibility
attribution for national versus personal conditions (government’s impact on
future conditions) show that in every survey the percentages attributing a
“some” or “a great deal” of responsibility to government for national
circumstances exceed those for personal ones (Figure 3).
15
IJCS / RIÉC
Figure 3.
Percentages Believing Federal Government Will Influence
National Economy and Personal Finances, 1983-1993
Turning to the American case, one observes patterns similar to the Canadian
ones. As in Canada, Americans’ evaluations of the national economy manifest
dynamics that reflect movements in the economy itself. Although the 1980-92
ANES surveys reveal that Americans typically have been quite negative about
the economy, this negativism was particularly apparent during the recessions
of the early 1980s and early 1990s. Analyses of the quarterly University of
Michigan Surveys of Consumers data gathered between 1980 and 1992 show
similar movements, with average scores on the national retrospective
economic evaluation index (range 0-200) varying from a minimum of 20 to a
maximum of 152, and those on the national prospective economic evaluation
index, from 35 to 146 (e.g. Figure 2). Also similar to Canada, Americans’
judgments about the performance of the national economy are strongly
correlated with objective economic conditions. For example, increases in the
unemployment rate are negatively related to retrospective and prospective
evaluations of the performance of the national economy, the correlations (r)
being -.87 and -.78, respectively. Again similar to the Canadian case,
judgments about personal economic circumstances are less mutable, with
retrospective evaluations in the Michigan consumer confidence surveys
varying from a low of 77 to a high of 125 and prospective ones, from 98 to 132.
Such personal economic judgments have predictable (negative) relationships
with objective economic conditions; for example, the correlations between
personal retrospective and prospective judgments and changes in
unemployment rates between 1980 and 1992 are -.74 and -.59, respectively.
Regarding responsibility attributions, some analysts (e.g., Sniderman and
Brody, 1977; Schlozman and Verba, 1979) have claimed that the political
impact of personal economic evaluations is muted in the United States because
many Americans fail to appreciate the relevance of government activities. The
ANES data are consistent with this hypothesis. When asked about the impact
of government economy policies on their personal economic circumstances,
16
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
fully two-thirds of the 1988 ANES respondents said that these policies had not
made “much of a difference” and less than one in ten said they had made things
“much better” or “much worse” (data not shown). Although differences in
question wording make precise comparisons impossible, the tenor of these
responses is clearly different than those in the Canadian surveys — Canadians
are more likely than Americans to attribute at least some responsibility to
government for their personal economic circumstances. The ANES data also
suggest that Canada-U.S. differences in the likelihood of responsibility
attribution extend to the national economy. When asked whether government
economic policies had influenced the economy as a whole, a majority (57%) of
those participating in the 1988 survey said they had not made much difference,
and only 9% thought they had made the economy much better or worse. The
caveat about question wording differences again noted, it clearly appears
Canadians are more prone than Americans to hold government responsible for
national economic conditions.
The nature of responsibility attributions in the two countries is important as
well. Two decades ago Bloom and Price (1975) claimed that American voters
were “ingrates” — they were much more likely to blame a government for a
poor or declining economy than to praise it for a good or improving one.
Recent survey evidence supports the conjecture. For example, 12% of those
interviewed in the 1988 ANES who judged that their personal economic
circumstances had become much better also believed that government
economic policies had a strong impact. However, among persons who thought
their personal condition had become much worse, the equivalent figure is 25%
(data not shown). The comparable percentages making responsibility
attributions to government for the state of the national economy are 27% and
47%, respectively. The hypothesis applies to Canada as well; responsibility
attributions vary strongly with whether economic evaluations are positive or
negative. Thus, in the 1990 PSC survey the percentage of Canadians according
a “great deal” of responsibility to government increased from 14% among
those who were very satisfied with their present living standard to fully 75%
among those who were very unsatisfied (Table 1). Asymmetries also
characterized evaluations of the national economy; among the 1990 PSC
respondents believing the economy would perform better in the years ahead,
34% thought government would have a great deal to do with this happy
circumstance. The equivalent percentage among those forecasting an
economic downturn was a much larger 70%. In both countries, then,
governments can be expected to lose more support from a bad economy than
they gain from a good one.
17
IJCS / RIÉC
Table 1.
Government Impact on Personal Financial Condition and National
Economy by Economic Evaluations, 1990
A. Present Financial
Condition Relative to
Four Years Ago
Government Impact
Great Deal
Something
Not Much
(N)
Better
%
Same
%
Worse
%
6
20
74
(627)
16
26
59
(944)
51
31
18
(371)
c24 = 402.33, p < .001, g = -.57
B. Satisfaction With
Present Material
Standard of Living
Government Impact
Very
Fairly
Little
Very
Satisfied Satisfied Dissatisfied Dissatisfied
%
%
%
%
Great Deal
Something
Not Much
(N)
14
25
61
(417)
16
34
51
(1123)
52
34
14
(295)
75
17
8
(100)
c26 = 394.42, p < .001, g = -.51
C. Anticipated
Personal Material
Standard of Living in
Three or Four Years
Government Impact
Great Deal
Something
Not Much
(N)
Better
%
Same
%
Worse
%
12
24
64
(393)
23
36
41
(902)
74
21
3
(594)
c24 = 627.07, p < .001, g = -.71
D. Anticipated
Performance of the
National Economy
Government Impact
Great Deal
Something
Not Much
(N)
Better
%
Same
%
Worse
%
34
41
25
(196)
40
37
23
(622)
70
24
6
(1074)
c24 = 207.91, p < .001, g = -.49
18
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
The Structure of Economic Thinking: Analysts have long debated the
relative importance of sociotropic (national) versus egocentric (personal) and
retrospective (past) versus prospective (future) economic evaluations as
determinants of support for governing parties and their leaders. These
controversies are important because they concern the psychological
foundations of public political behaviour in contemporary democratic polities.
Are voters selfish utility-maximizers, concerned only about their personal
future economic well-being, as the central tenets of neo-classical economic
theory suggests? Or, in contrast, do voters violate the canons of
microeconomic rationality by reacting primarily to perceptions of the health of
the national economy in the recent past? If so, are voters simply “irrational” or,
in contrast, do they deliberately focus on the national economy because of
altruistic concerns for the well-being of the larger collectivity to which they
belong? To date, those involved in the debates stimulated by such questions
have largely ignored the possibility that the core “national versus personal”
and “past versus future” distinctions do not correspond to how citizens actually
organize their thinking about economic matters. Do people, in fact,
differentiate clearly between national and personal economic circumstances,
or between past and future conditions when answering survey questions
designed to capture these theoretically interesting distinctions?
Confirmatory factor analyses (e.g., Bollen, 1989; Joreskog and Sorbom, 1988)
of the Canadian PSC and American NES survey data enable us to address this
question. CFA analyses of the PSC data tell a very consistent story —
Canadians’ economic thinking is organized in terms of three distinct factors.4
The first is a sociotropic-retrospective-contemporaneous factor that structures
evaluations of past and present national economic conditions; and the second
is an egocentric-retrospective-contemporaneous factor that structures
evaluations of past and present personal economic circumstances. However,
the sociotropic-egocentric (i.e., national-personal) distinction collapses when
Canadians consider the future. Thus, the third factor is a composite of
prospective sociotropic and egocentric evaluations (Table 2). This three-factor
model has an excellent fit with all of the PSC survey data gathered over the
1983-93 period. In every analysis, all factor loadings are statistically
significant, and possible alternative models that ignore one or more of the
distinctions among the three factors have much worse fits. Correlations
between the factors are consistently substantial, but not overwhelmingly
strong, thereby indicating that the conceptual distinctions implied by the
factors are not statistically trivial. In sum, the theoretically important
distinctions among sociotropic, egocentric, and prospective economic
judgments correspond well to how Canadians organize their thoughts when
they contemplate the evolution of the national economy and their personal
economic circumstances.
19
IJCS / RIÉC
Table 2.
Confirmatory Factor Analyses of Economic Performance Evaluations,
Canada, 1988, 1990, 1992
Economic Performance
Evaluations
Personal: Past
Present
Future
National:
Past
Present
Future
Factor Matrices (λ)
Sociotropic
Egocentric
Prospective
88
.00
.00
.00
88
.00
.00
.60c
90
.00
.00
.00
92
.00
.00
.00
.76c .80c .78c
.59c .59c .64c
.00 .00 .00
88
.66c
.49c
.00
90
.64c
.52c
.00
92
.64c
.53c
.00
.00
.00
.00
.00 .00
.00 .00
.00 .00
90
.00
.00
.65c
92
.00
.00
.59c
.00 .00 .00
.00 .00 .00
.65c .62c .71c
1988: χ25 = 9.36, p = .096, AGFI = .990, N = 1108^
1990: χ25 = 10.69, p = .058, AGFI = .994, N = 1967
1992: χ25 = 7.15, p = .210, AGFI = .993, N = 1115
Egocentric
Prospective
Inter-Factor Correlations (φ)
Sociotropic
Egocentric
Prospective
88 90 92
88 90 92
88 90 92
.65c .54c .62c 1.00 1.00 1.00
.60c .69c .34c .25c .50c .53c 1.00 1.00 1.00
Note: WLS estimates ; c - p≤ .05; ^ - random half-sample
Analyses of the ANES data indicate that Americans structure their economic
thinking in a very similar fashion. For example, an analysis of the 1988 data
reveals that a three-factor model has an excellent fit (Table 3). Loading heavily
on the first (sociotropic-retrospective) factor are judgments about
unemployment, inflation and economy generally over the past year.5 The
second, egocentric, factor organizes evaluations of personal economic
circumstances over this period as well as reports of how personal income has
fared relative to the cost of living. The third, prospective, factor is dominated
by judgments about the future course of the national economy, with forecasts
of one’s own financial condition having a significant, but weaker loading.
Although differing in detail, this three-factor model also has good fits for data
gathered in several other ANES surveys (Elliott and Zuk, 1989). In every case,
the inter-factor correlations are statistically significant, albeit modest (see,
e.g., Table 3). As in the Canadian case, then, theoretical distinctions among
sociotropic, egocentric and prospective economic evaluations are reflected in
how Americans actually structure their thinking about national and personal
economic conditions.
20
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
Table 3.
Confirmatory Factor Analysis of Economic Performance Evaluations,
United States, 1988
Factor Matrix (λ)
Economic Performance
Evaluations
Sociotropic Egocentric
Prospective
Personal Financial Conditions
Relative to Your Age
.00
.78c
.00
Personal Income Relative to
Cost of Living Over
Past Year
.00
.72c
.00
Personal Financial Condition
Expected Year From Now
.00
.29c
.24c
Unemployment over Past Year
.65c
.00
.00
Inflation over Past Year
.67c
.00
.00
National Economy over Past
Year
.70c
.00
.00
National Economy over Next
12 Months
.00
.00
.83c
P 2 10 = 12.07, p = .281, AGFI = .996, N = 1729
Inter-Factor Correlations (φ)
Sociotropic
Egocentric
Prospective
Egocentric .53c
1.00
Prospective .36c
.13
1.00
Note: WLS Estimates; c - p ≤ .05
Economic Evaluations and Electoral Choice
One of the most long-lived controversies in the literature on economic
conditions and electoral choice concerns egocentric versus sociotropic voting.
As observed above, standard utility maximization theories of voting behavior
make the case for the “pocketbook” voter, i.e., the individual whose ballot
decisions are guided by his/her personal economic self-interest (e.g., Monroe,
1991). However, following pioneering work by Key (1966), numerous
American studies (e.g., Kiewiet, 1983; Kinder and Kiewiet, 1979, 1981) have
reported that retrospective sociotropic judgments, i.e., judgments about the
national economy, fare best in empirical analyses of presidential and
congressional voting behavior. These findings, in turn, have provoked efforts
to discover pocketbook voting by other means, principally through analyses of
aggregate time-series data (see, e.g., Kramer, 1983). To date, however, these
searches proved largely unsuccessful, with the principal revisionist claim in
the United States now being that sociotropic prospective evaluations dominate
in presidential support models (see MacKuen, Erikson and Stimson, 1992).
Some cross-sectional survey studies in the United States and elsewhere (e.g.,
Fiorina, 1981; Kuklinski and West, 1981; Lewis-Beck, 1988) also have made
cases for the relevance (but not the dominance) of prospective thinking about
the national economy in the voting calculus.
21
IJCS / RIÉC
Do these American findings characterize Canadian voters as well? For that matter,
do the American findings continue to hold up, once one takes account of the
structure of economic thinking as revealed in the analyses presented above? To
answer the first of these questions, we employ the PSC survey data to investigate
factors affecting voting for the governing Progressive Conservative Party in the
1988 and 1993 federal elections. Recall that the former contest was one in which a
single issue, the PCs’ proposed free trade agreement with the United States (the
FTA), dominated the campaign (Kornberg and Clarke, 1992:ch. 6; Johnston et al,
1992:ch. 5). Opposition parties claimed that the FTA would have negative
consequences not only for Canada’s economy, but also for its culture, its
sovereignty and the complex of government programs constituting its social
safety net. Unlike valence issues, such as high rates of inflation or unemployment
that virtually everyone agrees are undesirable, the FTA was a quintessential
position issue and, as such, it invited voters to make prospective judgments about
their country’s and their own future should the agreement be enacted. Given this
type of political discourse in the 1988 campaign, one would expect that futureoriented judgments would be relatively important in the set of economic
judgments influencing electoral choice.
In sharp contrast, the 1993 federal election was held in a context in which the
country was struggling to escape the grip of a deep and protracted recession.
Voters were sorely exercised by the malaise that had produced high rates of
unemployment, escalating deficits and threats to cherished social programs
(e.g., Clarke et al., 1996:ch. 2). As shown above, a large majority of Canadians
believed the economy was performing poorly and they judged the federal
government’s stewardship of it very harshly. Recognizing the electorate’s
concerns, opposition parties castigated the governing PCs for the country’s
problems, and although the Tories attempted to deflect attention away from
these difficulties by emphasizing the qualities of their new leader, Kim
Campbell, they could not avoid responsibility for the performance of the
economy during their nine years in office. In such a campaign context,
retrospective economic evaluations should have been relatively more
important than they had been five years earlier.
We investigate these hypotheses by specifying models of voting in the 1988
and 1993 elections that include the three economic-thinking factors
(sociotropic, egocentric prospective), as well as variables measuring voters’
feelings about the leaders of the three major federal parties, their perceptions of
which party was closest to them on the election issue they identified as “most
important,” and their federal and provincial party identifications.6 Since
previous studies have shown that party identification in Canada is endogenous
to other forces affecting the vote (e.g., Archer, 1987), we employ the 1984-88
PSC panel data and measure party identification in the 1984 wave of the panel
when analyzing voting behaviour in 1988. Similarly, we use the 1990-93 PSC
panel data and measure party identification in the 1990 wave of this panel
when analyzing voting behaviour in 1993. Several sociodemographic
variables (age, education, gender, income, region)7 also are included in the
models to control for forces on the vote not explicitly captured by the
otherpredictor variables. Since the dependent variable (vote PC - vote other party) is a
dichotomy, probit is chosen for estimation purposes (Aldrich and Nelson, 1984).
22
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
Table 4.
Probit Analyses of Progressive Conservative Voting
in the 1988 and 1993 Federal Elections
1988
1993
Predictor Variable
b
t
b
t
Constant
-1.02
-1.55d
0.01
0.01
Region: Atlantic
0.09
0.25
0.13
0.49
Quebec
0.15
0.58
-0.51
-2.02c
Prairies
0.48
1.82c
0.19
0.92
British Columbia
-0.16
-0.52
-0.71
-2.41b
Age
0.00
0.66
0.01
1.43d
Education
-0.04
-0.52
-0.03
-0.45
Gender
0.22
1.27
-0.12
-0.81
Income
0.08
1.16
-0.07
-1.92c
Economic Evaluations:
Sociotropic
0.05
0.47
0.29
3.78a
Egocentric
0.15
1.60d
0.15
1.79c
Future
0.35
3.20a
-0.10
-1.18
Leader Affect:
Mulroney/Campbell
0.02
4.19a
0.02
4.38a
Turner/Chrétien
-0.01
-2.89b
-0.01
-1.56d
Broadbent/McLaughlin
-0.01
-1.31d
-0.00
-0.81
Manning
X
X
-0.01
-2.10c
Bouchard
X
X
-0.01
-2.11c
Party Closest, Most Important Issue 0.54 10.84a
0.47 10.67a
Federal Party Identification*
0.14
3.37a
0.21
3.68a
Provincial Party Identification* 0.05
1.08
-0.02
-0.27
McKelvey R2
.82
.65
% Correctly Classified
91.7
92.8
PRE (Lambda)
.83
.51
N’s - 629, 1984-88 national panel; 933, 1988-93 national panel
* - measured in first wave of panel
x - variable not available
a - p ≤ . 001; b - p ≤ .01; c - p ≤ .05; d - p ≤ .10; one-tailed test
As in previous studies of electoral choice in Canada (e.g., Clarke and Stewart,
1992; Kornberg and Clarke, 1992:ch. 6), party identification, perceptions of
the party closest on the most important election issue, and feelings about party
leaders have strong, predictable effects on the vote, and sociodemographic
variables have relatively weak ones (Table 4). However, as hypothesized,
economic evaluations matter; in 1988 prospective judgments are highly
significant, whereas egocentric judgments have a marginal impact, and
sociotropic ones are clearly insignificant. As also expected, the 1993 case is
very different. In 1993, sociotropic evaluations are highly significant,
egocentric effects are weaker but also significant, and prospective judgments
are weak and insignificant. Taken together, the 1988 and 1993 analyses are
consonant with our conjecture that sharp differences in the nature of the
political debates about the Canadian economy in the two election campaigns
23
IJCS / RIÉC
conditioned the relative strength of various kinds of economic evaluations on
the vote in these contests.
How different is the political economy of electoral choice in the United States?
More specifically, is there evidence that egocentric and prospective economic
evaluations, not only sociotropic retrospective ones, influence voting
behaviour? To answer these questions, we employ the ANES survey data to
analyze voting for the Republican candidate (George Bush) in the 1988 and
1992 American presidential elections. Similar to their Canadian counterparts,
the American vote models include measures of voters’ feelings about the
candidates, assessments of party closest on the national problem designated as
most important, party identification, and several sociodemographic variables
(age, education, gender, income, race, region).8 Economic evaluations are
measured using the three economic evaluation factors identified above. Both
the 1988 and 1992 analyses reveal that the three economic evaluation variables
do not have direct effects on presidential voting (Table 5). Rather, the vote is
strongly driven by a combination of “usual suspects” — feelings about the
candidates, party-problem (issue) linkages and party identification. But, this is
not the end of the story. Analyses of feelings about Republican candidate,
George Bush, reveal that all three economic evaluation factors have
statistically significant, indirect effects on the vote (Table 5). In contrast to the
Canadian case, however, these sociotropic effects are both consistently
influential and consistently stronger than those associated with egocentric or
prospective economic judgments. The relative strength of sociotropic effects
in the U.S. case is consonant with the results of most earlier American studies,
and it accords well with the nature of the 1988 and 1992 presidential
campaigns. Recall that the former contest was roundly criticized for its lack of
sustained focus on a range of important problems, including economic ones,
that would confront the country in the years ahead (e.g., Pomper et al., 1989).
However, despite the American politics of “Willie Horton” rather than the
Canadian politics of FTA in 1988, the U.S. campaign did not obviate the
indirect influences of economic judgments including egocentric and futureoriented ones. In contrast, the 1992 U.S. presidential election closely
resembled the 1993 Canadian federal election in that unemployment, a
protracted recession and a ballooning national deficit were dominant themes.
And, as in Canada in 1993, sociotropic economic judgments were highly
significant in the United States in 1992. Once more, however, and pace many
claims about their insignificance, egocentric and prospective judgments were
influential too.
Finally, note that the indirect effects of economic evaluations, including
possibly prospective and egocentric evaluations, may be stronger in the United
States than present findings indicate. This is because of the endogeneity of
party identification in the American case. Although the stability of party
identification is a topic of long-standing controversy, evidence from national
panel surveys consistently indicates that it is not an “unmoved mover” (Clarke
and Suzuki, 1994; Fiorina, 1981; Franklin, 1992). As in Canada, U.S. voters’
partisan attachments exhibit short-term dynamism, and this dynamism is, in
part, governed by reactions to changing economic conditions (Clarke and
Suzuki, 1994; MacKuen, Erikson and Stimson, 1989). Additional studies in
24
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
both countries are needed to clarify which types of economic evaluations are
most important in this regard. If the campaign context hypothesis is valid,
however, we would expect that the effects of different types of economic
evaluations on partisan attachments would vary over time as changes in the
way in which the economy is treated in campaign discourse shift voters’
attention from past performance to future prospects or vice versa.
Table 5.
Multivariate Analyses of Republican Presidential Support, 1988 and 1992
A. 1988
t
-2.34b
-0.40
1.97c
-0.21
1.10
0.08
0.79
0.08
-2.80b
-1.34d
Bush
Thermometer^^
b
t
38.82
9.69a
2.18
1.23
6.79
1.58d
-2.33
-1.38d
0.07
1.78c
-0.79
-2.00c
1.69
1.37d
0.13
1.06
-2.42
-1.11
5.23
1.40d
1.26
-0.16
0.47
8.97a
-8.69a
6.24a
6.28a
4.42
1.71
2.79
X
X
9.51
5.55
Vote^
Predictor Variable
b
Constant
-1.10
Region: Northeast
-0.07
South
0.33
West
-0.04
Age
0.00
Education
0.00
Gender
0.10
Income
0.00
Race:
Black
-0.70
Other
-0.51
Economic Evaluations:
Sociotropic
0.09
Egocentric
-0.01
Future
0.03
Party Leader Affect: Bush
0.03
Dukakis
-0.03
Party Closest, Most Important Issue 0.75
Party Identification
0.24
McKelvey R2 =
% correctly classified =
6.36a
2.60b
4.59a
X
X
9.03a
15.83a
.85
91.8%
R2 = .48
Table 5 continues on next page.
25
IJCS / RIÉC
Table 5. Contd
Multivariate Analyses of Republican Presidential Support, 1988 and 1992
B. 1992
Vote^
Predictor Variable
b
t
Constant
-2.37
Region: Northeast
-0.10
South
0.07
West
-0.31
Age
0.01
Education
0.05
Gender
0.23
Income
0.00
Race:
Black
-0.17
Other
0.95
Economic Evaluations:
Sociotropic
0.00
Egocentric
-0.01
Future
-0.03
Party Leader Affect: Bush
0.04
Clinton
-0.02
Perot
-0.02
Party Closest, Most Important Issue0.49
Party Identification
0.18
McKelvey R2 =
% correctly classified =
Bush
Thermometer^^
b
t
-5.98a
-0.73
0.56
-2.22c
1.68c
1.46d
2.31c
0.15
-0.80
3.32a
38.06
0.90
3.24
-2.08
0.06
-1.99
3.35
0.03
-3.34
1.74
11.83a
0.61
2.38b
-1.43d
1.97c
-5.75a
3.26a
0.28
-1.99c
0.50
0.01
-0.17
0.50
12.83a
-7.79a
-7.43a
5.23a
5.85a
4.78
2.72
2.62
X
X
X
7.60
5.43
8.43a
5.03a
5.08a
X
X
X
8.28a
17.88a
.79
89.3%
R2 = .43
Note: X - variable not included in model; ^ - probit analysis; ^^ OLS regression analysis; a - p ≤ .001; b - p ≤ .01; c - p ≤ .05; d - p ≤
.10; one-tailed test; 1988 N = 1192; 1992 N = 1691
Two Politico-Economic Cultures
Above, we have focused on how Canadians and Americans evaluate national
and personal economic conditions, how these evaluations vary over time and
their relevance for understanding public support for political parties and their
leaders. Although these themes have been central concerns in the political
economy literature, they hardly exhaust the range of topics relevant to
political-economic interactions in the two countries. In this regard, one
important issue concerns the range and volume of citizens’ demands on
government. Virtually everything government does costs money, and the
public, via its tax dollars, supplies the needed funds. In the halcyon days of the
long post-World War II economic expansion, the relationship between the
demand for government services and the supply of revenue to pay for such
services had little salience for either politicians or public. In an optimistic
26
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
climate of opinion where it was widely believed that Keynesian demandmanagement techniques provided governments with the policy tools needed to
control the “boom and bust” cycles that hitherto had been hallmarks of
capitalist economies, and to ensure continuing prosperity, competing
politicians of all ideological hues worked assiduously to convince voters that,
should their parties form a government, they could and would respond
positively to public requests for a diverse array of social programs.
In the 1970s, core elements of this politically congenial conventional wisdom
were undermined, as the threat of protracted economic decline became a new,
unpleasant preoccupation in many Western countries, including Canada and
the United States. Combinations of skyrocketing inflation, high
unemployment, and sluggish growth overturned the assumptions of a
generation of economists and politicians. The public, for its part, reacted by
electing neoconservative political leaders such as Margaret Thatcher and
Ronald Reagan who contended that “big government” was the arch-villain in
the unfolding drama of economic decline. Prosperity would return, these
“conviction” politicians argued, if government intervention in economy and
society was drastically curtailed.
The electoral successes of politicians such as Reagan and Newt Gingrich in the
United States and Preston Manning, Ralph Klein and Michael Harris in
Canada might be interpreted as indicating that calls for sharp reductions in
government spending and services have met with widespread public approval.
However, research conducted in Great Britain (e.g., Clarke, Stewart and Zuk,
1988; Crewe and Searing, 1988) cautions that this inference may be
unwarranted. Despite conscious, sustained efforts to change the economic
component of her country’s political culture, Lady Thatcher was largely
unsuccessful in revamping public thinking about what government could and
should do. Throughout her lengthy tenure in office, and despite her many
scoldings about the pernicious consequences of reliance on the “nanny state,”
the British electorate continued to voice enthusiasm for a broad range of
publicly funded social programs, and it remained convinced that government
had a major role to play in managing the economy with the aim of creating the
wealth needed to sustain such programs.
What about contemporary Canada and the United States — what is the nature
of public thinking in these countries about the desirability of government
involvement in economy and society? Perhaps the neoconservative arguments
of figures such as Manning and Reagan have had greater effects on the
thinking of the electorates of these countries, or, alternatively, perhaps these
political leaders and their parties benefitted from exogenously driven “sea
changes” in political culture that have occurred over the past two decades.
Although the recent electoral successes of the provincial PCs in Alberta and
Ontario, the federal Reform Party in Canada and the Republicans in the United
States lend plausibility to such conjectures, the survey evidence suggests that
if such changes have occurred, they have been limited rather than pervasive. In
Canada, responses to questions asked in surveys conducted in the 1980s about
the desirability of government involvement in economy and society echo those
in studies carried out in the 1960s and 1970s (e.g., Kornberg, Mishler and
27
IJCS / RIÉC
Clarke, 1982:75-78). For example, when queried in the 1983 PSC survey
about whether government should take an active role in a broad range of policy
areas, overwhelming majorities responded positively — 95% believed that
government should provide for people’s health needs, 95% called for
government action to protect the environment, 87% thought government
should provide educational opportunities, and 86% demanded government
provision of welfare services (data not shown). Overall, an average of fully
89% supported government involvement across ten possible areas of activity
and, in every case but two (welfare, culture and the arts), majorities — in
several cases, very large ones — said that these activities were “very important.”
On average, 66% thought government activity was “very important” and only
5% thought it was “not important.” Thus, as in Britain, neither the economic
travails of the 1970s and early 1980s nor the presence of political leaders
advocating neoconservative policy agendas significantly muted Canadians’
long-standing enthusiasm for a broad range of government services.
But what about paying for these services? In recent years, Canada’s escalating
national deficit has become a very salient issue, and in the 1993 federal
election both the governing Progressive Conservatives and the new right-ofcentre Reform Party made deficit reduction a principal plank in their policy
platforms. Federal and provincial governments with very different ideological
centres of gravity have reacted to the deficit problem by increasing taxes and
instituting a variety of draconian measures to curtail public spending. Does the
salience of the deficit as an election issue and the harsh measures taken by
governments to diminish expenditures reflect a basic reorientation in
Canadians’ attitudes about the desirability of government spending on social
services? Are Canadians now willing to abandon their historically strong
support for such services in the face of these warnings about the dire
consequences of a rising tide of red ink on the public ledgers?
If so, data gathered in the 1988 CNES survey indicate that the change has
occurred only very recently. Although majorities of the respondents in this
survey were willing to support more stringent requirements for obtaining
unemployment insurance, to restrict family allowances, to cut the defense
budget, and to privatize crown corporations, large majorities did not favour
reducing education spending or welfare payments, and they did not wish to
curtail subsidies for farmers or funds for regional economic development
schemes (Table 6).9 Also, by overwhelming margins, they opposed reducing
government spending on health care by permitting doctors and hospitals to
directly bill patients. This is one part of the story, however. The other is that
Canadian governments attempting to meet the largely unabated demands for
services by raising tax revenues face stiff opposition. Circa 1988, fully 87%
opposed increases in sales taxes, and 90% opposed raising personal income
taxes. After winning the 1988 federal election, Prime Minister Mulroney’s
Progressive Conservative government soon experienced the political fallout
produced by these sentiments. The government’s goods and services tax
(GST) proved to be massively unpopular and public support for PCs and their
leader plummeted (Clarke and Kornberg, 1992) . The only revenue-generating
option to receive broad approval (favored by 76%) in the 1988 survey was
raising corporate income taxes. As documented below, the popularity of this
28
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
measure taps a broader Canadian attitude that big business and “the wealthy”
do not contribute their fair share.
Table 6.
How Canadians Would Reduce Government Deficits
Ways of Reducing Deficits
Approve
Disapprove
A. Reduce Spending on Universities
B. Make it harder to get Unemployment
Insurance
C. Reduce Spending on Medical Care by
Direct Billing by Doctors
D. Reduce Spending on Hospital Care by
Direct Billing by Hospitals
E. Family Allowance Only to Low
Income Families
F. Reduce Welfare Payments
G. More Advertising on CBC
H. Less Support for CBC
I. Less Support for Culture and Arts
J. Privatize CNR
K. Privatize Petro-Canada
L. Reduce Defense Budget
M. Reduce Subsidies to Farmers
N. Reduce Regional Development
Subsidies to Industries
O. Increase Sales Tax
P. Increase Personal Income Tax
Q. Increase Corporate Income Tax
20%
80
57%
43
20%
80
15%
85
69%
38%
69%
62%
36%
55%
57%
55%
25%
31
62
31
38
64
45
45
45
75
33%
13%
10%
76%
67
87
90
24
___ - Favored by majority
Note: 1988 CNES, missing data removed
What about Canadians’ more general attitudes toward capitalist economics,
competition, individual initiative, and relationships between workers and
management? A battery of statements10 included in the 1993 PSC survey
indicate that majorities of Canadians endorse private enterprise (55%) and the
profit system (61%), acknowledge the virtues of competition (74%), think that
management and workers share the same long-run interests (68%), and believe
that ability and hard work are the keys to success (68%) (Table 7). However, it
is clear that most Canadians do not offer unqualified support for that complex
of attitudes and beliefs that we might term “Victorian economic virtues.”
Minorities, some sizable, dissent from the aforementioned statements. Also, a
large majority believes that corporations do not pay a fair share of taxes (78%),
and smaller majorities think business executives are overpaid (56%) and
favour greater worker participation in corporate decision-making (55%).
Pluralities endorse the necessity of strikes (41%), and believe that workers do
not get a fair share of what they produce (36%). As Table 7 shows, these 1993
29
IJCS / RIÉC
responses are not idiosyncratic; rather, they are very similar to those expressed
in the 1988 CNES survey.
Table 7.
Public Support for “Victorian Economic Virtues” in Canada and the
United States
Statement
Canada
1988
1993
U.S.
A. When it comes to making decisions in
industry — the important decisions should
be left to management.
37
27
46
B. The profit system — teaches people the value
61
54
of hard work and success.
66
C. If the system of private enterprise were abolished
55
48
— very few people would do their best.
55
D. Unskilled workers usually receive wages that
are about right — considering the amount of
43
skill required.
39
46
E. Workers and management — share the same
68
68?
interests in the long run.
69
F. Getting ahead in the world is a matter of ability
68
63*
and hard work.
75
G. A person’s wages should depend on the
50
n.a.
importance of the job
50
H. When people fail — they are lazy and lack
self-discipline.
28
21
34
I. Most business executives — do important work
and deserve high salaries
30
22
36
J. Strikes to improve wages and working conditions
— are almost never justified.
33
32
29
K. When businesses are allowed to make as much
money as they can — everyone profits in the
33
42
long run.
37
L. Government regulation of business — usually
28
does more harm than good.
23
36
M. Working people — usually earn what they deserve. 36
35
41
N. When people don’t work hard — they just don’t
care about doing an honest day’s work.
34
32
N.A.
O. Corporations and wealthy people — pay their fair
share of taxes and more.
10
9
13
P. Competition — leads to better performance and a
74
81
desire for excellence.
76
Note: underscoring indicates majority of plurality response; source:
Canada - 1988 CNES, 1993 PSC; United States - McClosky and
Zaller (1984).
* - average across extreme categories
N.A. - not ascertainable
30
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
Overall, then, these 1988 and 1993 survey data portray the economic
component of Canadian political culture as decidedly “mixed.” This
conclusion is reinforced when one uses responses to the several statements in
Table 7 to construct a summary Victorian economic virtues index, scoring
each response that agrees with this ideological perspective as +1, and each
response that disagrees with it, -1. The mean score on this index (which ranges
from +16 to -16) is very close to the mid-point in both 1988 and 1993 (+1.72 in
1988 and 1.63 in 1993), and in both years the distribution is decidedly
“centrist,” with two-thirds of those interviewed having scores between -5 and
+5. Only 7% take a strong positive stance in 1993 compared to only 6% in
1988. The extreme negative groups are even smaller, constituting 2% and 1%
of the 1993 and 1988 respondents, respectively. Echoing earlier accounts of
Canadian political culture (e.g., Bell and Tepperman, 1979:ch. 7; Lipset,
1990:ch. 7), the survey evidence shows that most Canadians wish to take their
capitalism in moderate doses, and they continue to demand that government
protect them from its excesses.
The several statements tapping Canadians’ attitudes towards capitalism and its
undergirding values originally appeared in American surveys that formed the
principal data base of McClosky and Zaller’s The American Ethos (1984).11
However, these American surveys were conducted prior to the 1980s and will
not capture any changes in Americans’ thinking that may have occurred during
the Reagan-Bush years. Setting this possibility aside, what is most striking
about the U.S. responses is their resemblance to the Canadians ones; for
example, the average difference between American and 1988 Canadian
responses endorsing what we have labeled Victorian economic virtues is only
6%; for opposing responses, the average difference is only 7%. Nor is it the
case that the American responses are consistently more likely to be in accord
with these virtues. For example, 54% of Americans as compared to 66% of
Canadians interviewed in 1988 laud the virtues of the profit system; 63%
versus 75% believe that ability and hard work are the keys to success; 48%
versus 55% think that a private enterprise system is required to make people do
their best (Table 7). Again, 52% of Americans versus 41% of Canadians
surveyed in 1993 recognize the necessity of strikes to improve workers’ wages
and living conditions, 16% versus 13% believe that the profit system brings
out the worst in people, and 21% versus 19% judge that people would work
hard even if private enterprise were abolished. Since we do not have access to
the individual-level American survey data, we cannot construct a summary
Victorian economic virtues index similar to that for Canada. However, the
Canada-U.S. comparisons of aggregate responses to the individual statements
strongly suggest that most Americans, like most Canadians, would occupy
centrist positions on such an index. Contrary to what sometimes seems to be
Canadian popular wisdom, then, the vast majority of their southern neighbors
do not seem to be “cowboy capitalists” who enthusiastically and uncritically
endorse laissez-faire capitalism and the abrasive complex of values and beliefs
supportive of such an economic order.
To what extent do public beliefs about desirable levels of government
spending in various policy areas differ in the two countries as the 20th century
draws to a close? Long-standing differences in the extent of public funding for
31
IJCS / RIÉC
highly salient, major social programs such as health care are consistent with
the proposition that Canadians historically have been more supportive of
government expenditures on various social programs than have Americans. As
noted in the introduction, this proposition has received strong support among
scholars comparing the political cultures of the two countries. Without
gainsaying its general validity, we observe that sentiments favouring enhanced
government activism certainly are not absent in the contemporary United
States. Note, for example, that the Clinton administration’s recent proposal for
a comprehensive (perhaps Canadian-style) public health scheme was defeated
in Congress only after a protracted national debate that demonstrated
considerable support for such a plan among sizable segments of both the
general public and political elites.
More generally, although the survey data needed to compare Canadian and
American beliefs about desirable levels of government expenditures in a range
of policy areas are unavailable, it is clear that Americans have not reacted to
the deficit crisis of recent years by rejecting the need for government spending.
Indeed, when asked about government spending in several specific areas, large
majorities in the 1988 and 1992 ANES surveys favoured additional
expenditures in a number of them.12 More spending on social services,
education and medical research was widely endorsed in both years — in 1992,
73% wanted more funds to assist homeless persons, 66% wanted greater
expenditures on public schools, 65% desired more money to help college
students, and 62% favoured greater expenditures on AIDS research (Table 8).
More spending was favoured in several other areas — majorities desired more
government expenditure on environmental protection, childcare and programs
to assist the elderly and, although support for additional monies for social
security declined somewhat after 1988, in 1992, a near majority (49%)
continued to favour enhanced expenditure. Moreover, as Table 8 also shows,
there was little enthusiasm for actually cutting government spending in most
policy areas.
Nor has the situation in the United States changed appreciably since these
surveys were conducted. Despite the resounding Republican victory in the
1994 congressional elections and the accompanying rhetoric of Newt Gingrich
and other neo-conservative politicians and pundits that the election result
heralded a revolution in public attitudes toward big government and its
spendthrift ways, ANES data gathered immediately after the 1994
congressional elections show that there are only three cases — foreign aid,
welfare and food stamps — for which a plurality or majority of people calls for
spending reductions (Table 8). Government expenditures on programs as
diverse as environmental protection, social security, AIDS research,
education, child care, crime prevention and health care all receive strong
public support and, indeed, majorities called for more, not less, spending on
several of these programs.
32
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
Table 8.
Attitudes Toward Federal Government Spending in Various Policy
Areas, United States, 1988, 1992, 1994
Increase
Policy Area
Unemployed Persons 32%
Food Stamps
23
Blacks
24
Homeless Persons
67
Environment
64
College Students
46
Public Schools
65
Childcare
58
AIDS Research
74
Social Security
59
Elderly
77
Drug Enforcement
76
Defense
33
Welfare Programs
X
Science and Technology X
Crime
X
Poor People
X
Big Cities
X
Government Spending
1988
1992
Decrease Diff= Increase Decrease Diff
15%
31
23
5
3
11
4
11
6
3
1
5
33
X
X
X
X
X
+17%
-8
+1
+62
+61
+35
+61
+47
+68
+56
+76
+71
0
X
X
X
X
X
40%
18
25
73
61
60
66
50
62
49
X
X
X
17
42
70
55
21
12%
30
24
6
4
8
4
10
8
4
X
X
X
42
13
3
7
29
+28%
-12
+1
+69
+57
+52
_62
+40
+54
+45
X
X
X
-25
+29
+67
+48
-8
= - % desiring spending increase minus % desiring spending decrease
X - item not included in survey
Average difference, % desiring spending increase minus % desiring
spending decrease, 10 common items, 1988 and 1992: 1988 = +40,
1992 = +40
Government Spending
1994
Increase
Decrease
Diff
Policy Area
Environment
40
11
+29
Health Care
64
9
+55
Public Schools
68
7
+61
Childcare
56
10
+46
AIDS Research
50
14
+36
Social Security
52
5
+47
Crime
75
5
+70
Food Stamps
10
42
-32
Defense Spending
23
29
-6
Welfare Programs
13
53
-40
Foreign Aid
7
56
-49
Average difference, % desiring spending increase minus % desiring
spending decrease, 7 common items, 1992 and 1994: 1992 = +45;
1994 = +37
33
IJCS / RIÉC
There is a caveat, however — like Canadians, the willingness of Americans to
spend may well exceed their willingness to pay. In this regard, only 22% of the
1988 ANES respondents indicated that they were willing to pay more taxes to
reduce the deficit, with another 10% saying they might be willing to do so
under certain conditions. Fully 68% simply said “no.” The extent of shift in
public opinion in the 1990s is debatable. On the one hand, in 1992, the U.S.
electorate did chose a president who proposed raising taxes, while calling for
collective sacrifices to reduce the deficit. Two years later, that electorate
overturned long-standing Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress
in favour of Republican ones. Many of the newly elected Republican
congresspersons and senators are avowedly dedicated to effecting drastic
reductions in the size and scope of the activities of the national government,
and they are now proceeding vigorously to try to implement their ideological
goals. Although the 1994 election result and the legislative actions of the new
Republican majorities in Congress might be taken as prima facie evidence that
most Americans now desire to curtail their demands for government services
in light of persistent and growing budget deficits, the survey evidence
presented above strongly indicates that this is not the case.
At present, then, Canadians’ and Americans’ continuing, and largely
undiminished, enthusiasm for government spending on a broad range of social
programs is juxtaposed with the ongoing, oppressive reality of serious revenue
shortfalls. In both countries, there is a consensus among political elites that
deficit reductions somehow must be achieved, and governing parties that
historically have been characterized by very different ideological centres of
gravity currently are attempting to address the problem by devising a variety of
schemes to effect sharp expenditure cutbacks. However, in both countries, it is
apparent that such cutbacks will prove decidedly unpopular with electorates if
they involve attacks on long-established, cherished programs such as social
security and health care. The politics of deficit reduction thus is a most difficult
and contentious exercise, and governments that mount such attacks may find
that they do so at their peril. The fact that voters in both countries seemingly
want “to have their cake and eat it too” suggests that the continuing ability of
demand to outrun supply may be the characteristic feature of public politicaleconomic cultures in late 20th-century Canada and the United States.
Conclusion: Similarities Not Just Differences
This paper has examined economic components of public political cultures in
Canada and the United States. Contrary to the implicit assumption of much
work in contemporary political economy, we have argued that one cannot
understand political-economic interactions without an appreciation of the
broader cultural matrix within which such interactions occur. In advancing this
argument, we join scholars who have attempted to explain important
differences in political behaviour in the two countries by delineating variations
in their political cultures. Undoubtedly, there are such behavioural differences
and, in many cases, claims that these differences reflect historically
conditioned variations in political culture may be readily accepted. Where we
part company with these scholars, however, is in their emphasis on CanadianU.S. contrasts — when it comes to the economic components of their political
34
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
cultures, the present analyses suggest that similarities can be as striking as
differences.
Consider, for example, the content and structure of public evaluations of
national and personal economic conditions. Although surveys consistently
show that Canadians are more likely to attribute responsibility to government
for their economic circumstances and that these responsibility attributions are
more asymmetric in Canada than the United States, these differences are
matters of degree, not kind. Additionally, in both countries, the “subjective
economy” follows the objective one — with negative evaluations increasing
as the economy worsens and positive evaluations increasing as good times
return. Also, in both Canada and the U.S., people’s judgments about their
personal economic circumstances are less volatile than their evaluations of the
national economy, and over-time variations in national and personal economic
evaluations reflect trends in salient features of the macroeconomy, such as
rates of inflation and unemployment. Perhaps most striking are the analyses of
economic thinking showing that Canadians and Americans organize their
economic evaluations in very similar ways. When thinking about the present
and recent past, people in both countries clearly distinguish between the state
of the national economy and their own circumstances; but when it comes to the
future, this distinction collapses into a generalized “economic future” factor.
Canadians and Americans alike see their own and their country’s futures as
being very closely intertwined.
Public economic evaluations also have broadly similar political consequences.
In Canada, all three components of economic thinking — sociotropic,
egocentric and prospective — have had significant effects on voting behaviour
in either or both of the two most recent national elections. In the United States,
pace many earlier studies that have asserted the irrelevance of egocentric and
prospective economic evaluations, our analyses indicate that all of these
components of economic thinking have had significant effects on voting in the
two most recent presidential elections. More generally, Canadian-U.S.
comparisons suggest that the relative importance of various economic
evaluations are not invariant. Rather, their impact depends on the nature of
political discourse in particular election campaigns. When election
campaigns, such as that in Canada in 1988, strongly encourage thinking about
the future, prospective economic evaluations dominate. In contrast, when
election campaigns in the two countries place more emphasis on a
government’s record as steward of the nation’s economy, voters react
predictably by relying more heavily on retrospective judgments. The 1993
Canadian federal election and the 1988 and 1992 U.S. presidential elections
are good examples of this latter circumstance.
Canadian-U.S. similarities extend to more general attitudes towards
capitalism and the associated values that undergird a capitalist economic
system. Although Canadians often pride themselves for having “kinder,
gentler” and more balanced perspectives on the virtues and vices of capitalist
economics than their southern neighbours, the survey data gainsay them. In
fact, Canadian-U.S. differences in these regards are quite minimal. Like most
Canadians, most Americans support many of the basic values that undergird a
35
IJCS / RIÉC
capitalist economic system, but they are not unreconstructed social darwinists.
Overwhelming majorities in both countries offer only qualified endorsements
of “Victorian economic virtues,” and “two (not three) cheers for capitalism” is
the rule, not the exception.
Finally, citizens of the two countries have not adopted the neoconservative
rhetoric of prominent political leaders. Although some of these politicians,
such as Ronald Reagan, enjoyed electoral success in the 1980s, they did not do
so by convincing large numbers of voters of the wisdom of their ideological
agendas. Public demands that government supply a broad panoply of social
services remain strong. Indeed, Stimson (1991) has presented survey data
demonstrating that what he calls the “public mood” in the United States
became more favourable toward government provision of such services during
the period when the Reagan-led Republicans were enjoying their electoral
resurgence.
But, there is a problem. As in many other Western democracies, the capacity of
Canadian and U.S. governments to supply these highly popular services has
been strongly challenged by the contemporary reality of recession-prone
economies and massive government deficits. One possible solution to this
supply problem is higher income and consumption taxes but, here again,
Canadians and Americans agree by expressing strong reservations. As the
political culture of the welfare state evolved in the post-World War II era in the
two countries, their citizens were repeatedly encouraged by successive groups
of competing politicians and bureaucrats to believe that a high volume of
demand for government services did not necessarily entail onerous taxation
rates. Such beliefs seemed eminently plausible when escalating political
demands were accompanied by expanding revenues supplied by buoyant
economies, but this felicitous politico-economic equilibrium has long since
evaporated. As the 20th century draws to a close, a rising tide of public
discontent engendered by the perceived inability of government to meet
citizens’ demands in an era of economic adversity is readily apparent in
Canada, the United States and other mature democracies as well. This
discontent has its roots in the patterns of political culture described above, and
it threatens not only the tenure of incumbent political parties and their leaders,
but also the continuing viability of long-standing governmental institutions
and processes. Paradoxically, political culture, typically seen as an anchor of
political stability, may now be a principal motor for political change.
Notes
1.
2.
3.
36
Other recent reviews of the political economy literature include, inter alia, Clarke et al.
(1992); Lewis-Beck (1988); Norpoth, Lafay and Lewis-Beck (1991). See also Hibbs (1987);
Monroe (1984); Whiteley (1986).
Inter-regional rather than cross-national comparisons have been a major focus of existing
research on Canadian political culture since pioneering studies by Schwartz (1974), Simeon
and Elkins (1974), and Wilson (1974). See also Presthus (1973:ch. 1); Kornberg, Mishler
and Clarke (1982:ch. 3).
The 1988 CNES data were made available by the ISR data archive, York University. The
ANES data, and the Survey of Consumers data were made available by the ICPSR data
archive, University of Michigan. The Decima data were provided by the Queen’s University
data archive. Neither the archives nor the principal investigators who gathered these several
Public Beliefs About State and Economy
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
data sets are responsible for the analyses and interpretations presented here. For a description
of the 1983-92 PSC surveys, see Kornberg and Clarke (1992):Appendix. Details concerning
the 1993 PSC survey are available from the authors upon request. The PSC studies were
funded by research grants provided by the National Science Foundation (U.S.). The
principal investigators are Harold D. Clarke and Allan Kornberg.
The construction of the variables used in this analysis is described in Clarke and Kornberg
(1992):38, note 11.
These variables are ordinal scales scored: “much better” = +2, “better” = +1, “same” = 0,
“worse” = -1, “much worse” = -2. For question wording, see the 1988 ANES Codebook.
The party leader affect variables are 100-point thermometer scales; party identification is the
traditional (pre-1988) sequence; party closest on most important election issue (range: -3+3) assesses the direction and strength of party-issue linkages. The measures are described in
Kornberg and Clarke (1992:ch. 6).
The measures are described in Clarke and Kornberg (1992):44, note 21. Ontario is the
reference category for the regional dummy variables.
Candidate affect is measured using 100-point thermometer scales; party identification is the
traditional 7-point scale; party closest on most important problem is scored: Republican =
+1, Democratic = -1, no party, no important problem, don’t know = 0. The U.S.
sociodemographic variables are constructed similarly to those in the Canadian analysis.
White is the reference race category; North Central is the reference region category.
The question wording is described in the 1988 CNES Codebook.
For question wording, see the 1988 CNES Codebook.
The U.S. data presented here may be found in this book. In some cases, it was necessary to
compute percentages for the U.S. samples using tables that present data for various
subgroups.
For question wording, see the 1988 ANES Codebook.
References
Almond, Gabriel A. and Sidney Verba. 1963. The Civic Culture: Political Attitudes and
Democracy in Five Nations. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Aldrich, John H. and Forrest D. Nelson. 1984. Linear Probability, Logit and Probit Models.
Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.
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Crewe, Ivor and Donald D. Searing. 1988. “Ideological Change in the British Conservative Party.”
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Public Beliefs About State and Economy
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7:438-83.
39
Christopher Kirkey
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention
Initiatives: Canada’s Response To An American
Challenge*
Abstract
The voyage of the “S.S. Manhattan” and the United States Coast Guard
icebreaker “Northwind” into the waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago
in the summer of 1969 propelled an irksome irritant to the forefront of the
Canadian-American bilateral political agenda. Prompted by concerns over
sovereignty, development and preservation of the environment, the Arctic
Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives were launched by the Government of
Canada in April 1970. These legislative and diplomatic measures, designed to
fulfill Canadian national interests, were strongly discouraged and resisted by
the United States. Despite repeated bargaining efforts throughout 1969 and
1970, the U.S. was ultimately unsuccessful in preventing Canada from taking
unilateral action. Primarily because political officials from Ottawa and
Washington exclusively focused on unresolvable competing national maritime
jurisdictional claims over the legal status of the Northern waters — thereby
employing distributive as opposed to integrative bargaining methods — no
mutually satisfactory arrangement was arrived at.
Résumé
Le trajet parcouru par le S.S. Manhattan et le brise-glace Northwind de la
Garde côtière américaine dans les eaux de l’archipel Arctique canadien à
l’été 1969 a constitué un point de discorde à l’ordre du jour politique bilatéral
canado-américain. Par suite de préoccupations en matière de souveraineté,
de développement et de préservation de l’environnement, le gouvernement
canadien a instauré en avril 1970 des projets de prévention de la pollution
dans les eaux arctiques. Ces mesures législatives et diplomatiques, visant à
protéger les intérêts nationaux du Canada, ont fait l’objet d’efforts de
dissuasion et d’une résistance marqués de la part des États-Unis. Malgré des
tentatives de négociation répétées tout au long de 1969 et de 1970, les ÉtatsUnis n’ont finalement pas réussi à empêcher le Canada d’adopter des mesures
unilatérales. Surtout du fait que les élus politiques à Ottawa et à Washington
se sont bornés aux revendications en suspens et conflictuelles au sujet des
champs de compétence maritime nationale quant au statut juridique des eaux
du Nord (et qu’ils aient utilisé des méthodes de négociation fondées sur la
répartition plutôt que l’intégration), aucun arrangement mutuellement
satisfaisant n’est intervenu.
On 18 July 1968, Robert Anderson, chairman of the Atlantic Richfield
Company, announced that “one of the largest petroleum accumulations known
to the world today” had been discovered on the north slope of Alaska at
International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
13, Spring/Printemps 1996
IJCS / RIÉC
Prudhoe Bay.1 Intent on delivering the oil — estimated at upwards of ten
billion barrels — to southern U.S. markets as quickly as possible, Mr.
Anderson pledged that “pipeline and transportation studies would begin
immediately.”2 To this end, in December 1968, Atlantic Richfield in
conjunction with the British Petroleum Corporation and Standard Oil
Company, declared their intention to determine the feasibility of utilizing
tankers to transport Prudhoe Bay oil through the waters of the Canadian Arctic
archipelago to U.S. east coast refineries.3 The practicality of this option would
be tested by attempting to send a reinforced vessel, the S.S. Manhattan,
through the Northwest Passage in June 1969. “If successful,” the petroleum
companies noted, “the test could result in the establishment of a new
commercial shipping route through the Arctic region with broad implications
for future Arctic development and international trade.”4 A short time
thereafter, the United States Coast Guard (U.S.C.G.) formally informed
Canadian officials that one of its icebreakers, the Northwind, would be joining
the S.S. Manhattan for the duration of its voyage.
The prospect of the S.S. Manhattan and a United States Coast Guard
icebreaker transiting through the disputed waters of the Canadian Arctic
archipelago — particularly the Northwest Passage — was particularly
disturbing to officials in Ottawa. In addition to raising complex questions on
such related topics as Northern development, commercial shipping and
environmental regulation, the proposed voyage of the S.S. Manhattan and U.S.
commissioned Northwind dramatically underscored America’s continued
unwillingness to accept Canada’s position on the status of the Northern waters.
In the opinion of the United States, all maritime waters beyond the three mile
territorial sea limit constituted “international waters” — including ice-bound
Arctic waters such as the Northwest Passage — and therefore permission of
coastal states to transit such “border waters” was unnecessary. Canada, on the
other hand, held the legal position that the entirety of the ice-laden waters of
the Canadian Arctic archipelago, and in particular the Northwest Passage,
were not international in character but rather sovereign Canadian waters.5 By
failing to request Ottawa’s permission for the planned transit, American
authorities were implicitly challenging the legal validity of Canada’s claim.
The principal issue confronting Canadian officials was how best to assert
Canada’s national interests in the North — particularly regarding its
sovereignty claim — in both the short and long term?
This article examines the development and introduction of Canadian
legislative and diplomatic efforts in this case — particularly the Arctic Waters
Pollution Prevention Initiatives — and the concomitant American reaction.
Specifically, the essay is concerned with scrutinizing the respective national
interests of both Ottawa and Washington, and reviewing the bilateral
bargaining — stemming from Canada’s proposed unilateral actions — that
transpired during 1969-70. The results of bargaining, this essays finds,
produced a markedly one-sided outcome in favor of Canadian national
interests. A strict focus on conflicting national maritime jurisdictional claims
led both parties to address the bilateral dispute through a distributive
bargaining process which, in this case, oriented both parties to predictably
approach and steadfastly concentrate on the Northern waters issue from an
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The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives
uncooperative, indeed, outright competitive perspective.6 This development,
the conclusion suggests, was significantly responsible for shaping the final
bargaining outcome.
An Initial Canadian Response
Canadian authorities decided to address the proposed voyage of the S.S.
Manhattan and U.S.C.G. Northwind pragmatically. Convinced that U.S.
Coast Guard authorities would not seek Canadian permission for the
upcoming transit,7 Ottawa moved to affirm de facto sovereignty over the
waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago by instituting two key measures
purposely designed to simultaneously promote Canadian cooperative
goodwill and foster Canada-U.S. Northern maritime cooperation. These
measures, adopted at the December 1968 meeting of the Advisory Committee
on Northern Development, called for the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker,
the John A. Macdonald, to accompany the S.S. Manhattan on its voyage, and
formally proposed to U.S. authorities that icebreakers from both countries
escort the S.S. Manhattan in Northern Canadian and American waters.8 “Such
joint arrangements involving the oil companies and the two governments,”
Edgar Dosman claims, “would make it difficult for the U.S. to refuse cooperation and might avoid a confrontation [over the legal status of the
Northern waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago].”9 These Canadian
initiatives were subsequently agreed to by the sponsors of the Manhattan
experiment and the U.S. government.
Apart from these actions related to the transit of the S.S. Manhattan and
Northwind, the Canadian government, in the spring of 1969, took further
interim steps to buttress its sovereignty claim over the Northern waters. The
Governor General, it was announced on 27 March, would conduct an extensive
twelve-day tour of the Arctic. On 3 April, the newly revised responsibilities of
Canada’s Armed Forces were issued. The first priority, according to a
statement released by the Prime Minister’s office, would not be NATO or
NORAD collective responsibilities, but would rather focus on “the
surveillance of our own territory and coast lines, i.e., the protection of our
sovereignty.”10 The most decisive expression of Canada’s sovereign claims
over the waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago came on 15 May 1969 in a
speech delivered by the Prime Minister before the House of Commons. In the
course of reasserting Canadian maritime jurisdiction in the region, Mr.
Trudeau quickly moved to dispel concerns that the voyage of the American
sponsored S.S. Manhattan was a fundamental challenge to Canada’s position
on the Northern waters. “I should point out,” he claimed before Parliament:
that the legal status of the waters of Canada’s Arctic archipelago is
not at issue in the proposed transit of the Northwest Passage by the
ships involved in the Manhattan project... [T]he trials of the
Manhattan may be of considerable significance for the development
of Arctic navigation. Such development is consistent with both
Canadian and international interests, and I do not see any conflict
between Canada’s national policy and international responsibilities
in this connection... [T]he Canadian government has welcomed the
Manhattan exercise, has concurred in it and will participate in it.11
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IJCS / RIÉC
Canadian-American National Interests
Satisfied that adequate short-term measures had now been initiated in the wake
of the upcoming S.S. Manhattan/Northwind transit, Canadian officials turned
their attention to formulating legislative policy and exercising diplomatic
options that would unambiguously assert Canada’s national interests over the
waters of the Northern Arctic archipelago. In essence, Ottawa wanted to adopt
an indirect approach that would implicitly reinforce Canada’s territorial
maritime claims over the waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago while
simultaneously addressing new concerns arising from increased levels of
Northern development — particularly environmental regulation.12 Gordon
Robertson, then Clerk of the Privy Council Office, and Secretary to the
Cabinet, explains:
the ultimate objective was to establish and get international
recognition for Canadian sovereignty over the waters of the Canadian
Arctic archipelago. That was the overall objective... There was also a
legitimate concern about the consequences of oil spills or even just
pollution from ships operating [in the area] and we did want to have
some means for controlling those possibilities, but we also
recognized that if we did something of that kind and if it was
legitimate and if we carried out jurisdiction in a respectable and
responsible way, that would over a period strengthen the claim that
there was effective Canadian administration of these waters and
therefore provide a better basis for an overall claim for sovereignty at
some appropriate time.13
“At the time,” Mitchell Sharp, then Secretary of State for External Affairs,
insists “the feeling that we ought to demonstrate our sovereignty over our
territory was extremely important.”14
Canada’s decision to fulfill its national interests by a combination of
legislative and diplomatic means was further guided by and reflected Ottawa’s
desire to preserve the norm of Canadian-American cooperation. The Trudeau
government could unilaterally act to meet sovereignty and pollution concerns
regarding the waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago — so long, Canadian
authorities believed, as the chosen method to do so would not jeopardize
cooperative ties with the United States by inviting retaliation. Gordon
Robertson explains:
The government realized that the greatest single obstacle or hurdle
that had to be taken was to get the recognition/acceptance of the
American government... [W]e were perfectly aware that if Canada
moved directly [e.g., the proclamation of straight baselines in the
North] on this matter we would be met with resistance by the United
States... We were very conscious of the risk there would be, if by
whatever action we took, we produced a frontal United States
rejection.
So the question was how best to bolster the elements of Canadian
jurisdiction up in that area, in a way we hoped would gain the
cooperation and support of the United States or at a very minimum,
would not be rejected by the United States.15
44
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives
The drawing of straight baselines, one official report suggested, would create
widespread difficulties in the Canadian-American relationship:
If it is decided to assert the Canadian claim by proceeding with the
implementation of the straight baseline system around the Arctic
islands it would have serious legal, political, and economic
implications in Canada’s relations with the U.S... [T]he U.S. might
react by instructing its ships and aircraft to disregard Canadian claims
in this respect and/or resorting to direct economic retaliation.16
“What we [i.e., the Trudeau government] were anxious not to get ourselves
caught up in,” Ivan Head acknowledges, “ was a straightforward territorial
struggle with the United States... We wanted to act in a way that would protect
our interests without upsetting our otherwise cooperative relationship with
Washington.”17 The Canadian determination to develop and proceed with
unilateral legislative and diplomatic measures [as opposed to bolder
initiatives] was therefore designed not to alienate the United States — with
whom continued cooperative relations was clearly believed to be essential.
The United States, for its part, had one overwhelming national interest: to
retain the unrestricted right to transit the waters of the Canadian Arctic
archipelago. Any legislative attempt on the part of Canada to control or usurp
this right, American officials insisted, would set a dangerous precedent that
other like-minded coastal states might emulate — states that bordered on far
more important international waterways [i.e., the straits of Malacca, the strait
of Hormuz] for American political, economic and military concerns than those
of the Canadian Arctic archipelago. “The issue for us,” U. Alexis Johnson
[then U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs] maintains, “was
worldwide passage, the right of innocent passage, particularly through other
archipelagos such as South East Asia, the Philippines [and others] all over the
world.”18 The long-term policy implications for the U.S. were clear: the waters
of the Canadian Arctic archipelago beyond the three mile territorial sea limit
were international in character, and all significant Canadian efforts to suggest
otherwise would be opposed. American commercial and military vessels
would maintain the right to unfettered movement in the North.
The Process of Bilateral Bargaining
In early June 1969, the Department of External Affairs forwarded a diplomatic
note to the U.S. embassy in Ottawa formally outlining the position of the
Canadian government on the issue of the Arctic waters. Taking its cue from the
Prime Minister’s statement of 15 May, the note underscored Canada’s
interpretation that the waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago were
territorial, and “that the status of Canadian jurisdiction over the waters of the
Arctic Archipelago was not affected by the Manhattan project.”19
This view was not receptively received at the Department of State. In reply to
the Canadian note, American authorities rejected outright Canada’s sovereign
claim to the Northern waters, insisting that Ottawa’s jurisdiction was limited to
the three-mile territorial sea limit. The waters of the Canadian Arctic
archipelago were international, and “the United States would consider any
unilateral extension of maritime jurisdiction as prejudicial to its interest.”20
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IJCS / RIÉC
These respective national positions were once again raised and discussed at a
Canada-U.S. ministerial gathering in late June. In addition to restating their
earlier position, Canadian officials informed their American counterparts that
if necessary they were prepared to act alone [i.e., through the introduction of
appropriate legislation] to reinforce Canada’s Northern maritime claim.
American officials advised the Canadian delegation that it strongly preferred
— as opposed to unilateral measures on the part of Ottawa — the option of
assembling a multilateral conference of shipping and coastal states to develop
an international regime to detail various rights and responsibilities for the
jurisdiction, use and environmental protection of Northern waters beyond the
three-mile territorial sea. Canadian officials responded by indicating that such
a proposal would be taken under advisement. At the further suggestion of U.S.
representatives, Canada agreed to hold bilateral talks before initiating any
independent legislative action.21
The first public indication that the Trudeau government was preparing to
unilaterally act to strengthen its claim over the waters of the Canadian Arctic
archipelago came on 18 September 1969. In an article published in The Globe
and Mail, Secretary of State for External Affairs, Mitchell Sharp, outlined the
emerging Canadian position. Ottawa was not interested, the Minister
maintained, in bold declaratory statements or policy-related measures in order
to affirm Canadian sovereignty:
This is not a time for wide-ranging assertions of Canadian
sovereignty in the Arctic made without regard to the international
political and legal considerations... No one is certainly challenging us
(certainly not the voyage of the Manhattan)22 and there is no
necessity for us to make sweeping assertions to reinforce our
position. That might satisfy our ego but would not add a whit to the
international acceptability of our position.23
Mr. Sharp indicated, however, that the Canadian government was strongly
considering the introduction of certain legislative measures that would be
consistent with existing international law and acceptable to the international
community. One such option, Mr. Sharp pointed out, was the likely possibility
of extending the territorial sea limit from three to twelve miles:
Not many years ago, the norm for territorial seas was three miles
beyond the shoreline. Now an increasing number [of countries] are
moving to 12 miles, measured from straight baselines drawn from
headland to headland.
Because international law is in a continual state of modification, it is
not only open to states but, indeed, it is incumbent upon them to
contribute to its progressive development.
With respect to the law concerning frozen waters, what state has a
better claim than Canada to contribute to the development of
international law?24
The Minister further underscored that while “it is a time to concentrate on
action directed to the achievement of specific objectives... by means of
domestic legislation to protect Canadian interests,” it was foremost necessary
that “action taken internally must... be either compatible with the current state
46
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives
of international law or at least, be defensible in a court of law.” “Otherwise,”
Mr. Sharp argued, “there is no chance of a domestic position being recognized
by the international community.”25
The principal option that the Trudeau government would eventually exercise
in order to promote Canadian national interests on the issue of the archipelago
waters, was highlighted some three weeks later in a 6 October speech given by
Jean Chrétien, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
According to Mr. Chrétien, increasing pressures for expanded development in
the North made it imperative that Canada act as quickly as possible to regulate
the use and quality of Canadian Arctic waters. Mr. Chrétien stated the
Canadian government’s position and course of action in clear terms:
As yet, the waters of the North are relatively free of pollution. This
situation is not likely to continue unless a comprehensive water
management program based on effective water rights and pollution
control legislation is introduced in the near future...
Clearly we must start now to control pollution in the Arctic. Minimum
waters standards of water quality must be established at this time. We
cannot afford to wait.26
Mr. Chrétien continued: “This is the time to establish guidelines for the
prevention of pollution and the protection of the environment... Canada’s right
to adopt protective regulations governing the navigable waters of the north is
unquestioned.”27
This message — i.e., that Canada would unilaterally propose maritime
environmental legislation — was given official sanction in the 23 October
speech from the throne. The speech, in outlining the government’s legislative
intentions for the next session of Parliament, unequivocally declared that “the
Government will introduce legislation setting out the measures necessary to
prevent pollution in the Arctic seas.”28 The statement further indicated that “it
[the Government] is also considering other methods of protecting Canada’s
ocean coasts.”29 During discussion of this proposed legislative plan in the
House of Commons, Prime Minister Trudeau repeatedly insisted that such an
approach represented a progressive, responsible initiative by Ottawa in the
face of a growing threat to Northern maritime waters. In underscoring that
Canada would be acting as the “steward” of these waters for the international
community, the Prime Minister noted:
We do not doubt for a moment that the rest of the world would find us
at fault, and hold us liable, should we fail to ensure adequate
protection of that environment from pollution or artificial
deterioration. Canada will not permit this to happen...
Part of the heritage of this country, a part that is of increasing
importance and value to us, is the purity of our water, the freshness of
our air, and the extent of our living resources. For ourselves and for
the world we must jealously guard these benefits. To do so is not
chauvinism, it is an act of sanity in an increasingly irresponsible
world. Canada will propose a policy of use of the Arctic waters which
will be designed for environmental preservation... This legislation
we regard, and invite the world to regard, as a contribution to the
47
IJCS / RIÉC
long-term and sustained development of resources for economic and
social progress.30
The proposed policy, Mr. Trudeau suggested, would specifically “include
standards for shipping on the waters of the archipelago, both in respect to the
kinds of ships that can operate and the types of cargo they can carry.”31 The
Prime Minister also pledged to solicit the support of the international
community for an “international legal regime to safeguard the waters of the
Canadian Arctic archipelago.”32
Increasingly concerned that Ottawa would promptly act to introduce pollution
prevention legislation, the United States sent an aide-memoire to the Canadian
government on 6 November 1969. The diplomatic memorandum stressed four
points. First, the U.S. commended the Prime Minister’s suggestion that an
international regime be established for the regulation of Northern waters. The
note specifically emphasized the American desire to convene an international
conference of Northern coastal states for this purpose. In keeping with this
proposal, the second part of the aide-memoire strongly objected to Canada’s
announcement of planned unilateral action on this issue. Such legislation
would in effect, the note argued, create a distasteful precedent by placing
national territorial agendas above the common interests of the international
community. Developing appropriate regulatory procedures for the waters of
the Canadian Arctic archipelago was, according to U.S. authorities, a truly
international task. Third, the United States reaffirmed its longstanding
position on the legal status of the Northern waters; namely, that all waters
beyond the three-mile territorial sea limit were international waters. Finally,
the American note underlined the need for [as had been raised at the June 1969
ministerial meeting] bilateral talks between Canada and the U.S. — talks
which, the United States suggested, could eventually be extended to include
other circumpolar states with similar maritime concerns.
The four elements comprising the American position were further underscored
by a spokesperson from the Department of State. “If Canada has problems,”
the official indicated:
we’re ready to talk about them. But we can’t concede them the
principle of territoriality or we’d be setting a precedent for trouble
elsewhere in the world...
Basically, the United States takes the position that any body of water
connecting the high seas is itself international...
[T]his is an international matter and it will not be resolved by
Canada’s attempt to apply domestic law to ships plying these
passageways. We wouldn’t surrender jurisdiction to Canada because
of the pollution question... [L]etting Canada have jurisdiction over
these waters is out of the question.33
Despite U.S. exhortations to postpone and abandon unilateral maritime
pollution legislation in favour of an international regime, Canadian officials
remained convinced that the former course of action would best fulfill its
national interests. The prospect of an international conference of states
attempting to collectively develop and ultimately agree to a series of
regulatory measures for Northern waters was singularly unattractive to
48
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives
Canada. Increased economic development in the North posed significant
challenges to Canadian sovereignty and environmental protection vis-à-vis the
waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago. Canadian authorities believed that
it was therefore necessary to act as promptly as possible to meet these
burgeoning challenges. An international conference might well involve
several years of protracted negotiations to reach an agreement, with no
guarantees that Canadian interests would be substantially reflected in the final
statement. Given these imperatives and beliefs, Canadian officials politely
ignored the thrust of the American position put forth in the 6 November
memorandum.
Over the months of December 1969 and January/February 1970, the Trudeauled government carefully considered precisely what options it would exercise
to fulfill its promise “to prevent pollution in the Arctic seas.” By the end of
February, the Cabinet had reached a decision and instructed the Department of
External Affairs to inform and brief U.S. officials on the nature of the
upcoming legislation.
In sum, Ottawa had decided to adopt three specific measures — two of which
were legislative, and a third, diplomatic. The principal and most far-reaching
option involved the creation of a 100-nautical mile anti-pollution zone over the
waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago. The zone would apply to Northern
waters “adjacent to the mainland and islands of the Canadian Arctic within the
area enclosed by the 60th parallel of north latitude, the 141st meridian of north
longitude and a line measured seaward from the nearest Canadian land and a
distance of 100 nautical miles”.34 Canada would exercise exclusive
jurisdiction over this area, ensuring that economic development and, in
particular, maritime shipping activities, conformed to strict regulatory antipollution procedures. The second legislative measure had been publicly
discussed in Mitchell Sharp’s 19 September 1969 letter; namely, the extension
of the outer territorial sea limit from three to twelve miles. Finally, Ottawa
would move to pre-empt any challenge to the legality of this legislative
package by submitting a reservation to its acceptance of the compulsory
jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice [ICJ].
Marcel Cadieux [Canada’s ambassador to the United States], Ivan Head
[Special Legislative Assistant to the Prime Minister], and Alan Beesley [Chief
of External Affairs’ Legal Division] met with officials from the State
Department on 11 March 1970 in Washington. “These discussions,” according
to the Secretary of State for External Affairs, “were very frank and friendly but
they revealed, as expected, differences of views between our two governments
on a number of questions, and it was agreed that a further round would be held
after the United States government had had time to consider the matter
further.”35 On 16 March, Marcel Cadieux informed U. Alexis Johnson that the
Canadian “government was proceeding immediately to introduce the
legislation necessary to implement these plans and saw no reason to discuss it
further.”36 Johnson, in turn, “persuaded the President [Nixon] to call the Prime
Minister right away to personally ask him to stall on the legislation.”37 In
placing the telephone call on 17 March, President Nixon not only exhorted Mr.
Trudeau to postpone introducing legislative measures before the House of
49
IJCS / RIÉC
Commons, but also suggested the need for immediate Canada-U.S. talks on the
issue.38
On 20 March, U. Alexis Johnson accompanied by Joseph Scott [Director of
Canadian Affairs at the State Department], the Under Secretary of the Navy, an
Assistant Secretary of Transport, and other representatives from the
Departments of State, Defense, and Interior travelled to Ottawa to meet with a
Canadian delegation that included Mitchell Sharp, A. Edgar Ritchie [Under
Secretary of State for External Affairs], Marcel Cadieux, Donald Macdonald
[President of the Privy Council], Jean Chrétien, Ivan Head and other senior
officials.39 The U.S. objective at the meeting, according to Mr. Johnson, “was
to prevent them [Canada] from taking action... We [the United States] wanted
to take advantage of every opportunity or idea that would get things
postponed.”40
The American delegation once again informed Canadian officials of the U.S.
position regarding the waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago. Reiterating
the key points outlined in their earlier 6 November 1969 aide-memoire, U.S.
authorities asserted that such waters were international, and therefore did not
fall under the jurisdiction of Ottawa. Any proposed unilateral action by the
Canadian government — particularly the establishment of a 100-mile
pollution prevention zone — was a regressive step that would clearly undercut,
if not entirely preclude, the possibility of reaching an international agreement
to govern the use and protection of the Northern waters. Canada, it was
recommended, should delay the introduction of this legislation until such time
that an international convention could be convened. In the meantime, U.S.
officials suggested that the Canada-U.S. International Joint Commission be
charged with the task of writing up “an interim bilateral agreement pending a
multilateral conference dealing with Arctic pollution and navigation.”41 The
U.S. delegation headed by U. Alexis Johnson also repeatedly pointed out that
the proposed Canadian legislation would set a dangerous international
precedent that like-minded coastal states might seek to emulate — a practice,
that if adopted by states in pivotal maritime regions of the world, would
severely restrict the otherwise unregulated movement of American
commercial and military surface and sub-surface vessels. If Canada
nonetheless proceeded to implement its plans, American officials indicated
that the United States would “take whatever lawful and `appropriate’ steps it
considered necessary to protect its position in these matters.”42 “Canada
focused on seeing this issue,” U. Alexis Johnson notes, “as their own problem.
Our problem was to get them to look at it in its worldwide context. We wanted
to stall them from taking unilateral action.”43 “This was always the U.S.
tactic,” A. Edgar Ritchie maintains, “[they wanted] to try and get us to refrain
from action which they alleged would be a precedent for some other mischief
maker around the world.”44
Despite American protests and various proposals aimed at postponing
unilateral action on the part of Ottawa, Canadian officials informed the U.S.
delegation that the government would proceed to introduce the legislation
before the House of Commons at the earliest convenient date. While American
cooperative efforts were appreciated, the Canadian government considered its
50
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives
proposed actions on the pollution prevention zone and territorial sea boundary
to be the best means available to promote Canadian and international interests.
As U. Alexis Johnson would later write, after “an entire day of thrashing out
the issues... they [the Canadian government] did not amend any of their
positions.”45
Although further discussions were held in Washington during late March and
early April between Mr. Cadieux and Mr. Johnson, “it did not prove possible
for the two governments to reach agreement.”46
Canada Acts Alone
On 7 April 1970, Yvon Beaulne, Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations,
formally presented a diplomatic letter to UN Secretary General U Thant
declaring that Canada would not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the
International Court of Justice for:
1.
disputes with regard to questions which by international law fall
exclusively within the jurisdiction of Canada; [and]
2.
disputes arising out of or concerning jurisdiction or rights claimed or
exercised by Canada in respect of the conservation, management or
exploitation of the living resources of the sea, or in respect of the
prevention or control of pollution or contamination of the marine
environment in marine areas adjacent to the coast of Canada.47
The following day, the Canadian government introduced Bills C-202 [the
Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act] and C-203 [an Act to amend the
Territorial Sea and Fishing Zone Boundaries] in Parliament. At a subsequent
press conference, Prime Minister Trudeau described the legislation in the
following terms:
[I]t’s quite clear that in our two bills there are two approaches — one
is asserting sovereignty on the twelve mile basis, the other is asserting
a desire to prevent pollution and this is where we introduced the 100
mile zone where we want to exercise some control...
[W]e’re attempting to do what’s right in the Arctic — to protect those
interests which are Canadian, and to protect those aspects which have
to be protected. And we believe that this package of legislation is
doing that. We’re preserving the North and the balance up there.
We’re asserting sovereignty to the twelve mile extent. We’re
ensuring that were not taking a chauvinistic or jingoistic view on
sailing in the North. We’re not adopting such laws as to preclude the
ships of all nations and all conditions from going up there because its
in the interests of Canada that the North be developed. We just want
to make sure that the development is compatible with our interests as
a sovereign nation, and our duty to humanity to preserve the Arctic
against pollution.48
Mitchell Sharp suggests how these legislative measures, specifically Bill C202, were well suited to fulfilling Canada’s national interests regarding the
waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago:
51
IJCS / RIÉC
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act [AWPPA] was an
attempt to try and get some control over the Arctic... The assertion of
anti-pollution measures was an excellent way to get control of that
area without being too provocative to the United States. It helped to
protect the environment, but I thought it a very clever way of making
progress in the field of sovereignty.49
Ivan Head, principal architect of Bill C-202, provides further insight:
Step by step, fibre by fibre we were weaving a fabric of sovereignty in
the north through a series of activities and [we considered] this
process should continue. If [through the Arctic waters Act] we wove
this fibre of environmental concern and protection into our posture, it
would first of all reinforce our sovereignty claims... and equally be
consistent with our attitude towards an international legal regime.
We wanted to act in a way that would protect our interests but which
would also be a contribution to the development of international
law.50
Leonard Legault of the Department of External Affairs argues that “the genius
of that legislation [i.e., the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act],” was that
“it would put you on the high ground in the way of argumentation. You
wouldn’t be arguing from a possessive, territorial, acquisitive point of
view.”51
This latter view was not, however, shared by the United States. In a statement
released by the Department of State on 9 April, the appropriateness and
legality of Canada’s actions were questioned:
[W]e have taken particular note of the remarks by Prime Minister
Trudeau yesterday in introducing the government’s legislation that
Canada “is prepared to participate actively in multilateral efforts to
develop agree rules” for the protection of this environment.
The United States is prepared promptly to seek either bilateral or
multilateral solutions to these problems within the framework of
international law.
The United States does not recognize any exercise of coastal state
jurisdiction over our vessels on the high seas and thus does not
recognize the right of any state unilaterally to establish a territorial
sea of more than three (nautical) miles or exercise more limited
jurisdiction in any area beyond 12 (nautical) miles.
We, therefore, regret the introduction of this legislation by the
Canadian government, which in our view, constitutes a unilateral
approach to a problem we believe should be resolved by cooperative
international action.52
These views were expounded on at greater length in a diplomatic note
presented to Canadian authorities on 14 April, and in a second Department of
State memorandum dated 15 April.53 The latter document sets forth American
concerns in detail:
Last week the Canadian Government introduced in the House of
Commons two bills dealing with pollution in the Arctic, fisheries and
the limits of the territorial sea. The enactment and implementation of
52
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives
these measures would affect the exercise by the United States and
other countries of the right to freedom of the seas in large areas of the
high seas and would adversely affect our efforts to reach international
agreement on the use of the seas...
International law provides no basis for these proposed unilateral
extensions of jurisdictions on the high seas, and the United States can
neither accept nor acquiesce in the assertion of such jurisdiction.
We are concerned that this action by Canada if not opposed by us,
would be taken as a precedent in other parts of the world for other
unilateral infringements of the freedom of the seas. If Canada had the
right to claim and exercise exclusive pollution and resources
jurisdiction on the high seas, other countries could assert the right to
exercise jurisdiction for other purposes, some reasonable and some
not, but all equally invalid according to international law. Merchant
shipping would be severely restricted, and naval mobility would be
seriously jeopardized. The potential for serious international dispute
and conflict is obvious.54
The statement further stressed the need for international action as opposed to
Canadian national initiatives:
The Arctic is a region important to all nations in its unique
environment, its increasing significance as a world trade route and as
a source of natural resources. We believe the Arctic beyond national
jurisdiction should be subject to internationally agreed rules
protecting its assets, both living and non-living, and have noted with
pleasure the Canadian Prime Minister’s public statement that Canada
would be prepared to enter into multilateral efforts to develop agreed
rules of environmental protection. To this end, we intend shortly to
ask other interested states to join in an international conference
designed to establish rules for the Arctic beyond national jurisdiction
by international agreement. We would be pleased if Canada were to
join us in organizing such a conference.55
Finally, the memorandum laid down a challenge to the Trudeau government:
If, however, the Canadian Government is unwilling to await
international agreement, we have urged that in the interest of
avoiding a continuing dispute and undermining our efforts to achieve
international agreement, that we submit our differences regarding
pollution and exclusive fisheries jurisdiction beyond 12 miles to the
International Court of Justice.56
Ottawa wasted no time in responding to Washington’s note and public
statements. In a speech delivered in Toronto on the evening of 15 April, the
Prime Minister strongly defended his government’s actions while squarely
refuting the validity of America’s legal position and political concerns:
I look upon this pollution legislation to be as exciting and as
imaginative a concept as this Government has as yet undertaken... It
is not jingoist; it is not anti-American. It is positive and it is looking
forward.
Most of the Arctic channels are covered with heavy thicknesses of ice
during most months of the year... Only through abstract theorization
53
IJCS / RIÉC
can the Northwest Passage be described as an “international strait.”
Only by an examination conceptually removed from reality can the
Beaufort Sea be described as “high sea”...
It is our view that at the present time there is no customary law
applicable to navigation in Arctic areas, and that we cannot wait for a
disaster to prompt us to act. We need law now to protect coastal states
from the excesses of shipping states.57
This message was also forcefully emphasized the following day in a
diplomatic note, and on 28 April in an aide-memoire to U.S. authorities. A
summary version of the note, presented before the House of Commons,
unequivocally stated that:
The Canadian Government is unable to accept the views of the United
States Government concerning the Arctic Waters Pollution
Prevention Bill and the amendments to the Territorial Sea and
Fishing Zones Act, and regrets that the United States is not prepared
to accept or acquiesce in them...
With respect to the waters of the Arctic Archipelago, the position of
Canada has always been that these waters are regarded as Canadian.
While Canada would be pleased to discuss with other states
international standards of navigation safety and environmental
protection to be applicable to the waters of the Arctic, the Canadian
Government cannot accept any suggestion that Canadian waters
should be internationalized. 58
As for the American suggestion that an international conference be convened
“to establish rules for the Arctic beyond national jurisdiction by international
agreement,” the Canadian statement cautiously indicated that:
Before the Canadian Government can express a definitive view on
this question, further information will be required as to the scope,
nature and territorial application of the rules the United States
proposes, since the Canadian Government obviously cannot
participate in any international conference called for the purpose of
discussing questions falling wholly within Canadian domestic
jurisdiction.59
Secretary of State for External Affairs Mitchell Sharp repeated this message on
12 May 1970 in testimony before the parliamentary committee on External
Affairs and National Defence:
They [the United States] have been urging the calling of a conference
on the Arctic to deal with the problem of Arctic pollution. Our
reaction to that has been to ask for a much clearer statement of the
purposes of the conference, the area in which it would operate and so
on...
We would like to know, for example, what area of the Arctic the
conference is to discuss, because we would naturally take some
exception to having an international conference called to deal with
Canadian territory or Canadian water.60
American attempts during May and June 1970 to solicit international
participation for an Arctic conference on pollution, navigation and other issues
54
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives
of interests to both shipping and coastal states were much less successful than
Mr. Sharp’s above comments indicate. According to John Kirton and Don
Munton:
[O]f the 14 states (apart from Canada) that the United States was
known to have approached with invitations to its proposed
conference ... only the Dutch seemed in favour, with the Spaniards
and Finns noncommittal. Japan, Britain, Belgium, and Denmark
refused to accept until the terms of reference were clarified by the
United States and/or the conference was limited to technically based
aspects of pollution and navigation. Italy went further, saying that
any conference without Canadian participation would be worthless
and Italian involvement in it a hostile act toward Canada. The Soviet
Union, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden were [also] opposed to the U.S.
conference proposal.61
Privately, Canada was also opposed to the conference format proposed by the
U.S.. According to Ivan Head:
There were two elements involved here. One was that the
development of one of these international regimes would have
attracted the interest and support of — and therefore favored the
interests of — the deep water states, the blue water shipping states.
The conference, heading to a proposed regime, would have been
stacked against us. Those [states] who would have participated would
have been those with clear interests contrary to our own.
The second element — which prompted us to withdraw our
acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the [International]
Court [of Justice] — was the reality that there were no legal principles
broadly accepted that Canada could have relied on to oppose
whatever propositions they [the United States] were putting forth.62
The decision of four key, circumpolar states [the Soviet Union, Iceland,
Sweden and Norway] to oppose the convening of an international conference
— and their support for Canada’s legislative and diplomatic initiatives —
effectively thwarted U.S. plans. In particular, the position of the Soviet Union
was all important; the United States could not hope to develop an international
regime to regulate the use and preservation of Arctic waters without
participation from Moscow [given that the Soviet Union was an Arctic
seacoast superpower that had wide ranging national interests in the Arctic].
Canadian officials, who early in June 1970 had privately attempted to persuade
the Soviets to oppose the conference, were particularly gratified at the stance
adopted by the Kremlin. In the words of Ivan Head:
Alan Beesley and I went to the Soviet Union... and were simply
delighted that we were able to get their agreement that they would
oppose any such convention. That is really what sank it finally. The
United States could not claim to have a conference addressing itself
to issues of polar navigation when the greatest of the Polar
presences... was not going to participate.63
Much to the dismay of U.S. officials, Bill C-203 received Royal Assent on 18
June 1970, and Bill C-202 on 26 June 1970.64 American efforts to prevent
55
IJCS / RIÉC
unilateral Canadian action and to develop an international regime for Arctic
waters had failed.
Conclusion: A One-Sided Bargaining Outcome
The bargaining between Canada and the United States over the legislative and
diplomatic measures introduced by Canada in April 1970 suggest two
substantive conclusions.
First, Canadian national interests were fulfilled while those of the United
States were not. Bills C-202 and C-203, coupled with Canada’s nonacceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice,
effectively ensured that Canadian maritime jurisdictional and environmental
concerns would be met. These measures, however, were contrary to America’s
interest of preserving the legal principle and operational practice of
unrestricted transit in the waters of the Canadian Arctic archipelago. Not only
would U.S. vessels transiting these waters have to conform to a broad series of
regulatory laws, but Canadian action set a potentially unpalatable international
precedent that U.S. officials had been anxious to avoid; namely, the possibility
that like-minded coastal states [states that bordered on waters of much greater
interest to U.S. commercial and military maritime activity] might attempt to
emulate Canada’s actions. Canadian diplomatic and legislative initiatives
were, therefore, contrary to American national interests on a regional scale [in
the North], and in a worldwide context.
Second, Canadian and American officials were principally unable to arrive at a
mutually satisfactory arrangement on the Northern waters issue due to
unwavering national commitments to diametrically opposed maritime
jurisdictional claims. These contradictory legal positions, in turn, promoted an
atmosphere in which Ottawa and Washington relied exclusively upon
distributive bargaining methods. By repeatedly failing to set aside without
prejudice the question of conflicting national legal claims, political officials
proved unwilling and unable to devise an arrangement — through the
utilization of integrative bargaining methods — that would serve to mutually
accommodate each country’s national interests. No fruitful attempt by either
party was made to bypass the ultimately unresolvable maritime claims in
favour of a non-prejudicial, practical scheme.
The January 1988 Arctic Cooperation Agreement between Canada and the
United States is particularly noteworthy in this regard. The mutually
satisfactory “passage for consent” arrangement is in large part explained by a
switch, beginning in April 1987, from distributive to integrative bargaining
methods. Such an opportunity throughout 1969 and 1970, however, proved
impossible due in large measure to the reliance by the participants on a
jurisdictional approach; an approach that, by focusing on the demarcation of
maritime boundaries, forced Canada and the United States to concentrate on
resolving the Northern waters question by distributive bargaining methods.65
Notes
*
56
I wish to thank Seyom Brown, Robert Art, and Oran Young for their valuable comments on
an earlier draft of this essay.
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
“Big Oil Find Reported on Alaska’s Arctic Slope,” The New York Times, 19 July 1968, p.47,
and “Alaska Oil, Gas Find Is Potentially Vast, Consulting Firm Says,” The Wall Street
Journal, 19 July 1968, p.3.
“Big Oil Find Reported on Alaska’s Arctic Slope,” and “North American attention shifts to
Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay region,” World Oil, 169, (August 1969). According to figures
provided by The Oil and Gas Journal, “The estimated reserves of the Alaskan discovery
would be the largest of any field in the United States.” As quoted in “Big Oil Find Reported
on Alaska’s Arctic Slope.”
“Oil Concerns to Seek A Northwest Passage To Unlock the Arctic,” The Wall Street Journal,
17 December 1968, p.8. The attractiveness of this option is explained by William
Westermeyer: “Opening the Northwest Passage would enable oil companies to ship Prudhoe
Bay oil directly to the East Coast of the United States avoiding the 780-mile crossing of
Alaska by pipeline and the long southern journey through the Panama Canal.” William E.
Westermeyer, “The Transportation of Arctic Energy Resources,” in United States Arctic
Interests: The 1980s and 1990s eds. William E. Westermeyer and Kurt M. Shusterich (New
York: Springer-Verlag, 1984), p.112.
“Oil Concerns to Seek A Northwest Passage To Unlock the Arctic.”
Several studies, in the immediate aftermath of the S.S. Manhattan passage, sought to
comment on the respective Canadian and American jurisdictional claims and associated
international legal principles. See, for example, L.C. Green, “Canada and Arctic
Sovereignty,” Canadian Bar Review, XLVIII (1970), W.G. Reinhard, “International Law:
Implications of the Opening of the Northwest Passage,” Dickinson Law Review, 74 (1970),
Raymond W. Konan, “The Manhattan’s Arctic Conquest and Canada’s Response in Legal
Diplomacy,” Cornell International Law Journal, 3 no.2 (1970), Richard B. Bilder, “The
Canadian Arctic waters Pollution Prevention Act: New Stresses on the Law of the Sea,”
Michigan Law Review, 69 no.1 (November 1970), Donald E. Milsten, “Arctic Passage —
Legal Heavy Weather,” Orbis, 15 no.4 (Winter 1972), Joseph W. Dellapenna, “Canadian
Claims in Arctic Waters,” Land and Water Law Review, VII no.2 (1972), and William V.
O’Brien and Armando C. Chapelli, “The Law of the Sea in the ”Canadian" Arctic: The
Pattern of Controversy," McGill Law Journal, 19 nos.3&4 (1973).
The concept of distributive bargaining is closely discussed in Howard Riaffa, The Art and
Science of Negotiation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1982) Parts 2 & 3.
Distributive bargaining clearly resembles the standard realist view of international politics,
whereby bargaining between states is characterized by zero-sum, relative gain concerns.
Integrative bargaining, on the other hand, involves multi-party negotiations that are
approached as collective problem-solving exercises that seek to reach mutually optimal
outcomes for all parties concerned.
An early, informal suggestion by External Affairs representatives to State Department
officials that the U.S. Coast Guard request Canadian permission received no reply.
Edgar J. Dosman, “The Northern Sovereignty Crisis 1968-1970,” in The Arctic in Question,
ed. Edgar J. Dosman (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1976), pp.39-40, and John Kirton
and Don Munton, “The Manhattan Voyages and Their Aftermath,” in Politics of the
Northwest Passage, ed. Franklyn Griffiths (Kingston and Montreal: McGill-Queen’s
University Press, 1987), p.72.
Dosman, “The Northern Sovereignty Crisis 1968-1970,” p.40.
Office of the Prime Minister, Press Release, 3 April 1969, p.3.
Ibid, pp. 8720-8721. Original emphasis.
The perceived need for environmental protection of Northern waters was further reinforced
by the disastrous 1967 Torrey Canyon oil spill — a spill that caused widespread pollution of
the United Kingdom coastline.
Interview with Gordon Robertson, 12 June 1991.
Interview with Mitchell Sharp, 6 June 1991.
Interview with Gordon Robertson.
Confidential source.
Interview with Ivan Head.
Interview with U. Alexis Johnson, 31 May 1991.
Edgar J. Dosman, The National Interest: The Politics of Northern Development 1968-75
(Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Limited, 1975), p.53.
57
IJCS / RIÉC
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
58
Ibid, p.54.
David Crane, “Ceding of passage rights likely in Ottawa claim to Arctic waters,” The Globe
and Mail, 3 September 1969, p.B1, and Edward Cowan, “Canadian Official Says the Arctic
Route Is Open to All Countries,” The New York Times, 19 September 1969, p.3.
The voyage of the S.S. Manhattan began on 24 August 1969. The reinforced tanker made ce
rendez-vous with the icebreakers Northwind and John A. Macdonald off of Frobisher Island,
and eventually completed passage of the Northern waters on 14 September 1969. For further
details of the transit, see William D. Smith, Northwest Passage (New York: American
Heritage Press, 1970), Bern Keating, “North for Oil: Manhattan Makes the Historic
Northwest Passage,” National Geographic, 137 no.3 (March 1970), and A.H.G.Storrs and
T.C.Pullen, “S.S.Manhattan in Arctic Waters,” Canadian Geographic, 80 (May 1970).
Mitchell Sharp, “A ship and sovereignty in the North,” The Globe and Mail, 18 September
1969, p.7. The government’s aversion to a unilateral declaration of sovereignty over the
Northern waters was restated on 26 September by the Prime Minister. In the simplest of
terms, Mr. Trudeau maintained: “We’re not going to stand up and say flatly it [i.e., the
Northwest Passage] is ours. We’d have to shoot at the Manhattan to back up the claim, and
start a war with the world. There’s no point in saying, it’s ours, if people are going to say,
ÔIt’s not yours, and were not going to fly your flag.’ What are you going to do if they take
that position? Shoot at them?” John Burns, “Northwest Passage area to be termed land in
Canada’s bid for sovereignty,” The Globe and Mail, 27 September 1969, p.10.
Sharp, “A ship and sovereignty in the North.” Emphasis added.
Ibid. Emphasis added.
Jean Chrétien, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, “A Speech to the
Canadian Institute of Forestry,” Prince George, British Columbia, 6 October 1969, p.9.
Emphasis added.
Ibid pp.9-10. Emphasis added.
“Ottawa pledges control over pollution in the Arctic,” The Globe and Mail, 24 October 1969,
p.4., and Jay Walz, “Trudeau Reaffirms Canadian Sovereignty in Arctic as Parliament
Opens,” The New York Times, 24 October 1969, p.4.
Ibid.
House of Commons Debates, I, (24 October 1969): p.39.
John Burns, “Trudeau will meet U Thant to discuss Arctic pollution,” The Globe and Mail,
25 October 1969, p.1.
House of Commons Debates, i, (24 October 1969): p.39.
Milton Viorst, “Arctic waters must be free,” The Toronto Star, 20 September 1969, p.16.
“Canadian Legislation on Arctic Pollution and Territorial Sea and Fishing Zones,”
International Legal Materials IX no.3 (May 1970): p.544.
House of Commons Debates, VI, (16 April 1970): p.5952.
U. Alexis Johnson, and Jef Olivarius McAllister, The Right Hand of Power (Englewood
Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1984), p.566.
Interview with U. Alexis Johnson.
House of Commons Debates, VI, (16 April 1970): p.5953.
Ibid, Johnson and McAllister, The Right Hand of Power, p.566, David Crane, “Arctic
control part of agenda in Ottawa talks,” The Globe and Mail, 21 March 1970, p.2, and
Interviews with U. Alexis Johnson, Mitchell Sharp, Ivan Head [7 June 1991], and A. Edgar
Ritchie [7 June 1991].
Interview with U. Alexis Johnson.
Dosman, The National Interest: The Politics of Northern Development 1968-75, p.59.
Ibid.
Interview with U. Alexis Johnson.
Interview with A. Edgar Ritchie.
Johnson and McAllister, The Right Hand of Power, p.566.
House of Commons Debates, VI, (16 April 1970): p.5953.
“Documents Concerning Canadian Legislation on Arctic Pollution and Territorial Sea and
Fishing Zones,” International Legal Materials IX no.3 (May 1970): p.599.
“Canadian Prime Minister’s Remarks on the Proposed Legislation,” International Legal
Materials, IX no.3 (May 1970): pp.602-603.
The Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Initiatives
49.
50.
51.
52.
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
60.
61.
62.
63.
64.
65.
Interview with Mitchell Sharp, and as quoted in Clyde Sanger, Ordering the Oceans: The
Making of the Law of the Sea (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1987), p.59.
As quoted in Sanger, Ordering the Oceans: The Making of the Law of the Sea, p.113., and
interview with Ivan Head.
Interview with Leonard Legault, 5 June 1991.
Tad Szulc, “U.S. Rejects Canadians’ Claim To Wide Rights in Arctic Seas,” The New York
Times, 10 April 1970, p.13., and “Arctic Sovereignty and Extraterritorial Jurisdiction,”
International Canada, 1 no.4 (April 1970): p.81. Emphasis added.
The former document remains classified.
“U.S. Statement on Canada’s Proposed Legislation,” International Legal Materials, IX no.3
(May 1970): p.605. Emphasis added.
Ibid, p.606.
Ibid.
Office of the Prime Minister, Press Release, “Notes for an address by the Prime Minister to
the Annual Meeting of the Canadian Press,” Toronto, 15 April 1970, pp.9-10. Emphasis
added.
“Canadian Reply to the U.S. Government,” International Legal Materials, IX no.3 (May
1970): pp.607,613. Emphasis added.
Ibid, p.614.
Minutes of Proceedings and Evidence of the Standing Committee on External Affairs and
National Defence no.28 (12 May 1970): pp.12,13.
Kirton and Munton, “The Manhattan Voyages and Their Aftermath,” p.95.
Interview with Ivan Head.
Ibid.
American officials publicly continued to bemoan and oppose Canada’s legislative initiatives
one month after Bills C-202 and C-203 became law. In testimony before the Senate
Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution, Robert E. Neumann, the State Department’s
Assistant Legal Adviser for Politico-Military and Ocean Affairs, stated: “Canada has shown
in many ways her opposition to international efforts to regulate coastal state legislation... I
don’t see, for one thing,... how that sort of action encourages international cooperation, nor
do I see how that sort of action is enforceable. And the U.S. Government has firmly set the
record straight on its opposition to the Canadian action... In our view, Canada has no right to
enact legislation on the high seas for any purpose, even for the purpose of pollution,
purporting to control the navigation of vessels, dictating construction standards for vessels,
and like matters.” United States, Senate Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution of the
Committee on Public Works, IMCO Civil Liabilities Convention (Oil Pollution), (21 July
1970): p.11.
By setting aside potentially unreconcilable territorial claims it is undisputably clear that joint
satisfactory solutions — through the use of cooperative, problem-solving methods — can be
achieved, even in the face of longstanding jurisdictional disputes. For a further discussion of
the bargaining that led to the 1988 agreement, see Christopher Kirkey, “Smoothing troubled
waters: the 1988 Canada-United States Arctic co-operation agreement,” International
Journal, 50, no.2 (Spring 1995): pp.401-426.
59
Éloise Brière
Mère solitude d’Émile Ollivier :
apport migratoire à la société québécoise
Résumé
Émile Ollivier se retrouve au Québec en 1960, comme plusieurs autres
membres de la génération perdue des écrivains haïtiens exilés sous François
Duvalier. Membre du Mouvement Haïti Littéraire, fondé au moment même où
le Québec vit sa Révolution tranquille, Ollivier et ses congénères, familiers des
idées de Césaire et de Fanon, les feront d ’avantage connaître à Montréal,
devenu lieu d ’échange entre écrivains du Sud et ceux du Nord. L’échange
transformera la littérature québécoise qui, dans sa partie allophone,
deviendra migrante ou métisse, décentrée à la fois par rapport au pays
d’origine et au pays d’accueil. Mère Solitude d’Émile Ollivier illustre le
phénomène du nouveau discours non hégémonique du roman québécois, la
quête d ’identité du protagoniste signalant la mort des anciennes idéologies
(indigénisme, négritude) et préfigurant celle de tous les peuples migrants de la
terre.
Abstract
Like several members of Haiti’s lost generation of writers exiled during the
regime of François Duvalier, Émile Ollivier came to Quebec in 1960. A
member of « Haïti Littéraire », a movement founded in Montreal at the start of
Quebec’s Quiet Revolution, Ollivier and other Haitians of his generation
helped to make better known the ideas of Césaire and Fanon in Montreal,
instituting a dialogue between writers from the South with those of the North.
This dialogue also introduced new elements into Quebec’s literature; the
literature of migration and « métissage » reflects the no man’s land of the exile
in terms of the country of origin and the country of adoption. Mère Solitude by
Émile Ollivier illustrates the phenomenon of this new, non-hegemonic
discourse in Quebec fiction. The protagonist’s quest for an identity heralds the
death of old ideologies and mirrors the global search for identity by the
world’s migrating peoples.
L’œuvre d’Émile Ollivier est à la fois haïtienne et québécoise; haïtienne par la
thématique et l’imaginaire, québécoise par son appartenance à l’institution
littéraire du Québec. Haïti, Québec, deux pôles de l’ancien Empire colonial
français, deux types de déracinement par rapport aux origines et deux types de
relations avec la langue française.
Dans le cas de l’Antillais, comme le montre Edouard Glissant dans Le
Discours antillais, le transbordement ø essentiellement la traite des Africains
— déracine et détruit la mémoire culturelle. Pendant quatre siècles, tel un
miroir brisé en mille miettes, la culture blessée du peuple d’origine africaine ne
International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
13, Spring/Printemps 1996
IJCS / RIÉC
lui renvoie plus sa propre image. Si ce vide culturel se comble grâce à la
créolisation, ce processus de création culturel sécrète en son sein une
inquiétude existentielle : celle des origines et celle qui touche à la langue.
Comme le souligne Yannick Lahens, ce passé conditionne à la fois la relation
problématique de l’écrivain haïtien avec la langue française, toujours plus
rebelle qu’une langue maternelle, et aussi avec la langue créole. « La nouvelle
littérature qu’il écrit... n’est pas fécondée par la tradition de l’oralité du créole.
Il y a eu discontinuité et cassure »(Lahens, 21).
Moins radical, le déplacement — vécu par le néo-Québécois d’origine
haïtienne — permet de maintenir intacte la mémoire culturelle malgré la
coupure du lieu géographique d’origine. Sous François Duvalier le
déplacement disperse les écrivains haïtiens aux quatre coins du globe, toute
une génération qui devra s’implanter ailleurs. C’est alors que commence leur
rapport avec les institutions littéraires des pays d’accueil. Souvent bénéfique,
ce rapport offre, à l’écrivain, statut et public absents dans le pays d’origine qui
baigne encore largement dans l’oralité (Lahens : 58)1.
Le discours littéraire québécois moderne est — dans sa variante haïtienne —
caractérisé par les notions de déplacement, transbordement et d’inquiétude
généalogique2. Nous tiendrons compte de ces catégories afin de situer cette
variante du nouveau discours littéraire dans son contexte québécois.
Les communautés ethniques et la modernisation du Québec
Avant de mettre le déplacement au centre de son quatrième roman, Passages,
Émile Ollivier sera lui-même obligé de prendre le chemin de l’exil. Fuyant la
dictature de François Duvalier, il se retrouve, jeune étudiant, à Montréal avec
plusieurs autres de ses compatriotes, membres de la première génération des
écrivains haïtiens à massivement connaître l’exil. Avec eux, Ollivier fera alors
partie, au cours des années 1960, du mouvement Haïti littéraire, au moment
même où bouillonne la Révolution tranquille québécoise3. Chez Anthony
Phelps, les membres de Haïti littéraire rencontrent régulièrement leurs
homologues québécois : Paul Chamberland, Gaston Miron, Yves Thériault et
sa fille, et Gilbert Langevin. Pour sa part, Ollivier fréquente également Jacques
Godbout, ainsi que les sociologues Gilles Bourque, Jean-Marc Piotte et Celine
Saint-Pierre4.
Les chefs de file de la littérature québécoise approfondiront leur connaissance
de la pensée révolutionnaire caraïbe et surtout des œuvres d’Aimé Césaire et
Franz Fanon, au cours des discussions avec leurs homologues haïtiens5. Ainsi,
en dépit de la déchirure que produit le déplacement ou l’exil, la mémoire
culturelle antillaise reste non seulement vivace, mais elle apporte sa part à la
modernisation du Québec6. L’histoire des idées au Québec comprend
désormais un volant anticolonial d’inspiration antillaise qui permet au Québec
de se redéfinir. On retrouve dans les pages de la revue Parti pris des analyses
inspirées de Fanon, comme par exemple l’article de Paul Chamberland intitulé
«De la damnation à la liberté». Pour Chamberland la survalorisation du passé
— critique apportée par Fanon pour ce qui concerne la négritude — qui
caractérise le Québec depuis la conquête est analysée comme compensation
que s’offre l’esclave face au maître :
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Apport migratoire à la société québécoise
Le respect de soi masquait en réalité le respect de l’autre (l’AngloSaxon), et par conséquent la reconnaissance implicite[...] de notre
propre inexistence[...] Nous nous sommes donné «notre maître le
passé», revendiquant ainsi un espace originel, où nous n’affrontions
que les fantômes[...].
Nous abandonnions le présent à l’Anglo-Saxon pour nous réserver le
passé (l964).
À l’instar de Césaire, l’écrivain québécois fait alors son retour au pays natal
afin de se décoloniser, comme le signale Chamberland :
J’accomplis ce que Césaire appelle un «retour au pays natal». C’est
alors que s’inaugure une étrange mais vitale conjugaison[...] je
prends acte de notre vie, de notre misère de notre malheur[...]
(Dorsinville : 31).
La présence haïtienne se fait sentir non seulement au sein du discours
intellectuel de l’époque au Québec, mais s’introduit aussi dans la production
littéraire elle-même7. Le discours littéraire que produit le groupe haïtien va
élargir l’espace littéraire québécois, introduisant la mémoire d’un ailleurs qui
se situe bien loin des frontières de la Belle province8. Ce nouveau rameau de la
littérature québécoise pose le problème de l’appartenance, comme le souligne
Ollivier :
Élever une voix minoritaire dans une littérature elle-même
minoritaire, c’est soulever le rapport ambigu que l’écrivain entretient
avec la politique, c’est établir une démarcation fondamentale entre
écriture de terroir et écriture de territoire (112 : l984).
La notion du Sud fait ainsi son apparition dans le discours littéraire québécois,
soulignant le fait que — comme le note Ronald Sutherland — la production de
la littérature au Québec est «NO LONGER A FAMILY AFFAIR»9. C’est une
littérature centrée sur une société qui certes s’est appropriée une langue et des
institutions résolument francophones, mais qui y incorpore l’exil des autres
ainsi que leurs lieux de mémoire.
Ce développement novateur ancré dans le déplacement ou l’exil, surgit au
moment même où la littérature proprement canadienne-française est ellemême en plein recentrement, mettant fin à un certain exil culturel, politique et
économique afin de se créer un discours littéraire désormais moderne et
québécois.
Il serait erroné de croire que la figure de l’exilé est l’unique apanage des
littératures migrantes du Québec; car le Canadien errant est une figure
importante de l’imaginaire canadien francophone,10. L’image du Canadien
français errant s’amplifie tout au long du l9e siècle, tout particulièrement
devant le phénomène de l’exode massif d’une partie substantielle de la
population du Canada aux États-Unis. Avec la Révolution tranquille et la prise
des institutions politiques et sociales par les Québécois, la figure populaire du
Canadien errant devient anachronisme. Ainsi, la figure du bannissement et de
l’errance deviendra l’apanage des autres. Ce sont eux qui produiront l’écriture
métisse québécoisse.
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Écriture métisse et écriture migrante
En l991, Émile Ollivier écrit Passages, roman partiellement québécois,
puisque le Québec constitue un des trois axes géographiques où se situe ce
roman de l’errance. Porté à la scène et couronné par le Grand prix littéraire de
Montréal, ce roman est la représentation même de la difficulté d’être haïtien,
que ce soit à Montréal, à Miami ou en Haïti même. Pour reprendre le concept
que Berrouet-Oriol et Fournier ont exploré dans leur article sur les nouvelles
littératures québécoises, Passages est un roman qui illustre «l’écriture
métisse», car c’est un roman situé dans le spatio-temporel québécois, mais qui
met en scène des personnages habités par l’errance. Cette errance est le signe
de la non- coïncidence de la mémoire culturelle haïtienne avec la terre
d’accueil. Le protagoniste Normand Malavy, au nom qui fait écho à son mal à
vivre, se trouve pris — comme nous l’explique le narrateur de Passages —
«entre deux impossibilités : la chimérique résurgence du passé, puisqu’on ne
peut repasser par sa vie, et l’oubli de ses racines qui souvent conduit à la folie»
(82).
Si Passages est le roman du déplacement, reliant Haïti, Montréal et Miami, il
en va autrement des deux romans qui le précèdent : La Discorde aux cent voix
(l986) et Mère solitude (l983), car ici toute l’action est centrée sur Haïti. Dans
Mère solitude, l’objet du reste de cette étude, le protagoniste adolescent est à la
recherche de son identité, ainsi que de l’histoire de son peuple. Tentative de
recoller les mille miettes de la mémoire culturelle haïtienne, Mère solitude est
en même temps un roman néo-québécois, mais à la différence des écritures
métisses comme Passages, le référent hors-Québec du roman le situe dans la
catégorie des écritures migrantes d’après la typologie de Berrouet-Oriol et
Fournier. Ces derniers précisent que, produites au Québec, les écritures
migrantes n’ont d’autre référent que celui du pays laissé ou perdu. Comme le
précise lui-même Émile Ollivier, écrire au Québec c’est se mettre à l’écoute de
«la mémoire éclatée, recoud(re) les fils du pays d’origine placé sous le joug
d’une tyrannie insipide» (117 : 1984).
La recherche du jeune protagoniste de Mère solitude correspond à un désir de
se situer dans le sillage de l’Histoire, d’annuler le vide des origines. Narcès
Morelli se trouve au seuil de l’âge adulte, moment critique dans la formation de
la conscience individuelle. Pour se frayer un chemin dans la vie, il doit
reprendre le passé : le sien et celui de son île. Comme le note Fanon dans Peau
noire, masques blancs :
À vingt ans, c’est-à-dire au moment où l’inconscient collectif est plus
ou moins perdu, ou du moins difficile à ramener au niveau du
conscient, l’Antillais s’aperçoit qu’il vit dans l’erreur. Pourquoi cela?
Tout simplement parce que, et ceci est très important, l’Antillais s’est
connu comme nègre, mais, par un glissement éthique, il s’est aperçu
(inconscient collectif) qu’on était nègre dans la mesure où l’on était
veule, méchant, instinctif (175).
Reprendre le passé est un défi particulièrement difficile à relever dans un pays
né du transbordement et fondé dans l’expérience collective du vide historique
engendré par la traite. Le jeune Narcès réussira enfin à savoir dans son miroir à
la fin de son odyssée, lorsqu’il aura recollé certains morceaux de son histoire
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Apport migratoire à la société québécoise
familiale, mais au début de sa quête, rien ne semble plus incertain pour cette
sorte d’anti-Narcisse. Où pourra-t-il s’adresser pour combler les lacunes de la
rature de l’histoire de ce peuple qui n’a pas été prévu par les chancelleries, pour
reprendre le mot de Césaire?
[Q]ue puis-je dire de ce pays?[...] la main tendue, j’implore les
passants, avec cette même rengaine de ma mémoire perdue : que me
soit faite la charité de mon passé (27).
Rappelant la stratégie qu’utilise le narrateur du Cahier d’un retour au pays
natal, le jeune Narcès passe en revue la pauvreté de son île :
[...] entassement de baraques et de bicoques, amalgame de bois, de
tôles et de joncs tressés, fouillis de gîtes anarchiquement élevés[...]
Ici ils ont pris place au-dessus de la fétidité d’un égout, là à cheval sur
la croupe d’un fossé. Ah! Ce côté-ci de la ville, avec ses venelles
tortueuses, malodorantes, où s’entassent des flopées d’êtres vivants
et grouillants : familles de dix enfants, opulentes mamas, chiens
fouineurs, dévoreurs de pierres, chats de gouttière, petites vieilles
chiffonnées, cocotiers drapés de noir, piaulement de morveux,
dindons mouillés, poules de Guinée, coqs de basse-cour, cochons,
vaches, chèvres et moutons,[...] en ce pays[...] avec ses dents de
gypse et la misère (29).
Comme nous le savons, c’est précisément la descente aux enfers qui permet au
poète du Cahier de transformer le vide produit par le transbordement. Il se
servira de la souffrance et surtout de la résistance nègre pour créer le nouveau
nègre du Nouveau Monde, fort de sa négritude11. Par contre, si le narrateur de
Mère solitude connaît une descente aux enfers, il ne rencontrera aucun
marronnage salvateur : sa quête n’aboutira ni a aucune négritude triomphante
ni a une solidarité des opprimés. Narcès Morelli se trouve face à «l’horreur de
la nuit», sachant que «ce pays mettra une éternité à se relever de cette nuit»
(28). La nuit qui englobe Narcès est celle de la mort de la négritude, preuve
comme s’il en fallait que la négritude n’a plus sa place dans l’ère post moderne.
Les grands mythes mobilisateurs, qu’il s’agisse de la négritude ou des héros de
la Révolution haïtienne, ne font plus appel à personne, tout est devenu
dérisoire12.
Négritude et passé haïtien
Prenant la relève du mouvement Indigéniste, et cherchant à instaurer une
cassure avec une identité tributaire de l’Europe, les poètes et romanciers
carïbes, principalement Aimé Césaire, Alejo Carpentier et René Depestre,
avaient fondé un nouvel art qui s’enracinait dans la Révolution haïtienne. Le
choix de ce moment épique du passé caraïbe permettait de donner au peuple
une référence collective situant le moment de sa naissance au monde. À travers
la manipulation du verbe (Césaire) ou bien du réalisme magique (Carpentier)
et du surréalisme (Depestre), les écrivains réussiront à remettre en cause le
rationalisme occidental, faisant appel à la fois aux grandes figures mythiques
du passé haïtien et aux forces spirituelles qu’incarnent ces héros souvent
«vaudouisants».
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Boukman, Makandal, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Henri Christophe sont parmi
les figures épiques ou bien tragiques qui permettent à l’écrivain de combler le
vide laissé par le transbordement et de créer un mythe fondateur pour
l’Homme africain du Nouveau Monde (Carpentier Le Royaume de ce monde et
Depestre Un Arc-en-ciel pour un Occident chrétien, Aimé Césaire Cahier, La
Tragédie du Roi Christophe)13
Pour René Menil la mythologie qui s’élabore ainsi à partir des morceaux du
passé caraïbe «n’est pas autre chose que la recherche polémique d’une
nouvelle paternité» (39). Ainsi, il n’est pas étonnant que, dernier rejeton de la
famille Morelli, le protagoniste de Mère solitude soit à la recherche de sa
paternité. C’est pour cette raison qu’il cherche à calmer son inquiétude
généalogique en sondant les causes de sa malédiction d’orphelin.
Comme le suggère le titre Mère solitude, il ne sera pas question que de
paternité, mais d’une quête des origines maternelles14. Témoin à l’âge de dix
ans de l’exécution publique de sa mère, il voit disparaître celle qui aurait pu
signaler le nom du père absent. Fils d’une mère disparue et d’un père inconnu,
Narcès est l’emblème même du déracinement, et par extension, de l’homme
noir dans le Nouveau Monde. Son odyssée à travers le temps apportera une
réponse à la double énigme responsable de sa solitude d’orphelin.
La voie du passé passera par Absalom, serviteur fidèle de la famille Morelli
comme l’ont été ses prédécesseurs de père en fils, depuis l’arrivée de la famille
à Saint Domingue «peu de temps après Christophe Colomb» (31)15. Absalom
est le seul à posséder l’histoire de la famille Morelli car :
Dans son code génétique circulent des grains de science et de sagesse,
des gènes de sens et de connaissance de la vie déposés par l’aïeul
Antoine Langommier. Il est la mémoire de la famille (43).
Gardien de la mémoire, descendant d’un «voyant extralucide», Absalom
représente la conscience du passé, la connaissance de soi, la clairvoyance et la
sagesse, bref les éléments de base d’une identité solide16. Son rôle est capital
dans un pays où «les pièces d’identité... (sont) éphémères, aussi incertaines
que la réalité géographique de ce morceau des Tropiques» (42)
Émile Ollivier remanie alors la dialectique hégélienne du maître et de l’esclave
dans le couple Narcès/Absalom. Pour atteindre la connaissance de soi à la
lumière de ses origines, le jeune protagoniste doit passer par le serviteur,
l’esclave, le nègre. L’apatride de la société haïtienne — contre l’attente des
classes dominantes — est le garant de l’identité haïtienne. Dans cette relation
entre le jeune Narcès et le serviteur noir de sa famille, n’entend-on pas l’écho
de Price-Mars et des Indigénistes qui affirmaient que le salut d’Haïti se
trouvait chez le peuple, dépositaire de la mémoire de Guinée, de ce qui est
authentique et qui remonte à l’Afrique. Price-Mars ne disait-il pas que les
connaissances et pratiques du peuple n’étaient pas des survivances
méprisables d’un état primitif, mais «le trésor vivant d’une culture
indépendante» (Ainsi parla l’oncle : 41).
Absalom, initiateur de son jeune maître forme la figure de la conscience
historique dévidant la vérité des temps anciens. Double, l’histoire à laquelle est
initié Narcès est à la fois histoire personnelle et histoire nationale. Cette
66
Apport migratoire à la société québécoise
dernière concerne l’histoire de la famille sous la dictature Duvalier, alors que
la première dimension historique remonte jusqu’aux habitants originaires de
l’île, les Amérindiens Tainos. Il s’établit alors une sorte de dialectique entre les
deux histoires l’une éclairant l’autre. En définitive, les deux années que
recouvrent l’initiation de Narcès dans Mère solitude permettent au jeune
homme de se constituer une identité en l’enracinant dans 400 ans d’histoire des
Amériques.
Si Absalom est une sorte de griot, il ne chantera pas pour autant les louanges ni
de Haïti ni de la famille Morelli. Son histoire commence par le génocide
perpétré par les soldats de Christophe Colomb sur les premiers habitants
indiens de l’Île, histoire fondée dès le départ dans la déshumanisation et la
violence. Nous sommes bien loin de l’histoire lénifiante des premiers
historiens haïtiens du l9e siècle et leurs narrations des grands moments de la
Révolution haïtienne, des hauts faits d’un Boukman ou d’un Toussaint
L’Ouverture. À leur place on trouve le souvenir du président Faustin
Soulouque qui se nommera empereur et qui — vers l842 — «faisait feu de tout
bois : assassinats sélectifs, incendies, massacres d’opposants, tueries qui
muselèrent bouches et pensées discordantes» (201).
On trouve également le souvenir de cet autre chef d’état, Lysius Félicité
Salomon Jeune, nommé Président de la République à la fin du l9e siècle et dont
«le règne vit le plus violent affrontement que le pays ait connu entre deux
factions sociales opposées»(91). Même l’arrivée de nouveaux immigrants au
tournant de ce siècle rappelle la persécution et le génocide, car les Syriens et les
Libanais fuient la menace de mort engendrée par les exactions turques dans les
provinces arméniennes (94).
D’élément historique en élément historique, il se tisse alors le portrait de
l’oppression de l’homme par l’homme à travers le temps. Narcès s’exclame
alors :
[...]se peut-il que ce pays soit à jamais lancé dans l’orbite de la
violence? Se peut-il qu’il ne soit plus jamais possible que, dans ce
pays, la vie humaine soit respectée, appréciée, estimée? (26).
Comme nous l’avons déjà fait remarquer, orphelin, Narcès est à la recherche
d’un père; il assiste à l’assassinat par les Tontons Macoutes du Dr Edmond
Bernissart au cours d’une conférence publique donnée par ce dernier. Comme
dans une tragédie grècque, Narcès est loin de se douter que le conférencier
assassiné est son père. Il est significatif que l’assassinat se soit produit à
quelques mêtres du lieu où Jean-Jacques Dessalines, père de la nation
haïtienne, fut lui aussi assassiné. Ainsi histoire nationale et histoire familiale se
rejoignent à travers l’image du père assassiné.
Si la recherche d’un père le préoccupe, Narcès est cependant obsédé par sa
mère comme le révèlent ses paroles :
L’eau noire de mes songes est nourrie d’elle. L’écume de mes jours
goute le sel des baisers qu’elle mavait donnés (12).
C’est à travers l’éclaircissement de l’énigme de la mort de sa mère que Narcès
résoudra son obsession et qu’il deviendra pleinement un homme. Absalon lui
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révèle sa paternité en lui expliquant que sa mère Noémie n’avait pu accepter la
demande en mariage du Dr Edmond Bernissart, devant l’opposition de sa
famille. Il apprend aussi que faisant partie d’un groupe marxiste avec ses
frères, elle s’était sacrifiée volontairement pour se venger du sort fait à ces
derniers par le régisseur de prison Tony Brizo. Voulant faire céder Noémie,
Brizo emprisonne Gabriel Morelli, entraînant le suicide de son autre frère
Sylvain.
Acceptant enfin de céder aux pressions gallantes du régisseur de la prison,
Noémie lui tire une balle dans la tête au moment même du paroxysme
amoureux. Cette mort violente, à la fois règlement de compte et suicide,
comporte également un rappel intertextuel, celui de la mulâtresse
révolutionnaire, Solitude, esclave en Guadeloupe, exécutée par les Français en
l802. Il s’agit ici d’une réaction de Noémie à un aspect particulier de l’histoire
de la femme antillaise qui, comme l’historien Timoléon Brutus l’explique :
Était brutalement fécondée par un esclave en rut ou par un Blanc en
ébriété, bagnard échappé de Cayenne ou dégénéré d’une noblesse
féodale en quête de richesses à travers le continent (Dayan).
Au bout de l’odyssée-initiation il nous reste le couple Absalom/Narcès.
Cependant Absalom ne représente pas que l’esclave ou le nègre, car si la
famille Morelli continue à persister dans le temps c’est grâce non seulement à
la conscience historique d’Absalom, mais aussi à son ancêtre. À l’image de la
demeure des Morelli dont «il est difficile à démêler les influences européennes
des apports indigènes» (37), le métissage s’installe dans la famille peu de
temps avant la Révolution haïtienne. La coulée généalogique Morelli se tarit
avec Antonio Morelli. Celui-ci «avait oublié de donner à sa famille un héritier
qui assurerait sur cette terre la pérennité des Morelli» (46). Le nom continuera
cependant à se propager puisque le serviteur, lui aussi nommé Absalom,
permet à la sœur d’Antonio d’enfanter Nicolas Morelli, incarnation de la
«creolité» même.
Quant à Narcès, le savoir d’Absalom fait maintenant partie de sa conscience :
conscience individuelle mais aussi conscience nationale. Fort de ce savoir, il
comprend enfin qu’il est né de l’amour entre Noémie et le Dr Bernissart. Il
comprend aussi que c’était un amour impossible car condamné par les ideaux
mêmes qui avaient poussé ses parents à «travailler à l’avènement d’un monde
meilleur, de rompre avec la course au bonheur matériel» (17). Rompus par la
tyrannie d’un régime politique sanguinaire, leur mort n’apporte pas de
rédemption, pas d’ère nouvelle — comme c’était le cas dans l’apothéose qui
couronne le sacrifice ultime dans Gouverneurs de la rosée de Jacques
Roumain par exemple.
Signalant la transformation du discours littéraire de ceux qui fondèrent le
groupe Haïti littéraire à Montréal dans les années l960, Émile Ollivier note que
la notion de l’œuvre littéraire comme outil de transformation sociale est
devenue dépassée :
Cette génération à laquelle j’appartenais pourrait se définir comme
celle qui voulait que la littérature soit une arme au service de la
68
Apport migratoire à la société québécoise
politique et du social. Aujourd’hui beaucoup d’eau a coulé sous les
ponts (1984).
Le potentiel des mythes postindigénistes est épuisé : mis dans un contexte
postmoderne, ils sont devenus dérisoires17. De même, connaître l’histoire —
cette figure de la connaissance du bien et du mal biblique — ne signifie plus
qu’on croit au progrès de l’humanité car, comme le conclut Narcès à la fin de
son initiation : «depuis la colonie, rien n’a changé[...] et moi[...] j’ai vingt ans.
Je vis dans un monde dément[...] J’ai beau écarquiller les yeux, je ne vois pas
poindre l’aube nouvelle» (241).
Ainsi Mère solitude d’Émile Ollivier plonge le roman québécois dans le
monde postmoderne caraïbe. L’exil des intellectuels haïtiens lie désormais
l’histoire du Québec à celle du despotisme duvaliériste et ses suites. Le Québec
devra dorénavant compter avec la présence haïtienne au sein de sa societé,
comme dans son discours littéraire. Depuis l’aube de la Révolution tranquille
ce discours s’ouvre aux voix multiples venant d’ailleurs. Si Mère solitude
apporte le réalisme magique du sud aux couleurs chatoyantes à l’institution
littéraire québécoise, n’est-ce pas pour mieux éclairer le fantastique souvent
sombre et néogothique qui s’y est élaboré alors que le Québec sortait du joug
de l’Église et du duplessisme? Invitant le Québec aux origines si homogènes et
à la Révolution si tranquille à se voir dans le miroir de la «créolité», Émile
Ollivier n’offre-t-il pas au Québec la possibilité d’une conscience accrue de ce
que signifie être homme des Amériques en cette fin de vingtième siècle?18
Notes
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
L’impact d’un Gérard Étienne ou d’un Danny Laferrière repose sur l’institution littéraire
québécoise tout comme la réussite fulgurante d’Edwige Danticat aux États-Unis, finaliste, à
26 ans, du prestigieux National Book Award pour Krik-Krak et votée par le New York Times
parmi les 30 personnes de moins de 30 ans qui auront un impact décisif sur la culture
étatsunienne dans les 30 prochaines années.
Robert Berouet-Oriol et Robert Fournier analysent la transformation de la littérature
québécoise par la présence en son sein de littératures issues des communautés culturelles qui
ne sont pas de souche canadienne-française. “L’Émergence des écritures migrantes et
métisses au Québec”, Quebec Studies, 14 (1992): 7-22.
Haïti littéraire comprenait les écrivains Anthony Phelps, Roland Morrissean, Serge
Legagneur, Jacqueline Beaugé-Rosier, Jean-Richard Laforest, entre autres. “Harvest from
Haiti”, Montreal Gazette, February 18, 1995.
Lettre d’Émile Ollivier du 6 janvier 1996.
Lettre du 6 janvier l996. Par ailleurs, Pierre Vallières indique que ses conversations avec
Miron à la fin des années 1950 concernait «la littérature des colonisés : tel Aimé Césaire»
(Nègres Blancs d’Amérique 1967 : 202). Voir aussi mon article, «Poésie québécoise et
situation coloniale», Revue francophone de Louisiane, 3 : 3 (Spring 1988) : 9-18.
Max Dorsinville indique que la pensée de Césaire «is perhaps the seminal influence at work
in the literature of the sixties in Quebec», p. 30.
Dans un article publié dans Liberté (Octobre 1992), Ollivier note que le débat qui concerne la
souveraineté au Québec «laisse dans l’ombre... le statut et le destin des communautés
immigrées. Tout se passe comme si ce débat ne concernait que les Québécois d’ancienne
ascendance» (76). Il rappelle alors le rôle joué par les artistes, écrivains et intellectuels,
«membres des communautés culturelles», dans la «redéfinition» du Québec au moment de la
Révolution tranquille.
Berrouet-Oriol et Fournier, p. 12.
Berrouet-Oriol et Fournier, p. 21.
69
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10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
L’exilé se retrouve tant chez les Acadiens (le Grand Dérangement) que chez les Québécois.
Si c’est l’Évangéline de Longfellow qui immortalise l’errance acadienne, l’image du
Canadien français exilé de sa patrie se popularise au Québec suite au bannissement des chefs
de file de la Rébellion des Patriotes en l837. L’image s’est concrétisée dans la chanson
populaire «Un Canadien errant», a été reprise dans les romans de la colonisation au 19e siecle
et se retrouve modernisée dans Volkswagen Blues de Jacques Poulin.
Maryse Condé signale combien, chez Césaire, l’idéologie conditionne l’œuvre; même la
description de la nature répond au besoin de démasquer la situation objective de l’homme
antillais. L’aventure individuelle ne sert que de prétexte pour celle de la collectivité (1993,
124-127).
Fanon notait dans Les Damnés de la terre : «Cette obligation historique dans laquelle se sont
trouvés les hommes de culture africains de racialiser leurs revendications et de parler
davantage de culture africaine que de culture nationale les conduira à un cul-de-sac.»
Voir à cet égard J. Corzani «West Indian Mythology and its Literary Illustrations», Research
in African Literature, 25 : 2 (Summer 1994) : 131-140, et R. Menil 1980 «Mythologies
antillaises» Europe, 58 : 612 (avril 1980) : 37-45.
On notera l’écho intertextuel entre ce titre et celui d’André Schwarz-Bart dans La mulâtresse
solitude. Solitude, ancienne esclave qui se joint aux marrons animera les derniers combats
des esclaves révoltés contre les troupes de Napoléon. Solitude, personnage bien réel, est
pendue en 1802
Le nom Absalom rappelle la tentation parricide en nous renvoyant à la révolte du personnage
de l’ancien testament contre son père le roi David. Il rappelle aussi le titre du roman de
Faulkner Absalom, Absalom, la saga d’une famille sudiste à généalogie métissée.
Dans le roman de Faulkner du même nom, Absalom, Absalom, les narrateurs tentent de
démêler l’histoire d’une famille sudiste. Saga de l’inquiétude genéalogique née du conflit
entre les races et les classes sociales, comme dans le roman d’Ollivier, il ne reste qu’un seul
rejeton de la famille Sutpen à la fin de l’histoire.
Voir à cet effet Yanick Lahens (68) et Maryse Condé (130-135) qui suggèrent que les vieux
mythes de la postnégritude sont devenus inopérants.
Un des paradoxes caractérisant le rameau haïtien de la littérature québécoise, l’exil permet à
Ollivier de dire ce qui en Haïti des années 1980 devait rester inexprimé. Discours dangereux
et mortifère en caraïbe devient témoignage et œuvre d’art dans les pays du Nord. Krik Krak
(1995) d’Edwige Danticat, publié aux États-Unis en anglais, relève du même paradoxe pour
ce qui concerne les années 1990.
Bibliographie
Berouet-Oriol, Robert et Robert Fournier. «L’Émergeance des écritures migrantes et métisses au
Québec», Québec Studies, 14 (Spring/Summer 1992) : 7-22.
Chamberland, Paul. «De la damnation à la liberté», Parti pris, 2 : 9-10-11 (été 1964) : 63-72.
Condé, Maryse. «Order, Disorder, Freedom, and the West Indian Writer,» Yale French Studies,
83 : 2 (1983) : 121-135.
Dayan, Joan. «Erzulie: A Woman’s History of Haiti», Research in African Literatures, 25 : 2
(Summer 1994) : 5-31.
Dorsinville, Max. Without Prospero Essay on Quebec and Black Literature. Erin (Ontario) :
Porcepic Press, 1974.
Fanon, Franz. Peau noire, masques blancs. Paris : Seuil, 1952.
———. Les damnés de la terre. Paris : Maspéro, 1968.
Glissant, Édouard. Le discours antillais. Paris : Seuil, 1981.
Lahens, Yanick. L’Exil, entre l’ancrage et la fuite, l’écrivain haïtien. Éditions Henri Deschamps :
Port-au-Prince, 1990.
Ménil, René. «Mythologies antillaises», Europe, 612 (avril l980) : 37-45.
Ollivier, Émile. «Désensabler le débat», Liberté, 203, 34 : 5 (octobre 1992) : 76-79.
———. La discorde aux cent voix. Paris : Albin Michel, 1986.
———. Mère solitude. Paris : Le Serpent à Plumes, 1994 (1983).
———. Passages. Montréal : Hexagone, 1991.
———. Les urnes scélées. Paris : Albin Michel, 1995.
———. «Un travail de taupe : Écrire avec un stigmate de migrant», Possibles, 8 : 4 (été 1984) :
111-118.
Price--Mars, Jean. Ainsi parla l’oncle. Montréal : Leméac, 1973.
70
Marie Couillard et Patrick Imbert
Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
au dix-neuvième siècle
Résumé
Tout en présentant une vision rapide des diverses activités culturelles,
politiques économiques et missionnaires qui ont marqué au XIXe et au XXe
siècle les relations entre le Canada, l’Amérique latine et, en particulier,
l’Argentine, l’article se consacre surtout aux affinités idéologiques
organisées selon des démarches différentes de centralisation ou de
marginalisation au moment de l’invention des identités nationales, des années
1820 à 1873 (1873 étant une année de crise économique). Ces identités sont
marquées par l’expansion du capitalisme anglais et par la présence de la
république états-unienne visitée par Sarmiento (qui visita aussi le Canada),
écrivain argentin opposé au dictateur Rosas et qui deviendra Président de la
République.
Abstract
While presenting an overview of various political, economic, cultural and
missionary activities which, during the 19th and 20th centuries, marked the
relations between Canada, Latin America and, more specifically, Argentina,
the authors focus on ideological affinities organized into different approaches
of centralization or marginalization at the time of the invention of national
identities: 1830-1873, 1873 being a year of economic crisis. Both countries
are sharply affected by the expansion of British capitalism and deeply
influenced by the Republic of the United States visited, together with Canada,
by Sarmiento, the Argentinian writer who became President of the Argentine
Republic after the dictatorship of Rosas, which Sarmiento opposed vigorously.
Canadians are only aware of Latin America in the context of
Canada’s relationship with the United States, or in terms of
Canadian foreign relations or investment opportunities,
rather than in terms of the history of Latin America itself.
(R.W. Winks, «Canada and the Three Americas» in Friends
So Different, ed. L. Lamont, J.D. Edwards)
En dépit des propos de R.W. Winks, une relecture de l’histoire permet de
déceler des affinités idéologiques certaines entre le Canada et l’Amérique
latine, et, plus spécifiquement, le Canada français (compris ici comme le BasCanada qui deviendra la province de Québec à partir de 1867) et l’Argentine.
Ces affinités s’organisent, dans les deux cas, selon des démarches tant
individuelles que collectives de centralisation ou de marginalisation des choix
idéologiques, pédagogiques, politiques et économiques. Ces pratiques passent
International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
13, Spring/Printemps 1996
IJCS /RIÉC
de simples références aux commentaires intégrés à toute une réflexion
politique, de mouvements d’évangélisation à l’aventure militaire jusqu’aux
tentatives d’établir des liens commerciaux et techniques ou des systèmes
scolaires qui répondent aux exigences de la modernité. Tout ceci se fait en
fonction de réflexions plus globales, de la part des Canadiens français comme
des Argentins et des autres Sud-Américains, concernant les rapports et les
dichotomies discours/actes entre libéralisme politique et libéralisme
économique. Aussi, notre article se consacre-t-il à souligner les affinités
idéologiques marquées par l’expansion du capitalisme anglais et la fascination
états-unienne au moment de l’invention des idées nationales de ces deux
collectivités, soit le Canada français et l’Argentine, au cours de la période de
1830 à 1873, l’année de la crise économique.
Les nouveux mondes : similarités et différences
L’étude de l’invention d’une identité, pour reprendre l’expression de Nicolas
Shumway (The Invention of Argentina) est fascinante. Dans le Nouveau
Monde, au dix-neuvième siècle, les limites géographiques sont floues, les
allégeances sont à revoir, le consensus est en gestation. Les institutions, quant
à elles, sont fragiles, l’économie est très dépendante de l’exportation des
matières premières («Staple Theory» de H. Innis, 1956), en particulier vers
l’Angleterre, et les marchés intérieurs sont en train de se constituer, quoique
difficilement, vu les caractéristiques propres au «Dominion capitalism»
évoqué par Ehrensaft et Armstrong (1981 : 107). De plus, les tentatives pour
promouvoir, par des conférences politiques et économiques, l’unité
interaméricaine échouent régulièrement. Par exemple, l’Argentine, après
s’être proclamée la pionnière du Congrès du 11 décembre 1847, s’en tient
éloignée. De toute façon, ce congrès excluait l’Amérique du Nord britannique,
colonie européenne. Malgré ce fait, il est possible d’établir des points de
comparaisons, non seulement dans les données économiques structurelles
comme le font Ehrensaft et Armstrong pour le Canada, l’Australie, la
Nouvelle-Zélande, l’Argentine et l’Uruguay, mais aussi du point de vue des
fonctionnements discursifs. Là, les aspirations et les références permettent de
dégager des points de comparaison entre certains thèmes et arguments propres
aux tenants du libéralisme économique comme Sarmiento en Argentine ou
Fermin Toro au Venezuela et des libéraux canadiens-français comme
Papineau et surtout Étienne Parent.
Du point de vue des différences, on assiste en Argentine, par exemple, à la
difficulté à constituer un espace public, lieu de la négociation dérivant, de 1829
à 1852, dans le personnalisme de la figure du dictateur Rosas, celui-là même
qui allait réaliser, contre les dérives caudillistes centrifuges locales, très
différentes des aspirations divergentes des Canadiens français et des
Canadiens anglais, l’unité politique et nationale. Pour sa part, le Bas-Canada1
et, plus spécifiquement, les Canadiens français, vivent à la même époque la
difficulté de s’affirmer comme société indépendante, face à sa situation de
conquis, dans un espace public de négociation où inégalité et stratégie de
désinformation se côtoient constamment.
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Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
Quant aux similarités, on peut retenir, en Argentine comme au Canada
français, la présence importante des capitaux anglais qui contribuent au
développement de l’économie et des infrastructures comme les réseaux
ferroviaires, la référence aux bienfaits de la démocratie parlementaire anglaise
chez les opposants de Rosas en Argentine et la pratique de cette démocratie
chez les Canadiens français depuis la chute de la Nouvelle France et la fin du
régime militaire. On retient aussi, chez les libéraux canadiens-français et chez
certains Unitaires argentins, l’influence des penseurs des Lumières (Rousseau,
Voltaire), des romantiques (Lamennais, Saint-Simon) ou des théoriciens de
l’économie (Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say). On retient de plus, tant pour
l’Argentine que pour le Canada français du XIXe siècle, la fascination vis-àvis de la Constitution des États-Unis et leur capacité, grâce, entre autres, à leur
système d’éducation (Horace Mann) de produire des citoyens tournés vers
l’avenir et le progrès technologique et économique. On retient enfin la
présence d’institutions catholiques traditionnelles qui s’opposent en partie aux
idéaux démocratiques et révolutionnaires; si elles ont peu de pouvoir politique
en Argentine avant la fin du XIXe siècle, elles en auront beaucoup au Canada
français après la Révolte des Patriotes.
Ces similitudes et différences nous amènent à envisager les modalités diverses
de l’invention des pays à travers des discours qui vont se constituer petit à petit
comme américains et qui vont définir des identités consensuelles, à l’époque
loin d’être fixées. Cette dynamique de gestation se manifeste dans l’abondance
des débats et des polémiques autour des thèmes de la nation, de l’indépendance
et de l’organisation sociale dans ses modalités économiques, administratives,
pédagogiques ou religieuses.
Au Canada comme en Argentine, les Britanniques, au XIXe siècle, de par leur
position prééminente, influent sur les discussions politiques à tel point qu’en
1933, le vice-président de l’Argentine, Julio A. Roca, demandera à la GrandeBretagne d’incorporer son pays comme «Dominion» de l’Empire. En
Argentine, nombre d’entre eux s’installent de manière plus ou moins
permanente à Buenos Aires et y laissent souvent une descendance bilingue et
biculturelle. On pense à Woodbine Parish, consul général de la représentation
anglaise, auteur de Buenos Aires y las Provincias del Rio de la Plata desde su
descubrimiento y conquista por los espanoles dont la deuxième édition (1852)
inspirée par la Colecion de obras y documentos relativos a la historia antigua y
moderna de las Provincias del Rio de la Plata de Pedro de Angelis (1836)
représente la première histoire fondamentale de cette partie du monde.
L’Argentine lui accordera la citoyenneté et son fils Frank deviendra directeur
d’un des premiers chemin de fer dont la plupart furent construits par des
Britanniques ou des Canadiens. On pense à Onderdonk du Canadien Pacifique
qui se consacrera au chemin de fer Buenos Aires/Rosario lorsque Sarmiento,
devenu président de la République, devra faire appel, malgré sa fascination
pour les États-Unis, aux capitaux anglais pour moderniser le pays. N’oublions
pas que l’Angleterre est perçue, en Argentine, comme le pays qui a mis un frein
aux aspirations de la Sainte-Alliance s’opposant à l’indépendance sudaméricaine; elle est aussi perçue, au Canada français comme en Argentine,
comme le siège de la démocratie constitutionnelle et parlementaire qui avait su
contrôler les arbitraires du roi et de la cour, sans oublier que l’Angleterre avait
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IJCS /RIÉC
produit des penseurs comme Adam Smith ou John Locke dont les théories sur
l’économie et la société civile exerçaient un impact profond. Cependant,
libéralisme économique et libéralisme politique ne fonctionnent pas
toujours de concert. Ce point fondamental fera échouer les relations
possibles entre les deux moitiés du continent, aussi bien en Argentine qu’au
Canada français. Des penseurs et hommes d’état, tel Sarmiento, se référant au
traité anglo-argentin de 1825 régulièrement renouvelé2, se demandent bien
pourquoi l’Angleterre et l’Europe ont soutenu si longtemps la dictature de
Rosas en agissant selon des principes en accord avec le libéralisme
économique mais pas avec le libéralisme politique. Aussi, Sarmiento, en tant
qu’opposant de Rosas, c’est-à-dire avant de devenir Président de la
République argentine, s’ouvrira-t-il de plus en plus aux idées de la doctrine
Monroe (2 décembre 1823) rédigée en opposition à la bulle d’Alexandre VI
qui permettait aux monarques espagnols de considérer l’Amérique espagnole
comme leur propriété privée. Il s’intéresse fortement à la pratique
démocratique états-unienne, tout en gardant une fascination pour les idéaux
politiques européens et en tenant compte d’une dépendance économique et
financière vis-à-vis de l’Angleterre.
Au Canada français, le libéralisme des institutions parlementaires passe,
depuis la conquête de 1763 et après une période de régime militaire, par le lien
avec l’Angleterre. Il brise petit à petit les structures semi-féodales issues de
l’Ancien Régime français. Les «nobles», qui ont toujours été au Canada
français des propriétaires avec moins de pouvoirs que leurs pairs français,
perdront leurs derniers privilèges lorsque le régime seigneurial sera aboli en
1854. Le Canada français s’habitue à une pratique régulière des institutions
parlementaires mais sous contrôle du gouverneur et de son conseil lié au
Family Compact. En effet, les institutions, tant au Canada français qu’au
Canada anglais, ont assez peu de pouvoir puisque, contrairement à ce que
demande Locke dans son Deuxième traité de la société civile, le droit
d’assigner les dépenses est détenu par le Gouverneur, c’est-à-dire par Londres,
ce que justifie même Adam Smith dans son Traité concernant la richesse des
nations. Le slogan «Pas de taxation sans représentation» revient régulièrement
et s’inspire des slogans des bostoniens, qui, eux-mêmes, puisaient leur source
d’inspiration chez les colons des Caraïbes, Barbade, etc, qui l’avaient scandé
aux alentours de la fin du XVIIe siècle. Aussi, le consensus dans la négociation
entre les deux collectivités canadiennes, la française et l’anglaise, qui
s’entendent pour obtenir une plus grande autonomie, et la Londres coloniale
est-il brisé en 1837 et 1838 par la Révolte des Patriotes. Celle-ci mène, par
réaction coloniale et nécessité économique, à l’Union des deux Canadas en
1840. Cette révolte prend ses racines politiques dans les 92 résolutions de 1834
adoptées par les députés et surtout dans le fait que les résolutions Russell de
1837, en réplique à celles de 1834, autorisent le gouvernement à puiser dans les
fonds publics sans l’autorisation de l’Assemblée. Autrement dit, l’Angleterre,
elle-même divisée entre diverses tendances conservatrices et libérales, se
contredit dans ses traditions parlementaires auxquelles se réfèrent désormais
les Canadiens français. Mais les libéraux économistes canadiens-français sont
tellement influencés par le libéralisme politique radical issu de la France qu’ils
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Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
n’arrivent pas à jouer à fond le libéralisme économique et à se faire des alliés
des libéraux anglais favorables à l’indépendance des Canadas.
L’attitude face aux libéralismes économique et politique, et la fascination à
l’égard des États-Unis sont donc les éléments qui permettent de comparer le
Canada français et l’Argentine dans leur dépendance vis-à-vis des idées
européennes et dans leur tentative de s’inventer comme nations indépendantes
des contraintes politiques ou économiques anglaises.
Les références à l’Amérique latine
Cependant, mis à part le fait que des Acadiens retournés en France se soient
installés aux îles Malouines lors du voyage de Bougainville, puis qu’ils soient
partis à Buenos Aires et à Montevideo lorsque les Anglais ont pris les îles, on
trouve un certain nombre de références à l’Amérique latine chez les penseurs
canadiens-français. Cette observation s’oppose à ce que disait Guy Sylvestre :
Les Canadiens français [...] sont restés insensibles au courant
révolutionnaire qui a amené l’indépendance américaine, la
révolution française et la libération des républiques sud-américaines.
(Panorama des Lettres canadiennes-françaises, p. 10)
Ces références à l’Amérique du Sud sont presque toutes situées dans un cadre
qui valorise, à l’exception de J.B.Z. Bolduc critiquant la barbarie des Chiliens
(Mission de Colombie, 1843) ou de Williams Evans (Traité théorique et
pratique de l’agriculture, 1835)3, les peuples latino-américains, l’indépendance
et/ou le libéralisme ou qui critique l’absolutisme clérical. C’est le cas de C.A.
Geoffrion au sujet du Mexique (Annuaire de l’Institut canadien pour 1868,
p. 26), de F.X. Garneau au sujet du Paraguay (Histoire du Canada, tome 1,
p. 423), d’Arthur Buies au sujet du massacre de millions d’Indiens par
l’Espagne (La Lanterne, 1964, p. 115-117), des révolutions (p. 100), de la
création des républiques (p. 71) et de la supériorité de la race latine (p. 222), de
Maximilien Bibaud plaidant pour la sauvegarde des petits pays comme Haïti,
le Pérou, le Paraguay (Résumé de l’entretien familier du président en chef de
l’institut Polytechnique du Canada, 30 avril 1852, p. 44-55) ou citant en
exemple l’organisation socio-économique de l’Uruguay (Deux pages de
l’Histoire d’Amérique lues au cabinet de lecture, 12 mai 1857). On peut aussi
considérer ce que dit Papineau cherchant des exemples américains à suivre, lui
qui, comme beaucoup d’autres, est tourné vers l’Europe :
Le consentement unanime avec lequel tous les peuples de
l’Amérique ont adopté et étendu le système électif montre qu’il est
conforme aux vœux, aux mœurs et à l’état social de ses habitants. Ce
système prévaut également chez ceux d’origine espagnole, quoique
pendant la durée de leur régime colonial ils eussent été courbés sous
le joug de l’ignorance et de l’absolutisme [...]. (Adresse de la
Chambre d’Assemblée au Parlement anglais, 24 mars 1834, p. 58)
En commun avec les diverses nations de l’Amérique du Nord et du
Sud qui ont adopté les principes contenus dans cette Déclaration,
nous regardons les doctrines qu’elle renferme comme sacrées et
évidentes : Que Dieu ne créa aucunes distinctions artificielles entre
l’homme et l’homme; que le gouvernement n’est qu’une simple
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institution humaine [...]. (Adresse de la Confédération des Six
Comtés au Peuple du Canada dans Papineau par F. Ouellet, p. 80)
Cette déclaration de 1837, où on demande l’abolition de la tenure féodale et
l’enregistrement efficace des terres et des hypothèques, est reprise, après
l’échec de la Révolte, par celle de 1838 par Robert Nelson et le Dr Côté. Ils
dirigent le mouvement révolutionnaire et rédigent une Proclamation de
l’Indépendance du Bas-Canada :
Qu’à compter de ce jour, le Peuple du Bas-Canada est absous de toute
allégeance à la Grande-Bretagne, et que toute connexion politique
entre cette puissance et le Bas-Canada cesse dès ce jour. [...] Que sous
le Gouvernement libre du Bas-Canada, tous les citoyens auront les
mêmes droits; les Sauvages cesseront d’être sujets à aucune
disqualification civile quelconque, et jouiront des mêmes droits que
les autres citoyens du Bas-Canada. [...] Que toute union entre l’Église
et l’État est déclarée abolie [...]. (F. Ouellet, Papineau, p. 83)
On y déclare en plus l’abolition de la tenure seigneuriale, l’instauration des
procès par jurys et le vote, à vingt-et-un an, de toute personne mâle.
Cependant, il ne s’agit pas d’une déclaration universelle comme les
déclarations française ou américaine mais d’une déclaration qui ne vise que la
population du Bas-Canada. Une plus grande modestie, une difficulté à ruser, à
contrôler les stratégies de tromperie et de désinformation (Couillard, Imbert :
voir note 13) anime les Patriotes qui ne sont maîtres, ni du contexte matériel au
niveau des finances et du ravitaillement ni du contexte symbolique. Toutefois,
il faut bien voir, aussi, que les Patriotes au Canada français et les Reformers au
Canada anglais auraient pu jouer davantage la carte du lien avec les tenants de
l’indépendance du Canada en Angleterre même. En 1833, James Stuart, dans
son compte rendu de séjour de trois ans en Amérique du Nord affirme qu’avec
tout l’argent dépensé dans les fortifications, dans le creusement de canaux et
autres, la dette nationale anglaise aurait pu être remboursée et que le commerce
s’en serait mieux porté.
[...] and if our commercial relations with Canada, and our other
American colonies, would in like manner not be diminished by their
becoming free States, or by their incorporation with the American
confederacy, it is not easy to see how the ships employed in the trade
with the colonies afford better or greater nurseries for seamen, than
those employed in the trade with the United States or South America.
(Three Years in North America, vol. I, p. 154)4
Cette citation de 1833 donne la clé de ce qui aurait été possible si les Patriotes
et les Reformers de William Lyon MacKenzie s’étaient trouvés devant un
gouvernement anglais plus libéral et dont le Bureau des Colonies aurait été
plus conciliant. Ce qui est souligné est le fait que l’Amérique du Sud
indépendante, dont l’Argentine de Rosas, le Pérou ou d’autres, apporte
beaucoup plus de profits à moins de frais pour l’Angleterre. Si les Patriotes
avaient su jouer davantage la carte du libéralisme économique et reléguer au
second plan le libéralisme politique français et s’appuyer sur des exemples
sud-américains précis, ils auraient pu entreprendre des initiatives de
commerce et tenter de lui faire prendre le premier plan. Ceci aurait d’ailleurs
été plus conforme à une reconnaissance de l’importance de l’espace américain
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Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
qui devait, comme l’ont montré les États-Unis, être développé par la
technologie, le cadastrage et l’économique le plus rapidement possible afin de
s’affirmer comme un partenaire important face à la puissance capitaliste de
l’époque : l’Angleterre. C’est seulement en 1849, quand l’économique
l’emporte davantage, que le Manifeste d’annexion n’entraîne pas de la part de
l’Angleterre de réaction militaire ou politique violente, car bon nombre de
conservateurs canadiens- anglais ou canadiens-français comme Sabrevoy de
Bleury signent ou approuvent publiquement ce manifeste. Grâce à ce texte de
James Stuart, on comprend en quoi la pensée canadienne est trop tournée vers
l’Europe continentale, c’est-à-dire vers un libéralisme plus politique
qu’économique, une théorie plutôt qu’une pratique (Simpson : 1993), qui les
empêche en 1837 de mettre de l’avant des arguments économiques concernant
l’Angleterre et ses rapports avec le continent américain. L’Europe
continentale empêche d’inventer des nations emportées par des dynamiques
nouvelles car la rupture, contrairement aux États-Unis, ne se fait pas
immédiatement.
De plus, les Patriotes canadiens-français ont devant eux deux modèles
éminents qu’ils ne peuvent que copier à un degré moindre. En effet, comment
produire une autre déclaration universelle, soixante ans après celle des ÉtatsUnis et cinquante ans après celle de la France. Il est difficile de faire rêver,
sinon dans le fait qu’on devrait faire ce qui s’est déjà fait5. Cependant, il est
remarquable de voir que le vénézuélien Fermin Toro cite un texte de la
Déclaration d’indépendance du Bas-Canada faite par Nelson et Côté à partir
d’un compte rendu du Times du 7 décembre 1838 :
Desde hoy el pueblo del Bajo Canada queda libre de toda obedencia à
la Gran Bretana. (Europa y America, p. 35)
Il s’en sert pour fustiger la domination anglaise et son attitude colonialiste dans
le contexte plus général et systématique du démontage des discours européens
face à une pratique qui conduit des populations européennes entières à vivre
dans des conditions sanitaires, culturelles et économiques désastreuses. Ainsi,
on se rend compte qu’en plus des pouvoirs militaire, économique, bancaire et
naval sur le monde entier, l’Angleterre domine aussi au niveau des réseaux
d’information. Les nouvelles concernant le Bas-Canada passent par Londres et
de là sont mises à la disposition des pays avec les commentaires appropriés,
bien sûr. Il n’empêche que F. Toro se sert de ce passage pour souligner que
l’Europe semble lâcher enfin son emprise coloniale sur les pays d’Amérique. Il
donne l’exemple du Canada français pour produire lui-même sa Déclaration
qui conviendrait aux pays du Nouveau Monde et en particulier d’Amérique du
Sud. On peut y lire qu’il faut maintenir son indépendance et son autonomie,
signer des traités entre les peuples de la terre et que ce maintien se double de
droits individuels comme le droit d’émigrer et d’être admis dans le pays de son
choix. Louis-Joseph Papineau tend à se rapprocher d’un tel universalisme dans
son dernier discours à l’Institut canadien le 17 décembre 1867 :
On y [le fait de fondre en unité les gens venant de tous les pays du
monde] doit voir l’enseignement divin de la tolérance universelle et
de la fraternité du genre humain. [...] La patrie n’aura de force, de
grandeur, de prospérité, de paix sérieuse et permanente, qu’autant
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que toutes ces divergences d’origines et de croyances
s’harmoniseront et concourront ensemble et simultanément au
développement de toutes les forces et de toutes les ressources
sociales. (p. 20)
Malgré cette ultime déclaration de Papineau, l’exemple vénézuélien nous
montre cependant en quoi les Déclarations faites au Canada sont de simples
déclarations locales d’indépendances. Aucune n’a une envergure qui pourrait
lui permettre de faire rêver les autres peuples en insistant sur des éléments
nouveaux comme ces droits de déplacements transnationaux. À cause du poids
de la colonisation, il n’est pas possible aux auteurs d’aller au-delà d’une
affirmation qui aurait pu tenir compte de l’ensemble de l’espace américain
doublé de la présence du reste du monde par l’entremise de ceux qui, en venant
en Amérique, désiraient vivre dans la pratique des théories et des idéaux qui
ne s’incarnaient que très lentement dans l’Ancien Monde.
De ce fait, le Canada français, malgré la remarque de Fermin Toro, n’inspire,
ni culturellement ni linguistiquement, les continents américain et latinoaméricain. Les intellectuels et écrivains qui, souvent, parlent couramment le
français ou qui vivent une situation de bilinguisme poussé où le français est
maîtrisé dans les détails (l’Argentine Eduarda Mansilla écrit et publie en
français Pablo ou la vie dans les pampas à Paris en 1860) vont chercher leur
inspiration en France, d’où ils reviennent déçus, comme Sarmiento. Les ÉtatsUnis prennent alors la relève. Ce qui importe, ce sont les idées nouvelles et
c’est bien pour cela que Papineau cite Bolívar et les idéaux révolutionnaires
des républiques hispano-américaines. Ceci doit être mis en contexte avec
l’ultramontanisme qui, en «ethnicisant» les idées et en les enfermant dans le
traditionalisme, contribue par défaut, à faire oublier le Canada français et à
renforcer l’influence européenne sur les intellectuels sud-américains. Ceux-ci
se méfient en effet de plus en plus de la puissance des États-Unis. Mais ils ne
trouvent pas d’idées progressistes ailleurs sur le continent. Les francophones
et francophiles d’Argentine et d’ailleurs restent alors tournés vers les
progressistes européens et leur discours. Ils aboutissent, comme on va le voir
au sujet de Sarmiento, à oublier que leur arrière-pays est une richesse
commerciale fondamentale et ils le présentent sous les couleurs de la barbarie
tant leur regard est tourné vers les autres rives de l’Atlantique.
Par ailleurs, la position «ethnicisante» du Canada français, stimulée par
l’idéologie ultramontaine, a comme conséquence d’isoler celui-ci des autres
Amériques pour le faire passer par l’Europe ultramontaine, monarchiste et
colonisatrice. Il en résulte le maintien d’une dépendance coloniale au niveau
culturel qui complémente la dépendance économique anglaise. Il n’y a pas de
possibilité véritable de solidarités tournées vers l’avenir et vers des
dynamiques nouvelles véhiculées dans une langue française d’ici et commune
à nombre d’écrivains et d’intellectuels sud-américains. L’insistance sur la
langue pour la langue et le rejet des idées nouvelles au nom de la tradition
entravent une solidarité continentale, car il aurait fallu que la langue commune
soit aussi le lieu d’un ancrage culturel progressiste tourné vers l’avenir. Ceci
aurait pu permettre la redéfinition de nations en gestation, comme l’Argentine
qui avait tout à inventer ne possédant pas de bases démocratiques comme
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Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
celles apportées par les Anglais venus s’installer sur ce qui était devenu les
États-Unis.
Beaucoup d’autres textes mentionnent l’Amérique latine. Cependant, après le
milieu de 1860, c’est-à-dire après l’épisode de la guerre du Mexique, les
comptes rendus sur l’Amérique latine seront fait d’un point de vue
exclusivement ultramontain puisque cette idéologie, par l’entremise de
Monseigneur Bourget, s’est imposée à l’ensemble du fonctionnement social.
Ainsi, il n’y a là aucune source d’inspiration pour les libéraux sud-américains.
Le Mexique
L’aventure mexicaine (1861-1867) démontre ce fonctionnement où nombres
de Canadiens français plutôt libéraux comme Honoré Beaugrand ou
conservateurs comme Faucher de Saint-Maurice, Arthur Taschereau,
Alphonse Têtu ou Robert d’Ailleboust d’Estimauville de Beaumouchel
(Roger Le Moine, 1995) se lancent aux côtés des armées françaises de
Napoléon III. Ils soutiennent Maximilien d’Autriche afin de fonder un empire
latin, conservateur, catholique, monarchique luttant contre le peuple mexicain
qui défend son indépendance. Il y a là une confusion idéologique notoire car
des Canadiens français souffrant censément de ne pas être indépendants luttent
avec des colonialistes européens dont le but est de cerner les États-Unis et
d’annuler leur influence, contre le peuple mexicain et sa volonté
d’indépendance. L’Américanité, pour les Canadiens traditionalistes tant
français qu’anglais, est synonyme d’un chaos social et politique enraciné dans
le laxisme de l’initiative et de la responsabilité individuelles. Pour ces
colonialistes européens, l’Américanité est floue et passe par un consensus
linguistique et mythique dans la tradition d’une latinité6 perdue et peut-être
inexistante en Amérique du Nord tandis que les causes premières de
l’intervention était liée à l’insolvabilité du Mexique à l’égard de l’Angleterre
et de la France. Encore une fois, les Canadiens français, sous l’emprise de
l’ultramontanisme, se détachent de la question économique pour se jeter dans
des réflexions plus théoriques, dans une valorisation de l’idéologie
traditionaliste au service de monarques européens. Pourtant c’est bien
l’économie qui domine la question de l’indépendance dans les Amériques visà-vis de l’Europe ou de l’Angleterre aussi bien au Canada français qu’en
Argentine et au Mexique.
Les actions missionnaires
Ces actions s’inscrivent dans le messianisme universaliste et évangélique
ultramontain, celui-là même qui avait amené les sœurs de la Providence à
Valparaiso, au Chili, en 1853, les Frères des Écoles chrétiennes en Équateur en
1872 ou les Sœurs du Bon-Pasteur d’Angers en Équateur (1871), au Pérou
(1871) et en Bolivie (1892). On note en particulier le travail des six frères
canadiens qui rejoignent les Frères français (1863) de 1869 à 1873 pour
répondre aux demandes du dictateur de l’Équateur, Garcia Moreno, modèle de
Monseigneur Bourget (P. Imbert : 1975), et qui veut fonder un état catholique
ultramontain en Amérique7. Pour maintenir cette société alliée à des pouvoirs
politiques plus anciens, aristocrates ou féodaux, Garcia Moreno demande en
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février 1861, époque de la guerre du Mexique et de l’affaiblissement potentiel
des États-Unis à cause de la Guerre de Sécession, à Napoléon III d’annexer
l’Équateur à la France, même si, en septembre 1860, ce même Napoléon n’a
pas défendu la souveraineté du Pape sur ses états italiens contre des libéraux
comme Garibaldi8. C’est pourquoi le 8 juin 1864, la Société de défense de
l’indépendance américaine, dont le Canada-Uni ne fait évidemment pas partie,
adopte la résolution suivante :
[...] el 8 de junio de 1864, la Sociedad de Defensores de la
Independencia Americana reunida en Lima antes del congreso de
plenipotenciaros de aquel ano, adopto una resolucion declarando
que, a causa de su «conducta antiamericana», el gobierno del Ecuador
era traidor a America. (Benjamin Carrion, Garcia Moreno, p. 540)
Autrement dit, des jeux complexes s’instaurent entre le Canada et l’Amérique
latine. D’une part, une conception d’une nation centrée sur la sauvegarde de la
langue et de la foi en fonction du respect des hiérarchies traditionnelles domine
dans le Canada français ultramontain. Elle s’accorde avec le pessimisme
envers l’homme pécheur à qui on ne peut faire confiance et qui, par
conséquent, ne peut être un individu libre et responsable. Il doit être guidé
constamment. Libéralisme économique, exploration du territoire et expansion
sont alors bien éloignés des préoccupations de la majorité des Canadiens
français. D’autre part, pour le Canada anglais «to be a British Colonist meant
that you had made positive life choices, all of which indicated your personal
wisdom, superiority and worth». (Mary-Lu MacDonald : 1995) Les ÉtatsUnis et leur libéralisme économique, pourtant à une centaine de kilomètres de
Montréal, sont occultés. La pensée européenne réactionnaire domine. Le
Canada français ignore la dynamique des Amériques; quelques Canadiens
anglais profiteront du champ libre pour établir avec les Républiques
d’Amérique latine, des contrats commerciaux, à titre de colonisateurs anglais,
grâce à la présence de nombreux techniciens, financiers et ingénieurs anglais
et canadiens-anglais sur place.
Les liens commerciaux et techniques
La première mission importante du Canada-Uni à se rendre de l’Amérique du
Nord britannique en Amérique latine a eu lieu en 1865, afin d’explorer les
marchés de Cuba, de Haïti, de Puerto Rico, du Brésil et du Mexique.
L’entreprise se décide sous l’influence indirecte des États-Unis alors engagés
dans la guerre de Sécession et qui menacent d’abroger le Traité de réciprocité
de 1854. Londres, qui ne souhaite pas voir sa colonie signer des traités
d’échanges de manière indépendante, s’inquiète :
Canada and the Baltic are our timber forests; Australia contains our
sheep farms, and in Argentina and on the Western Prairies of NorthAmerica are our herds of oxen; Peru sends her silver, and the gold of
South-America and Australia flows to London. (Paul Kennedy,
Preparing for the Twenty First Century, p. 9; citation du English
Economist, 1865)
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Cette dépendance explique les hésitations constantes du Canada face à
l’Amérique latine, d’autant plus que Londres a des intérêts économiques
substantiels dans cette partie du monde, notamment en Argentine.
Buenos Aires, port important, s’ouvre sur le commerce et est dirigé par la
bourgeoisie qui se modèle sur l’Angleterre démocratique et capitaliste et tisse
des liens de plus en plus marqués avec cette puissance navale et économique de
première importance. Le 2 février 1825, B. Rivadavia signe le premier traité
d’amitié, de commerce et de navigation entre sa majesté britannique et les
Provinces unies du Rio de la Plata :
Art. II. Habra entre todos los territorios de S.M.B. en Europa y las
Provincias Unidas del Rio de la Plata una reciproca libertad de
comercio. Los habitantes de los dos paises gorazan, respectivamente,
de la franquicia de llegar segura y libremente con sus busques y
cargas a todos aquellos parajes, puertos y rios adonde sea o pueda ser
permitido a otros extranjeros llegar, entrar en los mismos y
permanecer y residir en cualquiera parte de dichos territorios
respectivamente [...].
Art. III. [...] los habitantes de las Provincias Unidas del Rio de la Plata
tengan la misma libertad de comercio y navegacion estipulada en el
Articulo anterior [...]. (Woodbine Parish, Buenos Aires y las
Provincias del Rio de la Plata, p. 565)
Ce traité possède une extension remarquable, car il permet non seulement des
échanges réguliers mais accorde le droit de résider à ceux qui font du
commerce. Et cet enjeu est très clairement situé dans le cadre d’une rivalité
avec les États-Unis et d’une suprématie européenne :
In 1828, a British envoy cautioned the Government of Argentina
against the doctrine set up by some crude theorists that America
ought to have a political existence separate from the political
existence of Europe. (V. G. Kiernan, The Lords of Human Kind, p.
283)
C’est dire que l’Argentine est très liée à la Grande-Bretagne, économiquement
à tout le moins. Mais comme le souligne en 1832 Achille Murat, citoyen des
États-Unis et ci-devant prince royal des Deux-Siciles, justifiant le
protectionnisme de son pays d’adoption, les États-Unis, «tant qu’une inégalité
d’industrie et de capitaux existe, un système protectif est nécessaire aux
nations favorisées du ciel». (Esquisse morale et politique des États-Unis de
l’Amérique du Nord, p. 336) Il est clair que l’Argentine se place dans une
situation de dépendance à l’égard de l’Angleterre qui obtient d’elle, comme du
Canada, ses produits naturels tandis que l’Angleterre y exporte ses produits
manufacturés générateurs de capital. Cette dépendance risque, comme au
Canada, de retarder la construction d’industries nationales ouvertes sur le
marché intérieur. Ainsi, au Canada et en Argentine se met en place une
idéologie libérale du laisser faire économique qui dure même sous la dictature
de Rosas.
Par contre ce laisser faire est redéfini quand il faut construire les chemins de
fer. En Argentine, cette action profite aux propriétaires terriens, les
estancerios qui ont remplacé les caudillos et qui spéculent sur les terrains. Au
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Canada, l’action de l’État, comme l’a bien montré Pierre Berton (1989) a joué
en faveur de l’industrie privée d’abord, constamment aidée par les finances
publiques et indirectement en faveur de spéculateurs locaux comme ceux de
Winnipeg. Plusieurs Canadiens participent à la construction du chemin de fer
en Argentine : Onderdonk du Canadien Pacifique se consacre au chemin de
fer Buenos Aires/Rosario. William Perkins, de Toronto, planifie dès 1858
Rosario, ville commerciale et industrielle (Silvia Docola, 1995) et s’engage
dans la politique municipale et la définition spatiale d’une identité locale en
tenant compte des rapports entre immigrants venus d’horizons nationaux et
sociaux très différents. L’aménagement de la vie en fonction du
développement économique importe avant tout et s’effectue dans le cadre du
libéralisme économique lié à une politique colonisatrice.
La vision du Canada par Sarmiento, écrivain et président de la
république Argentine
Sarmiento, écrivain argentin auteur de l’ouvrage Facundo, où il décrit les
malheurs apportés par le dictateur Rosas et la barbarie de la pampa et de ses
caudillos, admire les libéraux français et européens. En 1847, il avait voyagé
en Europe et particulièrement en France où la misère qui sévissait parmi les
populations l’avait horrifié. Les discours théoriques et politiques européens ne
passaient pas dans la pratique socio-économique comme l’avait dénoncé aussi
F. Toro au Venezuela au sujet de l’Europe. Dès lors, Sarmiento se tourne
d’avantage vers un type de libéralisme anglo-saxon inspiré de Locke et
d’Adam Smith puis surtout d’un libéralisme démocratique technologique et
économiste comme il l’avait vu réalisé lors de son voyage, la même année, aux
États-Unis, voyage qui le mène aussi au Canada de Niagara à Montréal :
The view has all the fresh virgin like qualities which Cooper captured
[...] A trip through a fairy land [...] colours which all painters desire
for rustic scenes (p. 232).
It was the secret desire to stay here, to live forever (p. 230). (M.A.
Rockland, Sarmiento’s Travels in the United-States in 1847)
Malgré tout, il avait bien perçu le développement technique d’une ville
moderne comme Montréal. Cependant, il considérait l’organisation du Canada
français comme défectueuse à cause du pouvoir et de l’influence du clergé qui
diffusait une idéologie médiévale, répressive et antimoderne, ce qui
engendrait des problèmes économiques pour la population :
Today, a patrician family sells its house, which is bought by an
English merchant; tomorrow its sons are indigent since they have no
education or manual skills the grandsons end up as good-for-nothings
or servants. (Sarmiento’s Travels in the United-States in 1847, M.A.
Rockland, 1970, p. 238)
Ces propos rejoignent ceux de Xavier Marmier, ce monarchiste
constitutionnel français qui voyagera du Canada français aux Provinces du Rio
de la Plata (Argentine) et qui s’inspire directement de Sarmiento pour écrire
son journal de voyage en Argentine et d’écrivains Canadiens français pour
parler de son séjour à Montréal (Récits américains, 1883).
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Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
Le Canada dans les Amériques et l’invention des identités
The remarkable success of the English as colonists,
compared to other european nations, has been ascribed to
their «daring and persistent energy»; a result which is well
illustrated by comparing the progress of the Canadians of
English and French extraction; but who can say how the
English gained their energy? (Charles Darwin, The Descent
of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, 1871, ed. 1898, p.
144)
Les identités se définissent et les nations s’inventent partout par la capacité à
former la jeunesse. Le système scolaire est donc dans tous les pays un enjeu
fondamental que se disputent libéraux, conservateurs ou ultramontains. Des
penseurs libéraux canadiens-français, au sens anglo-saxon et économique du
terme, se réfèrent à Horace Mann ainsi qu’à Sarmiento en Argentine. Ils
s’opposent ainsi aux désirs de l’Église catholique qui a une vision de
l’éducation bien différente. Mais qu’affirme et que met en place Horace Mann,
le grand pédagogue américain de l’époque, s’inspirant de Pestalozzi et de
Dinter de Prusse?
Horace Mann est l’artisan d’un système scolaire qui mettra en place un
fonctionnement ouvert à tous et déja préparé par une rationalité active et
pratique, mais pas encore systématisée malgré l’Acte de 1647 du
Massachusetts concernant la nécessité de l’éducation publique. Selon Mann,
la plupart des sociétés de l’Amérique vont penser l’éducation en fonction d’un
système à contrôler et à perfectionner afin que la sélection des meilleurs, par
l’accumulation du savoir, produise ses fruits et présente les États-Unis comme
un exemple à suivre en Amérique et dans le monde. Pour Mann, les valeurs à
diffuser sont, dans le cadre d’une immigration permanente, la séparation de
l’Église et de l’État, l’optimisme, la philanthropie républicaine, la liberté
religieuse, la prospérité matérielle, l’innovation technologique, l’harmonie
morale, intellectuelle et sociale, la volonté de produire des individus libres et
démocrates dans le cadre d’une éducation ouverte à tous et gratuite. Tous les
thèmes du progrès sont présents. Pour cela le gouvernement relié au
libéralisme économique ne doit pas se substituer au local mais encourager
intellectuellement et économiquement le local à atteindre des standards élevés.
Tout ceci aboutit à l’éducation universelle et gratuite dans de nombreux états,
comme au Michigan en 1837, sous la direction de John Pierce, surintendant de
l’instruction publique, dont le système ouvre sur une université d’État.
La stricte morale protestante de Mann, enrichie par la philosophie des
Lumières, le mène à des considérations qui pourraient même paraître neuves à
plusieurs de nos jours :
As individuals, or as an organized community, we have no natural
right; we can derive no authority or countenance from reason; we can
cite no attribute or purpose of the divine nature, for giving birth to any
human being, and then inflicting upon that being the curse of
ignorance, of poverty and of vice, with all their attendant calamities.
(Tenth Annual Report, 1846, p. 77)
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Il est remarquable que certaines des idées de Mann aient été reprises par le
Révérend Egerton Ryerson, pasteur Méthodiste, membre du groupe protestant
le plus important du Haut-Canada (Ontario). Il lance une campagne, dans le
Christian Guardian le 26 mars 1831, contre les privilèges religieux qui
divisent les esprits et s’engage dans le mouvement Réformiste qui obtient
l’abolition des Réserves du clergé. Ces réserves étaient constituées par le
septième des terres de la province et étaient pour la plupart peu productrices. Il
parvient à obtenir qu’elles soient attribuées à l’éducation publique. Il établit les
paradigmes de celle-ci dans Report on a System of Public Elementary
Instruction en 1846 ( Emerging Identities, Paul W. Bennett et Cornelius
Jaenen ed., p. 197). Les points forts en sont l’universalité et son insistance sur
le côté pratique plutôt que sur la rhétorique. Ceci le mène à créer The Toronto
Industrial School en 1845, toujours dans le cadre d’un centralisme fort car il
s’agit d’inventer un citoyen et un espace public dans un monde où le local
omniprésent commence à être vu comme un handicap au progrès et
l’immigration comme un potentiel à condition que les énergies se dirigent vers
des buts communs tel le développement des ressources en fonction de la
création d’un marché intérieur.
Ici, se marque bien l’aspiration internationale de la bourgeoisie libérale qui
souhaite établir la liberté afin que l’individu prospère dans une nation où
l’ordre s’allie au progrès technique et économique, le tout généralement
organisé en fonction de buts visionnaires qui annoncent déjà une pensée
tournée vers la mondialisation. C’est ce qu’annonçait un journaliste du
American Register en 1817 en affirmant que les États-Unis devaient devenir, à
cause de leur situation même, the entrepôt of Europe and Asia (The
Conspiracy..., p. 7). Cette idée est reprise par Papineau dans son Discours du
17 décembre 1867 : «Dix mille Chinois [...] construisant le grand chemin qui
va relier les deux océans et faire de notre Amérique le centre commercial du
monde entier» (p. 20). Le but du système scolaire qui allie morale religieuse et
ethique protestante (M. Weber, 1964) s’inscrit dans la volonté de faire
fructifier son avoir par son travail orienté vers le profit et la création de
richesses dans la tolérance et l’insistance sur la maîtrise des sciences
appliquées et des arts. Ces idées, enracinées dans l’idéalisme (par opposition
au matérialisme marxiste européen), sont communes aussi à certains argentins
libéraux comme Sarmiento et aux socialistes utopiques comme Echeverria. Ils
privilégient un catholicisme biblique tout en rejetant violemment l’Église
catholique oppressive qui doit être soumise aux lois civiles. C’est cette
idéologie que refuse le clergé canadien-français. Certes, à Buenos Aires le
catholicisme ne représente pas une force politique considérable à l’époque.
Pourtant, dans les régions plus éloignées, il constitue un élément de
stabilisation certaine pour les Caudillos. De plus, dans une ville comme
Córdoba, l’université est dirigée par les Jésuites qui tendent à imposer une
vision traditionnelle et très hiérarchisée du monde. Sarmiento, d’ailleurs,
demandera à ce que les écoles changent les manuels en Argentine et qu’on
n’enseigne plus que la terre est le centre de l’univers. Si le poids politique du
catholicisme n’est pas très fort dans ce pays avant la fin du XIXe siècle, son
poids idéologique et culturel est certain. De plus, Sarmiento, adepte des idées
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Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
de la Franc-maçonnerie libérale, voit la nécessité de lutter contre ce poids basé
sur des autorités dépassées.
En 1847, Sarmiento visite le Canada et les États-Unis. Il rencontre
personnellement H. Mann et Madame Beecher, son épouse, qui le
convaincront de l’excellence de leur système, particulièrement pour des pays
d’Amérique du Sud où le local et l’immigration doivent être insérés dans des
projets plus grandioses afin de mettre en valeur le plus rapidement possible le
potentiel énergétique et industriel du Nouveau Monde. Cependant, si lors de
son passage au Canada, Sarmiento s’extasie devant la technologie et les
industries, il est déçu par le Canada français qu’il voit, à travers Montréal,
techniquement en avance, mais culturellement en retard :
In this respect, Montreal is the most highly civilized city on the
planet; but because of an interesting moral aspect, it is also a fossil
curiosity. (Sarmiento’s Travels in the United States in 1847, M.A.
Rockland ed., p. 233)
But if you want to turn back the pages of history and see it as it was at
the end of the Middle Ages, go to Montreal and there you will find it
in all of its primitive simplicity, full of passion and force and
concentrating in itself, as in Spain in the times of Queen Isabella,
patriotism, power and heroism. (p. 235)
The priest, as in the olden days, is the parish’s schoolteacher [...] the
children are indoctrinated with fervor in their beliefs and fortified
against all dangerous innovations [...]. (p. 237)
Il n’est pas le seul à l’époque à avoir une telle vision de la situation. De
nombreux libéraux canadiens-français pensent ainsi. Mondelet, s’inspirant de
Mann qu’il cite souvent dans Lettres sur l’éducation élémentaire et pratique
(1841), avait déjà proposé un programme d’éducation similaire. Mais au
Canada français, le clergé ultramontain aura gain de cause idéologiquement et
occupera le centre pédagogico-culturel de la communauté pour affirmer et
imposer des valeurs très différentes. En effet, pour ce dernier, la soumission à
la hiérarchie dans la domination de l’Église sur l’État est sacrée. Selon
l’ultramontanisme, l’enrichissement matériel n’étant pas un but fondamental,
la technique importe peu sauf dans le cas de l’agriculture, l’individu est soumis
au destin, à Dieu et au Pape; il doit rester à la place qui lui a été assignée. La
Vérité est une et doit être imposée pour sauver les âmes face à la tolérance, au
libéralisme politique et économique et au républicanisme. L’invention du pays
passe par la pédagogie de Horace Mann qui s’impose dans les écoles normales
et dans l’ensemble du système scolaire argentin. Au Canada français, elle reste
à l’état de projet chez les penseurs innovateurs et le monopole religieux
s’impose.
Barbarie et civilisation
Pour Sarmiento, les barbares sont liés à un espace. En effet, pour lui, l’espace
de l’intérieur, de la pampa est le lieu de l’instinct, de l’anti-rationnalité d’où est
sorti le dictateur Rosas qui a voulu jouer le fédéralisme pour échapper au
centralisme, à l’unitarisme de Buenos Aires et qui a fini par centraliser tous les
pouvoirs en lui au nom «de ce préjugé de nationalité qui est le patrimoine de
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l’homme dans le temps de la tribu sauvage» (Facundo, p. 286). Mais Rosas
représente aussi la volonté d’affirmer une identité américaine propre. Pour
Sarmiento, cette américanité fait peur surtout face à une Europe perçue, au
départ, comme civilisée mais dont Sarmiento est revenu déçu. Le discours de
la civilisation européenne, ce discours d’une officialité diffuse nourrissant un
nationalisme aux visées expansionnistes, ne tient pas face à la pratique sociale
et économique européenne où la liberté se perd dans la déchéance matérielle et
le fonctionnement de régimes forts9, comme le montre F. Toro dans Europa y
America. Il lui reste alors à se tourner vers les États-Unis qu’il perçoit, à l’instar
des libéraux «Rouges» canadiens-français10, comme la nation la plus civilisée
du monde car elle a réussi à appliquer un certain idéal, à se forger une pratique
et à faire triompher un faire. Ceci l’avait amené à importer le système
d’éducation de Mann, son système d’écoles normales et à faire venir des
enseignantes américaines en Argentine.
Still, after examining the chief nations of Christendom, I have come
to the conclusion that the american are the only really cultured people
that exist on this earth and the last word in modern civilization. (M.A.
Rockland, Sarmiento’s Travels in the United States in 1847, p. 151)
De ce fait, Sarmiento rejette l’Europe comme l’incarnation du monde du faux,
du monde des théories et des mots détachés de la pratique. Dans sa quête d’un
référent, lui, qui a tant décrit par textes interposés, tente de faire que
l’Argentine soit les États-Unis. Par ailleurs, au Canada français, des libéraux
comme Dessaulles demandent l’annexion du Bas-Canada (Québec) aux ÉtatsUnis en 1851 après la diffusion du Manifeste d’annexion de 1849 signé pour
des raisons différentes par des Canadiens français et des Canadiens anglais.
L’import- export idéologique, pédagogique et économique américaine est en
marche et détache peu à peu le libéralisme économique du radicalisme et du
rougisme politique.
Étienne Parent dans ses discours à l’Institut canadien (1846-1848) manifeste
des idées similaires à celles de Sarmiento. Il se dégage des antithèses faciles
dans lesquelles tombent Sarmiento comme les cléricaux canadiens qui
attribuent des valeurs opposées aux espaces (Pampa = barbarie/ville =
civilisation pour Sarmiento et village = civilisation/ville = barbarie pour le
clergé canadien). Ses discours en font un des représentants majeurs d’une
pensée en évolution qui sait tenir compte du passé comme de l’avenir en créant
les liens transitionnels qui s’imposent et qui permettent de réfléchir en terme
de continuité menant à des sauts qualitatifs dynamiques :
[L’industriel] est le père de l’Amérique civilisée. [...] Ce sont des
cités sans nombre et des empires que l’industriel a conquis sur la
nature sauvage, non plus avec l’épée et le sang d’autres hommes mais
bien avec la hache et les sueurs de son propre front. (Discours
prononcés par Étienne Parent devant l’Institut canadien de Montréal
le 22 janvier 1846, p. 19)
Parent présente, par analogie, l’agriculteur, celui qui travaille à améliorer sa
terre par des techniques nouvelles, comme un industriel, contrairement au
clergé qui voit en celui-là un paroissien répétant de siècles en siècles, les
mêmes gestes. Par ce processus d’attribution (P. Imbert : 1995), Parent
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Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
transforme l’agriculteur en moteur de progrès qui bientôt va fonder une ville,
sur le modèle des États-Unis. Cet agriculteur s’inscrit dans la grande épopée de
l’industrialisation et du progrès. Ainsi, le portrait du Canadien français change
radicalement pour Parent car l’espace, chez lui, n’est plus coupé entre
campagne et ville. La ville surgit du développement propre à l’âge
préindustriel et s’inscrit dans une dynamique évolutive où l’identité se modifie
insensiblement dans le mouvement de la modernité.
Oisiveté/travail
L’opposition barbarie/civilisation repose sur une opposition absolument
fondamentale qui déstructure même un des fondements de la civilisation
chrétienne et de la Bible. Celle de l’oisiveté et du travail et de la conception
même du travail. À ce niveau Sarmiento et Parent se rejoignent et disent
exactement la même chose car ils sont bien des hommes de leur temps, c’est-àdire d’un libéralisme qui est avant tout économique.
Des déserts de l’Amérique civilisable comme le dit Sarmiento (Facundo, p.
21), surgissent des barbares qui laissent l’espace à l’état sauvage. Et pourquoi
sont-ils barbares? Parce qu’ils refusent le TRAVAIL11 :
L’incorporation des indigènes pratiquée par les colonisateurs doit
avoir contribué grandement à produire ce résultat malheureux
(l’oisiveté, l’inaptitude à l’industrie). Les races américaines vivent
dans l’oisiveté et se maintiennent incapables de se livrer à un travail
pénible et suivi même par la contrainte. C’est ce qui a suggéré l’idée
d’introduire des nègres en Amérique, idée qui a produit de si fatals
résultats. Mais la race espagnole ne s’est pas montrée mieux douée
pour l’action quand elle s’est vue dans les déserts d’Amérique
abandonnée à ses propres instincts. (p. 37)12
François Xavier Garneau ne dit pas autre chose des indigènes et Étienne Parent
en rajoute quand il affirme clairement :
L’Europe est chargée de castes fainéantes. [...] Pauvre Espagne qui ne
doit le reste de vie qui la soutient encore qu’à son ciel si beau, à son sol
si riche. (Du travail chez l’homme, 23 septembre 1847, p. 67)
Le sauvage d’Amérique a pris nos vices et laissé de côté nos vertus, il
a pris ce qui fait notre faiblesse et négligé ce qui fait notre force, le
travail et les idées de la civilisation. Le sauvage pense comme nos
nobles au sujet du travail et le tient en mépris. (p. 76)
On ne peut être plus clair. Les castes oisives, c’est-à-dire les nobles sont les
barbares contemporains car ils tiennent à un monde de dépense et souvent de
destruction par les armes. Il n’en reste pas moins que les Indiens subissent de
plein fouet les effets de ce processus d’attribution qui nie leur mode de vie dans
le but de justifier une politique liée à l’achat ou à la confiscation de leurs terres.
Le nouvel ordre mondial de l’époque est en contradiction flagrante avec les
valeurs anciennes de la propriété terrienne et avec les valeurs des peuples
autochtones. Il est ouvert à la production dans l’efficacité, l’efficience et la
concurrence, moteurs d’une industrialisation fondée sur la capitalisation du
savoir technologique et de l’argent. De plus, il se dirige vers le libre-échange
fondé sur le laisser faire. Cet ordre sera cependant maintenu dans une
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atmosphère de paix grâce à une éthique de l’ordre liée à la domination de la
religion.
Parent manifeste avec beaucoup de doigté le renversement direct des
paradigmes de la chrétienté. Pour lui le cliché «Tu travailleras à la sueur de ton
front» n’est plus valide. Travailler n’est pas une condamnation, c’est le
fondement même de la liberté : «Ainsi les peuples les plus industrieux furentils presque toujours les plus libres.» (p. 61) L’expression est intéressante car
elle s’approche nettement d’un renversement complet de paradigme qui prend
l’allure d’un paradoxe. En effet, Parent, s’inspirant de la morale protestante,
affirme clairement LE TRAVAIL C’EST LA LIBERTÉ. Son expression, tend
à construire une société qui refuse définitivement l’esclavage et il reprend les
mêmes arguments que les abolitionnistes (même s’il n’y a plus d’esclaves à
cette époque au Canada). Il refuse le servage et tout ce qui lui ressemble, c’està-dire un certain rapport de soumission à la glèbe et à l’ordre établi. Pour cela,
il travaille le discours et produit un texte qui allie travail, liberté et production,
c’est-à-dire profit individuel. Cette expression transforme l’acception donné
au mot travail qui n’est plus une malédiction que pour les exploités de l’Europe
souffrant encore du joug d’une organisation inspirée de la féodalité. F. Toro
manifeste un point de vue similaire. Un discours nouveau se construit alliant
travail, liberté, individu et civilisation dans la production et l’échange, moyen
de construire la grande fraternité humaine. Il veut des hommes libres et maîtres
de leur destin, car la nature, comme disait Locke, les a créés tels.
La main invisible
Ainsi, en accord avec ce qui se passe aux États-Unis, Parent et Sarmiento
tentent, aux deux extrémités du continent, de substituer à un rapport purement
politique, une structuration de contrat commercial permanent qui nous mène
directement à la modernité si l’on considère les éléments suivants. Le
darwinisme social de lutte pour la vie et de survie des plus adaptés à leur
environnement qui mène à des problèmes sociaux débouchant sur une
violence généralisée s’il est inscrit dans le cadre d’une vision de la société
comme jeu à somme nulle (G. Gilder, 1981) est redéfini à partir du moment où
l’on considère qu’il est possible de CRÉER des richesses, surtout si l’on
accepte que l’individu puisse prendre des initiatives et développer lui-même
ses potentialités et aider les autres à le faire. Dans un tel cadre, le darwinisme
social n’est plus une idéologie du XIXe siècle, il est vraiment ce qui constitue
une des bases de la modernité. Il est lié évidemment à la théorie de la main
invisible d’Adam Smith qui permet de transformer l’égoïsme individuel en
moteur de bénéfices publics dans le cadre de la logique de l’effet non désiré
mais tout à fait positif et donc loin d’être indésirable. Cette théorie de la main
invisible définit un des éléments de la rhétorique argumentative libérale
économiste progressiste.
Cette dynamique est très bien soulignée par Sarmiento dans son journal de
voyage :
Twenty million human beings are, all at once, creating capital for
themselves and for their sons in a nation which was born yesterday on
virgin soil, human beings to whom the past centuries have left no
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Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
inheritance other than primitive forests, unexplored rivers, and
uncultivated lands. (Travels in the United States in 1847, p. 183)
On the United States’ side (of the Niagara) they are putting up great
cities, there are numerous ports [...] there is a great deal of
commercial activity...On the Canadian side [...] there is an old
settlement on what looks like improved land, and yet there are only
two or three stores [...]. (p. 156)
Comme on le voit à travers les yeux de Sarmiento, le Canada anglais, comme le
Canada français, de par le régime colonial, les lois et la culture qui y sont liées,
sont portés à se soumettre à une autorité distante, celle de Londres et celle de
Dieu. Le Canada (le Haut comme le Bas-Canada), aux yeux de Sarmiento, ne
pense pas en terme de modernité progressiste démocratique où tout un chacun
doit prendre l’initiative du développement et en profiter personnellement,
même si des penseurs s’ouvrent à ce mode de fonctionnement. Cependant, ils
le font dans un cadre juridique et politique déterminé par le Bureau des
Colonies.
Conclusion
C’est dire que les rapports à établir entre le Canada et l’Argentine sont plus
directs qu’il n’y paraît et qu’on doit tenir compte de relations à l’espace, à la
technologie et aux circuits de communication qui n’ont pas à passer par
l’Europe. Ceci modifie nettement ce qu’affirmait Ogelsby :
[There are] many affinities with the peoples of Latin-America,
affinities which have not been exploited, which facilitate the process
of developing better understanding with the people of Latin America.
The report mentionned that the heritage of the Indo-American
peoples, as well as the European tradition — based on the Hellenic,
Roman, and Christian past — of the Republics and Canada,
constituted a common ground. As a result of the discussions, the
Canadians hoped to expand university and scientific exchanges,
increase the flow of art and artists between the two regions, and
through films, television, and personal contact, improve on the
general lack of awareness of each other. (Ogelsby, Gringos from the
Far North, 1976, p. 34)
Il dépendait encore d’une vision quelque peu timide mais inscrite sur la voie
qui avait été préparée par des programmes culturels et économiques bien
administrés. On se souvient du travail de pionnier d’Honoré Gervais, député de
Saint-Jacques, professeur de droit international à l’Université Laval de
Montréal et apôtre de l’esprit panaméricain, qui animait déjà S. Bolívar au
congrès de Panama de 1826. H. Gervais, préconise, le 6 août 1904, un service
consulaire canadien pour remplacer les Britanniques. Inutile de dire que son
esprit visionnaire sera mal accueilli par la plupart des tenants des liens avec
l’Angleterre. On pense aussi, après la déconvenue du Major McColl (aidé
pourtant, en mai 1931 de C.D. Howe qui veut obtenir un contrat de 40 millions
de dollars pour bâtir six cents élévateurs à grain) qui n’a réussi qu’à faire
envoyer deux étudiants argentins au Canada aux premières bourses
universitaires canadiennes pour l’Amérique latine attribuées en Argentine par
Sun Life (établie en Argentine en 192) et par la Royal Bank. On se souvient
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encore qu’après la conférence de Caracas de 1954, le diplomate argentin
Enrique Corominas recommande l’entrée du Canada dans l’Organisation des
États américains. L’affaire, suivie par Jean Richard, député d’Ottawa, est
cependant mise de côté par le gouvernement dont les liens avec l’Angleterre
sont encore forts. Ces efforts débouchent enfin sur le rapport Latin America :
Foreign Policy for Canada de 1968 (M. Saragossi, 1991). Il sera suivi par des
réflexions menées par divers groupes de recherche comme le Pan-American
Institute of Geographs and Historians qui organise un colloque du 6 au 10 mars
1972 intitulé Institutions coloniales dans les Amériques au 18ème siècle
donnant lieu à une publication de 398 pages portant le même titre et où sont
publiées les réflexions des participants venant d’Argentine, du Chili, du
Mexique, du Nicaragua, etc. Seront créés aussi des programmes à long terme
de l’ACDI, du Conseil international d’études canadiennes aboutissant à des
projets comme «La comparaison des discours politiques, journalistiques,
fictionnels de 1830 à 1873 au Canada français et en Argentine» entrepris par
des chercheurs de l’université d’Ottawa et de Rosario en Argentine13. Des
accords élaborés par le ministère des Affaires extérieures seront signés. On
pense à l’Economic Cooperation Agreement between Canada and Argentina
(6 octobre 1980), à l’accord intitulé Agreement between the Government of
Canada and the Government of the Republic of Argentina for the Promotion
and Protection of Investments (5 novembre 1991) ou à celui concernant
Employments of Dependents (8 et 20 février 1991).
Une forte évolution a eu lieu qui a permis, par delà un siècle et demi de
bouleversements de retrouver certaines idées de la doctrine Monroe et
d’aboutir à l’ALENA. Depuis le XIXe siècle, l’Argentine a évolué vers plus de
centralisation et elle tente de s’en dégager avec les politiques néo-libérales de
Menem. Le Canada, lui, s’est dégagé de l’influence cléricale et de la
domination anglaise pour se rapprocher des États-Unis et bâtir des liens
continentaux et internationaux solides. Ces discussions rejoignent ce
qu’affirme Hernando de Soto au sujet des gouvernements latino-américains
qui ont presque tous, qu’ils soient de droite ou de gauche, accru jusqu’à
récemment, les contrôles administratifs et étatiques et ont étranglé le
commerce qui s’est réfugié dans le secteur informel :
Both (left and right) failed to delegate to private individuals the tasks
mismanaged by the bureaucracy, either because they did not have
sufficient confidence in the population or because they did not know
how to hand responsibility over to it. [...] Today, both the left- and the
right-wing view informality as the problem. Neither seems to have
realized that the problem itself offers the solution — to use the energy
inherent in the phenomenon to create wealth and a different order.
(The Other Path, p. 239)
Ce qui a manqué et qui doit revenir est la confiance dans les gens et la capacité
d’utiliser le problème comme solution grâce à la théorie de la main invisible.
Mais ceci prendra du temps à se développer pleinement ches les Canadiens
français comme chez les Canadiens anglais qui ont longtemps dépendu des
contrôles gouvernementaux et surtout, après l’incapacité des gouvernements
successifs à résoudre les grandes crises économiques du XXe siècle (P. Berton,
1991), demandés plus d’aide et de supports sociaux afin de s’engager dans un
90
Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
développement contrôlé qui, désormais, est ouvert sur les marchés américains
en processus de mondialisation.
Vu les questions économiques pressantes des pays dont le poids manufacturier
est relativement peu concurrentiel ou dont les industries lourdes sont
constituées de succursales dépendantes des monopoles issus des pays
capitalistes plus puissants (Ehrensaft et Armstrong, 1981 : 135) comme les
États-Unis, et dont les économies reposent encore fortement sur la richesse des
matières premières, celles-ci devenues récemment une richesse stratégique de
première importance, le libre-échange entre les Amériques ne peut que
permettre un développement efficace des technologies de pointe qui
permettront de brancher l’ensemble du continent et une partie de ses
populations sur la dynamique de la mondialisation libérale, pragmatique et
économiste. Cette dynamique se marque déjà à travers les réflexions de
Sarmiento et de Parent car elles dépassent les nationalismes restrictifs. Elles
rejoignent une préoccupation fondamentale des Amériques : affirmer
l’initiative individuelle dans la responsabilité face au développement du
continent et de ses populations, ce qui amène de plus en plus les Amériques à
inspirer idéologiquement, culturellement, économiquement et financièrement
le reste de la planète.
Notes
1.
Dans ce texte, le Bas-Canada représente cette partie de la Province de Québec, résultant de la
division de celle-ci en 1791, majoritairement peuplée de francophones et qui portera cette
appellation jusqu’en 1867, date de la Confédération. À cette époque, les expressions BasCanada et Canadiens français sont interchangeables.
2.
C’est sous ce régime qu’a fonctionné le Canada jusqu’à la mission McKinnon de 1940 au
Chili et jusqu’aux négociations qui suivirent la visite de Buenos Aires et de Rosario.
3.
Evans étudie les techniques agricoles en Europe, aux États-Unis, au Mexique et au Cap de
Bonne Espérance. Par contre, il a une piètre opinion de l’Amérique du Sud dont il dit que
l’analyse «ne serait pas très instructive pour les agriculteurs canadiens». (p. 35)
4.
Ce genre de discussion était commune à l’époque. Voir Basil Hall, Travels in North
America, 1828, p. 440, ou Isaac Fidler, Observations on Professions, Literature, Manners
and Emigration in the United States and Canada, 1832.
5.
Il faut noter que le 15 novembre 1837 une Déclaration de Constitution est faite dans le HautCanada par William Lyon Mackenzie. Elle s’inspire de la Constitution américaine. On y
rejette les privilèges héréditaires, on y déclare les réserves du clergé propriété d’État, on y
instaure les procès par jurys, on y établit l’inviolabilité des personnes et des possessions ainsi
que de la propriété, etc.
6.
C’est un ministre de Napoléon III, Chevalier qui a attribué ce qualificatif de latin à cette
partie du continent qu’on appelle par convention Amérique latine.
7.
Voir Henri Bourassa, Le Canada apostolique, Montréal, Action française, 1919, 170 p.
8.
Retenons qu’il est allé se battre à Montevideo contre le dictateur argentin Rosas et qu’il a été
un moment soutenu par la France qui voulait développer le commerce pour contrer le
commerce anglais établi avec l’accord de Rosas.
9.
Certains libéraux voient cette contradiction et rejettent les deux. Les ultramontains
soulignent, eux, la déchéance due à l’industrialisation mais prônent un régime autoritaire.
10. Ceux-ci sont à distinguer des libéraux modérés comme É. Parent ou Lafontaine qui
s’engagent tôt dans les compromis nécessaires avec le clergé et le pouvoir anglais afin de
faire fonctionner la machine économique
11. Retenons qu’il y a souvent un glissement du travail aux productions artistiques ou
culturelles. Encore récemment, Borgès considérait que le totem donné par le Canada à
l’Argentine était un objet barbare. L’anthropologie de rédemption dont parle A. Gomez
Moriana est parfois encore bien éloignée.
91
IJCS /RIÉC
12.
Cette idée est partagée par tous les penseurs de l’époque. «Et les sauvages ne restent
sauvages que parce qu’ils ne développent pas assez la loi de la propriété.» (Lamartine, Le
conseiller du peuple, 1849-1851, vol. 1, p. 26)
13. Cette recherche est effectuée par Marie Couillard et Patrick Imbert d’Ottawa et Lelia Area et
Maria de Los Angelès Yannuzzi de l’Universidad Nacional de Rosario. Elle mènera à la
publication d’un livre vers la fin de 1997. En octobre 1994, se tenait un colloque à
l’Université d’Ottawa intitulé «Les discours du Nouveau Monde au XIXe siècle au Canada
français et en Amérique latine/Los discursos del Nuevo Mundo en el siglo XIX en el Canada
francofono y en America latina». Les actes ont été publiés chez Legas à Ottawa en février
1995.
Bibliographie
Armstrong, Christopher and Nelles, H.V. (1988) Southern Exposure: Canadian Promoters in
Latin America and the Caribbean: 1896-1930, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 375 p.
Berton, Pierre (1989) The Last Spike, Harmondsworth, Penguin, 566 p.
——— (1991) The Great Depression, Markham, Penguin, 754 p.
Bennett, Paul et Jaenen, Cornelius (1986) Emerging Identities, Scarborough, Prentice Hall, 568 p.
Carrion, B. (1959) Garcia Moreno, Mexico/Buenos Aires, Fundo de Cultura Economica, 746 p.
The Conspiracy of Arnold and Sir H. Clinton against the United States and against General
Washington reprinted from the American Register (1972) New York, Arno Press, 212 p.
Darwin, Charles ( 1981) The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, Princeton, Princeton
University Press, 475 p.
De Soto, Hernando (1989) The Other Path, New York, Harper and Row, 271 p.
Docola, Silvia (1995) William Perkins: un Canadiense proyectando ciudad/region : Rosario
1858/1874, dans Les discours du Nouveau Monde au XIXe siècle au Canada français et en
Amérique latine/Los discursos del Nuevo Mundo en el siglo XIX en el Canada francofono y
en América latina, (M. Couillard et P. Imbert, ed.), Ottawa, Legas, p. 192-212.
Ehrensaft, Philip and Armstrong, Warwick (1981) «The Formation of Dominion Capitalism:
Economic Truncation and Class Structure» dans Inequality: Essays on the Political
Economy of Social Welfare, Toronto, University of Toronto Press, p. 99-155.
Gilder, George (1981) Richesse et pauvreté, Paris, A. Michel, 442 p.
Imbert, Patrick (1985) Monseigneur Bourget, essayiste, dans L’essai et la prose d’idées au
Québec, Montréal, Fides, p. 319-325.
——— (1995) «Le processus d’attribution» dans Les discours du Nouveau Monde au XIXe siècle
au Canada français et en Amérique latine/Los discursos del Nuevo Mundo en el siglo XIX en
el Canada francofono y en America latina, (M. Couillard et P. Imbert, ed.), Ottawa, Legas,
p. 43-60.
Innis, Harold (1956) The Fur Trade: An Introduction to Canadian Economic History, Toronto,
University of Toronto Press, 232 p.
Kennedy, Paul (1993) Preparing for the Twenty-First Century, New York, Random House, 428 p.
Kiernan, V. G. (1967) The Lords of Human Kind, London, Weidenfeld, 464 p.
Le Moine, Roger (1995) L’aventure mexicaine de quelques québécois, dans Les discours du
Nouveau Monde au XIXe siècle au Canada français et en Amérique latine/Los discursos del
Nuevo Mundo en el siglo XIX en el Canada francofono y en América latina, (M.Couillard et
P. Imbert, ed.), Ottawa, Legas, p. 253-262.
MacDonald, Mary-Lu (1995) «“Colonial” as a Positive Concept in English-Canadian Newspapers
and Periodicals before 1850», (communication à la Research Society for Victorian
Periodicals, Édimbourg, juillet 1995).
Mann, Horace (1957) The Republic and the School, (A. Cremin, ed.), New York, Columbia
University Press, 112 p.
Ogelsby, J.C.M. (1976) Gringos from the Far North : Essays in the History of Canadian-Latin
American Relations, 1866-1968, Toronto, MacMillan, 346 p.
Ouellet, Fernand (s.d.) Papineau, Québec, PUL, 104 p.
Parish, Woodbine (1958) Buenos-Aires y las Provincias del Rio de la Plata, Buenos Aires,
Hachette, 654 p.
Rockland, M.A. (1970) Sarmiento’s Travels in the United-States in 1847, Princeton, Princeton
University Press, 330 p.
Sarmiento, Domingo Faustino (1934) Facundo, Paris, Institut international de coopération
intellectuelle, 324 p.
Simpson, David (1993) Romanticism, Nationalism, and the Revolt against Theory, Chicago,
Chicago University Press.
Smith, Adam (1974) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Chicago,
Encyclopedia Britannica.
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Canada, Argentine et Amérique latine
Sylvestre, Guy (1964) Panorama des Lettres canadiennes-françaises, Québec, ministère des
Affaires culturelles, 77 p.
Toro, Fermin (1960) Europa y America, dans La Doctrina conservadora, Caracas, Ed.
Commemorativa de Sesquicentenario de independencia, 420 p.
Weber, Max (1974) The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, New York, Scribner, 542 p.
Winks, R. W. (1989) Canada and the Three Americas, dans Friends So Different (L. Lamont, J.D.
Edwards, ed.), Ottawa, University of Ottawa Press, p. 2551-260.
93
Maria Bernadette Velloso Porto
En découvrant l’Amérique :
la poétique de la circulation dans des textes
brésiliens, québécois et acadiens
Résumé
En tenant compte des rapports étroits entre la traversée et la transgression (cf.
Michel de Certeau : «Transgresser c’est traverser»), cet article privilégiera
l’analyse des aspects innovateurs inscrits dans le trajet scripturaire d’œuvres
brésiliennes, québécoises et acadiennes où la quête de l’identité (ou des
identités plurielles) s’associe à l’idée de mouvement, de changement, de
remise en question. À l’intérieur de cette étude, on accordera une place
particulière aux représentations symboliques du désert dans les textes choisis.
Lié à la vitesse, à la rupture, à l’exploration de l’Amérique (cf. Baudrillard), le
désert renvoie aussi au vide, au silence, au dépouillement. C’est pourquoi,
grâce à «l’apprentissage» du désert, on prétendra dégager les analogies entre
lui et la page blanche, espace de promesses, de transformations et de
circulation infinie de futurs signes.
Abstract
Considering the close association between “crossing” and “transgressing”
(see Michel de Certeau: “Transgresser c’est traverser”), this article analyzes
innovative elements of the scriptural journey inherent in Brazilian, Quebecois
and Acadian works where the search for identity (or multiple identities)
combines with the idea of movement, change and questioning. This study will
pay special attention to the role of desert symbols in the chosen texts. Linked to
the pace, dissociation and exploration of North American society (see
Baudrillard), the desert also evokes the void, silence and deprivation. Through
the desert’s “teachings,” we perceive analogies between the desert and the
blank page, a place of promise, transformation and the endless flow of future
signs.
Le présent article vise à exposer des réflexions faites au fil des dernières
années à propos du dialogue ø pas toujours évident ø qui peut être établi entre la
littérature brésilienne et la littérature québécoise. En partant de l’hypothèse
que la conquête symbolique de l’Amérique n’a pas encore été tout à fait
assumée par les Brésiliens et les Québécois, nous essayerons de montrer que
l’assomption du sentiment d’appartenance à notre continent passe souvent par
l’exercice de certaines pratiques spatiales privilégiées.
À notre avis, l’Amérique n’a pas encore été découverte par le Brésil et le
Québec qui devraient pousser plus loin l’exploration de ce territoire où
s’inscrivent leurs histoires respectives. Aux yeux de beaucoup de Brésiliens, le
mot Amérique correspond seulement aux États-Unis, comme si la dimension
International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
13, Spring/Printemps 1996
IJCS / RIÉC
de «Nuestra America» de Marti n’avait pas été incorporée à notre conception
identitaire. Cela s’explique en partie par la réussite de l’entreprise coloniale
qui, au lieu de favoriser les contacts entre des colonies voisines du point de vue
géographique et historique, encourageait plutôt les rapports entre la périphérie
et la métropole. Condamnés à vivre dans l’espace de la reproduction et du
mimétisme, nous avons été poussés à intérioriser une insularité aliénante par
rapport à l’ensemble de l’Amérique latine, ce qui nous a délogés de notre
vocation continentale. Ce n’est que très récemment, en particulier dans le
monde des intellectuels et celui de la musique populaire brésilienne, que l’on
revendique notre situation au sein du continent américain1.
Quant au Québec, l’Amérique y paraît encore une «entité historique
absolument inédite, vierge2» à être appropriée. En reprenant des mots d’Anne
Hébert sur son propre pays nous dirions que la vie en Amérique «est à
découvrir et à nommer [...], tous ces paysages d’avant l’homme attendent
d’être habités et possédés3». Cette image d’une terre à conquérir apparaît dans
un essai de Morin et Bertrand où ils proposent une lecture intéressante des
relations complexes entre le Québec et l’Amérique. Selon ces auteurs, loin
d’être une attitude naïve, le besoin de la découverte de l’Amérique (de «sa
naturalité, sa virginité, son anarchie, son chaos4») s’impose aux Québécois qui
s’en seraient protégés «derrière un simulacre de nation appuyée sur la terre et
placée sous l’égide de l’Église catholique5». En somme, il s’agirait de
récupérer ce qui serait resté dans les coulisses de la construction de
l’imaginaire collectif centré sur une «représentation nationale calquée sur les
nations européennes6». Cette ouverture vers l’Amérique permettrait aux
écrivains d’échapper à l’esthétique de l’impuissance qui les a toujours forcés à
s’enfermer dans «des problèmes d’autodéfinition et dans une attitude de
jalousie défensive à l’égard de la culture française7».
En fait, toute une nouvelle génération d’écrivains québécois s’interrogent
différemment sur le passé, la mémoire et l’Amérique. Ainsi, au lieu de
considérer l’identité comme une essence immuable, on l’envisage comme une
construction permanente, c’est-à-dire une quête toujours renouvelée. Quête
qui se fait au fil d’histoires de marches, de traversées, d’apprentissages inscrits
dans des chemins variés. Des chemins qui permettent aux personnages de
connaître l’expérience de l’extraterritorialité étasunienne (tel est le cas de
Volkswagen blues de Jacques Poulin et Une histoire américaine8 de Jacques
Godbout) et de vivre l’expansion des propres limites de la québécité (ce qui
s’annonçait avant dans l’œuvre de Gabrielle Roy où l’accès quotidien à
l’altérité mettait déjà en question la conception traditionnelle de l’identité
québécoise).
Dans des textes brésiliens et québécois, comme toute forme d’apprentissage,
l’appréhension de l’espace américain suppose avant tout la disponibilité. En
nous référant à ce qui est affirmé dans un roman de l’acadienne Antonine
Maillet, nous pouvons dire que «ce n’était pas tout de découvrir l’Amérique,
encore fallait-il apprendre à y vivre9». Dans le corpus qui sert de base à nos
réflexions, engagés dans la voie de l’apprentissage, des personnages se
montrent attentifs aux signes inscrits dans des cartes et des parcours
configurateurs d’une géographie conçue comme mouvement grâce aux
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En découvrant l’Amérique
rythmes et aux cadences imprimés par la marche et la traversée du pays, de la
ville, de l’océan et du désert.
Comme stratégie de lecture, nous procéderons d’abord à l’analyse de quelques
représentations mythiques de l’espace américain, très courantes dans les
littératures brésilienne et québécoise. Ainsi, à partir de la dichotomie ciel/enfer
toujours associée à l’Amérique, nous essayerons de relativiser ces notions en y
ajoutant l’idée de purgatoire. Rattachés à des réalités distinctes (le Brésil et le
Québec), ces concepts nous font constater l’attrait et la répulsion suscités par la
révélation du Nouveau Monde. Le choix de cette démarche initiale s’explique
par le fait que la représentation superlative de l’Amérique (comme ciel ou
comme enfer) peut déterminer des gestes d’immobilité ou la quête obstinée de
mouvements transformateurs.
Après ce premier volet, nous montrerons que la lecture de la découverte de
l’Amérique par les Brésiliens et les Québécois doit être enrichie par une
réflexion à propos du quotidien. Comme nous avons suggéré par l’évocation
d’une phrase du roman Mariaagélas d’Antonine Maillet, le fait de s’assumer à
l’intérieur du/des paysage(s) américain(s) passe nécessairement par
l’expérience quotidienne. Espace où circulent sans arrêt des signes construits
et imposés par la réalité sociale, le quotidien constitue aussi un domaine
propice à l’épanouissement de l’activité créatice.10
Là nous toucherons à la théorie du quotidien comme invention proposée par
Michel de Certeau. D’après lui, dans ses relations journalières avec un milieu
très souvent achevé et préétabli, l’homme développe des pratiques plurielles et
inventives. Au lieu d’être un simple spectateur de son environnement, il tient à
y laisser l’empreinte de ses actions transformatrices par lesquelles il adapte le
cosmos à ses besoins et à ses désirs. Pour y reússir, il tire parti des «arts de
faire» qui lui assurent l’invention du quotidien grâce à la réappropriation
symbolique de l’espace à partir de petites ruses anonymes.
Après avoir réfléchi sur les pratiques de l’espace concernant l’activité de la
marche et l’exercice des traversées, nous accorderons une place particulière à
la représentation du désert, envisagé dans deux textes illuminés par la
perspective du féminin (Le désert mauve de Nicole Brossard et A paixão
segundo GH de Clarice Lispector).
Avant de nous engager dans les voies de notre analyse, nous aimerions faire
une remarque sur notre texte. Envisagée comme une marche ø à la manière de
Michel de Certeau ø notre lecture se veut expressément lacunaire et
fragmentaire. C’est pourquoi nous y adoptons des pauses et des ellipses, en ne
réveillant pas tous les endroits qui pourraient être valorisés au cours de cette
promenade intertextuelle. En plus, comme l’Amérique, elle est marquée par
l’inachèvement, en se mettant à l’attente d’autres regards critiques et d’autres
appropriations.
Sur quelques pistes de lecture de l’espace américain :
ciel / purgatoire / enfer
L’Amérique Latine a toujours existé sous le signe de
l’utopie. Je suis même sûr que l’utopie a son site et sa place.
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IJCS / RIÉC
C’est bien ici. (Darcy Ribeiro)11
La vie en Amérique est comme les orties : elle fait du mal,
gratte et ne laisse pas dormir. En plus, là-bas ils ne
connaissent pas le printemps. La chaleur dissout la tête de
tout le monde, en fondant l’envie de travailler. C’est le
propre enfer pendant toute l’année. (Nélida Piñon)12
Jardin édénique, espace insupportable, terre ouverte à des prodiges de toutes
sortes, lieu où l’inconnu et le dangereux fascinaient et effrayaient le regard
européen au lendemain de la conquête, l’Amérique a été associée à des images
à première vue assez diverses, mais qui se ramènent à l’opposition paradis/
enfer. Découverte grâce au rêve expansionniste des colonisateurs, elle fut en
même temps déguisée par des représentations fixées par l’ethnocentrisme de
ceux qui l’envisageaient surtout comme la réponse à leurs attentes.
Territoire des désirs d’autrui, l’Amérique incarnait alors l’espace de la
séduction pour ceux qui semblaient fatigués de la vieille Europe «aux anciens
parapets» (Rimbaud). En nous appuyant sur le sens étymologique du verbe
«séduire», nous pouvons rappeler que l’aventure américaine exigeait des
Européens l’action de se détourner vers le territoire de l’Autre. Vus par
Todorov 13 comme la rencontre la plus surprenante de notre histoire, les
premiers contacts avec les indiens ont révélé aux colonisateurs l’expérience
majeure de l’altérité.
Au bout de beaucoup de siècles après sa découverte, l’Amérique continue à
être redécouverte par ceux qui n’arrêtent pas de voyager à la quête du nouveau.
Tout en se mettant à l’attente du prochain regard à être séduit par sa
cartographie imaginaire, l’Amérique peut être identifiée aussi au sujet du
regard. En ce sens, dans le roman A república dos sonhos de Nélida Piñon, elle
apparaît comme «un point de vue privilégié d’où l’on peut juger l’Europe14».
Quant à nous, Brésiliens, nous ne sommes pas toujours capables de dégager
notre américanité. Dans la chanson «O estrangeiro» (Caetano Veloso) où il est
question de la Baie de Guanabara fixée par l’optique de l’Autre (celle de LéviStrauss parmi d’autres), nous serions incapables de voir ce qui est à la portée de
nos yeux. En partie, cela se doit à l’interférence de la perspective de l’Autre qui
depuis toujours nous a définis à partir de la dichotomie paradis/ enfer. Dans la
production littéraire québécoise les mêmes idées ont caractérisé une autre
réalité américaine. Ici et là-bas ces représentations symboliques ø qui ont
coexisté à l’intérieur d’un même espace et d’une même couche temporelle ø
répondaient souvent aux intérêts des maîtres du pouvoir.
Étant donné la place importante accordée à la complexité des relations tissées
entre l’homme et son environnement dans les littératures brésilienne et
québécoise, il se justifie une révision de ces notions-là comme possibilité de
lecture comparatiste. Comme hypothèse de départ, nous serions tentés
d’identifier le Brésil au paradis et le Québec à l’enfer. Cela se dégage du
rapprochement établi entre la lettre adressée par Pero Vaz de Caminha au roi
du Portugal lors de la découverte du Brésil et un passage du premier des récits
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En découvrant l’Amérique
de voyage de Jacques Cartier. Cette piste de lecture fournie par des documents
officiels à l’aube de nos histoires américaines semble reprise en quelque sorte
dans deux chansons très connues au Brésil et au Québec, «País tropical» (de
Jorge Ben) et «Mon pays» (de Gilles Vigneault), où l’on reconnaît,
respectivement, l’image d’un milieu béni et fertile et les signes d’un espace à
être dompté.
Du côté brésilien, dans un endroit fécond il suffirait de planter pour que la
récolte soit abondante : tel est le message que l’on a retenu de la lettre de
Caminha, ce qui a été incorporé à la culture ordinaire. Il y a peut-être là
l’origine du mythe de la paresse brésilienne, illustré par le personnage de
Mario de Andrade, Macunaíma, dont la nonchalance est bercée dans un
hamac. En plus, lues de façon ironique, les propres paroles de notre hymne
national peuvent évoquer la même image : «couché éternellement dans un lit
splendide», le Brésil et les Brésiliens seraient marqués par l’indolence.
De l’autre côté, les choses se passeraient autrement : placé dans une ambiance
d’hostilité, le Québécois devrait faire face aux obstacles naturels, en
particulier à la rigueur du climat. Chez Vigneault, le désir de posséder ses
hivers suggère le refus de la dépossession et l’affirmation du désir
d’appartenance à un pays où il ne serait pas facile de vivre.
En poussant plus loin les parallélismes entre les textes cités nous pourrions
évoquer le monde de la fable : d’une part, la cigale insouciante tournée vers la
dépense et les loisirs; de l’autre, la fourmi responsable, sûre du besoin de
l’accumulation et de la prévoyance. En d’autres termes, s’il n’y avait rien à
faire ou à poursuivre chez nous ø le paradis étant l’image achevée de la
perfection ø dans l’«enfer glacial» (expression de François Hertel) tout
resterait encore à bâtir. En s’inspirant des excès d’une nature généreuse, le
Brésilien connaîtrait le désordre des dépenses (du carnaval comme il apparaît
dans «País tropical»). Quant au Québécois, son savoir-faire serait en étroite
liaison avec une nature économique en dons. Malgré leurs spécificités, ces
deux visions s’expliquent par la complémentarité : en effet, les images
euphorisantes et les images négatives constituent les deux faces d’une même
monnaie : l’Amérique.
Appliquées au continent américain, les catégories du paradis et de l’enfer
connaissent une interdépendance : un endroit s’insinue plus facilement sous
les traits d’une terre bénie grâce à son contraste avec un site moins favorisé par
des attributs naturels. C’est ce qui expliquerait d’ailleurs la caractérisation du
Canada comme la terre de Caïn par Jacques Cartier dans le passage qui a attiré
notre attention. Ayant connu le lieu de l’utopie, le Brésil, avant de réaliser sa
écouverte, Cartier ne pouvait envisager le Canada que comme un lieu maudit
:
Elle ne se doit pas nommer terre, mais terre et rochers effroyables et
mal rabotés [...] Enfin j’estime mieux qu’autrement que c’est la terre
que Dieu donna à Caïn.15
Héritier de la malédiction qui pèse sur Caïn, le colonisé canadien-français s’est
identifié aussi à d’autres êtres maudits : «Je suis Caïn, je suis Judas, je suis tout
homme / Qui frappe son semblable et fait périr son Dieu» dit le poète Gustave
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Lamarche. Coupable malgré lui («Mon crime est d’être né» affirme François
Hertel), victime des mystères de la prédestination divine, le Canadien français
subirait l’injustice divine sans y réagir. En ce qui nous concerne, à l’époque du
Brésil colonial, aux yeux de l’Autre, la notion de péché ne se poserait pas chez
nous. D’après Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, selon une croyance répandue en
Europe au XVIIe siècle, il n’existerait pas de péché au-dessous de l’Équateur
(«Ultra acquinoxialem non peccari»).16
En connaissant de près la condition de l’étranger — vu par Kristeva sous
l’optique de l’orphelinat17 — le Canadien français a vécu la difficulté de
s’enraciner dans son propre espace. Étranger de l’intérieur, au sein du
«continent d’exil», sur «la terre ingrate du Québec18», il a eu une vision
hyperbolique de la France («terre d’abondance», «de bravoure», «de
plaisance», «de vaillance», «de science», «d’espérance» selon le poète Alfred
Garneau). En plus, sûr que son véritable royaume n’est pas de ce monde, il se
trouverait dans une situation intenable. Que ce soit la patrie perdue (la France)
ou le domaine des cieux, le jardin des délices resterait très loin de l’enfer d’un
«monde bicéphale» (Paul Chamberland).
L’allusion au sentiment de la dépossession spatiale ressenti par le colonisé
canadien-français nous renvoie de nouveau au destin tragique de Caïn dont le
nom — signifiant possession19 ø semble traduire le désir d’être maître de soi et
de son œuvre. En outre, l’histoire du premier cultivateur biblique, de celui qui
fut condamné à l’errance et à la recherche obstinée d’une terre fertile, paraît
illustrer deux formes d’appropriation de l’espace vécues par la communauté
francophone en Amérique : l’attachement au sol et la mobilité (cf. le mythe du
Grand Nord).
Pour insister un peu plus sur notre hypothèse de départ (Brésil = paradis/
Québec = enfer), nous ajouterions ici l’opinion d’historiens de la Nouvelle
France qui attribuaient à l’excès du froid la diffusion de maladies comme le
scorbut, responsable de la mort de l’équipage de Cartier. Par contre, on croyait
que chez nous l’air des tropiques empêchait les ravages du même mal.20
Paradis créé à l’image et à la ressemblance de Dieu — que l’on dit brésilien —
notre pays aurait été protégé de la furie des phénomènes naturels et de graves
épidémies.
Le mythe du paradis a connu un grand essor chez nous. Toute une littérature
marquée par un contenu euphorisant s’appuie sur la fertilité et sur la force
virtuelle d’un pays jeune, caractérisé par une taille de géant et par la présence
de biens naturels superlatifs. Des passages littéraires incorporés à notre
mémoire collective circulent un peu partout : «La nature ici connaît une fête
perpétuelle», «géant par sa propre nature», «nos bois ont plus de fleurs, notre
vie plus d’amours».
Malgré la pertinence de la dichotomie que nous sommes en train de proposer, il
nous faudrait aussi la mettre en question puisqu’elle s’avère insuffisante pour
tenir compte de la multiplicité d’étiquettes associées à l’Amérique. En plus,
aux catégories ciel/enfer nous devrions ajouter la notion de purgatoire.
À vrai dire, dès le XVIe siècle des images paradisiaques et infernales du
Nouveau Monde se relayaient dans l’imaginaire des Européens. Le paradis
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semblait correspondre, avant tout, à la nature et à l’univers économique;
l’enfer était représenté par les hommes (les indiens, les nègres, les colons).
Entre ces deux lectures, il s’insinuait une autre : celle du souvenir du
purgatoire, vécu en particulier par les victimes du ban. En constituant
l’immense purgatoire des péchés du Vieux Monde21, les colonies américaines
favorisaient l’expulsion d’êtres indésirables de l’espace européen.
Chez nous l’idée du purgatoire a été identifiée par le jésuite Antonil qui
reconnaissait des liens étroits entre le purgatoire des âmes et le «purgatoire» du
sucre22. Activité essentielle dans la colonie portugaise en Amérique, le travail
de la purification du sucre se rattachait à l’entreprise coloniale. Les
représentants de celle-ci essayaient de convaincre les exploités du sens
spirituel de leur mission : purifier le sucre, c’était la garantie de leur propre
purification. En évoquant des idées proposées par Jacques Le Goff23,
l’expérience symbolique du purgatoire américain a permis la conciliation de la
bourse et de la vie, de l’activité économique avec le salut.
En ce qui concerne le Québec, la notion du purgatoire n’a pas été absente. Par
le fait d’être encouragée à assumer une mission spirituelle en Amérique, la
communauté francophone envisageait son pays comme un lieu de transition où
l’on subissait un destin difficile avant d’accéder au paradis. «Expier est notre
vocation dans ce monde trop matériel», déclare Jean Bouthillette24.
Comme nous l’avons déjà dit, les images du paradis et de l’enfer ont coexisté à
l’intérieur des réalités brésilienne et québécoise. Dans ses Voyages, à côté de
l’allusion à la terre de Caïn, Cartier admet un autre aspect de la Nouvelle
France : il s’agit du mythe de l’âge d’or d’avant la chute, endroit où le
merveilleux et les prodiges occupent le premier plan. La légende créée autour
de l’épisode du Saguenay, Eldorado qui suscitait la cupidité des colonisateurs,
nous rappelle le prestige joué par le Pérou au cours de notre histoire coloniale.
Une autre image du pays édénique au Canada renvoie au Régime français,
considéré comme le paradis perdu par les «victimes» de la conquête anglaise.
En s’appuyant sur l’idéologie de la conservation, cette représentation
collective serait un mythe de compensation conçu pour faire face au présent
Anglo-Saxon. D’autre part, les premiers textes sur la Nouvelle France ne se
bornaient pas à insister sur la stérilité du sol et les rigueurs du climat. Très tôt,
dans les rapports des jésuites, il s’est affirmé un discours sur l’idéalisation de
l’hiver par lequel on voulait stimuler l’action apostolique en Amérique.
En traduisant cette vision optimiste de la Nouvelle France, des auteurs ont
peint un espace tout à fait différent de la terre de Caïn. Par exemple, dans le
poème «La découverte du Mississipi» de Louis-Honoré Fréchette, il est
question d’une «zone immense et féconde, futur grenier du genre humain», fait
avec «tant de prodigalité» par Dieu. Une publicité récente dialogue de très près
avec le poème de Fréchette : il s’agit du texte sur le Plan de Parrainage du
Canada, qui reprend l’idée du pays-grenier. (Cf. L’actualité, vol.13, no 10,
octobre 88). Sans vouloir discuter s’il y a là une forme de paternalisme (pays
riche, le Canada aiderait des enfants affamés du Tiers Monde), il nous intéresse
d’y identifier l’envers de la terre de Caïn : «Nous sommes chanceux au
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Canada; la terre est généreuse et les moissons abondantes. Comment, devant
de telles richesses ne pas se sentir privilégiés?»
Si le paradis n’existe pas seulement dans le pays tropical, l’enfer ne se limite
pas à l’espace québécois. Chez nous, l’image du Dieu brésilien ne tient pas
compte du Nord-Est, notre terre de Caïn. Comme un habitant de la Nouvelle
France aux prises avec une nature hostile, le «sertanejo25 est avant tout un
fort» (Euclides da Cunha). Dans les deux situations, l’être dépossédé a appris
deux attitudes pour lutter contre une nature hostile : l’attente et la prévoyance,
en ayant dû développer des «arts de faire» anonymes et inventifs. Dans son
quotidien, le «nordestino» envisage le paradis possible comme une
transformation à la suite des pluies. Dans le roman Vidas secas de Graciliano
Ramos, le paradis s’exprime toujours au conditionnel, étant déplacé sans cesse
vers un autre temps. Par contre, l’enfer — vécu jour après jour par les
personnages — est difficile à être défini par Sinhá Vitória26. En paraphrasant
les mots de Darcy Ribeiro, ce personnage pourrait dire à propos de son
univers : «L’enfer a son site et sa place. C’est bien ici.»
Dans le monde colonial brésilien, les signes de l’enfer n’étaient pas absents.
Vues par la perspective ethnocentrique des maîtres, les manifestations
culturelles des esclaves (en particulier, les rituels religieux) étaient
considérées comme suspectes, voire diaboliques. En outre, il a fallu
métamorphoser l’indien idyllique en cannibale dangereux pour justifier la
colonisation. Selon le jésuite Antonil, la colonie était l’enfer pour les nègres, le
purgatoire pour les blancs et le paradis pour les mulâtres27.
En tirant parti du parallélisme proposé par Antonil, on dirait qu’aujourd’hui le
pays serait l’enfer pour la plupart de la population et le paradis pour les maîtres
du pouvoir et les entreprises multinationales. C’est ce qui se dégage d’un texte
humoristique de Luís Fernando Veríssimo (Veja. 04/05/88) où, en s’appuyant
sur le souvenir d’un poème de Manuel Bandeira, l’auteur reconnaît une autre
«Pasárgada», la patrie des «amis du roi» : «Mais la vraie Pasárgada, le paradis,
c’est appartenir à la minorité à l’intérieur de la minorité qui donne des ordres et
des contrordes dans ce pays». À côté de l’image du paradis réservé aux élus,
l’auteur dénonce l’existence de l’enfer : c’est le cas d’un autre Brésil, «un
immense pays exilé de lui-même qui ne peut aller nulle part».
Nous arrivons enfin à la thématique de l’exil, question essentielle quand on se
réfère à la géographie mythique américaine. Dans la littérature et les essais
produits au Québec, la présence de l’exil s’insinue partout, en s’associant aux
notions de rupture, dépossession et délogement. Des mots de l’écrivain
Jacques Godbout explicitent le malaise québécois : «nous ne nous sentons
jamais tout à fait chez nous; en voyage ou en séjour forcé, nous nous sentons
tout aussi à l’aise aux États-Unis qu’en Europe28». Mal à l’aise chez lui,
comme l’étranger-orphelin analysé par Kristeva, le Québécois découvre
l’errance.
Il faudrait reconnaître aussi dans cet exil existentiel et historique le point de
départ pour la prise de possession symbolique du pays natal réalisée par des
auteurs québécois. Un tel mouvement d’adhésion à la terre natale confirmerait
d’ailleurs les mots de Kristeva : «dès que les étrangers ont une action ou une
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passion, ils s’enracinent29». À ce propos, le poème «Arbres» de Paul-Marie
Lapointe apparaît comme un texte exemplaire de la littérature de la fondation
du territoire.
Le modèle d’exil consacré dans notre littérature se dégage du poème «Canção
do exílio» de Gonçalves Dias, texte qui constitue un paradigme dans la
production littéraire brésilienne selon le critique Antônio Cândido30. Ayant
été l’objet d’un grand nombre de parodies et de paraphrases dans le domaine
littéraire et dans l’univers de la chanson populaire, ce poème est toujours repris
par les partisans de la «mythologie verte-jaune31» qui tiennent à déguiser notre
propre géographie et notre propre histoire derrière l’image hyperbolique d’une
nature tropicale.
De nos jours, il nous est de plus en plus difficile d’adhérer à un tel discours,
puisque les conditions sociales et les circonstances économiques et politiques
nient toutes les illusions. Chassés d’un paradis tropical (a-t-il vraiment existé
un jour?), il nous faudrait l’atteindre ailleurs. À ce sujet, le poème «Nova
canção do exílio» («Nouvelle chanson de l’exil») de Paulo Mendes Campos,
publié au Jornal do Brasil (l’un des principaux journaux brésiliens) constitue
un texte révélateur des rapports actuels entre les Brésiliens et leur pays.
Voulant à tout prix s’évader de l’enfer brésilien, le poète ne choisit pas un site
en particulier pour placer le nouvel Eldorado. Son but, c’est de vivre n’importe
où hors d’une terre dépossédée de ses biens. Grâce à sa débrouillardise — et à
l’exercice de la «malandragem32» — le sujet poétique, porte-parole des
aspirations collectives, se montre prêt à s’adapter à d’autres cultures. En
tournant le dos au pays tropical, il rêve par instants aux douceurs de l’été
canadien : «Je veux me chauffer dans la blancheur de l’été du Canada». Tout se
passe comme si, las et déçu d’être brésilien, Dieu s’était décidé à devenir
cosmopolite.
Pourtant, si malgré tout on continue à insister sur l’existence d’un Dieu
brésilien, il faudrait trouver l’explication pour nos difficultés collectives. C’est
à des vers de Carlos Drummond de Andrade que nous l’empruntons : «Et si
Dieu était gaucher et avait tout créé de sa main gauche? Cela expliquerait peutêtre les choses de ce monde33». Les choses de notre «paradis tropical», au
moins, si l’on tient à faire encore appel à une mythologie pour lire l’Amérique.
La conquête quotidienne de l’Amérique : l’exercice de pratiques
spatiales privilégiéés
Marcher, c’est manquer de lieu.
(Michel de Certeau)34
Traverser, franchir des espaces aux frontières contraignantes,
c’est bien évidemment s’affranchir d’une inertie.
(Simon Harel)35
Rouler est une forme spectaculaire d’amnésie. Tout est à
découvrir, tout est à effacer.
(Jean Baudrillard)36
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Comme nous avons déjà dit, la conquête du continent américain — au moins
pour les habitants de l’Autre Amérique — est loin d’être achevée, ayant lieu au
jour le jour à travers les gestes plus ou moins imperceptibles de ceux qui n’ont
jamais occupé le centre de l’Histoire. C’est pourquoi une réflexion autour du
quotidien peut s’avérer enrichissante.
Selon Henri Lefebvre37, bien que la question du quotidien ait acquis une plus
grande visibilité dans le cadre actuel des recherches académiques, son
irruption dans la littérature n’est pas un fait nouveau, en ayant été annoncée
depuis longtemps. Pour l’auteur français, la découverte du quotidien entraîne
la révélation d’une richesse cachée, déguisée sous l’ensemble d’activités à
première vue insignifiantes mais qui tissent l’essence de la propre Histoire.
Marqué par un jeu complexe de répressions et d’échappatoires, d’oppressions
et d’appropriations, le quotidien se définit d’abord par son ambivalence.
En dialoguant de très près avec certains passages du livre d’Henri Lefebvre,
Agnes Heller38 nous donne aussi des supports pour examiner cette question.
Pour cette représentante de l’École de Budapeste, la vie quotidienne est au
centre même du devenir historique. Dans sa lecture, l’accès à la maturité
dépend de l’acquisition de toutes les habiletés nécessaires à l’exercice du
quotidien à l’intérieur du groupe social où tous doivent apprendre des règles et
des codes et où tous peuvent inscrire les marques de leurs possibilités de
liberté. De cette façon, l’homo quotidianus est à la fois réceptif et actif, surtout
parce que le quotidien est chargé non seulement de limites (le rythme fixe, la
répétition, la régularité) mais aussi de choix, de possibilités et de spontanéité.
Dans le domaine de la Nouvelle Histoire, le quotidien occupe aussi une place
importante. Selon Lucien Febvre, quand l’historien se trouve face au manque
de documents écrits, il doit tirer parti de tout ce qui exprime l’homme,
démontre sa présence, ses activités, ses goûts et ses manières d’être. Le désir
— cher à Febvre — de faire parler les choses muettes et les hommes considérés
sans qualité apparaît aussi dans le texte «L’histoire du quotidien» de Jacques
Le Goff39. D’après lui, inscrit au sein même de l’Histoire, le quotidien est vécu
à partir du corps et de ses relations avec les objets.
La valorisation des rapports journaliers établis par l’homme entre son corps et
l’environnement est à la base de la lecture du quotidien proposée par Michel de
Certeau. En reconnaissant partout dans l’expérience quotidienne la créativité
de la part des individus, il y détache les pratiques productrices par lesquelles
l’homme exerce la capacité de s’approprier l’espace. Ainsi, dans l’anonymat
de la culture ordinaire, il identifie les ruses capables de court-circuiter la mise
en scène institutionnelle grâce à l’adoption de l’anti-discipline. Là aussi la
théorie insiste sur le caractère ambivalent de la vie quotidienne, considérée
comme ce qui nous est donné et nous opprime à la fois.
En nous appuyant sur les textes de Michel de Certeau, dans notre analyse de la
découverte de l’Amérique dans des textes brésiliens, québécois et acadiens,
nous rehausserons en particulier la symbologie de la marche et l’expérience du
désert.
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Le trajet scripturaire de la marche et des traversées
Mémoire et palimpseste, le paysage du quotidien est toujours dessiné par
l’empreinte laissée par les pieds des piétons dont la marche, comme l’acte de
l’énonciation, permet la mise en pratique de certaines virtualités, en laissant de
côté d’autres possibilités de réalisation. Exercice de la liberté ayant lieu dans
un endroit plutôt réduit comme le quartier ou dans un domaine plus vaste (toute
l’étendue de la ville), elle confère au marcheur l’occasion de réécrire la
cartographie urbaine et de bâtir son trajet scripturaire au coeur même de la ville
texte. Lieu de transformations et d’appropriations sans fin, la ville s’insinue
comme invitation aux déplacements qui assurent la pleine réalisation spatiale
de quelques sites en particulier au détriment d’autres. Incapables de séduire les
pas des marcheurs, ces sites resteraient à l’état virtuel comme une princesse
endormie à l’attente du baiser capable de la réveiller.40
L’éventail des possibilités offertes par la poétique de la circulation est très
vaste : à côté de la marche on pourrait considérer les valeurs multiples des
divers moyens de locomotion qui confèrent au corps des relations particulières
avec l’espace. Au-delà des différences propres à chaque modalité, il faut à
rappeler que l’existence humaine s’associe de très près aux pratiques de
déplacement. Parmi celles-ci une place spéciale doit être accordée aux
voyages. Selon Sergio Paulo Rouanet41, l’homo viator est à l’origine de
l’homo sapiens, le voyage — rattaché au choix, au désir et aux rêves — servant
à distinguer l’homme des animaux (ceux-ci ne connaissent que des
migrations).
Envisagé sous les traits du passager métropolitain dont le regard doit
accompagner le rythme de plus en plus accéléré des signes de la vitesse
présents un peu partout, l’homme contemporain établit de nouvelles relations
avec l’espace (cf. par exemple la platitude des paysages entrevus par la vitre
d’une voiture en mouvement). Au contraire du piéton qui imprime la marque
de ses pas au corps urbain où il crée des pauses, des intervalles, des ellipses, le
passager ne se déplace pas tout seul, étant conduit à sa destination par un
moyen de transport.42 De toute façon, là aussi on identifie le sens de la
traversée d’espaces dont parle Simon Harel : il s’agit de s’affranchir d’une
inertie, d’échapper à la monotonie de la permanence pour s’engager dans la
voie des transformations.
Là nous touchons presque naturellement à la question de la découverte — ou
de l’invention — de l’Amérique, terre promise qui suscita la mouvance de
beaucoup d’Européens. Las peut-être de l’inertie du Vieux Monde, ils
aspiraient à s’aventurer dans la voie de l’utopie incarnée par le Nouveau
Monde qui, en dépit de sa «nouveauté», sous plusieurs aspects, correspondait à
leurs attentes. Prototype de l’Européen qui abandonna les limites de son
village en faveur de la conquête du continent américain, le personnage
Madruga du roman A república dos sonhos saisit la parenté entre deux
manifestations de l’archétype du paradis :
Sur la proue, tourmenté par les sifflements des sirènes, Madruga
décida de tuer sa famille avec la fermeté des pélerins qui avaient
quitté leurs maisons sans aucurne garantie de retour. Saint-Jacques de
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Compostelle était comparable à l’Amérique. Dans tous les siècles il y
a eu une terre à rêver. À poursuivre.43
Espace propice aux métamorphoses et aux mobilités de toutes sortes,
l’Amérique est toujours disponible à de nouvelles découvertes, à d’autres
regards et à d’autres déplacements. Dans le cadre américain il faudrait
distinguer deux types de mobilité : si d’une part on reconnaît le mouvement
comme signe majeur de la liberté, d’autre part, on ne doit pas oublier les traces
laissées sur le sol par des exilés, victimes d’exclusions propres aux histoires
coloniales et de délogements sans cesse renouvelés dans le quotidien.
Centrés autour de l’expérience de délogements successifs, deux romans
retiennent notre attention : Le premier jardin d’Anne Hébert et A república dos
sonhos de Nélida Piñon. L’exil y est vécu au féminin : dans les deux cas, les
personnages réussissent à surmonter leur dépossession originale, en
transformant la perte en sentiment d’appartenance à leurs pays respectifs. Bien
sûr qu’il n’y a pas là la rencontre du continent américain, mais il s’esquisse peu
à peu dans les textes des différences significatives par rapport à l’Europe. Dans
le roman brésilien, où l’on dénonce la tendance au mimétisme dans notre
architecture, l’apparent échec de Caetana Toledo est la garantie de sa réussite
: en n’arrivant pas à mener jusqu’au bout son projet de mimer Maria Callas,
Caetana assure sa propre identité. Dans le texte d’Anne Hébert, comme nous le
verrons, il s’avère impossible de retourner au premier jardin conçu en tant que
copie du modèle français.
Dans ces deux romans, l’activité déambulatoire est celle de l’actrice : en
sautant des intervalles (les frontières entre le non-être et l’être, les limites entre
des villes remplaçables à l’infini) et en cherchant toujours d’autres corpsespaces à habiter, Flora Fontanges et Caetana Toledo ne connaissent jamais le
repos.
À cause du caractère nomade de sa «race» (les gens dépossédés du théâtre
«mambembe»), Caetana assume la mouvance comme la meilleure forme de
consacrer les petites histoires anonymes d’un autre Brésil : «c’est à nous de
parcourir le Brésil dans la certitude de son existence. [...] Justement nous qui
ne payons pas l’assurance sociale44.»
En préférant les routes de toutes les possibilités à la sûreté et aux limites d’un
foyer, Caetana reconnaît dans l’errance l’occasion d’entrer en contact avec un
pays toujours absent des pages de l’histoire officielle. À la suite de son oncle,
chef d’une troupe qui a parcouru le Brésil d’un bout à l’autre, Caetana réécrit
les coulisses de notre histoire collective. Tout se passe comme si elle illustrait
la parenté entre la marche et l’écriture suggérée dans le discours de Breta (A
república dos sonhos) :
Si je n’étais pas écrivaine, grand-père, je serais un flâneur. Comme
ceux qui errent par les routes, sans un toit sûr. En touchant de leurs
pieds chaque coin du Brésil. Ce n’est ainsi que je pourrais connaître la
misère et la crédulité de ces visages anonymes, répandus dans des
endroits trop distants.45
Après un long exil en France, Flora Fontanges rentre à Québec, où elle doit
faire face aux souvenirs d’une enfance douloureuse incrustés dans les pierres
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En découvrant l’Amérique
de sa ville natale qu’elle se refuse à nommer. Dans tout le roman, il s’établit un
parallélisme entre la marche et le propre discours : de même que les pas de
l’actrice se détournent des endroits interdits (= les lieux de ses peurs, de ses
fantasmes), on reconnaît dans le texte des détours verbaux pour éviter
l’identification de la ville.46
Par contre, en tirant parti de l’énonciation piétonnière, Flora fait appel à des
points de repère rassurants et à l’habitabilité de certains endroits grâce à
l’évocation de noms propres. À partir du nom d’une rue, Flora reconstruit le
quotidien, l’odeur et les petits gestes d’une femme disparue dans la nuit des
temps de la Nouvelle France. En s’appropriant «sur-le-champ l’âme et le corps
de Barbe Abbadie47», Flora assume le féminin de sa ville, métonymie de sa
patrie (ou plutôt de sa matrie).
En remontant vers le passé, Flora et Raphaël, son jeune ami historien,
découvrent la ville de Québec comme un lieu palimpseste formé par des
couches temporelles superposées, textes qui se laissent lire sous d’autres
discours : «Rues, ruelles, places publiques, Raphaël s’est mis à éplucher la
ville de toutes ses vies, siècle après siècle, comme on décolle des couches de
papier peint sur un mur48».
De même, la métamorphose du jardin comme accumulation d’expériences
entassées au fil des temps suggère la profondeur du paysage américain.
D’abord l’archétype du paradis n’apparaît que comme simulacre de la
géographie de l’Autre, les premiers colons francophones ayant bâti un pays à la
ressemblance du modèle français. Toutefois, à la longue «l’image mère s’est
effacée dans les mémoires», et les descendants des premiers francophones ont
arrangé les jardins «à l’idée du pays auquel ils se ressemblaient de plus en
plus49». Cela veut dire que, loin d’être lié à la permanence, le jardin acquiert le
sens des métamorphoses, d’acclimatation à un nouveau contexte culturel.
Dans cette adaptation du premier jardin à la réalité environnante, il est possible
de reconnaître la disponibilité à rompre le cercle paralysant qui atteint souvent
les colonisés qui se voient comme des êtres déplacés voire comme des
étrangers. Comme nous le savons, à cause de l’angoisse de la perte, les
étrangers peuvent se conduire comme des nostalgiques qui se mettent souvent
à la quête obsédante de leur communauté primitive dans l’espace de l’Autre.
C’est ce qui se dégage dans l’attitude d’Eulalia (A república dos sonhos) qui
reconstruit chez elle les petits coins de Sobreira (village de Galicie) ou encore
dans les gestes d’étrangers disséminés dans les contes de Gabrielle Roy. Dans
«La vallée Houdou», les Doukhobors reconnaissent dans un paysage de
l’Ouest canadien les Montagnes Humides de leur patrie. Dans un autre texte,
en superposant les collines de la Saskatchewan à celles de son pays, le chinois
Sam Lee Wong se révèle comme un nostalgique qui ne s’installe qu’après
avoir reconnu les signes de la Chine en Amérique. Quant à Martha et Stépan
(«Un jardin au bout du monde»), ils reproduisent l’atmosphère presque exacte
de la pauvre ferme d’où ils venaient, dans leur Volhynie natale.
Ainsi le consentement à la mobilité ne présuppose pas nécessairement la
disponibilité aux départs, aux ruptures et à la nouveauté. Cela se manifeste
dans l’oeuvre de Gabrielle Roy où les voyages peuvent assumer la forme d’un
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IJCS / RIÉC
périple. À côté du plaisir de s’égarer dans des routes inconnues et marginales
(cf. La route d’Altamont) ou dans l’espace de l’Autre («Ely! Ely! Ely!»), il y a
chez ses personnages le besoin de points de repère, de liens capables de
rassurer les voyageurs par les promesses du retour.
Dans la nouvelle «De quoi t’ennuies-tu Éveline?», l’appel de l’extraterritorialité
californienne ne correspond pas à une vraie déterritorialisation. Malgré son
désir de «traverser la vie en voyageur50», Majorique semble incapable de se
détacher de ses racines. En s’installant chez lui aux États-Unis, son premier
geste est de planter cinq ou six mille arbres, ce qui suggère l’appropriation de
l’espace. Or, en tant que leader de la «petite société des nations51»,
microcosme familier aux ramifications plurielles (norvégienne, hollandaise et
irlandaise), il pense à reproduire aux États-Unis l’espace multiculturel
canadien. Comme son frère, tout en ayant traversé la frontière américaine,
Éveline n’arrive pas à sortir de son territoire affectif. C’est pourquoi en voyant
partout des ressemblances, elle ne découvre ni les États-Unis ni les
Américains.
En nous permettant un détour vers l’Acadie, nous pourrions évoquer ici le
roman Pélagie-la-charrette d’Antonine Maillet. Au contraire d’Éveline,
Pélagie découvre plusieurs aspects du quotidien américain lors du
déplacement collectif vers la Terre Promise. Dans ce roman centré sur la saga
acadienne où s’associent le contenu épique et le sens carnavalesque, Antonine
Maillet raconte l’expérience de beaucoup d’Acadiens qui, à la suite du «grand
dérangement», entreprennent un long voyage de retour vers l’Acadie. Après
quinze ans d’exil en Géorgie, guidé par Pélagie, un «peuple en marche» décide
de rentrer au pays «par la porte arrière et sur la pointe des pieds52».
Construit autour de l’axe d’une longue marche orientée vers un but précis, le
roman propose encore une traversée dans l’espace et dans le temps des
Américains. Ainsi, le voyage de la Géorgie vers l’Acadie permet le passage par
la Caroline, la Virginie, le Maryland, la Pennsylvanie, le Massachusetts et le
Maine. Grâce à l’entrecroisement des intrigues, les personnages acadiens se
mêlent aux événements qui ont lieu dans les colonies anglaises au moment de
l’indépendance américaine. Par des incursions des Acadiens dans le paysage et
l’histoire des États-Unis, le texte privilégie une sorte d’exploration de
l’Amérique, lieu de convergences et de la rencontre de voix/voies plurielles.
Au cours de dix ans de charrette tirée par des bœufs, les personnages
participent à une sorte d’odyssée où le merveilleux n’est pas absent. Au périple
terrestre s’ajoute l’aventure maritime : mûs par l’élan du rêve et du désir, la
charrette de Pélagie et la goélette légendaire du capitaine Beausoleil tracent sur
terre et sur mer l’itinéraire de la quête du pays mythique. Malgré la mort de
Pélagie (comme Moïse, elle n’arrive pas à toucher le sol de la Terre Promise),
le prestige de la traversée se maintient. Pour les Acadiens, on a beau avoir
effacé l’Acadie des cartes officielles, celle-ci continue à exister dans les
paysages affectifs de la mémoire, en suscitant toujours l’appel d’autres
voyages.
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En découvrant l’Amérique
Le désert : épiphanies du féminin et de l’Amérique
Depuis la préhistoire, j’avais commencé ma marche à
travers le désert, et sans étoile pour me guider, la perdition
seule me guidant, l’égarement seul me guidant — jusqu’à ce
que, presque terrassée par l’extase de la fatigue, illuminée
par la passion, je trouve enfin l’écrin. Et dans cet écrin,
étincelant de gloire, le secret caché.53
Une autre forme de vivre l’Amérique concerne l’expérience du désert qui,
dans ce cas, au lieu de valoriser la suggestion de la profondeur (cf. les endroits
palimpsestes), suscite plutôt l’écoulement rapide d’images qui se succèdent
sans fin. Écran où circule le regard, le désert favorise l’apprentissage de la
vitesse, du vertige et de l’horizontalité absolue. Et pourquoi pas de la beauté
puisque celle-ci est aride54 comme il apparaît dans la poétique de Clarice
Lispector où elle peut se manifester grâce à la traversée du vide et du silence?
À côté de la qualité proprement topographique du désert, d’autres valeurs
s’insinuent. Métaphore d’un monde où les liens affectifs se raréfient et
s’étiolent de plus en plus, le désert peut être vécu dans les interlignes55 des
zones habitées, au cœur même de la ville (cf. l’appel de la campagne-oasis
dans Bonheur d’occasion et Alexandre Chênevert de Gabrielle Roy) ou encore
dans un lieu circonscrit (cf. la déambulation par le «désert dans une chambre à
l’intérieur du roman A paixão segundo G.H.).
La richesse de ce symbole nous offre d’autres pistes de lecture : dans la
tradition islamique, sous son étendue stérile et superficielle, doit être cherchée
la Réalité, ce qui évoque la quête de la Terre Promise par les Hébreux à travers
le désert du Sinaï. Dans la Bible, terre aride et désolée, le désert est le repaire
des démons, l’espace du châtiment d’Israël et de la tentation de Jésus. Lieu
épiphanique, le désert constitue aussi le cadre pour les manifestations divines.
En outre, marqué par l’ambivalence, cet endroit peut être associé à la fécondité
ou à la stérilité selon la présence ou l’absence de Dieu.56
Avant de réflechir sur la possibilité de la redécouverte du continent américain à
partir de la traversée du désert — comme c’est le cas du roman Le désert mauve
— rappelons rapidement les liens entre le désert et le féminin, l’une des voies
d’accès au texte de Nicole Brossard.
En analysant la question du féminin à la lumière de la perspective jungienne,
Clarissa Pinkola Estés signale un parallélisme entre le désert et le quotidien
vécu par la femme : dans les deux cas, au-dessous de vies à première vue
insignifiantes, il y aurait une grande intensité57. Dans cette optique, l’image du
désert suppose la notion de profondeur. C’est ce qui se dégage d’un passage du
livre A paixão segundo G.H. où, après avoir beaucoup fouillé, la narratrice
arrive à des couches primitives, en risquant «de finir par mourir d’inanition
sous la pierre écroulée58». Il serait peut-être intéressant de souligner qu’une
telle représentation du féminin — vie tenace et cachée sous la surface du
monde minéral — apparaît à la fin du roman Kamouraska d’Anne Hébert, à
travers l’image d’une femme noire, déterrée vivante dans un champ aride sous
les pierres.59 Dans les deux textes, l’expérience du désert s’associe à
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IJCS / RIÉC
l’intensité et à l’avidité absolues, «la faim de vivre» servant à caractériser la
femme tellurique d’Anne Hébert et la narratrice du texte de Clarice Lispector.
Dans le roman de Nicole Brossard, marquée aussi par l’avidité, Mélanie
profite de ses quinze ans pour trouver, dans l’immensité horizontale des
autoroutes, d’autres voies pour combler son désir de voir et de savoir. Initiée
très tôt à l’hyperréalité des choses excessives et aux espaces délirants, le
personnage connaît le défi des obstacles.
Si dans le livre de Clarice Lispector, le parcours ayant lieu dans un désert
symbolique suggère une ambiance orientale comme cadre d’une expérience
mystique (cf. des salamandres, des hiéroglyphes, des sarcophages), le texte de
Nicole Brossard conçoit le désert comme une stratégie de lecture de l’espace
américain. Dans les deux situations, en se déplaçant dans les voies identitaires,
les personnages adoptent le franchissement de toutes les limites, ce qui se
passe aussi au niveau textuel proprement dit où l’on reconnaît des
pérégrinations féminines au sein même de l’écriture.
Le désert mauve privilégie la fragmentation et la déconstruction typiques du
postmoderne, en mettant en relief une géographie particulière où la
discontinuité et le caractère transitoire des bars, des motels et des piscines
contribuent à représenter un monde voué à la désintégration. À plusieurs
reprises, le texte rappelle que celle-ci se doit aux effets destructeurs de la
bombe atomique dont les premiers essais ont eu lieu en plein désert américain.
Dans un texte qui se construit et se déconstruit à partir des apports du
féminisme et du postmodernisme, Nicole Brossard présente une double
appropriation du désert. D’une part, il est question de l’action masculine
dévastatrice dans un espace dominé (cf. les signes de l’explosion et la place du
crime dans l’histoire). Orientés par la hantise de la conquête, «des hommes [...]
sont venus et ont affirmé que cet espace était enfin conquis60». D’autre part,
ayant développé au cours d’histoires d’effacements et d’occultations la
connaissance du silence et de l’absence, les femmes seraient plutôt capables de
«capter le grand vide61» et l’esthétique de la disparition (cf. Virilio) relatifs au
désert. Cette double appropriation de l’espace a été déjà reconnue par Claudine
Herrman :
Matériel ou mental, l’espace de l’homme est un espace de domination
et de hiérarchie, un espace de conquête et d’étalement, un espace
plein. [...] La femme au contraire a appris de longue date à respecter
non seulement l’espace matériel et mental d’autrui, mais l’espace
pour lui-même, l’espace vide.62
Habituée depuis longtemps à «l’érosion, à tous les fantômes vivant dans la
pierre et la poussière63», Mélanie entreprend un voyage à travers l’espace
américain, les lieux du féminin et le domaine de l’écriture.
Rattachée directement à la mouvance — mouvement central du roman —
l’activité de la traduction ne saurait être négligée dans la lecture d’un texte où
la circulation du désir va du texte originel («Le désert mauve») au texte traduit
(«Mauve, l’horizon»). En assumant le geste de traduire le livre de Laure
Angstelle comme traversée de langues et de cultures, Maude Laures envisage
«la dérive comme un choc culturel, une émotion grave semée de miroirs et de
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En découvrant l’Amérique
mirages64». En paraphrasant une phrase de Nicole Brossard, nous dirions qu’il
faut, pour traduire, être un sujet en mouvement et en recherche65.
Dans le «corps à corps» avec le texte à être créé ou traduit, l’écrivain et le
traducteur se trouvent face au désert de la page blanche. En condensant les
valeurs à première vue contradictoires (d’une part, la sédimentation de toutes
les ères géologiques; de l’autre la suggestion du vide), le désert incarne
l’ambivalence de la page blanche où coexistent, selon Michel Schneider, le
trop plein et le trop vide66.
En concevant la possibilité de «retrouver ce temps d’avant l’écriture67»,
Mélanie (et aussi Maude Laures) se rapprochent de la poétique de Clarice
Lispector où il est possible de vivre «un vide qui s’appelle aussi plénitude68»,
l’échec du langage étant la condition nécessaire pour l’épanouissement des
épiphanies.
Finalement, nous pourrions lire l’Amérique à la lumière de la métaphore du
désert — page blanche. Si, au fil des siècles, les paysages américains ont été
envisagés à partir d’images superposées (comme les catégories du ciel et de
l’enfer), ce qui pourrait suggérer que tout a été déjà dit, d’autre part, notre
continent reste encore à être assumé, reconstruit, révélé et traduit comme si
tout était encore à dire. De même que la princesse des contes de fées est
toujours susceptible d’être réveillée, l’Amérique (une «continent femme69»)
pour reprendre Nicole Brossard, nous invite toujours à orienter l’itinéraire de
nos rêves et de nos fantaisies vers le réservoir de ses promesses qui attendent
d’être habitées.
Conclusion
Au long de nos réflexions à propos de la représentation de la découverte
quotidienne de l’Amérique dans des textes brésiliens et canadiens de langue
française, nous avons observé que la quête de la maîtrise de l’espace —
traduite par l’activité de la marche et des traversées plurielles — correspond au
désir de compenser le sentiment de dépossession éprouvé par des êtres
colonisés et/ou minoritaires. Ayant connu l’expérience réelle ou symbolique
de l’exil, les personnages aspirent à récupérer le lieu de l’origine, identifié à
une ville, au pays, au continent et au propre féminin. Conçu comme un
mouvement toujours renouvelé, l’origine s’éloigne de toute idée d’essence et
d’immobilité, en s’insinuant plutôt comme une recherche. Recherche à être
assumée à partir du refus d’étiquettes réductrices et fallacieuses (comme les
mythes du paradis et de l’enfer).
Le relief accordé à l’analyse de textes centrés sur une perspective féminine
n’est pas gratuit. En proposant des liens entre le féminin (comme stratégie de
lecture) et notre continent (envisagé comme construction fictionnelle), nous
avons suggéré une nouvelle appropriation de l’Amérique.
Finalement, quant au choix de la littérature comparée comme voie
méthodologique adoptée ici, nous croyons qu’elle constitue un outil efficace,
capable de tenir compte de la situation de l’entre-lieu vécue par l’autre
Amérique. Entre l’ici et l’ailleurs, entre le ciel et l’enfer, entre le passé et le
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IJCS / RIÉC
présent, entre l’immobilité et l’errance, cette Amérique nous invite à d’autres
voyages, en nous incitant à y inscrire nos propres désirs.
Notes
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
112
Aujourd’hui on espère que la récente création du Mercosul servira à combler l’hyatus établi
entre les pays de l’Autre Amérique. Un des premiers effets de cette initiative
gouvernementale concerne l’esso de l’enseignement de la langue espagnole dans nos écoles
où il n’existait pas.
Morin, Michel & Bertrand, Claude. Le territoire imaginaire de la culture. Montréal :
Brèches Hurtubise HMH, 1979. p. 13.
Hébert, Anne. «Poésie, solitude rompue». In : Poèmes. Paris : Seuil, 1960. p. 71.
Morin, Michel & Bertrand, Claude. op. cit. p. 14.
Ibid., p. 14.
Ibid., p. 14.
Ibid., p. 103.
En reprenant l’analyse d’Édouard Glissant (Le discours antillais. Paris : Seuil, 1981), il
faudrait vérifier si dans les textes centrés sur la recherche de l’extraterritorialité, cette quête
de l’espace de l’Autre constitue un détour capable de permettre le retour enrichissant au lieu
d’origine.
Maillet, Antonine. Mariaagélas. Ottawa : Leméac, 1973. p. 10.
À propos de l’ambivalence du quotidien, voir les travaux d’Henri Lefebvre, Agnes Heller et
Michel de Certeau.
Ribeiro, Darcy. América Latina : a Pátria Grande. Rio de Janeiro : Guanabara, 1986. p. 65.
Piñon, Nélida. A República dos Sonhos. Rio de Janeiro : Francisco Alves, 1984. p. 25.
Todorov, Tvzetan. A conquista da América. A questão do Outro. São Paulo : Martins Fontes,
1988. p. 4.
Piñon, Nélida. op. cit., p. 269.
Apud Rioux, Marcel. Les Québécois. Paris : Seuil, 1974. p. 70.
Holanda, Sérgio Buarque de. Raízes do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro : José Olympio, 1988. p. 33.
Kristeva, Julia. Étrangers à nous-mêmes. Paris : Fayard, 1988.
Bouthillette, Jean. Le Canadien français et son double. Ottawa : Hexagone, 1972. p. 76.
Chevalier, Jean & Gheerbrant, Alain. Dictionnaire des symboles. Paris : Seghers, 1973.
Holanda, Sérgio Buarque de. Visão do paraíso. Os motivos edênicos no descobrimento e
colonização do Brasil. São Paulo : Companhia Editora Nacional, 1977. p. 265-266.
Souza, Laura de Mello e. O diabo e a terra de Santa Cruz : feitiçaria e religiosidade popular
no Brasil colonial. São Paulo : Companhia das Letras, 1986.
Ibid., p. 78.
Le Goff, Jacques. A bolsa e a vida. Economia e religião na Idade Média. São Paulo :
Brasiliense, 1989.
Bouthillette, Jean. op. cit. p. 75.
«Sertanejo» = l’habitant du «sertão», zone semi-aride du Brésil.
Bosi, Alfredo. Céu, inferno. Ensaios de crítica literária e ideológica. São Paulo : Ática,
1988. p. 11.
Souza, Laura de Mello e. op. cit., p. 79.
Mots cités par Bosquet, Alain. «Introduction». In : La poésie canadienne contemporaine de
langue française. Paris : Seghers, 1966. p. 20.
Kristeva, Julia. op. cit., p. 19.
Cândido, Antônio. A educação pela noite e outros ensaios. São Paulo : Ática, 1987. p. 141.
Sur la mythologie vert-jaune (le vert et le jaune sont les couleurs de notre drapeau national),
nous nous référons au livre : CHAUÍ, Marilena. Conformismo e resistência. Aspectos da
cultura popular no Brasil. São Paulo : Brasiliense, 1987.
Chez nous, la figure du malandro, toujours reprise dans des textes littéraires et dans la
chanson populaire, désigne l’exercice de la débrouillardise, un «art de faire» propre à notre
culture.
Andrade, Carlos Drummond de. Corpo. Rio de Janeiro : Record, 1984. p. 61.
En découvrant l’Amérique
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
49.
50.
51.
52.
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
60.
61.
62.
63.
64.
65.
66.
67.
68.
69.
De Certeau, Michel. L’invention du quotidien. I. Arts de faire. Paris : Gallimard, 1990. p.
155.
Harel, Simon. Le voleur de parcous : identité et cosmopolitisme dans la littérature
québécoise contemporaine. Montréal : Les Éditions du Préambule, 1989. p. 160.
Baudrillard, Jean. América. Rio de Janeiro : Rocco, 1986. p. 14. (C’est nous qui traduisons)
Lefebvre, Henri. A vida cotidiana no mundo moderno. São Paulo : Ática, 1991. p. 156.
Heller, Agnes. O cotidiano e a História. São Paulo : Paz e Terra, 1992.
Le Goff, Jacques. «A história do quotidiano». In : DUBY, Georges et alii. História e nova
história. Lisboa : Teorema, 1989.
Comme le dit Michel de Certeau (op. cit., p. 162) : «Le souvenir est seulement un prince
charmant de passage, qui réveille, un moment, les Belles-au-bois-dormant de nos histoires
sans paroles», ce qui suggère le pouvoir de la mémoire comme régénératrice de paysages que
l’on pourrait considérer comme morts.
Rouanet, Sergio Paulo. A razão nômade. Rio de Janeiro : Editora UFRJ, 1993. p. 7.
Tel est l’avis de Paul Virilio dans une interview publiée dans América : depoimentos. São
Paulo : Companhia das Letras; Rio de Janeiro : Videofilmes, 1989. p. 136.
Piñon, Nélida. op. cit., p. 120.
Ibid., p. 105.
Ibid., p. 704.
Hébert, Anne. Le premier jardin. Paris : Seuil, 1988. Dans le premier chapitre, on peut
dégager des tournures employées pour éviter l’identification de la ville : «une ville
lointaine», «une ville du Nouveau Monde» (p. 9); «le nom redouté» (p. 10).
Ibid., p. 52.
Ibid., p. 75.
Ibid., p. 77.
Roy, Gabrielle. De quoi t’ennuies - tu, Éveline? suivi de Ely! Ely! Ely! Récits. Montréal :
Boréal Express, 1984. p. 11.
Ibid., p. 72.
Maillet, Antonine. Pélagie-la-charrette. Bibliothèque québécoise, 1990. p. 13.
Lispector, Clarice. La passion selon G.H. Paris : Des Femmes, 1985. p. 154.
Cf. en particulier Lispector, Clarice. A maçã no escuro. Rio de Janeiro : Francisco Alves,
1961.
Baudrillard, Jean. op. cit., p. 60.
Chevalier, Jean & Gheerbrant, Alain. op. cit.
Estés, Clarissa Pinkola. Mulheres que correm com os lobos. Mitos e histórias do arquétipo da
mulher selvagem. Rio de Janeiro : Rocco, 1996. p. 55-56.
Lispector, Clarice. 1985. p. 121.
Hébert, Anne. Kamouraska. Paris : Seuil, 1970. p. 250.
Brossard, Nicole. Le désert mauve. Montréal : Hexagone, 1987. p. 136.
Ibid., p. 136.
Herrman, Claudine. Des voleuses de langue. Paris : Des Femmes, 1976. p. 139. Cette
représentation des rapports entre l’homme (= conquérant) et l’espace (l’objet de la conquête
et de la destruction) est très nette dans le conte «O homem que espalhou o deserto»
(BRANDÃO, Ignácio de Loyola. Cadeiras proibidas. Rio de Janeiro : Codecri, 1979).
Brossard, Nicole. op. cit., p. 12.
Ibid., p. 61.
Brossard, Nicole. La lettre aérienne. Montréal : Les Éditions du Remue-Ménage, 1985. p.
124.
Schneider, Michel. Voleurs de mots. Essai sur le plagiat, la psychanalyse et la pensée. Paris :
Gallimard, 1985.
Brossard, Nicole. Le désert mauve. p. 30.
Lispector, Clarice. Um sopro de vida. (Pulsações). Rio de Janeiro : Nova Fronteira, 1978.
p. 81.
Brossard, Nicole. Amantes. Montréal : Le Quinze, 1980. p. 106.
113
Greg Donaghy
The Politics of Indecision: Canada and the AngloAmerican Caribbean Commission, 1941-47
Abstract
This article explores the Canadian government’s attitude during the 1940s to
the prospect of closer relations with the British Caribbean colonies. The
disruption in normal relations precipitated by the Second World War and an
invitation to help develop the economic and social potential of the West Indies
through the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission prompted a lengthy and
inconclusive debate in Ottawa over the merits of a closer and deeper
association with this region. In tracing this discussion, this paper documents
the conflicting tensions — practical and idealistic — that defined Canada’s
approach to the British West Indies. It suggests that Canada’s failure to take
decisive action in its relations with the Caribbean on the eve of decolonization
deprived it of a voice in regional affairs until the mid-1960s.
Résumé
Le présent article porte sur l’attitude du gouvernement canadien au cours des
années 1940 face à l’éventualité d’un resserrement des liens avec les colonies
britanniques dans les Caraïbes. La perturbation des relations habituelles en
raison de la Seconde Guerre mondiale et une invitation à contribuer au
développement du potentiel socio-économique des Antilles grâce à la
Commission anglo-américaine des Caraïbes ont motivé un long débat stérile à
Ottawa quant au bien-fondé d’un lien resserré et approfondi avec cette région
du globe. En relatant ces pourparlers, le présent article permet de documenter
les tensions conflictuelles (entre la pratique et la théorie) qui ont façonné
l’approche du Canada face aux Antilles britanniques. Cet article laisse
entendre que l’absence de mesures fermes de la part du Canada dans ses
relations avec les Caraïbes à la veille de la décolonisation ont brimé son droit
de regard sur les affaires de cette région jusqu’au milieu des années 1960.
While the British West Indies had never been a central concern of Canadian
foreign policy, by 1941, Canadian-Caribbean relations were ripe for reexamination.1 The product of almost two centuries of social, political and
economic interaction, the relationship was solidly grounded in sentiments of
mutual goodwill and affection, reflecting a common imperial heritage.2 World
War II injected into this association a new vitality. Following the collapse of
France, Canada sent troops and destroyers to the Caribbean at the request of the
British government.3 Canadian investments in bauxite mining increased
dramatically as aluminum production became vitally important in Canada’s
war effort. Canadian transportation interests, subsidized by Ottawa under the
terms of the Canada-British West Indies Trade Agreement (1925), provided an
International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
13, Spring/Printemps 1996
IJCS / RIÉC
increasingly important link between Canada and the Caribbean, and played a
vital role in inter-island shipping. In 1941, for the first time ever, this service
began to turn a small profit. Stimulated by the war, trade between Canada and
the Commonwealth Caribbean almost doubled in the first three years of the
conflict. Characterized by the exchange of Canadian salt-fish, wheat and flour
for sugar, molasses and rum, this trade grew in total volume from $26 million
in 1939 to $49 million in 1941.4 This pattern of trade, like the decision to assist
in the region’s defense, reflected an outdated, but still comfortable, imperial
legacy.
By the spring of 1941, however, the shifting balance of power in the Caribbean
threatened to upset this convenient and familiar relationship. As American
forces moved into the British Caribbean under the provisions of the 1940
“destroyers-for-bases-deal,” Washington became concerned about the
stability of this frequently ignored and impoverished corner of the British
Empire. In April 1941, President F.D. Roosevelt formally proposed the
creation of an Anglo-American commission to promote development within
the region. In Britain, this demonstration of American interest was greeted
cautiously but warmly. London’s growing commitment to a more progressive
colonial development policy and its determination to demonstrate the mutual
benefits of Anglo-American collaboration fed smoothly into the American
initiative. On 9 March 1942, the two countries agreed to establish the AngloAmerican Caribbean Commission (AACC), an advisory body intended to
study and make recommendations to both governments on “labour,
agriculture, housing, health, education, social welfare, finance, economics and
related subjects.”5 The six-member commission, however, assumed an
importance that exceeded its mandate. Standing as an early example of
international cooperation in colonial development and soon linked to the
larger question of the postwar fate of British colonialism, the AACC’s
establishment signalled the quickening pace of the region’s political and
economic evolution.6
Repeated invitations to join the AACC between 1941 and 1947 presented
Canada with an ideal opportunity to re-define and modernize its relationship
with the Caribbean. Despite the emerging consensus among Ottawa policymakers on Canada’s need to pursue an active postwar foreign policy, a
forward-looking approach to relations with the British West Indies failed to
develop.7 Initially, Ottawa’s reluctance to accept a larger role in the Caribbean
stemmed from a lingering fear that involvement might somehow saddle
Canada with Britain’s imperial responsibilities. The creation of the AACC,
however, raised a number of issues which seemed to demand an augmented
Canadian presence in the region. Canada’s regional economic interests, which
were threatened by the growing American presence, required a vigorous
defense. Similarly, to many observers, Canada seemed ideally placed to play
some role in the region as the West Indies moved slowly but steadily towards
independence. But as decolonization emerged as an issue, growing AngloAmerican discord over colonial policy and an increasing fear of postwar
economic dislocation dictated a more cautious approach. Ultimately, Ottawa
proved unwilling to choose clearly between involvement and disengagement,
116
The Politics of Indecision
trying ineffectually to preserve the benefits of the former imperial relationship
while avoiding the costs of a more mature partnership.
Canadian policy-makers were confronted with the problem of re-defining
Canadian-Caribbean relations in May 1941 when Britain first informed
Ottawa of the American scheme for establishing an advisory committee in the
Caribbean. Though acknowledging Canada’s stake in the region’s economy,
London asked Ottawa not to press immediately for membership lest the
Americans then insist upon inviting representation from the South American
republics.8 The reaction within the Department of External Affairs, where the
American proposal was given what little serious scrutiny it received, was
decidedly reassuring. Escott Reid, a second secretary working on interAmerican affairs, scornfully dismissed the Anglo-American proposal as a
traditional British effort to involve Canada in the operation and administration
of Britain’s colonial empire. Equating this Anglo-American demarche with
Lloyd George’s 1919 proposal that Canada assume some responsibility for its
colonial empire in the Caribbean, Reid emphatically insisted that “we do not
want membership on it [the AACC] since we do not want to be put in a position
where the United Kingdom could unload some of its economic responsibilities
for the dependencies on us.”9 While agreeing that Canada should reserve the
right to participate on the committee, Reid did not anticipate ever having to
assert this right in defence of Canada’s preferential trading status in the region.
Officials in the Colonial Office were relieved by the Canadian response,
although slightly baffled by Ottawa’s refusal to exert itself more strongly in
defense of its interests in the Caribbean. The Canadian position, though shortsighted, was understandable. Since 1921, Canada had consistently and
successfully sought to disengage its foreign policy from that of Great Britain.
The Canadian prime minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, retained a
profound suspicion of any British proposal which might revive the
constricting institutional ties which once bound Canada to the Empire.10
King’s opposition to British imperialism was fully shared by most officials in
the Department of External Affairs. In issuing this apparently definitive
refusal to become entangled in Caribbean affairs, Reid and Norman
Robertson, the under-secretary of state, were simply reflecting a traditional
concern of Canadian foreign policy. Ironically, however, their anti-colonial
instincts obscured their consideration of how important Canada’s own
economic interests in the region had become through its willing participation
in the economic opportunities provided by British imperialism.
Within months, even before the AACC was firmly established, the question of
Canadian relations with the commission re-surfaced. Pressing food and
transportation problems in the Caribbean, caused by a sudden German
submarine offensive, forced the AACC to address these immediate concerns
before undertaking its mandated task of studying the region’s long-term social
and economic difficulties.11 As the AACC tentatively explored how it might
begin to tackle this growing crisis, it was clear that Canadian flour and
shipping interests in the region would be affected. Alerted of the Canadian
interest by Hume Wrong, assistant under-secretary of state for External
Affairs, who tentatively raised with one of the three American commissioners
117
IJCS / RIÉC
the question of some form of Canadian liaison, the AACC soon approached
Canada formally.12 Both Washington and London, so the British high
commissioner in Ottawa informed Norman Robertson, were anxious that
Canada participate in a forthcoming AACC conference on provisioning the
Caribbean. Robertson had no objection to Canadian participation in a
conference clearly limited to short-term economic questions:
In view of Canada’s close shipping and trade connections with the
British West Indies and their dependence on this country for most of
their staple foodstuffs it is, I think, important that Canada be
adequately represented in the discussions in Jamaica, which are
likely to determine not only the immediate emergency arrangements
for provisioning the Islands but also affect post war relations with the
United States and Canada.13
With Mackenzie King’s approval, a delegation from Ottawa, led by Dana
Wilgress, the deputy minister of Trade and Commerce, set out for Jamaica.14
From the Canadian point of view, the conference was largely successful.
Participation was welcomed by representatives of the British West Indies as
evidence of Ottawa’s continued interest in the welfare of the islands and in
maintaining the traditional maritime relationship. Assisted by Wilgress,
Canadian National Steamships (CNS) secured the conference’s approval to
develop a system of inter-island shipping networks based in the American Gulf
ports. In so smoothly adjusting its service in response to the submarine threat,
reported Wilgress, CNS ensured for the time being Canada’s traditional
markets in the Caribbean for salt-fish and flour. The conference, however,
underlined Canada’s increasingly precarious position in the Caribbean.
Though the AACC itself rejected a proposal by the American co-chairman,
Charles Taussig, to stockpile American flour in Puerto Rico and so ensure an
uninterrupted supply to the Caribbean, Wilgress rightly regarded the plan as an
ominous threat to Canadian flour interests in the region.15
Wilgress had reason to worry. Taussig had little regard for the interests of
Canada, whose attitude toward the Caribbean he characterized as irresponsible
and uninformed. Nor did he make much effort to hide his desire to promote
American interests in the region at others’ expense.16 During the summer of
1942, American authorities unilaterally proceeded to stockpile flour in Puerto
Rico and used the AACC to pressure colonial authorities in the British West
Indies to draw their flour from American rather than Canadian sources. While
the quantity initially involved was not significant, Wilgress quickly pointed
out to Robertson “that a joint commission, on which we are not represented, is
taking steps to divert trade away from Canada.”17
Canada’s traditional ad hoc approach to Caribbean development was clearly
insufficient. The whole incident raised the broader question of the nature of
Canada’s relationship with the British West Indies:
I think we are now very definitely faced with the issue as to whether
or not we wish to divorce ourselves entirely from the political and
economic future of the British West Indies, or to associate ourselves
with the UK and US in order to protect the trade interests we have
developed with the British colonies in the Caribbean area. I am more
118
The Politics of Indecision
or less convinced that we shall not be able to hold on to the tariff
preferences which we enjoy in the British West Indies in the post-war
period, but I do feel that the relinquishment of these trade advantages
should be used as a bargaining lever for compensation in other
directions and not allowed to go by default, through possible lack of
interest.18
Robertson ignored Wilgress’ letter, perhaps hopeful that the issue might
simply resolve itself. Unfortunately, the problem showed no sign of
disappearing.
In early November 1942, Sir George Gater, the permanent under-secretary of
state in the Colonial Office, and Sydney Caine, the Colonial Office’s economic
advisor, paid a brief visit to Lester Pearson, then minister-counsellor at
Canada’s Legation in Washington. Pearson’s guests had disturbing news.
Given Britain’s inability to ensure food supplies for the islands, the two British
officials explained, it had been decided to allow the United States to establish
flour stockpiles in the Caribbean. London, they pointed out, could not afford to
alienate the United States by continuing to protect Canadian trade interests.
Perhaps, they both suggested, Canada might consider joining the Commission,
particularly since American interest in Caribbean affairs seemed certain to
expand in the future.19
Despite a new determination in Ottawa to demand a voice in international
discussions commensurate with Canada’s responsibilities, no one in Ottawa
acted on this suggestion. As Canadian officials well knew, Gater’s visit to
Washington had little to do with developments in the Caribbean and
everything to do with the burgeoning Anglo-American dispute over the
postwar fate of British colonialism. The disagreement had simmered since the
summer of 1941 when, after proclaiming the Atlantic Charter, it became
apparent that Washington and London could not agree to whom the charter’s
third clause on self-determination applied. While Washington insisted that it
applied to peoples everywhere, London maintained that it was applicable only
to those sovereign nations conquered by Hitler and his allies. Throughout
1942, Britain became increasingly disturbed at the obvious American
determination to sponsor an international trusteeship system to oversee
decolonization in the postwar era. In early December 1942, the colonial
secretary sought to forestall the American effort by securing Washington’s
support for a joint declaration on postwar colonial policy that would establish
regional commissions with limited trusteeship responsibilities.20
This developing dispute left Canadian officials “in a pretty gloomy frame of
mind...due to the obvious lack of understanding between the British and
Americans.”21 When asked to comment on the British draft declaration, they
were rightly sceptical of its chances of securing American support. The
declaration over-emphasized the role of regional commissions in colonial
defense, allowed for no participation by disinterested third parties and made no
effort to address social and political developments in the colonial territories.
Canada suggested several modifications of the British draft to make it more
palatable to American opinion. While subsequent consideration of the
declaration was conducted solely by officials in London and Washington, the
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IJCS / RIÉC
whole episode alerted the Canadian government to “the great importance of
British Colonial policy as a present and future element in the relations of the
United States and the United Kingdom.”22 Canada, with the cautious
Mackenzie King at the helm, was unlikely to risk becoming embroiled in a
controversy between two of its closest allies over an issue in which its own
direct interest was relatively small.
Robertson was carefully attuned to the prime minister’s thinking, and the
under-secretary of state naturally responded with considerable caution when
an invitation to participate in an on-going series of conferences hosted by the
AACC to discuss social and economic conditions in the Caribbean was
received in May 1943. In a draft reply to the British invitation, he focused on
the limited economic interests which defined Canada’s relations with the
Caribbean:
Our interest, while intimate and long established, has been concerned
solely with matters of trade....As, however, our interest is not in
administration nor in the internal or domestic problems of these
territories, we do not feel that any good purpose would be served by
participating in the Conference of the Caribbean Commission.23
Robertson’s draft response provoked a heated reaction from some of his
colleagues, who were convinced that the continuing Anglo-American
discussions on colonial policy underlined the importance these issues would
assume in the postwar world. Individuals like Pearson and Hugh Keenleyside,
assistant under-secretary of state, were increasingly anxious to see Canada
actively contribute to shaping the postwar world and chafed at the constraints
imposed by the prime minister’s restraint. These officials seized upon the
Caribbean as a region where a greater Canadian role might easily be justified.
Supported by several government departments whose economic interests in
the Caribbean were being continuously threatened, Pearson and Keenleyside
forced the under-secretary to convene an inter-departmental meeting to
consider Canada’s relations with the Caribbean.24
At a June 1943 inter-departmental meeting, Keenleyside mounted a sustained
attack on the under-secretary’s position. Joined by H.F. Angus and F.H.
Soward, the under-secretary’s special wartime assistants, Keenleyside argued
that the Anglo-American request represented a test of Canada’s willingness,
signalled by its approval of the Atlantic Charter, to deal with “the world
problem of backward areas and colonial economies.” Choosing to ignore
Canada’s own substantial stake in the region, Keenleyside suggested that, as a
disinterested third party, Canada had an international and moral obligation to
ensure that neither the United States nor Great Britain sought to use the
Caribbean Commission to exploit the dependent peoples of the region.25
Hume Wrong, the department’s consummate realist, rightly questioned the
validity of the moral argument when applied to this particular conference.
Nevertheless, he reluctantly agreed that Canadian interests in the region
necessitated some form of Canadian representation.26 In the face of the
combined opposition from within his department, Robertson delayed making a
decision. Instead, he informed London that Canada would like more concrete
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The Politics of Indecision
information on the nature of the conference and its proposed agenda before
deciding on the character of its representation.27
The debate within the Department of External Affairs continued sporadically
throughout the summer and fall of 1943. Advocates of a more active Canadian
role in the work of the AACC soon found new allies. Two other special
wartime assistants to the under-secretary of state, John Holmes and G. P. de T.
Glazebrook, composed a strongly argued paper which went much further than
anything then circulating within the department. The social, economic and
political problems of the colonial world were almost certain to occupy a
prominent position on the future international agenda. They drew obliquely on
the liberal notion that international disorder and war were rooted in
international poverty, contending that Canada had an inescapable obligation to
address these issues in planning for a stable and just postwar order:
If prosperity is indeed indivisible, Canada cannot disclaim
responsibility for the dependent areas simply on the ground that she
has never been a colonial power and desires no “territorial
aggrandizement.” The problem of backward peoples is not the result
of the selfish exploitation by “imperialist” powers; it is in the nature
of things....Doing something about this problem may prove to be the
most healthy pre-occupation of the post-war world, and one in which
all countries which aspire to a role in world affairs must take part.28
Canada, they recommended, should publicly declare its intention to assist in
the social, economic and political development of the British West Indies.
Privately, it might begin to discuss with the Colonial Office concrete plans for
the provision of technical assistance. Most importantly, argued the two
assistants, Canada should immediately assume an active role in the work of the
AACC, both to protect its own economic interests in the region and, more
fundamentally, to contribute to the development of that region.
In London too, the question of Canada’s role in the AACC was being
reconsidered. Increased Canadian involvement in the commission’s work, it
was thought in the Foreign Office, might help alleviate American hostility to
British colonialism and demonstrate to Washington the potential of the British
Empire as a suitable postwar partner. The AACC provided an almost perfect
means to illustrate this potential. With the support of the Colonial Office, Sir
Frank Stockdale, the British co-chairman of the AACC, was sent to Ottawa to
sound out Canadian opinion.29 Stockdale’s visit provided Keenleyside with an
opportunity to advance his cause quietly and to re-affirm Canada’s interest in
the Caribbean and in the work of the AACC. Keenleyside admitted that
Canada was unlikely to assume administrative or political responsibilities in
the Caribbean. However, the assistant under-secretary forcefully declared,
Canada was “definitely and concretely interested in trade with the B[ritish]
W[est] I[ndies]...and might be disposed to assist after the war in humanitarian
schemes involving the supply of doctors and nurses or the construction of
hospitals.”30
Apparently encouraged by Keenleyside’s remarks, the British renewed their
invitation to Canada to participate in the first AACC West Indies Conference.
The conference was scheduled for the spring of 1944 and its agenda included
121
IJCS / RIÉC
immediate supply problems as well as postwar issues concerned with local
food production and health care.31 Reaction within the Department of External
Affairs remained divided. Both Hume Wrong and H.F. Angus reiterated their
support for Canadian participation on the limited grounds “that there was a
special Canadian interest in the West Indian colonies.”32 J.S. Macdonald, a
counsellor who had accompanied Wilgress to the AACC’s 1942 shipping
conference, strongly disagreed:
it would be the first step in involving us in West Indies problems for
which we are not responsible....The two great empires that are
responsible for colonies in that area may launch ambitious projects in
the economic and social field for the well-being of these peoples in
which we might become involved once we undertook representation
at such a conference.33
Prompted by Soward, who reported to him the divisions within the department,
Keenleyside broadened his search for supporters. Again, the Department of
Trade and Commerce, the Canadian Shipping Board, the Wartime Prices and
Trade Board and the Department of Finance were “all unanimously in favour
of Canada having representation.” In their view, Canadian trade and shipping
interests in the Caribbean clearly required Canada’s presence at the
conference.34
Though Keenleyside and Soward had marshalled a formidable group of
supporters, Robertson had the advantage of having direct access to the prime
minister. In a memorandum tailored for the ever-cautious Mackenzie King, the
under-secretary acknowledged the positive views expressed by other
departments and by officials within the Department of External Affairs. He
presented Macdonald’s view of the long-term implications of Canadian
participation as the considered opinion of interested Canadian officials:
It is felt that should Canada attend the first of these conferences,
whose agenda is mainly concerned with long-range problems of
development, it might be taken as proof that Canada is prepared to
cooperate in such welfare schemes. While Canada has an interest in
the West Indies, based upon trade and commerce, tourist and
educational contacts, it has never had a direct political responsibility.
It is possible that attendance at the conference might create the
impression that Canada was prepared to embark upon a scheme of
regional colonial administration.35
At most, suggested Robertson, Canada should only send an observer.
Faced with the spectre of Canada becoming a colonial power, King allowed the
British invitation to remain unanswered. Ottawa’s lack of response was
interpreted by London in the intended manner. Britain still expressed its
preference for full Canadian participation, but now suggested that an observer
would be just as welcome in light of the limited Canadian interest.36 This
proposal struck Robertson and King “as a more reasonable proposition” and
plans were made to have the Canadian trade commissioner in Trinidad, G.A.
Newman, attend the conference.37
This gesture clearly failed to address the fundamental question surrounding
Canada’s future relationship with the Caribbean. Ottawa was unwilling to
122
The Politics of Indecision
choose between abandoning its traditional trade with the Caribbean and
assuming the political and financial risks associated with membership on the
AACC, and simply prolonged the debate over Canada’s relationship with the
British West Indies. The report submitted by Newman on the 1944 West Indies
Conference galvanized opinion in the Department of Trade and Commerce
and immediately re-opened the discussion. Undoubtedly influenced by his
conversations with Sir Frank Stockdale, Newman was disturbed to learn of
Charles Taussig’s apparent determination to use the AACC and the West
Indies Conferences as an instrument to promote American and inter-island
trade:
The Conference revealed the unmistakable intention of the United
States to use the Anglo-American Caribbean Commission to open the
way for United States trade in the Caribbean, and as far as Canada is
concerned, they are at present bowling in an undefended wicket.
American support, stressed Newman in his report, had already enabled the
rapidly industrializing Puerto Rico to capture the Caribbean market for cement
and building materials. Newman recommended that Ottawa immediately
clarify its Caribbean policy. Ottawa should increase its diplomatic and
political activity in this southern region through membership on the AACC.
Such a step would provide an international mechanism to deal with the host of
problems associated with the question of Caribbean decolonization, allow
Canada to acquaint itself with the emerging nationalist leadership and help
preserve Canada’s traditional markets in the region. Canada would not be
drawn into the Caribbean’s economic problems “as no actions aside from
voluntary undertakings were likely to present themselves.”38
Officials in the Department of Trade and Commerce were not inclined to
dismiss Newman’s recommendations and forced Robertson to convene
another inter-departmental meeting to re-examine Canada’s relations with the
AACC.39 Invited to initiate discussion at this meeting, Newman argued “that
Canada should attain membership on the Anglo-American Caribbean
Commission as a means of influencing policy at the top level, offsetting the
drive for American trade and keeping Canada well in the foreground in the
eyes of the British West Indies.”40 While a number of officials agreed with his
suspicious view of American intentions in the Caribbean, they also expressed
some scepticism about the work of the commission. More seriously, they
reminded Newman, the question of Canadian membership on a colonial
commission with two other colonial powers had implications which had not
yet been sufficiently considered. Once again, the economic and increasingly
political arguments for Canadian membership floundered on the unknown
costs that might be associated with participating in the commission. For the
moment, Canada would simply wait and see how the commission functioned
and what role it adopted in the postwar world.
Over the course of the following year, however, the attitude of the Department
of External Affairs towards involvement in the AACC hardened considerably.
In part, this reflected changes within the department itself. By the spring of
1945, both John Holmes and Hugh Keenleyside, early champions of greater
Canadian participation in the Caribbean, had been posted abroad and could no
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IJCS / RIÉC
longer bring their influence to bear. Additionally, the department’s growing
role in the discussions associated with the postwar settlement stretched its
already thin resources to the breaking point and left it disinclined to seek
additional responsibilities.41
More problematic, the whole question of colonialism seemed to become much
more complicated as the war drew to a close. When the question of the United
Nations’ responsibilities for colonial territories was raised in the spring of
1945, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa all joined the discussions. The
“wide difference of opinion” among them only compounded the problem of
dealing with British “proposals which seemed destined to arouse strong
opposition in the United States.”42 Similarly, in August 1945, the AACC
informed Ottawa that it intended to invite two additional colonial powers,
France and the Netherlands, to participate in its work. These developments
reinforced the Department of External Affairs’ determination to avoid
potentially troublesome entanglements in colonial questions.
Learning that Canada was to receive an invitation to send an observer to the
second West Indies Conference, tentatively scheduled for the spring of 1946,
Robertson wondered if Canada might not be wiser to decline the invitation.43
Officials in the Department of Trade and Commerce insisted strongly that
Canada be represented at least by an observer, while the Department of
External Affairs briefly contemplated suppressing even this minor indication
of Canadian interest by appealing directly to Mackenzie King.44 Eventually,
the under-secretary reluctantly agreed to appoint Grant Major, Newman’s
successor as Canadian trade commissioner in Trinidad.45 Anxious to avoid a
repeat of the 1944 conference, when Newman managed to re-open the
question of Canadian membership on the AACC, Robertson insisted that the
Department of External Affairs alone would instruct Major on his duties.46
Not surprisingly, those instructions left very little room for him to manoeuvre:
You will, of course, appreciate that your position is purely that of an
observer...Canada’s connection with the West Indies has always been
confined to the economic sphere. It is, therefore, considered
advisable that the Canadian representative be careful to avoid giving
any impression that the interest of the Government is likely to extend
beyond that sphere.47
Major’s behaviour at the conference was exactly what the Department of
External Affairs expected of him. He adopted such a low profile that an
American State Department delegate, Elizabeth Armstrong, later recalled that
she “did not know a Canadian observer was present...[and that] when
approached he adopted a very reserved attitude.”48 Major’s conclusions,
however, did not differ substantially from those reached by his predecessor.
Concerned with the continued American drive to develop a more robust interisland trade capable of absorbing Puerto Rico’s industrial production, he
stressed the growing need to strengthen Canada’s presence in the region. How
this might be achieved was not clear. Nevertheless, despite his doubts
regarding the effectiveness of the Caribbean Commission, Major concluded
that membership was crucial if Canada was to maintain its prestige in the area.
124
The Politics of Indecision
Canada “could well be manoeuvred into a difficult position unless... [it] can be
more closely associated with the work of the Caribbean Commission.”49
Officials within the Department of External Affairs remained steadfast in their
resistance to closer Canadian relations with the commission. Given one final
opportunity to join France, Great Britain, the United States and the
Netherlands in drafting a formal charter for the Caribbean Commission and
establishing its permanent secretariat, the department stood silently aside, not
even informing the Department of Trade and Commerce that such a
conference was being held.50 The department’s silence was well rewarded.
The Caribbean Commission’s new constitution omitted the earlier reservation
safeguarding the possibility of Canadian membership, perhaps at last
resolving the question of Canada’s relationship with the commission.
Though clearly disturbed by this development, the Department of Trade and
Commerce did not propose to re-open at this late stage the question of
Canadian membership on the commission. Instead, it approached the problem
of increasing Canada’s profile in the Caribbean from a different tack. The
presence of a permanent secretariat obviously heralded an increase in the
commission’s activities in such fields as industrial development, trade and
regional transportation. As these were areas where Canada retained a vital
interest, it seemed desirable to have a representative in continuous touch with
the organization.51 Robertson agreed that this request was a reasonable one,
particularly since the possibility of Canadian membership seemed
increasingly remote.52
Robertson’s equanimity was rudely shattered less than a week later when the
deputy minister of Trade and Commerce proposed that Ottawa “notify the
Caribbean Commission that Mr. Major has been designated as ’permanent
Canadian observer.’”53 With its implication that the Canadian representative
would attend not only the West Indies Conferences but also the meetings of the
Caribbean Commission itself, Mackenzie’s attempt to elevate Major’s status
to the level of permanent observer raised red flags throughout the Department
of External Affairs.54 Informal discussions with the British, who made it clear
“that if we wish to raise again the question of an observer to meetings of the
Commission itself we are liable to re-open the long-standing question as to
whether or not Canada wishes to become a full member of the Commission,”
confirmed the East Block’s initial reservations.55 Recalling the prime
minister’s 1943 view “that full participation might be construed as evidence of
more positive interest in West Indian problems than the Government was
likely to show,” the Department of External Affairs flatly rejected
Mackenzie’s proposal.56 Major could be designated as a “liaison officer” and
receive all Commission documentation.57
External Affairs’ willingness to appoint even a liaison officer was mistakenly
interpreted by officials in the Department of Trade and Commerce as a
welcome moderation in Canadian policy, encouraging the view that the whole
issue of Canada’s relations with the commission might successfully be reopened.58 By the fall of 1946, the need to take dramatic steps to preserve
Canada’s trade position in the Caribbean appeared more pressing than ever.
The imposition of exchange controls on sterling in the British West Indies and
125
IJCS / RIÉC
a sharp increase in the price of flour, reported Major, were steadily eroding
Canada’s market in the region. Membership on the Caribbean Commission
would help counter this trend by “demonstrating publicly the fact that not only
is Canada interested in selling but also in helping the West Indian peoples to
improve their economic status.”59 The absence of a clause in the commission’s
charter providing for Canadian membership in the organization was not, Major
assured his superiors in the Department of Trade and Commerce, an
insurmountable problem. Sir John Macpherson, the new British co-chairman,
Taussig and two other commissioners had all recently indicated that they
would welcome Canadian participation.60
For the moment, the Department of Trade and Commerce delayed
approaching the Department of External Affairs: it was hoped that the new
under-secretary of state, Lester Pearson, once he had settled in, would be more
flexible than Robertson.61 In the spring of 1947, the receipt of an invitation to
send an observer to the third West Indies conference provided the Department
of Trade and Commerce with the opportunity to push for a re-examination of
Canadian policy. Rather inaccurately, Mackenzie claimed that the conference
invitation “raised again the question of Canada’s full participation in the
affairs of the Commission, presumably on an equal footing with the
Governments of France, Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United
States.”62 As Major was increasingly anxious to learn exactly how much
cooperation he could offer the commission, the Department of Trade and
Commerce would welcome an inter-departmental meeting to discuss
Canadian policy in the Caribbean.63 Officials in the Department of External
Affairs showed little enthusiasm for re-opening this debate. Nevertheless, with
the British High Commission in Ottawa beginning to show a renewed desire
for Canada’s full participation on the commission, a desire apparently sparked
by Major’s cordial relations with the commission’s secretariat, it seemed as
good a time as any to define the nature of Canada’s interest in the Caribbean.64
At the July 1947 inter-departmental meeting, the detailed questions of policy
raised by Grant Major were dealt with quickly and without any substantial
debate. Major was free to gather and transmit to the commission whatever
information on Canadian trade it might require for its economic studies. The
question of Canada’s membership on the Caribbean Commission was more
difficult. The Department of External Affairs’ continued hostility to this
matter was made clear by its initial decision to exclude it from the meeting’s
agenda.65 In raising the question, then, the Department of Trade and
Commerce adopted a circumspect approach. G.A. Newman, now with the
department’s exports division, reviewed Canadian interests in the region and
argued that Canada’s relationship with the Caribbean was not solely based on
trade but embraced a variety of historic educational and missionary ties.
Moreover, he argued with some foresight Canada, whether acknowledging it
or not, was deeply involved in and implicitly responsible for the political and
economic future of the islands. The preferential treatment accorded West
Indian sugar, which constituted the basis of their economy and the engine
driving their social, economic and political development, inextricably tied
Canada to the British West Indies.66
126
The Politics of Indecision
In light of the hesitation expressed at earlier inter-departmental meetings,
Newman cautiously proposed that a senior delegation be sent directly from
Ottawa to the forthcoming West Indies conference. This delegation would
assess the importance of the Caribbean Commission first-hand and prepare a
final recommendation on Canadian membership. The Department of Trade
and Commerce, cautioned its assistant deputy minister, Oliver Master, was not
advocating joining strictly on commercial lines. It was, however, ready to
support membership if Canada was prepared to “accept some degree of
responsibility...with regard to the Commission’s entire program relating to
economic and social conditions in the Caribbean area.”67 Unfortunately, the
Canadian government was not yet inclined to become involved in the
commission’s social and economic work. For the moment, it was agreed to
maintain only a liaison officer, who would keep Ottawa informed of the
Commission’s activities. That officer, the assembled officials were pointedly
reminded, should “refrain from developing co-operation with the Secretariat
along lines that would be likely to result in the question of full Canadian
membership being raised officially by the Commission or by membercountries.”68
Officials in the Department of Trade and Commerce were not unduly
concerned that the meeting seemed to place the possibility of Canadian
membership further out of reach. As its last item of business, the interdepartmental meeting endorsed Canadian participation in the third West
Indies conference and established an inter-departmental committee which was
authorized to pursue the broader issues of Canada’s Caribbean policy that
might arise in preparing for this conference. Major rejoiced: “I am delighted to
learn that active steps are being taken to formulate Canadian policy with
respect to this area [the Caribbean].”69 The delight was short-lived. In late
August, the proposed West Indies Conference was postponed, the interdepartmental committee dissolved as a consequence, and the discussion of
Canada’s policy towards the Caribbean shelved.70 “As it stands now,” Major
soon complained, “Canada appears to be following what is essentially a policy
of marking time in her relations with the British Caribbean.”71
By early 1949, Major’s complaint had become a familiar refrain:
A laissez faire non-interested attitude in regard to a group of mainly
British countries which have had such close ties with Canada as have
these is quite incomprehensible...I write this letter in the hope that
some one will take action at sufficiently high level to develop a
positive broad policy towards the dependent peoples of the
Caribbean...Am I to take this silence from the East Block to mean that
these territories are not considered to be of importance...? If that is not
the case, what is our policy?...The days when we can restrict
ourselves to purely trade relations are gone. There is no dividing
line.72
The establishment of a token import scheme in 1950, under which Canadian
exporters were assured a small share of the dollar-short Caribbean market,
removed the immediate need for a broad statement of Canadian policy. While
the token import scheme guaranteed Canada a share in the British West Indies’
market, the Department of Trade and Commerce looked gloomily on as the
127
IJCS / RIÉC
relative importance of Canadian trade in the region shrank steadily during the
1950s.
To explain this decline as simply the inability of complacent Canadian
exporters to shift from traditional low-cost foodstuffs like flour and salt-fish to
industrial goods is not sufficient.73 Some of the blame must be shouldered by
Mackenzie King’s government. Repeatedly invited to participate in the
activities of the AACC, Ottawa had ample opportunity to re-define and to
modernize the Canadian-Caribbean relationship. It seems clear that Canada
had good practical and idealistic reasons to do so. The country’s substantial
economic stake in the region was clearly threatened and required a more
effective defense than either Britain or ad hoc participation in the AACC could
provide. In addition, Canada’s historical and geographical links with the
Caribbean provided an ideal opportunity for Canada to exert its interest in
ensuring a stable and orderly transfer of power as colonial territories moved to
independence.
On the other hand, there were a number of equally compelling reasons for
Canada to think twice before pursuing a more intimate relationship with the
Commonwealth Caribbean. Having only recently escaped Britain’s imperial
constraints, Canada was justifiably anxious to retain its freedom of action and
worried lest involvement with Britain’s Caribbean colonies might also result
in closer ties with London. This worry naturally receded as the war progressed,
but it was replaced by a determination to avoid being drawn into the AngloAmerican dispute over the postwar fate of European colonialism. As the war
slowly drew to a close and a greater number of Canada’s Commonwealth and
European partners joined in these discussions, it seemed increasingly prudent
to maintain a discreet distance. And always, lurking just beyond these
considerations, was the question of the financial liabilities associated with
membership on the AACC. Uncertain about the shape of the postwar
economy, the government was loath to assume responsibilities which might
hamper its ability to respond to domestic problems after the war.
Ottawa’s policy-makers recognized that these reasons for and against
Canadian participation in the AACC were compelling. Indeed, the two
arguments were so evenly balanced that officials were repeatedly unable to
decide either one way or the other. Ineffectually, the government sought to
keep its options open through ad hoc participation in the work of the AACC.
Such limited participation, however, failed to provide the leverage needed to
defend Canada’s economic stake in the Caribbean. As the opportunities for
trade gradually diminished, so too did much of the justification for
participating in the AACC. Canada’s failure to use the commission to develop
a political association with this region left Ottawa poorly prepared to respond
to West Indian independence and ultimately deprived Canada of a voice in
regional affairs until the mid-1960s, when prime minister L.B. Pearson set out
to re-build the “special relationship.”
Notes
1.
128
The author would like to thank John Hilliker, Norman Hillmer and Christopher Cook for
their helpful contributions to this paper. The views expressed in it are the author’s alone.
The Politics of Indecision
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
One historian who recently reviewed the bilateral relationship from its origins concluded
that “Canada’s relationship with the islands of the Caribbean has always been special.” See
Brian D. Tennyson’s introduction to his Canadian-Caribbean Relations: Aspects of a
Relationship (Sydney, Nova Scotia: Centre for International Studies, 1990), p. i. Tennyson’s
edited anthology, Canada and the Commonwealth Caribbean (Lanham, MD: University
Press of America, 1988) usefully gathers some of the most important work on this NorthSouth relationship. See also, Heath MacQuarrie, “Canada and the Caribbean” in Peyton V.
Lyon and Tareq Y. Ismael (eds.) Canada and the Third World (Toronto: Macmillian Co.,
1976) and Robert Chodas, The Caribbean Connection (Toronto: James Lorimer and Co.,
1977).
David Murray, “Garrisoning the Caribbean: A Chapter in Canadian Military History,” in
Brian Tennyson (ed.) Canada and the Commonwealth Caribbean, pp. 279-302.
The Dominion Bureau of Statistics, The Canada Yearbook 1945 (Ottawa: The King’s
Printer, 1945), pp. 495-497.
D.J. Morgan, The Official History of Colonial Development, (London:MacMillan Press,
1980), 1, p. 158; See also, Howard Johnson, “The Anglo-American Caribbean Commission
and the Extension of American Influence in the British Caribbean, 1942-45,” Journal of
Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, vol. 22, no 2 (1984), pp. 180-203.
Wm Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay: The United States and the Decolonization of the
British Empire 1941-1945, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), pp. 180-181.
There is an extensive literature on the discussions and debates surrounding the development
of a more assertive Canadian foreign policy during the war. A good introduction can be
found in John Hilliker, Canada’s Department of External Affairs:, Volume 1: The Early
Years, 1909-1946 (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1990). Also
very helpful is John Holmes, The Shaping of Peace: Canada and the Search for World
Order, 1943-1957, Volume 1 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979).
M.C. Hankinson to N.A. Robertson, Acting Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs,
24 May 1941, Department of External Affairs (DEA) File 1997-40, National Archives of
Canada (NAC).
Escott Reid,"Proposed Joint United Kingdom-United States Economic Committee of
Inquiry on Caribbean Dependencies," 3 July 1941, DEA File 1997-40, NAC; On the British
offer of 1919, see P.G. Wigley, “Canada and imperialism: West Indian aspirations and the
First World War,” re-printed in B. Tennyson (ed.), Canada and the Commonwealth
Caribbean, pp. 215-255. Although there is little evidence to suggest that Britain really
wished Canada to take over the imperial burden in the West Indies, this notion lingered on in
some quarters well into the Second World War. In December 1942, for instance, Harold
Macmillan, the parliamentary under-secretary for the colonies, suggested to Hume Wrong
that Canada assume responsibility for Britain’s colonies in the Caribbean. Wrong flatly
rejected the proposal. On this whole episode, see Murray, “Garrisoning the Caribbean,” pp.
294-95.
King’s ambiguous sentiments towards the Empire-Commonwealth are explored fully in
Norman Hillmer, “’The Outstanding Imperialist’: Mackenzie King and the British,” Britain
and Canada in the Age of Mackenzie King, Canada House Lecture Series Number 4, 14
November 1978, p. 6.
The Canadian Minister in Washington to the Secretary of State for External Affairs, 30 April
1942, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Patrick Duff to Norman Robertson, 6 May 1942, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
N.A. Robertson, “Memorandum for the Prime Minister”, 11 May 1942, DEA File 1997-40,
NAC.
King’s minute on ibid.
Dana Wilgress, G.B. Smith and Scott Macdonald to the Secretary of State for External
Affairs, 26 May 1942, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Charles Taussig to Sumner Welles, 20 May 1942, RG 43, Lot File No 530466, Box 1,
National Archives (NA).
Dana Wilgress to Norman Robertson, 28 October 1942, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
ibid.
The Canadian Minister to Washington to the Secretary of State for External Affairs, 4
November 1942, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
129
IJCS / RIÉC
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.
31.
32.
33.
34.
35.
36.
37.
38.
39.
40.
41.
42.
43.
44.
45.
46.
47.
48.
130
See Wm Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay, pp. 211-224; Christopher Thorne, Allies of a
Kind: The United States, Britain and the war against Japan, 1941-1945 (London: Hamish
Hamilton, 1978), pp. 220-224.
L. Rasminsky, “Memorandum to the Governor,” File LR76-189-41, Bank of Canada
Archives, Ottawa.
N.A. Robertson, “Memorandum For The Prime Minister,” 16 December 1942, DEA File
180(s), NAC; see also, Wm Roger Louis, Imperialism at Bay, pp. 220-221.
Draft letter, N.A. Robertson to Patrick Duff, 10 May 1943, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
H.L. Keenleyside, “Memorandum for N.A. Robertson,” 16 May 1943; A.L.W. MacCallum
to N.A. Robertson, 1 June 1943; Oliver Master to Norman Robertson, 2 June 1943, DEA File
1997-40, NAC.
H.L. Keenleyside, H.F. Angus, F.H. Soward, “Memorandum for Mr. Robertson,” 22 June
1943, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Hume Wrong, “Memorandum For Mr. Keenleyside,” 23 June 1943, DEA File 1997-40,
NAC.
N.A. Robertson to Patrick Duff, 23 June 1943, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
John Holmes, “Memorandum for Mr. Wrong,” 25 June 1943, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Letter, Dominion Office to Malcolm MacDonald, 27 February 1943; FOR 371/Vol. No
34087, A1770/3/45; Telegram, Secretary of State for the Colonies to Sir Frank Stockdale, 12
November 1943; FOR 371/Vol. No 34133, A10397/52/45, Public Record Office.
J.W. Holmes, “Memorandum of a discussion with Sir Frank Stockdale,” 25 November 1943,
DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Malcolm MacDonald to Norman Robertson, 30 December 1943, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
F.H. Soward, “Memorandum for Dr. Keenleyside,” 31 December 1943, DEA File 1997-40,
NAC.
ibid.
F.H. Soward, “Memorandum for Mr. N.A. Robertson and Dr. H.L. Keenleyside,” 11
January 1943, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
N.A. Robertson, “Memorandum for the Prime Minister,” 12 January 1944, DEA File 199740, NAC.
Malcolm MacDonald to Norman Robertson, 16 February 1944, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
N.A. Robertson, “Memorandum for the Prime Minister,” 18 February 1944, MG 26, J 4, Vol.
346, File 3744, NAC.
Canadian Trade Commission to Department of External Affairs, confidential telegram, 3
April 1944, DEA File 1997-40; G.N. Newman, “Confidential Report of the West Indies
Conference, 21-30 March 1944,” DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Oliver Master, Acting Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce to N.A. Robertson, UnderSecretary of State for External Affairs, 12 May 1944, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
“Minutes of an Interdepartmental Discussion on Canadian Policy with regard to the AngloAmerican Caribbean Commission and the Future of West Indian Trade...,” 14 June 1944,
DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
John F. Hilliker, Canada’s Department of External Affairs, Volume 1: The Early Years,
1909-1946, p. 318.
External Affairs and International Trade Canada, Documents on Canadian External
Relations, vol. xi, 1944-45, edited by John F. Hilliker, (Ottawa: Minister of Supply and
Services Canada, 1990), p. 715.
N.A. Robertson to the Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce, 22 December 1945, DEA
File 1997-40, NAC.
G.P. de T. Glazebrook, “Memorandum for N.A. Robertson,” 11 January 1946, DEA File
1997-40, NAC.
Oliver Master to N.A. Robertson, 15 January 1946; G.P. de T. Glazebrook, “Memorandum
for N.A. Robertson,” 15 January 1946, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
R.A. MacKay, “Memorandum for N.A. Robertson,” 16 February 1946, DEA File 1997-40,
NAC.
Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs to Grant Major, 18 February 1946, DEA File
1997-40, NAC.
R.A. MacKay, “Note for the File,” 29 May 1946, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
The Politics of Indecision
49.
50.
51.
52.
53.
54.
55.
56.
57.
58.
59.
60.
61.
62.
63.
64.
65.
66.
67.
68.
69.
70.
71.
72.
73.
T. Grant Major, “West Indian Conference: Second Session, 21 February to 13 March, 1946,”
DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Canadian Ambassador to the United States to the Secretary of State for External Affairs, Tel
No Wa-2649, 28 June 1946; Canadian Ambassador to the United States to the Secretary of
State for External Affairs, Dispatch No 1468, 18 July 1946, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
M.W. Mackenzie to the Under-Secretary of state for External Affairs, 31 July 1946, DEA
File 1997-40, NAC.
N.A. Robertson to the Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce, 5 September 1946, DEA
File 1997-40, NAC.
M.W. Mackenzie to the Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs, 12 September 1946,
DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
A. Ireland, “Note for Mr. Reid,” 10 October 1946, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Canadian Ambassador to Washington to the Secretary of State for External Affairs, Tel No
WA-3666, 14 October 1946, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
A. Ireland to Mr. Magann, 16 October 1946, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Norman Robertson to the Deputy Minister of Trade and Commerce, 16 October 1946, DEA
File 1997-40, NAC.
T.G. Major to G.R. Heasman, 12 September 1946; T.G. Major to Hubert Kemp, 17
September 1946, RG 20, Vol. 324, File T-11531, NAC.
T.G. Major to G.R. Heasman, 12 September 1946, RG 20, Vol. 324, File T-11531, NAC.
T.G. Major to Hubert Kemp, 17 September 1946, RG 20, Vol. 324, File T-11531, NAC.
T.G. Major’s handwritten note attached to his letter to G.R. Heasman, 12 September 1946;
G.R. Heasman to T.G. Major, 18 September 1946; H.D. Kemp to T.G. Major, 20 September
1946, RG 20, Vol. 324, File T-11531, NAC.
W.M. Mackenzie to the Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs, 5 June 1947, RG 20,
Vol. 324, File T-11531, NAC.
ibid; T.G. Major to G.N. Heasman, 19 May 1947; T.G. Major, “Memorandum of discussion
with Mr. L. Cramer, Secretary General of the Caribbean Commission, RG 20, Vol. 324, File
T-11531, NAC.
Garner to Escott Reid, 5 May 1947; Escott Reid, “Memorandum for Mr. Pearson,” 28 June
1947, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Escott Reid, “Memorandum for Mr. Pearson,” 15 July 1947, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
“Minutes of an inter-departmental meeting on Caribbean affairs held on Tuesday, July 22,
1947...,” DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
ibid.
ibid.
T.G. Major to G.A. Newman, 15 August 1947, RG 20, Vol. 324, File T-11531, NAC.
E. MacCallum, “Note for Mr. MacKay,” 11 September 1947, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
T.G. Major to G.R. Heasman, 3 December 1947, RG 20, Vol. 324, File T-11531, NAC.
T.G. Major to G.R. Heasman, 22 March 1949, DEA File 1997-40, NAC.
Kari Levitt and Alister McIntyre, Canada-West Indies Economic Relations (Montreal:
Private Planning Association, 1967), p. 16.
131
Gordon Mace and Claude Goulet
Canada in the Americas:
Assessing Ottawa’s Behaviour*
Abstract
The paper seeks to examine Canadian federal government behaviour toward
the Americas for the period 1968-1991. In order to do so we compare
governmental discourse and behaviour. Discourse is analyzed by looking at
objectives formulated by Canadian decision-makers. Behaviour is studied by
looking at disbursements and targets of programs related to foreign policy
behaviour such as foreign assistance and export promotion programmes.
Private sector behaviour is also examined for additional comparison. Data is
constructed for two-time periods and suggests interesting points of
comparison between the Trudeau and Mulroney years.
Résumé
Les auteurs cherchent à évaluer le comportement du gouvernement fédéral
canadien à l’égard de la grande région des Amériques pour la période 19681991. Pour ce faire, ils comparent le discours et le comportement du
gouvernement fédéral. D’abord, ils étudient le discours en examinant les
objectifs formulés à l’égard de la région par les principaux décideurs de la
politique étrangère canadienne. Puis, le comportement est examiné à travers
l’étude de programmes gouvernementaux dans les domaines de l’aide et de
l’appui à l’exportation. Des comparaisons sont également menées avec le
comportement du secteur privé canadien. Les données sont regroupées selon
deux périodes et permettent d’identifier des points de comparaison
intéressants entre les années Trudeau et les années Mulroney.
The literature on Canadian foreign policy toward Latin America and the
Caribbean has followed a pattern similar to Canada’s relations with the region.
Very few titles on the subject appeared between 1945 and 1968 when Canada
was still a junior member of the international system. Furthermore, the main
parameters of Canadian foreign policy at the time — multilateralism and the
Cold War context — focused Canadian decision-makers’ attention more on
relations with the United States, Europe and the United Nations than with other
parts of the world. Consequently, the literature on Canada’s relations with
Latin America and the Caribbean was extremely limited, quite general in terms
of subject matter and primarily centered on institutional relationships (Roussin
1959, Anglin 1961, Ogelsby 1969, Winks 1969, Will 1960).
Pierre Trudeau’s election as Prime Minister in 1968 signalled important
changes in the Canadian domestic political landscape and in Canada’s
relations with the outside world. Among these changes was an unprecedented
increase in Ottawa’s interest in Latin America, a shift initiated with the
International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
13, Spring/Printemps 1996
IJCS / RIÉC
dispatch of a major fact-finding mission to the region in 1968. The mission
report became a central element in the booklet on Latin America contained in
the 1970 White Paper on Canadian foreign policy (Government of Canada
1970), which was followed by a major increase in Canada’s economic and
political-diplomatic relations with governments and multilateral agencies in
the region throughout the 1970s (Ogelsby 1979, Mace 1989).
The growing significance of Canada’s relationship with Latin America and the
Caribbean between 1968 and 1978-1979 naturally brought about a marked
increase in related scholarly output. During this period, several works of a
general nature were published on the subject (Bradford and Pestieau 1971,
Chodos 1977, Dosman and Postgate 1980, Gilbert 1978, Ogelsby 1976). The
most important of these, Ogelsby’s Gringos from the Far North, remains
unequalled in terms of length of coverage and depth of analysis. This period
also saw a steady rise in the number of articles published in scientific journals.
Although some still dealt essentially with the general relationship (Guy 1976),
others began to focus more specifically on certain countries (Butler Jr. 1971,
Calkin 1973, Fauriol 1977, Guy 1978) or sub-regions (Berry 1977), and others
still on functional aspects of Canadian foreign policy (Paragg 1980, Klepak
and Vachon 1978) or precise historical periods (Murray 1974).
Despite the publication of two important parliamentary reports in the early
1980s (Senate of Canada 1981, Sous-comité 1981-82), various factors
combined to inhibit the expansionist momentum of the preceding decade. The
state of Canada’s economy, the political situation in Quebec, the world
economic crisis, the debt problem in Latin America and the future of the
Canada-U.S. relationship all conspired to divert Canada’s attention away from
Latin America and the Caribbean. Renewed interest in the region was sparked
only at the end of Trudeau’s last mandate and more spectacularly during Joe
Clark’s tenure as External Affairs’ minister starting in 1984. At first, Canada’s
attention centered on the crisis in Central America but soon expanded to
include the whole region, leading to the announcement of a new Canadian
policy on Latin America in 1989 (Dosman 1992).
The literature of the 1980s on Canada’s relations with Latin America and the
Caribbean mirrors this renewed interest, with the number of titles increasing
significantly, and a wider array of subjects covered. Of course, many books
and articles dealt with Canada’s involvement in the Central American crisis
(McFarlane 1989, North 1987, Baranyi 1985, Haglund 1987, Huard 1988,
Lemco 1991, Rochlin 1988). However, there were also studies on Canadian
foreign aid to the region (English 1984, Midy 1983), the strategic aspects of
Canada’s relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean (Dosman 1984,
1987), and, naturally, studies focusing on economic relations (Grant and
McDowell 1987, Ruiz 1988, Canadian Investment... 1981, Donneur 1983,
Kaufman 1984-85). In addition to these more traditional topics, new fields of
inquiry, such as immigration (Labelle et al. 1983) and research into various
frameworks for Canada’s relations with the region, also yielded publications
(Murray 1981-82, Mace 1987). And of course, general overviews of Canadian
foreign policy toward Latin America and the Caribbean are still being written
(Dosman 1984-85, Mace 1989).
134
Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
In many ways, the 1990s may come to be dubbed the decade of normal and
deepening relationships between Canada and the rest of the hemisphere. The
shift began with Ottawa’s important decision to join the Organization of
American States (OAS) in January 1990, a significant illustration in the eyes of
most Latin American governments of Canada’s desire to become fully
involved in the affairs of the hemisphere (Clark 1990b). A leading player in the
OAS, the Canadian government became actively involved in administrative
and financial reforms, in supporting the creation of the Unit for the Promotion
of Democracy and in leading efforts to find a solution to the Haitian crisis. The
signing and implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) linked Canada more closely to Mexico. Nor was the rest of the region
forgotten, as Canada participated in the Summit of the Americas in December
1994 and Ottawa pushed to extend free trade to the rest of the hemisphere,
starting with Chile. This was one of the topics discussed by Prime Minister
Chrétien during his visit to Southern Cone countries in January 1995 when the
question of a counterweight to U.S. influence was also mentioned. The
announcement at the end of 1995 of future regular discussions between
Canada and the Rio Group, a significant diplomatic forum for Latin American
governments, underscores how Canada’s relations with the region have now
become a routine fact of Canadian foreign policy.
Consequently, it should come as no surprise that more books on Canada’s
relationship with the hemisphere were published in the first half of the 1990s
than in the entire 1945-1990 period. Indeed, enough material on the subject
matter is now available that many scholars write books rather than articles.
Naturally, many of these books deal with Canada’s role in the integration of
North America (Randall, Konrad and Silverman 1992, Barry, Dickerson and
Grisford 1995). Others continue to focus on the broader subject of Canadian
foreign policy towards Latin America (Rochlin 1994) while still others
attempt to evaluate issues related to the overall relationship with the region
(Dickerson and Randall 1991, Haar and Dosman 1993, Daudelin and Dosman
1995). Some studies emphasize particular aspects of Canada’s role in the
region, such as strategic affairs (Klepak 1990), participation in the OAS
(McKenna 1995, Mackenzie 1994) and foreign aid to the region (Goulet 1995).
Finally, regular publications are issued by FOCAL, the Canadian Foundation
for the Americas, which has played an important role during the past six years
in fostering interest in and producing timely reports on Canadian policy
towards the hemisphere (Toward a... 1994).
How should this body of literature be assessed as a whole? The preceding
pages clearly demonstrate that Canadian foreign policy toward Latin America
and the Caribbean is now a mature sub-field of Canadian foreign policy both in
terms of the number of publications and coverage of the subject matter.
However, qualitative analysis dominates the literature and in many cases still
carries a strong normative content. Furthermore, it deals primarily with case
studies and contains very few titles which use a comparative approach,
although efforts to compare Canada’s foreign policy in the hemisphere to
Canadian foreign policy in other regions of the world or to the foreign policy of
other countries of the Americas, most notably Mexico, Argentina, Colombia
or Venezuela, will probably be made at some future stage. Finally, the
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literature on Canada’s relations until now with Latin America and the
Caribbean has focused heavily on policy and policy determinants, somewhat
neglecting an analysis of concrete behaviour on the part of the Canadian
government.
Scope and Method
Canada’s concrete behaviour toward Latin America and the Caribbean will be
dealt with in this paper. More specifically, our study will attempt to compare
the discourse of Canadian decision-makers with actual government programs
or concrete government behaviour, and relate these to private-sector behaviour
by inclusion of trade and investment flows. As noted recently by Bahgat
Korany, one of the important flaws in contemporary foreign policy analysis is
the discouraging dearth of attention accorded to comparisons of discourse and
behaviour (Korany 1990: 33). Analysis of foreign policy behaviour gives us a
good understanding of how governments deal with the rest of the planet, but in
order to fully grasp government world views, analysts cannot overlook official
discourse concerning the world or specific regions. Comparing discourse and
behaviour enables us to better understand and assess a government’s foreign
policy.
This paper will therefore attempt to compare Ottawa’s discourse and
behaviour with regard to Latin America and the Caribbean. The period of study
extends from 1970 to 1991. In so doing, we feel that the paper may add an
original contribution to the literature in the following ways. First of all, the data
assembled here are not available elsewhere in similar form. Secondly, the
comparison of the Trudeau and Mulroney years presented here is not found in
the literature. Finally, our presentation by sub-regions, including the
Caribbean, differs also from previous analyses.
Our analysis of discourse is based on the documents contained in two
collections — Statements and Speeches and Discours/Statements — published
by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada since
1946 and 1971 respectively.1 We examined 103 speeches made throughout the
period. Although most were delivered by Secretaries of State for External
Affairs and by various Prime Ministers, some were also made by other
ministers, high-ranking diplomats and other governmental representatives.
Two strategies are generally employed in analysis of discourse. Discursive
analysis (Saragossi 1991), an approach of considerable depth, tries to consider
all aspects of the context in which a specific verbal intervention was made.
Unfortunately, this strategy is generally characterized by low standardization,
which makes comparison very difficult.
The other strategy, used here, involves the analysis of objectives seen as
expressions of national interest and as the most appropriate foreign policy
options according to the perceptions of decision-makers. Objectives,
particularly as expressed by governmental actors, can be seen as an important
aspect of a belief system or of the images that actors have concerning the
outside world and for which there now exists a long tradition of research in
foreign policy analysis (Holsti 1962, Jervis 1970, 1976). As Harald von
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Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
Riekhoff has observed (von Riekhoff 1977), they also constitute a significant
indicator of future action and an element which helps to clarify the targets and
fields of action upon which a government will seek to focus. Of course,
objectives analysis goes into less depth than discursive analysis, but this
inconvenience is largely compensated, from our point of view, by the
standardized comparison permitted by such a strategy.
Our analysis of objectives follows current standard procedures in content
analysis (Krippendorf 1981).2 Among our eleven coding categories, the most
salient relate to date, target and field of objective. The next section shows
political-diplomatic, humanitarian and trade promotion objectives were the
three most significant fields in the last category.
In order to compare discourse to behaviour, the analysis of Ottawa’s behaviour
with regard to Latin America and the Caribbean first examines all Canadian
political action in the region, particularly in the three domains highlighted in
the preceding paragraph. This is done essentially by identifying the most
important elements of Canadian diplomatic conduct in the region.
Action of a humanitarian nature is examined by looking at disbursements
made through Canada’s official development assistance programs (ODA).
Four ODA programs are singled out as more closely related to humanitarian
action: government-to-government assistance, CIDA aid distributed by nongovernmental organizations, Institutional Cooperation and Development
Services program (ICDS), and humanitarian aid. All data used here come from
the CIDA data bank.
Finally, action related to trade promotion is analyzed primarily through
examination of disbursements under two selected programs: the Program for
Export Market Development (PEMD) managed by the Department of Foreign
Affairs and International Trade Canada, and CIDA’s Industrial Cooperation
Program, which seeks to encourage Canadian private-sector participation in
the industrial development and growth of developing countries (Canadian
International... undated). Of course, the program acts at the same time to
encourage Canadian exports, which is why it is included in this section. We
have also included data on trade and investment flows which are not, strictly
speaking, governmental actions but offer an interesting avenue for evaluating
private-sector responses to governmental support programs.
Let us now turn to the results of the analysis.
Assessing Canada’s Behaviour
The Trudeau Years
Elected Prime Minister of Canada on April 20, 1968, Pierre Elliott Trudeau
remained in power until June 30, 1984, except for a short interlude under the
stewardship of Conservative leader Joe Clark from June 4, 1979 to March 3,
1980. After Trudeau’s resignation, he was replaced by John Turner, the new
leader of the Liberal party, who held office until his defeat in the September
1984 elections. The Trudeau years were characterized by nationalist policies
which led, among other things, to the creation of Petro-Canada and FIRA, and
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by the growth of Quebec nationalism. In the international arena, the Third
Option strategy became the cornerstone of Canadian foreign policy.
As far as Latin America and the Caribbean are concerned, these years
constituted a significant period of discovery on the part of Canadian decisionmakers, both public and private, beginning with the important fact-finding
mission sent to the region in 1968.3 The report of the ministerial mission was a
basic element of the booklet on Latin America in the 1970 White Paper on
Canada’s foreign policy.
As the next few pages show, the 1970s witnessed a significant increase in
governmental activity related to Latin America and the Caribbean. In addition
to administrative reforms designed to better coordinate our relations with the
region, the Canadian government was quite active on a multilateral level in
obtaining permanent observer status at the OAS in 1972 while becoming a
member of the Inter-american Development Bank in the same year. Ottawa
also became involved in supporting sub-regional integration schemes such as
CARICOM and the Andean Group by way of technical and financial
assistance.
At the bilateral level, the Canadian government also sought to improve
Canada’s relationship with the region through ministerial missions and other
means. Special attention was given to Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela with
whose governments Ottawa established joint ministerial committees.
Considering this increase in attention and activity on the part of Canada in
relation to Latin America and the Caribbean, let us take a closer look at
Canadian goals for the region while Pierre Trudeau was in power.
a) The objectives4
A general overview shows deep differences between the speeches of the
postwar period and those delivered during the Trudeau years, both in terms of
style and thematic content. Speeches of the 1950s and the 1960s were quite
general in character, and barely mentioned Latin America and the Caribbean
despite the expansion of the Department of External Affairs and the creation of
numerous diplomatic missions in the region.5 Instead, official discourse
stressed the importance of establishing preliminary contacts with the countries
of the Western hemisphere, but without setting any precise foreign policy
goals. Only from the mid-1960s onward did speeches oriented more
specifically towards the region increase, or were objectives formulated on any
kind of regular basis. This tends to confirm the widely held perception of
limited Canadian government interest in the Americas south of the Rio Grande
during the postwar era. As certain authors have observed, Canada began
showing a growing interest in the Western hemisphere only in the 1970s
(Dosman 1984-85: 43).
The election of a new Liberal government in 1968 signaled a departure in
Canadian politics and announced sweeping changes, particularly in foreign
policy. A major review of Canada’s external relations heralded far-reaching
implications for Canadian relations with Latin America and the Caribbean.
The resulting White Paper contained the first concrete expression of Canadian
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Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
foreign policy towards Latin America in the entire history of the Department of
External Affairs (Guy 1976: 377). One of the six booklets composing the
document contained a formal commitment on the part of the Canadian
government to systematically reinforce bilateral and multilateral links with the
region without necessarily becoming a member of the OAS (Government of
Canada 1970: 33-34).6
The adoption of the Third Option strategy in 1972 was also an expression of the
will to diversify Canadian foreign relations in order to reduce dependence on
the United States. It alluded to increased contacts with Canada’s other partners
in the Western hemisphere. It also supposed a renunciation of the
multilateralism which had guided Canadian foreign policy since the World
War II, and its replacement by bilateralism.
Analysis of the speeches from this period reveals the contours of the official
discourse during the Trudeau years. The corpus of 45 speeches dealing totally
or partially with Latin America and the Caribbean yielded 80 mentions of
objectives. As figure 1 indicates, there was a burst of discourse on foreign
policy for the region: the Canadian government expressed its intentions of
increasing relations with practically all Latin American and Caribbean
countries in virtually every field of activity.
During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the main targets of the abovementioned speeches were Latin America and the Caribbean in the broad sense,
as well as various regionally important international organizations, notably the
OAS. Indeed, the question of Canada’s accession to the OAS surfaced
regularly. This probably explains the importance of objectives in the politics
and institutions field during the first years of the Trudeau reign (between 1968
and 1972, eight of the nine mentions of objectives were found in this field), a
period which coincides with the review of Canadian foreign policy initiated at
the beginning of the 1970s. As some observers have pointed out, the debate on
Canadian foreign policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean revolved to
a considerable degree around the question of OAS membership, often at the
expense of other aspects of inter-American relations. This was the case until
Canada obtained permanent observer status at the OAS in 1972 (Murray 198182: 109).
With the question of participation in the OAS resolved, Canada sought to
increase its links with Latin American countries. However, it was only towards
the mid-1970s that geographical targets became more precise and that officials
stopped considering Latin America as an homogeneous entity, at least in the
speeches. This evolution reflected the passage from multilateralism to
bilateralism in Canadian foreign policy (Murray 1981-82: 111), and mirrored
the idea of diversification central to the Third Option strategy presented in
1972. Let us now look at how this diversification strategy found expression in
objectives set for the sub-regions of Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the Southern Cone, one region to which the Canadian government paid
particular attention, objectives were mentioned in a wide variety of fields.
However, trade issues were of central interest to Canada in terms of objectives.
Most of the objectives identified referred specifically to Brazil, and were
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IJCS / RIÉC
formulated during an official visit to that country by Secretary of State for
External Affairs Don Jamieson in January 1977. As for the Canadian
government’s response to such major regional crises as the Chilean coup of
1973, no clear objectives emerged prior to 1977, at least in the speeches under
review in this study. Questions related to peace, human rights and democracy
were not reflected in Canadian government objectives during this period.
Few objectives were established for the Andean countries in the speeches of
the Trudeau years, and even these were essentially general in nature,
formulated during a Secretary of State for External Affairs visit to Peru and
Colombia in January 1977 in the framework of a mission to Latin America.
Objectives for the region were also mentioned in a speech on Canadian-Latin
America relations delivered in March 1980 by the Secretary of State for
External Affairs, but again remained quite general.
Central America did not even appear as a target of the Canadian government’s
attention in the 1970s (Huard 1988). Interest in the region began to take shape
only in the early 1980s, primarily in response to the crisis in Central America,
when political leaders started to express frequent concern over peace and
human rights issues in the countries of the isthmus and on the continent as a
whole. Despite previous crises in Latin America, Canada had made no formal
attempt to formulate objectives in this field until the beginning of the 1980s.
Why this sudden interest for a regional conflict in an area generally ignored by
Canadian foreign policy makers in the past? (Baranyi 1985: 24) According to
Baranyi, the change in attitude might be explained by pressure from religious
groups, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and human rights
organizations.7 Ottawa’s former stance might also be explained by the fact that
prior disinterest in Central America had had few consequences for Canada’s
inter-American relations.
As for the Caribbean, the expressions of commitment made during the
Trudeau years could not mask declining interest through the 1970s.8 At the
beginning of the 1980s, however, a policy review led Canada to a renewed
awareness of the region and a reorientation of Canadian foreign policy which
essentially benefited the Commonwealth Caribbean (Mace 1989: 418-19,
Murray 1981-82: 122). In fact, the short Conservative interlude of 1979 seems
to have led to a realignment of Trudeauist policy on Latin America and the
Caribbean when the Liberals returned to power in 1980.
Finally, Mexico drew relatively limited Canadian government interest, at least
in the speeches of the period. The interest that was expressed could be
attributed to the creation of a joint ministerial committee at the beginning of
the 1970s. Committee influence might explain the focus on general, cultural
and educational goals as opposed to the objectives for trade and expanded
economic relations typical of the Mulroney years.9
Thus, although the Trudeau period was characterized by a clear desire to
extend foreign policy to all regions of Latin America and the Caribbean, this
diversification framework seemed to lack coherence. Foreign policy
objectives were oriented in all directions and in various fields, while policy
formulation seemed to lack any guiding principle.
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Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
Figure 1
Objectives by Domain and Sub-region: The Trudeau Years (1968-84)
Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Statements and Speeches
and Discours/Statements, various years.
The brevity of Joe Clark’s term as Canadian Prime Minister in 1979-80 makes
it difficult to imagine the possible course of Conservative foreign policy
toward Latin America and the Caribbean. In the only two speeches on Latin
America and the Caribbean delivered while Clark was in office (including one
presented by a diplomat), nine objectives were mentioned, of which only one
had a precise geographical target. On the other hand, Conservative Secretary
of State for External Affairs Flora MacDonald did clearly express Canada’s
will to increase links with Latin America and the Caribbean in a 1979 speech to
the Interamerican Press Association (McDonald 1979). In the end, however,
the sudden demise of the Conservative government cut short plans for the
renewal of Canadian discourse with regard to the countries of the Western
hemisphere. This assessment appears all the more accurate given what Huard
141
IJCS / RIÉC
has pointed out: “The Tory foreign policy, such as it was during this brief
interregnum, was pre-occupied with the Middle East” (Huard 1988: 113).
Let us now examine the behaviour of the Canadian government during the
Trudeau years in order to assess the relationship between actions and
discourse. Did increased interest in Latin America and the Caribbean
effectively translate into government programs and actions?
b) The behaviour
Canadian behaviour towards developing countries includes three main
components. First, political and diplomatic actions refer to events such as
ministerial visits, the signing of treaties, participation in regional or
international organizations, etc. Next, humanitarian actions could be
summarized as the expression of Canadian desire to alleviate poverty and to
promote social justice and democracy. Finally, actions in the economic field
seek to support the economic growth of developing countries and, above all, to
promote Canadian trade objectives.
As noted above, the newly elected Trudeau government expressed its will to
increase its presence in Latin America and the Caribbean as the 1960s drew to a
close. This engagement was implemented soon afterwards with the
establishment in 1971 of a Bureau of Hemispheric Affairs which included a
Division for Latin America. Although low-key, this measure was nonetheless
essential for the coordination of Canadian foreign policy on the region.
Another important landmark in the history of diplomatic relations with the
countries of the Western hemisphere occurred in 1972 when Canada requested
and was granted permanent observer status at the OAS. That same year,
Ottawa joined several specialized OAS agencies such as the Interamerican
Institute for Health and also became a full member of the Interamerican
Development Bank. This last move, as pointed out by Ogelsby (1978: 403),
must be considered a strategic gesture, since it placed Canada at the heart of the
decision-making process in matters of Latin American development.
Canada’s relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean continued to
flourish between 1973 and 1977. Ottawa willingly distributed financial and
technical assistance to the newly created CARICOM integration scheme in the
Caribbean and to the Andean Pact, mostly through the Andean Development
Bank. Canada also established joint ministerial committees with Brazil,
Mexico and Venezuela, its major Latin American partners. These measures
were complemented by an important visit to Latin America in 1976 by Prime
Minister Trudeau, who then visited Mexico, Venezuela and Cuba.
Although the Prime Minister visited Brazil and Mexico again in 1979,
Canadian diplomatic activity with regard to Latin America entered decline
toward the end of the decade. For several years, Canada’s policy toward the
Western hemisphere lacked intensity. This lull in diplomatic activity
coincided with the Paris Conference on development issues, co-chaired by
Canada and Venezuela. The limited results of this conference and of the
Cancun meeting on North-South issues in 1981 marked the deterioration of the
North-South dialogue, which was dealt a final blow by the world economic
crisis of 1980-82. The debt crisis that followed, concretized by Mexico’s
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Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
default announcement in August 1982, “swept Latin America from Canada’s
foreign policy agenda” (Dosman 1992: 531). Nonetheless, it appears that
actions in the field of politics and institutions during the Trudeau years did, to
a certain extent, respect the goals outlined in the speeches analyzed here. Let us
now examine whether behaviour in other spheres of activity was also closely
tied to government discourse.
Official development assistance (ODA) to Latin America and the Caribbean
only began in 1957 for the Commonwealth Caribbean, and almost ten years
later for the rest of the continent. Disbursements remained low even then, but
grew rapidly following the creation of the Canadian International
Development Agency (CIDA) in 1968. In the 1968-69 financial year, some
$14 million representing 9% of total Canadian bilateral ODA were disbursed
in Latin America and the Carribean.101 During the 1970s, this share stayed
constant, but the amounts increased dramatically, reaching $80 million by the
end of the decade. In the 1983-84 financial year, the share of aid to Latin
America and the Caribbean increased considerably, reaching 15% of total
Canadian bilateral ODA. That year, disbursements totalled $172 million,
whereas about $100 million were distributed in the form of government- togovernment assistance. Of all possible forms of official bilateral aid, this
delivery channel is the oldest and most important means of transferring funds
and resources from one state to another. Canadian aid administered by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) represents another fairly important type
of aid. How, then, were these different types of aid divided between the regions
of the Western hemisphere?
In figure 2, the Caribbean countries appear most favoured by Canadian ODA
policy, whatever the delivery channel. Even though the population of the
region only represents about 7.5% of the total population of Latin America and
the Caribbean (and less than 4.7% if Cuba is excluded11), average annual
Canadian government-to-government ODA during the 1970-1984 period
amounted to $34.4 million. Other delivery channels also illustrate the
importance of the region in Canadian development assistance policy.
Established more recently than the NGO program, the Institutional
Cooperation and Development Services Program (ICDS) depended to a
greater degree on Canadian government goodwill. Colleges and universities as
well as municipalities and other institutional actors followed the choices made
by CIDA and were more responsive to demands from the government. During
the Trudeau years, $19 million were transferred to the region through this
program. Disbursements in the Caribbean under the International
Humanitarian Assistance Program (IHA) totalled $14.1 million for the whole
period.
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IJCS / RIÉC
Figure 2
ODA Disbursements by Program and by Sub-region (1970-84)
Source: Compiled from CIDA’s data bank obtained by the authors. Various years.
Andean countries were also important beneficiaries of Canadian bilateral
ODA. With a population of about 67 million inhabitants (20.3% of the
population of Latin America and the Caribbean), they received bilateral aid
totalling $227 million for the 1970-85 period. Interestingly, NGOs have also
been quite active in this region, and government disbursements under the NGO
program over the same period reached $39.2 million. This relatively high
figure could be explained by the presence of religious groups in the region all
throughout the century, for at the beginning of the 1970s, many NGOs had a
religious basis. Compared to the Caribbean countries, where government-togovernment assistance represented more than 80% of bilateral aid, a higher
portion of aid was given through religious and humanitarian organizations in
Latin America. A 1972 mission to Latin America also led the Canadian
government to increase aid commitments to Peru, Colombia and Bolivia.
Assistance to Central America first began in 1972, in the aftermath of the
earthquake which destroyed the Nicaraguan capital of Managua.
Disbursements during the Trudeau years represented more than 15% of
government-to-government assistance, with ODA amounts totalling $132.5
million for financial years 1970-71 through 1984-85. Canadian NGO
disbursements in Central America were also important. Although the region
accounted for only 6% of the Latin America and Caribbean population, more
than a quarter of CIDA’s NGO program disbursements funded projects in
Central America.
In the Southern Cone, a region for which few objectives in the humanitarian
fields were mentioned, aid was relatively unimportant compared to the other
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Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
regions. Brazil received the largest share. As for Mexico, the lack of Canadian
interest in development assistance or peace and human rights issues easily
explains the minimal amount of ODA granted to this country.
In the field of humanitarian actions, then, our observations tend to confirm a
certain linkage between the official discourse and actual Canadian behaviour.
Indeed, the two main geographical targets in the fields of development
assistance and peace and human rights — the Caribbean and Central America
— were also the main recipients of Canadian ODA. This is all the more striking
given that the population of these two regions is low compared to the Southern
Cone, the Andean countries and Mexico.
In the economic field, governmental actions were analyzed through
examination of two export-financing and trade programs. Among the
programs designed to encourage Canadian trade overseas are the PEMD
(Program for Export Market Development), managed by External Affairs, and
CIDA’s Industrial Cooperation Program, set up respectively in 1971 and in
1977. During the Trudeau years, total disbursements under CIDA’s Industrial
Cooperation Program in Latin America and the Caribbean reached $33.6
million (from 1979-80 to 1984-85) and were largely concentrated in the
Caribbean. Distribution patterns generally mirrored trends in government-togovernment development assistance. Nevertheless, newly industrialized
countries received more favourable treatment. The Southern Cone countries,
for example, received 8.2% of program disbursements, and Mexico, 6.5%.
If there exists a certain discrepancy between the nature of objectives and the
distribution of ODA’s disbursements by sub-regions, the same cannot be said
concerning the relationship between objectives and PEMD disbursements
where trends are more closely related. Between 1973 and 1984, $15.8 million
were disbursed, with the largest share going to South America. Mexico also
received a substantial share of program funds (10.9%). The Caribbean
remained an important target for Canada, receiving some 18% of the PEMD
disbursements, but the relative amount of these funds was lower than it was for
humanitarian aid.
Though Canadian discourse was very diversified and rather unspecific in
relation to sub-regions of the Hemisphere during the Trudeau years, a certain
coherence is evident between discourse and concrete behaviour. The main
deviation in the overall picture concerns Industrial Cooperation disbursements
heavily favouring the Caribbean sub-region which was not a prime economic
target in the discourse of the period. A possible explanation is that the program
was then recently created at CIDA for development purposes and therefore not
geared to trade promotion goals.
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IJCS / RIÉC
Figure 3
Economic Relations by Sub-region (1970-84)
Source : Compiled from CIDA’s data bank for industrial cooperation, from data obtained from the
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada for the PEMD and from Statistics
Canada’s data bank for trade and investment flows. Various years.
As figure 3 indicates, the private-sector’s behaviour does not correlate
perfectly in terms of targets with the choices made by the government. A
certain link exists between PEMD disbursements and exports, but the
distribution of the other indicators shows no relationship between trade
promotion and private-sector activities. Nevertheless, the private sector
showed a definite interest in the Americas at the beginning of the 1970s, as
illustrated by the creation of the Canadian Association for Latin America
(CALA) in 1969. This organization, whose main purpose was to promote
Canadian economic and trade relations, gave business people interested in the
Americas the opportunity to meet with government officials. However, this
interest had considerably diminished by the end of the decade due to the
economic crisis and the high level of indebtedness of the countries of the
Western hemisphere. As a result, CALA folded in 1986.
The Mulroney Years
Brian Mulroney was Canadian Prime Minister from September 17, 1984 until
June 25, 1993, when he was replaced by Kim Campbell. Constitutional issues
were at the heart of his government’s policy. During the first Conservative
mandate, several studies of Canadian foreign policy were also commissioned,
leading to a major review. Closer links with the United States of America were
established, resulting in the negotiation and conclusion of a free trade
agreement. Later, this agreement was extended to Mexico, a step which
demonstrated the will of the government to become more active in the Western
hemisphere.
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Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
This stronger emphasis on the Western hemisphere focused naturally on the
United States but did not exclude Latin America and the Caribbean. On the
contrary, as Canada developed a stronger and closer relationship with the
USA, it became quite clear that a counterweight would be necessary for
Ottawa to maintain a certain room for manoeuvre, particularly in the field of
foreign policy. After the relative failure of the Third Option policy, it seemed
that the Americas South of the Rio Grande could inherit to play that role.
The rapprochement between Canada and the Americas would probably have
been impossible or shower to evolve if not for Ottawa’s involvement in the
Central American crisis and the particular role then played by the Secretary of
State for External Affairs Joe Clark. Canada’s involvement in the diplomatic
negotiations to end the crisis in the isthmus served as a kind of learning process
while at the same time enabling Ottawa to rediscover the importance of Latin
America for Canadian foreign policy.
In a way, the FTA and Canadian participation in settling the crisis in Central
America both led to the announcement of a new Latin American policy and to
the decision to become a full member of the OAS. From then on, Canada
became an active participant in the regional organization, and worked to have
the OAS become more efficient and more involved in the management of
hemispheric affairs. Ottawa also became more involved in sustaining efforts at
democratization and participating in U.N. and OAS peacekeeping operations.
The signing of NAFTA, the participation in the Summit of the Americas and
the follow-through meetings in Denver and Cartagena, and the decision to
establish closer links with the Rio Group countries, all serve to demonstrate
Ottawa’s growing interest and increasing involvement in the hemisphere
during the Mulroney years. Let us examine more precisely the nature and
scope of this involvement.
a) The objectives
When the Conservative party came to power in the fall of 1984, Latin America
and the Caribbean occupied a minor place in Canadian discourse on foreign
policy matters. The Tory government’s Green Paper, which established
orientations for Canada’s international relations, gave priority to trade policy
and defence policy issues, and barely mentioned Latin America and the
Caribbean (Gouvernement du Canada 1985). This situation had changed little
in the report submitted by the Special Joint Committee on International
Relations the following year (Canada 1986). The report suggested few
modifications in Canadian policy towards the Western hemisphere, except
with regard to Central America, where ongoing conflict drew Committee
attention. Nevertheless, changes in the official discourse were observable in
the speeches. From the election of the Conservative party in 1984 to June 1991,
38 speeches fully or partially devoted to Latin America and the Caribbean
were published in the two collections issued by the Department of External
Affairs. A content analysis allowed for the identification of 52 mentions of
objectives.
During the Mulroney years, objectives mentioned appeared more precise and
geographical targets better identified than during the previous period (this is
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IJCS / RIÉC
particularly striking when one puts figures 1 and 4 side by side). As can be seen
in figure 4 below, development assistance objectives were primarily
formulated for the Caribbean countries and Central America, whereas trade
issues became central to Canadian foreign policy goals for Mexico and the
Southern Cone essentially. The decrease in the number of fields of objectives
identified in the speeches seems to indicate that Ottawa was seeking to
consolidate its foreign policy instead of targetting as many countries and fields
of interest as possible.
Thus, objectives mentioned during that period had precise targets. Economic
integration, for example, although an important foreign policy issue in the
1980s, was barely mentioned in speeches dealing with Latin America and the
Caribbean. Canada essentially considered the matter as a question of bilateral
relations with the United States. However, once the creation of a North
American free trade area (NAFTA) that included Mexico became an issue in
1990, many speeches addressed this question,12 and mentions of objectives
with regard to Mexico, particularly in the field of trade, increased in number.
Indeed, liberalization of the Mexican economy since 1984, and the prospect of
a bilateral free trade agreement between the United States and Mexico, have
led the Canadian government to more clearly express its viewpoint regarding
North American economic integration and the development of relations with
Mexico.
Figure 4
Objectives by Domain and Sub-region: The Mulroney Years (1984-91)
Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Statements and Speeches
and Discours/Statements, various years.
Conflicts in Central America also affected Canadian government speeches.
Peace, human rights and democracy were among the main fields of
Conservative government interest, figuring high on the list of issues
148
Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
mentioned in the 1985 Secretary of State for External Affairs document
(Gouvernement du Canada 1985: 3). Interventions by Prime Minister
Mulroney during both the Commonwealth and La Francophonie summits on
these issues could also be cited. Finally, the importance of these issues is
further underscored by the fact that 14 of the 52 mentions of objectives
identified in speeches from the Mulroney period dealing with Latin America
and the Caribbean, and particularly Central America, concerned peace and
justice.
Even clearer was the importance of economic questions in the official
discourse (21 mentions of objectives out of 52). Unlike the Trudeau period,
when expanded relations were sought in many different fields of activity, the
Tory government strategy sought to seek concrete results on trade. In fact,
Canada’s relations with the newly industrialized countries (NICs) of Latin
America, that is to say Argentina, Venezuela and, above all, Brazil and
Mexico, were oriented uniquely towards economic issues.
To what extent have the objectives expressed so clearly in the speeches
translated into actual behaviour? Have real policies proven to mirror
preoccupations different from those formulated in government discourse?
b) Closer links between discourse and behaviour?
When Brian Mulroney came to power, Canadian diplomatic activity with
regard to Latin America as a whole was quite limited. Renewed interest began
in 1987, when Secretary of State Joe Clark visited Central America. This visit
not only contributed to putting Latin American affairs on the front burner of
Canadian foreign policy but also familiarized Ottawa with peace and security
issues in the region.
The search for a more active Canadian presence in the Americas also brought
renewed interest in inter-American institutions. As a result, Ottawa announced
a new strategy for Canadian relations with Latin America in the fall of 1989, an
important element of which was Ottawa’s decision to apply for full
membership in the OAS. Although the document containing the strategy has
not been released (Dosman 1992: 536), most elements of the strategy have
been made public in various speeches by External Affairs officials. According
to former Ambassador Gorham, the most important recommendation was that
Canada seek full membership in the OAS. It was also suggested that Ottawa
upgrade and enhance Canada’s diplomatic representation in Latin America.
Thirdly, it was proposed that the Canadian government develop a more active
and consistent dialogue at the ministerial and head of government level with
Latin American governments. Finally, the document recommended closer
linkages and cooperation in areas of common interests (Gorham 1990: 7-9).13
Following the adoption of the strategy, Canada became a full member of the
OAS in January of 1990. In a speech to the General Assembly of the
Organization in November 1989, Secretary of State Joe Clark affirmed
Canada’s sincere commitment not only to the OAS but also to the whole
community of the Americas:
149
IJCS / RIÉC
Canada’s joining of the OAS represents not so much a decision to
become a member of the organization as it does a decision to become
a partner in this hemisphere. For too long, Canadians have seen this
hemisphere as our house; it is now time to make it our home. (Clark
1989: 1)
Immediately upon entry into the Organization, Canada was an active
participant under the able stewardship of its Permanent Representative,
Ambassador Jean-Paul Hubert. Later, Canada became a member of various
OAS committees and working groups charged with examining ways to make
the organization more relevant and effective. Ottawa has also been active in
proposing a Unit for the Promotion of Democracy. In addition, the
governement became a full member of the Inter-American Drug Abuse
Control Committee and of inter-American institutions dealing with women,
children and indigenous peoples. In light of these developments, it appears that
Canada’s political actions toward Latin America and the Caribbean have been
respectful of the official discourse.
In the area of humanitarian actions, the importance of Latin America and the
Caribbean has increased, even if the region as a whole is far from being the
world’s poorest.14 During the Mulroney years, about 15% of Canadian
bilateral ODA went to the Western hemisphere. This represented a total of
$281.5 million between 1985-86 and 1991-92. Government-to-government
assistance to the Americas has also continued to grow, climbing from 14.3% of
the total for this type of aid in 1985-86 to 17.5% in 1992-93. The total amount
of aid to these countries during this same period was $1.97 billion, with the
share of government-to-government assistance decreasing to the benefit of the
ICDS and NGO programs.
Figure 5
ODA Disbursements by Program and Sub-region (1985-91)
Source: Compiled from CIDA’s data bank obtained by the authors. Various years.
Two regions were privileged targets of Canadian aid during the first
Conservative mandate and the initial half of the second one, the same two
150
Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
regions which also ranked first in the speeches for issues of development
assistance, peace and promotion of human rights. In the Caribbean, this aid has
primarily been distributed in the form of government-to-government
assistance. Disbursements reached an annual average of $95.7 million during
the 1985-91 period representing more than 58.7% of total government-togovernment aid to Latin America and the Caribbean. Other delivery channels,
such as NGO and ICDS programs, did not attract the same kind of funds, even
if disbursements were important. This could be explained by the fact that
government priorities in Latin America differed from those of the other
members of the Canadian aid community.
This seems to have favoured Central America. A large share of NGO and ICDS
program disbursements were directed toward this region. The peace process
may also have led to increased assistance, particularly in the wake of the
Esquipulas II agreement of August 1987. Although quite low at the beginning
of the 1970s, bilateral ODA disbursements to Central America averaged $65.7
million from the mid-1980s to the end of the decade. The Canadian
government also contributed extensively to the NGO and ICDS programs in
the region. Disbursements amounted respectively to $107.3 million and $99.5
million during the Mulroney years. As noted earlier, the desire to provide
assistance to Central America was also expressed in the speeches, where all
mentions of objectives for the region concerned either development assistance
or peace and human rights.
Finally, even if few speeches and almost no formal objectives targeted the
Andean countries, the region nonetheless received a relatively important share
of development assistance. Government-to-government assistance during the
Mulroney years reached an annual average of $32.8 million, representing
about 20% of such aid to the Western hemisphere. NGO assistance was also
important. Disbursements through this delivery channel between 1985 and
1991 totalled $69.6 million or 22.9% of NGO program disbursements in the
Americas. Other regions for which no humanitarian objectives were
mentioned, namely the Southern Cone and Mexico, received only a small
amount of ODA, principally through the NGO program.
This analysis of Canadian bilateral aid during the Mulroney years suggests that
the Canadian government pursued the humanitarian objectives articulated in
the speeches analyzed. The only exception was the Andean countries, which
continued to receive substantial amounts of aid despite the fact that they were
almost ignored in official discourse.
A similar conclusion applies to trade promotion programs. The Southern Cone
and Mexico, the two primary targets of speeches on trade, benefited from
export promotion programs, and particularly the PEMD. However,
considering the size of their population or volume of trade with Canada,
government disbursements to both remained relatively low in comparison to
other regions. In fact, on a proportional basis, the Andean countries benefited
as much as the Southern Cone countries or Mexico from the CIDA Industrial
Cooperation Progam and the PEMD. On the other hand, twelve of the twentyfour lines of credit extended to Latin America and the Caribbean at the
151
IJCS / RIÉC
beginning of the 1990s by the Export Development Corporation (EDC) were
for Mexico.
As was the case during the Trudeau years, the Caribbean countries and even
Central America received more than might be expected under both the PEMD
and the CIDA Industrial Cooperation Program. However, disbursements from
the Industrial Cooperation Program to those regions were proportionaly lower
than during the Trudeau years. These changes in the distribution of trade
promotion program disbursements illustrate the government’s will to pursue
the trade and economic objectives outlined in the speeches, objectives which
primarily favoured Mexico and the Southern Cone in the economic sphere.
Figure 6
Economic Relations by Sub-region (1985-91)
Source: Compiled from CIDA’s data bank, for industrial cooperation, from data obtained from the
Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada for the PEMD and from Statistics
Canada’s data bank for trade and investment flows. Various years.
Private-sector behaviour during the Mulroney period also better reflects
government actions than during the Trudeau years. Trade promotion programs
appear more respectful of the relative importance of each sub-region in
Canada’s economic relations with Latin America and the Caribbean,
investments excepted. Furthermore, the growing importance of Canadian
trade with Mexico — 15% of the Latin America and Caribbean total during the
Trudeau years as opposed to 30% under the Mulroney administration — could
be interpreted as an indicator of private-sector confidence in the Conservative
government discourse. In fact, Canada’s behaviour at the end of the 1980s and
at the beginning of the 1990s followed world realignment. As Dosman once
wrote: “In a global economy of powerful regional groupings, Canada’s future
lies increasingly in the Americas” (Dosman 1992: 550). Moreover, privatesector commitment in the Western hemisphere was articulated through the
152
Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
creation of the Canadian Council for the Americas (CCA) in 1987. Not
surprisingly, numerous trade missions to Latin America and the Caribbean
were organized toward the end of the Conservative mandate. This trend has
been maintained and even reinforced since the election of Jean Chrétien in the
fall of 1993.
Conclusion
How then can we evaluate Ottawa’s behaviour toward Latin America and the
Caribbean in the 1970s and 1980s? How did private-sector behaviour relate to
governmental actions? And what does this tell us concerning Canada’s
involvement in the Western hemisphere in the years ahead?
Looking first to the Trudeau years, it is quite evident that this was a period
when Canadian foreign policy was discovering the region. It was a period of
necessary learning during which no clear guidelines seemed to exist on how to
conduct relations with our Latin American and Caribbean partners, apart,
perhaps, from a desire to give the region more prominence in Canada’s foreign
policy and particularly in the Third Option strategy.
This probably explains the diversity of themes mentioned in the discourse on
relations with the region in general, or with each sub-region specifically.
Objectives analysis for the whole period reveals only two recurring patterns:
the importance of the Southern Cone countries for Canada’s trade relations and
Ottawa’s involvement in development assistance in the Caribbean region.
Other than that, the analysis reveals no clear vision of how Ottawa wished to
deal with this region. This in itself is quite understandable considering the very
limited relationship that existed between Canada and the region prior to 1968.
Examination of Ottawa’s diplomatic and development assistance behaviour
does indeed show similarities in patterns of word and deed for the period 196884. Political and diplomatic action was as diversified as the discourse, at least
throughout the 1970s, while Canadian development assistance was mostly
concentrated in the Caribbean.
However, there are discrepancies when one compares discourse and behaviour
in economic affairs and private-sector behaviour as opposed to Canadian
government action. While Ottawa’s discourse effectively identified the
Southern Cone as an important target for trade relations, the study indicates
that, in relative terms, the sub-region was neglected under to trade promotion
programs. This is all the more surprising given that, during this same period,
the Southern Cone led the sub-regions with regard to Canadian investments
and received almost 30% of Canada’s exports to the region. Here, the most
salient discrepancy lies with the Industrial Cooperation Program, a situation
probably owing to the fact that this was a new program whose location at CIDA
initially made it difficult to use specifically for trade purposes.
In sum then, there was relative continuity between discourse and behaviour
during the Trudeau years, economic affairs excepted. A time of discovery
during which Canada elaborated numerous projects with regard to its
prospective partners in the region, it was also a period without any clear focus
or specific design orienting Ottawa’s behaviour.
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The Mulroney years were very different in comparison, both in terms of
discourse and behaviour. Business and government actions were much more in
step during this period. In addition, the knowledge and experience acquired by
the federal government throughout the 1970s in dealing with the region had an
unquestionable impact on the situation. The most striking difference between
the Trudeau and Mulroney periods is the extent to which the discourse had
become specialized under the Conservative regime. Each sub-region now
seemed to fill a specific function within Canadian foreign policy for the
hemisphere: Mexico and the Southern Cone countries were important in terms
of trade, whereas the Caribbean had come to be perceived almost exclusively
in terms of development assistance, and Central America in terms of
development assistance and peace and human rights.
The relationship between Canadian governmental behaviour and discourse
was also stronger than previously. ODA programs were now heavily
concentrated in Central America and the Caribbean whereas trade support
programs had been reoriented towards the Southern Cone and Andean
countries. The similarities in business and government action were also greater
during the Mulroney years, apart from a slight discrepancy with regard to
Mexico, and a more important one concerning the Caribbean. As noted earlier
in the case of Mexico, the explanation probably lies in the fact that the
Canadian government is using other channels for trade promotion with
Mexico, namely EDC lines of credit. In the case of the Caribbean, historical
links and heavy banking activity probably explain the importance of Canadian
investments in that sub-region.
It seems, therefore, that Canadian foreign policy has become increasingly
attuned to the realities of Latin America and the Caribbean. Building on past
experience, Canadian decision-makers, both private and public, have gained a
better understanding of their role in the region and the function that each subregion may fulfill in Canada’s overall relations with that part of the world.
What then lies ahead for Canada’s relationship with the countries of the
region? It seems that there will be no turning back on gains made thus far.
Furthemore, Canada’s status in the world has changed since 1950s and 1960s,
and the country has considerably fewer options now. Africa offers little
promise, Canada is no longer a significant player in Europe, and the Canadian
position in Asia remains highly uncertain. More importantly still, the signing
of the Free Trade Agreement with the USA has sealed our fate as a member of
the Americas.
For Canada, the Americas of the next century will become the stage, much as
the world was Canada’s stage in the 1950s. Consequently, Ottawa can be
expected to become increasingly involved in the region. And Canadian
decision-makers will want to apply what have been Canada’s trademarks in
foreign affairs, namely support for multilateral institutions and a role as
honest-broker. In order to do so, Canada will have to overcome the barrier that
Washington has almost always constituted to Canada’s relationship with Latin
America and the Caribbean. This can be achieved through increased
participation in multilateral fora such as the OAS but also through such direct
contacts with Latin American and Caribbean partners as witnessed recently
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Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa’s Behavior
with the rapprochement between Canada and the Rio Group (Ministère...
1995).
But eventually Canada may need to go a step further in order to reduce the
overwhelming domination of the two major powers of the hemisphere, the
United States and Brazil, and achieve a certain balance or equilibrium in interAmerican relations. One way of doing so may be to encourage and participate
in a sort of informal concert of middle powers which could act as a kind of
intermediary between the two major powers and the smaller countries of the
region and, in so doing, participate in building a true community of the
Americas.
Notes
*
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
The authors would like to express their deep appreciation for financial support from the
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. They would also like to thank
the anonymous reviewers whose comments were quite useful in writing the final draft of the
paper.
Both collections contain around 2,000 documents. We have focussed essentially on
documents pertaining to Latin America and the Caribbean and have not included in the
analysis speeches on the Third World in general unless these contained specific sections on
Latin America and the Caribbean. We have also excluded interventions in Parliament
because these were very often repeats of what was said in the speeches contained in
Statements and Speeches and Discours/Statement.
Coding reliability tests were conducted to reach the normally accepted coefficient of 0.80 in
two consecutive tests.
Nine countries were visited by a delegation of five departments, including the Secretary of
State for External Affairs, and more than thirty political advisors and civil servants (Mace,
1989: 414).
A word of caution is necessary here. Relating objectives to general discourse is always
somewhat problematic because of the size of the statistical universe which tends to be
generally small. The reason for this has to do with the methodological constraints associated
with the identification of what constitutes an objective. The advantage of using analysis of
objectives is that we get a standardized measure enabling us to make comparisons between
extensive time-periods. But we do lose in terms of in-depth analysis. Consequently, one has
to be careful with the interpretation of results and consider objectives as only one measure,
among others, of governmental verbal behaviour.
For a discussion of the objectives formulated during this period, see Mace and Goulet (1993:
86-88), Rochlin 1994: 34, 45-46. In a statement made in April 1940, the Under-Secretary of
State for External Affairs, O. D. Skelton, translated precisely the mood of the times
concerning Canadian relations with Latin America by saying: “The one general statement
that might perhaps be made (...) is that we refrain carefully from becoming involved in any
political commitment.”
The Caribbean region was ignored by the White Paper. For an explanation, see Mace 1989:
415. On the other hand, a Senate committee produced a report on the relations between
Canada and the Caribbean which encouraged rapprochement and suggested that Canada
adopt a coherent policy toward the region (Canada 1970).
He writes: “By the early 1980s, the lobbying efforts of these organizations began to show
some successes” (Baranyi 1985).
Glyn G. Berry suggests some explanations for the decrease in the Caribbean’s importance
for Canada in the 1970s. Among the reasons identified, he mentions the departure from
Ottawa of figures such as Lester Pearson, Paul Martin and Robert Winters who had
demonstrated considerable interest in the Caribbean during the 1960s. Berry also points out
that the rapid increase in the number of independent states during the preceding decade
(particularly in Commonwealth Africa) had led to a geographical redistribution of aid
155
IJCS / RIÉC
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
programs. In the same way, the Révolution tranquille in Québec had forced Canada to grant
part of its official development assistance to French Africa (1988: 359-60 and 362-63).
In his book, J. C. M. Ogelsby suggests that the lack of importance accorded to Mexico prior
to 1972 may have been due to the fact that neither Canada nor Mexico wished to engage in
relations where some concessions would have been necessary and where their own interest
would have to be sacrificed to a certain point (1976: 82).
Bilateral official development assistance (ODA) includes all country-to-country assistance.
This comprises the following: government-to-government assistance, humanitarian aid
(IHA) and programs run by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), PetroCanada International (PCIAC), and other governmental organizations (ICOD, etc.). It also
includes government disbursements for programs such as the Non-Governmental
Organizations (NGO) Program, Institutional Cooperation and Development Services
Program (ICDS) and Industrial Cooperation Program. Multilateral aid is excluded. For this
section, the disbursements of IDRC have also been excluded because the organization’s
status makes it fairly independent of government (Ehrhardt 1989: 561). Note also that the
Industrial Cooperation Program is considered in the next section on trade actions.
It is worth noting that the Canadian ODA program to Cuba was interrupted in 1978 and
restored only in 1994 after the departure of Cuban troops from Angola and the beginning of
economic reforms.
Even before the official announcement of its participation in the discussions on NAFTA, the
Canadian government had sought to strengthen its relations with Mexico. For example, see
Clark 1990a, Crosbie 1990a). The Canadian decision to take part in NAFTA talks was
announced in September 1990 (Crosbie 1990b).
The areas of common interest identified were narcotics control, environmental protection,
human rights, peace, development and social justice, trade development, technology
exchange and cultural-institutional exchange.
OECD notes that Latin America accounts for about one-tenth of the population of Third
World countries but represents about one-third of their GNP (1992: 77).
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Canada in the Americas: Assessing Ottawa's Behavior
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159
Review Essays
Essais critiques
Victor J. Ramraj
West Indian-Canadian Writing in English
Twenty-five years ago, the literary-cultural category “West Indian Writing in
Canada,” if it were used at all, would have included just one name, Austin
Clarke. Clarke immigrated from Barbados in the 1950s and within a few years
won recognition for his first two novels about life in colonial Barbados,
Survivors of the Crossing (1964) and Amongst Thistles and Thorns (1965) and
his trilogy set in the Barbadian immigrant community in Toronto of the 1960s
The Meeting Point (1967), The Storm of Fortune (1973), and The Bigger Light
(1975). In the last few years, a host of new writers have burst on the literary
scene. A current bibliography of writing by West Indian-Canadians now
includes such names as Neil Bissoondath, Dionne Brand, Cyril Dabydeen,
Kwame Dawes, Claire Harris, Arnold Itwaru, Shani Mootoo, Sasenarine
Persaud, M. Nourbese Philip, Nigel Thomas — and Sam Selvon (1923-94),
who immigrated to Canada in 1978, after spending almost three decades in the
UK, to which he had moved from his native Trinidad in 1950. To this list could
be added the names of a score more writers who have published occasionally in
various monographs, chapbooks, and little magazines. These are almost all
recent immigrant to Canada, and, like Clarke, their writing inevitably is at this
time immigrant writing, absorbed with the immigrant experience of adjusting
to life in a new land and coming to grips with their conscious or subconscious
attachment to the homes they have left. In their works, however, this common
ground is rendered not monolithically or homogeneously but with identifiable
distinctness, reflecting the writers’ different intellectual and emotional
responses as well as the varied historical and cultural complexity of West
Indian-Canadian communities.
Clarke’s early novels and stories are accounts of the oppressive lives of a group
of working-class Barbadians in Toronto of the 1950s and 1960s and are sharp
indictment of what Clarke perceives as systemic racism. Two subsequent
collections of stories, When Women Rule (1985) and Nine Men Who Laughed
(1986), portray the lives of these working-class immigrants a decade or two
later; they have achieved a measure of economic security but still see
themselves as victims of a prejudicial system. Clarke’s most recent volumes of
stories, In This City (1992) and There Are No Elders (1993) are about older,
settled immigrants and the first generation born in Canada. He continues to
write of systemic discrimination but he now attempts to understand and
account for it rather than merely rail against it; and he now pursues ethnic and
racial affinities, not just differences.
In The Prime Minister (1977), Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack
(1980), and Proud Empires (1986), Clarke returns to Barbados. The Prime
Minister is a satirical narrative on island politics. Growing Up Stupid Under
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the Union Jack, which Clarke planned as the first volume of his memoirs,
reviews his school days in colonial Barbados. Proud Empires, a novel about
the intrigues of island politics in pre- and post-independence Barbados.
Clarke has mentioned in A Passage Back Home: A Personal Reminiscence of
Samuel Selvon (1994) that The Lonely Londoners (1956), Selvon’s novel of
West Indians in London in the 1950s, is very much behind his stories of
Barbadians in Toronto. He is one of several writers who acknowledge the
influence of Selvon on their writing. By the time Selvon immigrated to
Canada, he was a renowned writer with nine published novels to his name,
including A Brighter Sun (1952) and Turn Again Tiger (1958) — companion
pieces about a young couple’s life in a multicultural Trinidad — and The
Lonely Londoners and Moses Ascending (1975) — the first two novels of the
Moses trilogy on West Indian immigrant life in London. The third Moses
novel, Moses Migrating, was published in 1983, five years after Selvon moved
to Canada. In this work, Selvon does not draw on his Canadian experience,
however. Set in London and Trinidad, it recounts Moses’s decision to return to
Trinidad after two decades in London, which has become for him an
inhospitable place. But a short stay in Trinidad is enough to persuade him that
he has been away too long and is no longer at home there. The novel ends with
British immigration officers, who are not convinced that he is a British citizen.
interrogating him at Heathrow Airport — a metaphorical no-man’s land.
The single published work that Selvon set in Canada is the short story “Angus
at the Races,” an amusing piece about two West Indian immigrants’
misadventures at a Calgary race track. Selvon’s sharp eye for details, his tight
dialogue, economical narration, and his warm humour — characteristics of the
early episodes and ballads in The Lonely Londoners and the London stories of
Ways of Sunlight — are evident in “Angus at the Races.” What is missing,
however, is the harsh circumstances of the London immigrant’s life and the
bitter-sweet tone of the early stories. In the years before his death, Selvon saw
the republication of several of his novels, including An Island Is a World
(1955; 1993) and the publication of a collection of his early journalism and
later essays in Foreday Morning: Selected Prose 1946-1986 (1989) and his
plays and scripts in Highway in the Sun and Other Plays (1991). Selvon was
working on his memoirs, a novel, and several stories at the time of his death;
these unfinished pieces are likely to be published eventually in one form or
another.
Harold Sonny Ladoo (1945-73) appeared on the Canadian literary scene a
decade after Clarke’s debut. Ladoo died suddenly after the publication of his
first novel No Pain Like This Body (1972); Yesterdays was published
posthumously in 1974. These novels are about the indentured labourers and
their descendants of rural Trinidad in the early part of the twentieth century. In
their focus on raw, elemental, often violent emotions and passions, they differ
from Selvon’s or V. S. Naipaul’s depiction of everyday, domestic IndoCaribbean rural life. No Pain Like This Body recounts the struggles of an
Indian family to survive in an alien, inhospitable land. Brutalized as indentured
labourers by their colonial masters, they must now cope with natural disasters,
poverty, sickness, death, and their own madnesses and passions. Yesterdays, in
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West Indian-Canadian Writing in English
an unmitigated vulgar and coarse style, censures the unrestrained passions of
his characters, but the brunt of his satire (harsher and more ribald than Clarke’s
in Growing Up Stupid Under the Union Jack) is directed at imperial education,
which he equates with indoctrination.
Neil Bissoondath’s early stories in Digging Up the Mountains (1986) and On
the Eve of Uncertain Tomorrows (1990) are portraits of dispossessed
immigrants. Responding to the immigrant’s displacement and dispossession
as a condition common to all peoples, he writes of European, Latin American,
Japanese, and other immigrants as well. He consciously constructs some
stories without specific details of nationality and ethnicity to underscore his
characters’ shared humanity. His first novel, A Casual Brutality (1988), is
largely about a dispossessed immigrant, a West Indian medical doctor in
Canada, who returns to his island home, becomes disenchanted, and
immigrates once more to Canada. In his second novel, The Innocence of Age
(1992), Bissoondath attempts to portray as his protagonist a white Canadian,
Taggart. He provides a sympathetic portrait of this lonely widower, who, like
the Trinidadian immigrant Ramgoolam of his early story “Security,” is
estranged from both his son and his Toronto community, which Taggart
believes has changed for the worse with the advent of immigrants and drugdealers. Though Taggart is rendered engagingly, the novel conveys the
impression that his portrait was undertaken to prove his commonality of
experience rather than to define his complex individuality. Bissoondath’s
portrait of Taggart invites comparison with Clarke’s ironical presentation of a
white Torontonian in his story “The Collector,” who also complains about the
incursion of immigrants. In keeping with his believe in human commonality,
Bissoondath, in Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada
(1994), argues that state-sponsored multiculturalism is divisive and he equates
it with a mild form of apartheid which keeps the different ethnic pockets apart
from the mainstream culture. “Differences,” he contends, “between people are
already obvious enough without their being emphasized through
multiculturalism policy and its growing cult of racial and ethnic identity”
(122).
Three Trinidadian-Canadian writers, Claire Harris, Dionne Brand, and M.
Nourbese Philip have published fiction, poetry, and essays that are
fundamentally concerned with past and present abuses, marginalization, and
“dehumanizing exclusivity” of the black woman as a colonial in imperial
societies and as an immigrant in North American societies. Harris believes,
however, that in a society with conflicting but interpenetrating cultures it is
important to recognize differences as well as commonalities. In her latest
volume, Dipped in Shadows (1996), a collection of five relatively long poems,
Harris down-plays ethnic particulars as she explores the lot of women of
various racial and ethnic backgrounds. A recurring issue in these poems is the
extent of women’s complicity in the horrors and outrages of their own plight
and in incest, war, and disease; the speakers of the poems remind their sisters
that the agent of violence may very likely be “my sister’s son” and that women
may “midwife evil” (59-60).
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Brand and Philip are far more militant and confrontational than Harris in their
writing. They make greater use of narratives of slavery and colonization to
accentuate the plight of contemporary blacks. In Another Place, Not Here
(1996) Brand’s first novel, like her poems, is a passionate indictment of
discrimination against women, minorities, and lesbians. Philip’s Looking for
Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence (1991) relates in poetic prose a black
female traveller’s quest through time and place for Dr. Livingstone, in the
course of which she discovers herself as colonial, black, and woman.
Harris, Brand, and Philip approach the English language ambivalently; it is
their language but it is also a tool of imperialism. (Bissoondath acknowledges
that English is a “borrowed” language but opts to see it as an “acquired” rather
than an imposed language [Illusions 81]). In Harris’s Drawing Down a
Daughter (1992), the poet-mother tells her daughter that there is no
“unsullied” language that she can offer her: “Child all i have to give / is English
which hates/fears your / black skin.” No Language is Neutral (1990) constitute
Brand’s poetic rewriting of the history of blacks, women, and immigrants.
Philip has stated that a major challenge for her is how to write “in the language
of [her] oppression, but the only one” she has, and how to find a “language of
empowerment.”
To come to from Brand’s and Philip’s writing to Cyril Dabydeen’s is to be
made quickly aware of Dabydeen’s greater emphasis not on the
confrontational but on the complementary, interlocking possibilities of
antithetical cultures. Though he is conscious of the immigrant’s plight in a
country that he feels “still is a xenophobic place,” his poetry — the best of
which are included in Coastland: New and Selected Poems, 1973-1987 (1989)
— and his fiction remain receptive to the possibilities of incorporating
difference within himself. He recurrently juxtaposes antithetical images of
marginalization and integration, fragmentation and oneness. In his novel Dark
Swirl, Dabydeen tells of a European naturalist on a field trip to a remote village
in the mysterious, primordial, riverine region of Guyana that Wilson Harris
mythologizes in his novels. Dabydeen approaches the relationship between the
stranger and the villagers in terms of binary opposites: colonizer and
colonized, science and belief, reason and intuition. At the end of the novel, he
unifies these opposites, stressing complementarity — as he does in his poetry.
Arnold Itwaru and Sasenarine Persaud, like Dabydeen, are originally from
Guyana and are as preoccupied with the conditions of Guyanese life as they are
with the immigrant’s experience in Canada. Itwaru’s collections Shattered
Songs (1982), Entombed Survivals (1987), and Body Rites (1991) are
predominantly evocations of loneliness but they never end on a note of despair;
there is always an encouraging intellectual resolution. Like Bissoondath’s
stories, Itwaru’s poetry often omits specifics of place, time, or situation, and
addresses feelings that are derived from immigrants’ experiences but are not
exclusive to them. Historical specificities, however, are much in evidence in
his novel Shanti (1988), a work that demonstrates the validity of one of the
current historical theories of colonialism that gratifying imperial sexual
appetites was as strong a driving force behind colonization as acquiring wealth
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West Indian-Canadian Writing in English
and proselytizing Christianity. The novel, like Ladoo’s No Pain Like This
Body, is a dismal portrait of Indo-Caribbean rural life in the colonial period.
Persaud’s two collections Demerary Telepathy (1988) and Between the Dash
and the Comma (1989) derive more from his experiences as a resident in
Guyana than as an immigrant in Canada (since 1988). More than any other
West Indian poet, Persaud is acutely conscious of his Indian heritage and
deliberately juxtaposes Indian and Western images, myths, and allusions in his
poetry and fiction. The poems on his life in Canada make strong statements
against systemic marginalization of immigrants but, aware of the political and
economic deprivation that he has escaped, he appreciates the respite he has
found in Canada. Like Dabydeen, he can allude to the immigrant as “a glad
alien.” His first novel, Dear Death (1989), is an account of a young Guyanese
boy’s growing awareness of complex relationships among members of his
family and community and of his development as an artist; it recalls Michael
Anthony’s fiction. His second novel, The Ghost of Bellow’s Man (1992),
examines a young writer’s vocational insecurities against a backdrop of
political corruption in Guyana after independence.
Several other West Indian-Canadians produced notable works in the 1980s
and 1990s. Lillian Allen, a member of the Toronto group, de dub poets,
produced Rhythm an’ Hardtimes (1982), a collection of dub poems with a
feminist perspective, using the Jamaican vernacular in a way that recalls
Louise Bennett. Several young poets, including Brian Chan, Nigel Darbasie,
and particularly Kwame Dawes have published significant volumes of poems
that deserve critical attention. Ramabai Espinet’s Nuclear Seasons (1991) is a
collection of poems that examines from a feminist perspective the plight of the
culturally dispossessed and the economically disadvantaged both in Canada
and Trinidad. Ishmael Baksh’s Black Light (1988), the first West Indian
example of the “academic novel” sub-genre, is set in Memorial University,
Newfoundland, with flashbacks to the Trinidadian-Canadian protagonist’s
early life in the Caribbean. The better stories in Shani Mootoo’s first
collection, Out on Main Street and Other Stories (1993), are about characters
coming to grips with their multiple cultural perspectives and identities —
national, racial, and sexual. Mootoo’s protagonists are not overly disturbed by
their lack of self-identification; they in fact revel in their cultural fluidity and
develop an ironical perception of the absurdity of cultural narrowness and
exclusivity. H. Nigel Thomas’s Spirits of the Dark (1993), a first novel, is a
bildungsroman set in St. Vincent that confronts issues of religious, racial, and
— what is exceptional in Caribbean fiction — sexual identity and preference.
In addition to these writers, there are many others who have published the
occasional poems, plays, or stories in Canadian and Caribbean little magazines
and chapbooks or in the three anthologies of West Indian-Canadian writing
that have been published so far — Harold Head’s Canada In Us Now (1976),
Lorris Elliott’s Other Voices (1985), and Cyril Dabydeen’s A Shapely Fire:
Changing the Literary Landscape (1987). These anthologies, which include
works of over thirty West Indian-Canadian writers, attest further to the strong
strides West Indian-Canadian writing has taken since Clarke published his
first novel in the 1960s.
167
Bibliography
Bissoondath, Neil. Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada. Toronto: Penguin,
1994.
Harris Claire. Dipped in Shadow. Fredericton: Goose Lane. 1996.
———. Drawing Down a Daughter. Fredericton: Goose Lane. 1992.
André C. Drainville
Le Québec, les États-Unis et l’Amérique
Contemporary Quebec and the United States, 1960-1985, Louis Balthazar et
Alfred O. Hero. Lanham, Md. : University Press of America in
cooperation with the Center for International Affairs, Harvard University,
1988. 532 p.
Quebec Under Free Trade : Making Public Policy in North America, sous la
direction de Guy Lachapelle. Sainte-Foy, Québec : Presses de
l’Université du Québec, c1995. 410 p.
L’Amérique du Nord et l’Europe communautaire : intégration économique,
intégration sociale?, sous la direction de Dorval Brunelle et Christian
Deblock. Sainte-Foy, Québec : Presses de l’Université du Québec, 1994.
459 p.
Une décennie s’est écoulée depuis le «sommet de la St-Patrick» entre Brian
Mulroney et Ronald Reagan (que d’aucuns baptisèrent de «shamrock
summit»). Si les débats entourant la nouvelle constitution économique
continentale que promettait alors le président états-unien n’ont (très
certainement) pas éconduis les sempiternelles discussions sur le
renouvellement de la constitution canadienne, certaines initiatives
interétatiques (l’accord de libre-échange entre le Canada et les États-Unis,
l’ALÉNA, l’Entreprise for the America Initiative et les projets états-uniens et
brésiliens de création d’une zone de libre-échange des Amériques) et
populaires (l’encuentro Canada-Mexique, le sommet Zacatenas et celui de
Valle de Bravo), ainsi que la consolidation de ce que Ricardo Grinspun et
Robert Kreklewich appellent un cadre néo-libéral disciplinaire à l’échelle
continentale, ont contribué à concrétiser l’espace continental américain1.
L’Amérique hémisphérique, qui n’existait jusque-là que dans l’imagination de
Simon Bolívar et de Thomas Jefferson, et que comme une projection
stratégique états-unienne (voir la doctrine Monroe, le corollaire de Theodore
Roosevelt, la good neighbour policy de Franklin D. Roosevelt et l’Alliance for
Progress de John F. Kennedy), cette Amérique vide de sens social, a acquis
une nouvelle signification. Les discours grandiloquents célébrant la «nouvelle
société civile américaine» (au sommet de Miami de décembre 1994, par
exemple) n’ont toujours pas plus de sens que n’en avaient les prétentions de
Ronald Reagan à refaire l’Amérique à son image, mais il n’est pas exagéré de
dire que, depuis une décennie, l’Amérique devient un espace politique et social
structurant.
International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
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Les trois ouvrages recensés ici marquent bien cette évolution. Publié en 1988,
Contemporary Quebec and the United States 1960-1985, de Louis Balthazar et
Alfred O. Hero, situe son étude des liens (sociaux, politiques et économiques)
entre le Québec et les États-Unis dans une Amérique du Nord qui n’est pas plus
que la somme d’espaces nationaux. Pour Balthazar et Hero, la politique
continentale n’est encore que le domaine de la grande politique et des grandes
affaires. Elle ne constitue pas tant un espace en soi qu’un lien entre des espaces
(politiques, sociaux et économiques) contigus. Cet ouvrage — écrit avant que
les initiatives susmentionnées n’accroissent la pertinence de l’Amérique
comme cadre d’analyse et son importance comme cadre de vie — utilise la
méthode comparée, comme si l’américanité commune du Québec et des ÉtatsUnis n’avait pas, ou peu, de conséquence. Il présente les Québécois aux Étatsuniens comme à des étrangers, sonde les élites locales (du Canada, du Québec
et des États-Unis) comme on fait passer un test d’admission au ministère des
Affaires étrangères ou au Department of State.
Les citoyens du monde américain qu’interpellent Balthazar et Hero sont des
élites qui habitent l’Amérique par choix. Aux États-Unis, les auteurs
interrogent des responsible executives of corporations, l’influential business
leadership, des membres du corporate et de la foreign-policy elite, des
participants influents à la foreign-policy community, des représentants des US
business, government and media elites. Au Québec, ils parlent à la
francophone business elite, aux leaders des partis politiques provinciaux et
aux édiles gouvernementaux (par exemple, au chapitre 8 : «Québécois Elites
and Government Institutions vis-à-vis the United States»).
Dans cette Amérique de Balthazar et Hero, les trajectoires historiques ne se
rencontrent qu’occasionnellement. L’histoire du nationalisme québécois, par
exemple (chapitre 3 : «Québec Nationalism as a Way of Life»), est présentée
en termes remarquablement non américains. Pour Balthazar et Hero, les
Patriotes de Papineau sont tout sauf des contemporains de Bolívar; le Québec
est son propre centre de gravité, les questions qui ont structuré et qui
structurent les relations sociales sont des questions internes, sinon au Québec
du moins au Canada : les relations entre anglophones, allophones et
francophones par exemple (dont il est question au chapitre 5 : «NonFrancophone Quebecers»), la dynamique des relations entre les deux solitudes
canadiennes et les tendances démographiques (au chapitre 4 : «Nationalism : A
Majority Quebec Movement»). Lorsqu’il est question de valeurs américaines
(par exemple au chapitre 7 qui traite de l’expérience unique des Québécois en
Amérique), les auteurs de Contemporary Quebec font quelques commentaires
d’usage sur le pragmatisme, l’égalitarisme et l’esprit de frontière de la culture
nord- américaine que partagent États-uniens et Québécois, et passent
rapidement à l’analyse de la différence entre cultures états-unienne et
québécoise.
Certaines des vérités sociologiques découvertes par Balthazar et Hero n’ont
pas changé. Les Américains parlent, il est permis de le supposer, toujours aussi
peu le français et appréhendent toujours la réalité québécoise par le biais du
Canada anglophone (le New-York Times ne demanda-t-il pas à l’historien très
canadien Pierre Berton de commenter les résultats du dernier référendum
170
Le Québec, les États-Unis et l’Amérique
québécois, qui dès lors portait non plus sur l’indépendance du Québec mais la
sécession du Canada?).2 Dix années de débats sur le libre-échangisme
continental et le néo-libéralisme panaméricain n’ont pas effacé la différence
entre les attitudes des nationalistes canadiens et québécois vis-à-vis des
investissements étrangers états-uniens (les premiers s’en méfient, les seconds
y voient toujours une occasion de diversifier l’économie nationale et de quitter
l’orbite canadienne). Contemporary Quebec, qui se donnait pour mission de
présenter le Québec aux Américains des États-Unis, est donc toujours un
ouvrage utile. Il doit pourtant (déjà) être lu comme un livre d’histoire qui nous
présente un cadre d’analyse usé. Si les réponses aux questions que se posaient
Balthazar et Hero ne changent parfois pas, l’intégration hémisphérique, le
désengagement de l’État, la maquilladorisation des économies américaines, la
radicalisation du néo-libéralisme, la recomposition des rapports sociaux et,
surtout, l’émergence de nouvelles solidarités sociales transfrontalières ont
considérablement diminué leur intérêt analytique.
Alors que l’Amérique visitée par Balthazar et Hero formait un espace sans
gravité, que seules traversaient quelques politiques étatiques et qu’habitaient
certaines élites, l’Amérique des auteurs rassemblés par Guy Lachapelle dans
Quebec Under Free Trade : Making Public Policy in North America s’avère
plus lourde de conséquences. C’est un espace politique distinct, qui ne résulte
pas simplement de dynamiques prenant place ailleurs. Comme Pierre-Paul
Proulx («Quebec International Trade : Trade with American Regions»), qui
avance l’hypothèse que les effets de la recomposition spatiale de l’Amérique
du Nord se font déjà sentir dans les rapports commerciaux qu’entretient le
Québec avec les États-Unis, la plupart des auteurs partent de l’idée que
l’espace américain existe et qu’il est de plus en plus contraignant. Ceci rend
particulièrement important un chapitre comme celui d’André Turcotte
(«Uneasy Allies : Quebecers, Canadians, Americans, Mexicans and
NAFTA») qui trace l’histoire parallèle du refus des populations canadienne,
états- unienne, mexicaine et québécoise d’endosser les projets de libreéchange et des tentatives gouvernementales d’éviter les débats publics. En
conclusion, Turcotte rappelle qu’en dépit du discours démocratique qui
accompagne les accords de libre-échange, l’Amérique est habitée bien
involontairement par des citoyens qui contrôlent de moins en moins les
politiques nationales.
Mis à part quelques chapitres, Quebec under Free Trade présente une
collection de dossiers courts et ponctuels dont les meilleurs proposent une
information sinon inédite du moins récente et surtout pertinente du point de
vue de ce que la sociologie politique des années soixante-dix aurait appelée la
foreign-policy community (vraisemblablement le public ciblé par cet
ouvrage). Dans cet esprit, le chapitre de Gilles Duruflé et Benoît Tétrault (“The
Impact of the Free Trade Agreement on Bilateral Trade between Quebec and
the United States”) et celui de Pierre-Paul Proulx (dont le «Quebec
International Trade» est extrait d’un rapport présenté il y a deux ans au
ministère québécois du Conseil exécutif) sont tout à fait compétents. Dans la
même veine, Maryse Robert («Quebec and its Canadian Partners...») présente
un tour d’horizon utile des barrières tarifaires au commerce intracanadien, une
analyse comptable compétente de leurs coûts et une bonne description de
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l’entente de juillet 1994 sur le commerce interprovincial. Pierre-André Julien
(«United States/Canada Free Trade Agreement and Quebec Small Business
Behaviour») analyse l’impact de l’accord du libre-échange sur les PME
québécoises. Dans un chapitre très réussi, qui met bien en lumière certaines des
conséquences de l’ALÉNA, Luc Bernier («Adjusting to NAFTA : State
Enterprises and Privatization in Québec...») situe l’expérience de la
privatisation des entreprises publiques québécoises par rapport aux
expériences états-uniennes et mexicaines. Au chapitre suivant, Serge Denis et
Rock Denis («Trade Unionism and the State of Industrial Relations in
Quebec») placent le syndicalisme québécois dans une perspective historique
et anticipent les conséquences de l’intégration continentale. Dans un bien
moins bon chapitre, Maria Isabel Studer et Jean-François Prud’homme
(«Quebec-Mexico Relationship») offrent d’abord un survol rapide du Québec
comme acteur international, puis comptent les visites bureaucratiques, les
bureaux de représentation ouverts par l’État québécois et les ententes de
coopération entre les universités québécoises et mexicaines. Cette montagne
de détails accouche d’une analyse peu féconde de deux scénarios. Le premier
est celui d’une déclaration unilatérale d’indépendance du Québec (Studer et
Prud’homme prédisent que dans ce cas les relations bilatérales entre un
Québec souverain et le Mexique dépendraient, comme toutes relations
bilatérales, de l’habileté des interlocuteurs à maximiser la coopération et à
minimiser les irritants). Le second scénario est celui de la souverainetéassociation (qui entraverait le développement de relations bilatérales QuébecMexique).
La dernière partie de Quebec Under Free Trade présente quatre dossiers. Au
chapitre 12, Frederic C. Menz («Environmental Policy in Quebec») se fait
l’avocat de politiques de régulation environnementales qui exigent la
discipline du marché, ce qui permettrait au Québec d’harmoniser ses
politiques à la nécessaire gouverne néo-libérale. Aux chapitres suivants,
Benoît Mario Papillon («Agricultural Policy»), Kevin V. Mulcahy («Public
Culture and Political Culture») et Hervé Déry («Telecommunications and
Information Technology») présentent des variations sur le thème néo-libéral
de l’harmonisation continentale des politiques d’intervention et du besoin
d’accepter les exigences d’un environnement politique de plus en plus
compétitif. Malgré eux, ces chapitres mettent bien en évidence le coût social,
politique et intellectuel de l’acceptation sans conditions de l’intégration
continentale.
Au-delà du travail de documentation et des découvertes involontaires,
l’ouvrage édité par Guy Lachapelle offre très peu. Les dossiers pertinents du
point de vue des acteurs politiques ont rarement beaucoup d’envergures
historiques ou analytiques comme nous le rappellent les chapitres de Guy
Lachapelle («Quebec Under Free Trade : Between Interdependence and
Transnationalism») et Anne-Marie Cotter («Quebec in North America :
Historical and Socio-Political Dimensions»). Comme éditeur, Lachapelle
aurait dû cerner le projet intellectuel commun des auteurs qu’il a rassemblés et
souligner sa pertinence. Il a plutôt choisi de signer un premier chapitre, meublé
de dichotomies gênantes («There are two ways of approaching the issues of the
economies between nations [...] », « [...] the federalist and pluralist
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Le Québec, les États-Unis et l’Amérique
perspectives», « [...] the functional and neo-functional perspectives», etc.), qui
débouche sur des prescriptions peu crédibles («Québec should suggest the
creation of a North American Committee on Cultural Cooperation [...] Québec
should be ready to sign economic and cultural treaties with each partners [...] a
sovereign Quebec should not alter North American Economic and trade
patterns [...]»). Ce manque de perspective théorique est d’autant plus
regrettable que les écrits contemporains en économie politique internationale
se sont beaucoup intéressés aux modalités de constructions des espaces
sociaux et aux dynamiques spatiales. Cette documentation n’est pas mise à
contribution dans Quebec Under Free Trade, ni par Lachapelle ni par les
auteurs qu’il a rassemblés.
On doit également rendre Lachapelle responsable d’un glossaire présenté en
fin d’ouvrage qui est tout aussi ébranlant que cette encyclopédie chinoise de
Borges dont parlait Foucault dans la préface de Les mots et les choses :
encyclopédie qui divisait les animaux de la création entre ceux a) appartenant à
l’Empereur, b) embaumés, c) apprivoisés, d) cochons de lait, e) sirènes, f)
fabuleux, g) chiens en liberté, h) inclus dans la présente classification, i) qui
s’agitent comme des fous, j) innombrables, k) dessinés avec un pinceau très fin
en poil de chameau, l) et cætera, m) qui viennent de casser la cruche... Sont
définis en quelques mots dans ce glossaire bigarré qui contient soixante-neuf
termes : Agenda Setting («Influencing the priorities of concern»), Bloc
québécois, CRTC, Democracy, Elite («Small group of people possessing
power within a specific sphere of activity»), FTQ, Government, High Salience
Period («The time when an issue is at its highest salience [...]»), Issue
Obstrusiveness, Policy Instruments («The different means available to
governments to implement their policies [...]»), Radio Frequency Spectrum...
Anne-Marie Cotter, pour sa part, offre une revue historique qui promettait une
intéressante relecture américaine du nationalisme québécois, mais qui se
contente de lieux communs et se termine mollement : «Over the centuries,
Quebec, like a child, was born, has grown up under the watchful eye of Canada,
has struggled to carve out a separate identity, and is now ready, with its ties to
the United States, to move onto the world scene».
L’Amérique du Nord et l’Europe communautaire : intégration économique,
intégration sociale?, publié en 1994 sous la direction de Dorval Brunelle et
Christian Deblock, est un ouvrage beaucoup plus sérieux, regroupant une
vingtaine de chapitres qui ne constituent pas des dossiers bureaucratiques,
mais des essais universitaires. Dans leur présentation («L’accord de libreéchange nord-américain et l’Union européenne : deux modèles de
régionalisme»), les coéditeurs situent bien le projet : l’Amérique de Brunelle
et Deblock n’est plus celle de Balthazar et Hero. Les processus intégratifs y
sont lourds de conséquences et il n’est pas suffisant d’interroger les élites
attitrées ou d’y situer marginalement l’histoire et les politiques publiques du
Québec, du Canada, du Mexique ou des États-Unis. Il faut penser aux
dimensions «corporative», stratégique et sociale des processus d’intégration.
L’ouvrage est divisé en trois parties. Les textes regroupés dans les deux
premières parties situent le phénomène de la régionalisation dans une
perspective historique, comparent différents processus intégrateurs et font
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IJCS / RIÉC
office de préambule à la troisième partie qui aborde l’étude des dimensions
sociales de l’intégration.
Les huit chapitres qui composent la première partie de L’Amérique du Nord et
l’Europe communautaire répondent très bien à l’invitation de Brunelle et
Deblock. L’histoire que fait Herman W. Konrad («Le dilemme de la
réciprocité : le Canada, le Mexique et la continentalisation aujourd’hui») est
nord-américaine, et l’Amérique dont parlent Stephen Blank («L’ALÉNA et la
reconfiguration de l’espace économique nord-américain») et Maria Teresa
Gutiérrez Haces («L’Accord de libre-échange nord-américain : les contraintes
de la transition et la réforme de l’État au Mexique») n’est pas continentale que
du bout des lèvres. C’est un espace, que n’inventent pas mais qu’entérinent et
stabilisent, l’accord de libre-échange entre le Canada et les États-Unis (ALÉ)
et l’Accord de libre-échange entre le Canada, les États-Unis et le Mexique
(L’ALÉNA). Dans un très bon chapitre, Panayotis Soldatos («La communauté
européenne et la zone de libre-échange canado-américaine») souligne que
l’ALÉ et la Communauté Européenne sont guidées par une logique commune
qui empruntent des voies différentes (pour l’ALÉ «on n’a pas attendu [...]
l’établissement d’un régime juridique de libéralisation pour atteindre le stade
d’une intégration transactionnelle poussée», alors que «... dans la CE, ce fut
“l’institutionnel d’abord, l’économique après”»). Dans cet ordre d’esprit,
Diane Éthier («L’espace social européen : un projet sans lendemain?»)
demanderait : «et à quand le social?»
Également très utile, le chapitre de Michel Duquette et al («L’intégration
régionale dans un contexte néolibéral...[sic]») présente une bonne recension
de trois hypothèses qui expliquent l’intégration régionale en Amérique latine
(la «diffusion du modèle libéral à partir du nord, la réaction néo-mercantile
régionale à la mondialisation, la “récompense” pour une conversion au néolibéralisme») pour conclure à la spécificité des expériences nationales (le
Mexique, le Chili et le Brésil sont étudiés) et au danger des explications trop
englobantes.
Les petits cours d’économie politique de Lionel Fontagné («Régionalisation
de l’économie mondiale et restructuration de l’offre») et d’Arthur MacEwan
(«Options technologiques, répartition des revenus et libre-échange») sont
également des plus utiles. Partant de l’expérience européenne, Fontagné
distingue deux dynamiques d’intégration selon la complémentarité des
avantages comparatifs inter-nationaux. S’ils sont de types horizontaux (c’està-dire s’il circule des produits finis au niveau régional), une protection accrue
vis-à-vis de la concurrence internationale est à envisager. Les avantages
comparatifs de types «verticaux» (circulation de biens intermédiaires)
annoncent une plus grande ouverture. Pour sa part, MacEwan conceptualise
les processus d’intégration régionaux comme des régimes en construction
dont les modalités résultent de choix politiques. En ce qui a trait à l’ALÉNA,
MacEwan est tranchant : «l’option des bas salaires est, à long terme, une option
à faible technologie».
Dans la troisième partie, deux chapitres sont à retenir. Brunelle et Deblock
poursuivent une réflexion déjà bien amorcée sur les différences entre
l’intégration européenne et nord-américaine dans un très bon chapitre
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Le Québec, les États-Unis et l’Amérique
(«Intégration économique, intégration sociale : analyse comparée entre
l’Amérique du Nord et l’Europe communautaire») où ils comparent les textes
fondateurs de l’Union Européenne (de Rome à Maastricht à l’Accord sur la
politique sociale) et de l’Amérique du Nord (l’ALÉ, l’ALÉNA, les accords
parallèles de septembre 1993 dans les domaines de l’environnement et du
travail), ainsi que les dépenses de protection sociale dans quelques secteurs
clés (la santé, l’éducation, les pensions...). D’une envergure comparable, le
chapitre de Bruno Théret («Quel avenir pour l’État-providence dans un
contexte d’intégration des marchés nationaux et de restructuration des
territoires politiques?») sépare l’État-providence de ses amarres nationales
pour le resituer dans l’espace régional. Ensemble, ces chapitres ancrent bien
des efforts plus spécifiques : le chapitre de Sylvie Morel («La sécurité du
revenu en matière de chômage : une comparaison France-Canada-Québec»),
ceux de George A. Le Bel («La part du judiciaire dans l’intégration sociale
continentale»), d’Ural Ayberk («L’Europe sociale : vers une nouvelle
politique communautaire»), de Gérard Boismenu («Protection sociale et
stratégie défensive au Canada et aux États-Unis») et d’André Corten (un
excellent chapitre intitulé (Le Mexique et l’État nourricier : la démocratisation
si ne qua non!).
Notes
1.
2.
Ricardo Grinspun et Robert Kreklewich, «Consolidating Neoliberal Reforms: “Free Trade”
as a Conditioning Framework», Studies in Political Economy, 43 (Printemps 1994) : 33-61.
Clyde H. Farnworth, «Quebec, by Razor-Thin Margin, Votes “No” on leaving Canada»,
New York Times, 31 octobre 1995, pages A1 et A12.
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David Leyton-Brown
Perspectives on Canada-United States Free Trade
G. Bruce Doern and Brian W. Tomlin, Faith & Fear: The Free Trade Story,
Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Co., 1991
Michael Hart, with Bill Dymond and Colin Robertson, Decision At Midnight:
Inside the Canada-US Free-Trade Negotiations, Vancouver: UBC Press,
1994
Marci McDonald, Yankee Doodle Dandy: Brian Mulroney and the American
Agenda, Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Co., 1995
A folktale from India tells of three blind men asked to describe an elephant
brought before them. The first reached out his hand, touched the elephant’s leg
and said, “The elephant is tall, round and rough, like a tree.” The second
touched the elephant’s tail and said, “No, the elephant is round, but thin and
smooth, like a snake.” The third touched the elephant’s ear and said, “The
elephant is thin and flat, like a giant leaf.” Free trade between Canada and the
United States is an elephant, and while the authors of the three books addressed
here are far from blind, their perspectives on the free trade negotiations, and on
the significance and impact of the Canada-United States Free Trade
Agreement (FTA), differ considerably. In each case, the subtitle is a good
guide to the tone and essence of the book.
The divergent character, purpose and perspective of these three books reflect
the expertise and vantage point of their authors. Doern and Tomlin are
academics — professors respectively of public administration and political
science at Carleton University — who present a scholarly analysis of the
origins, negotiation and impact of the FTA. Hart, Dymond and Robertson are
public servants who, as members of Canada’s Trade Negotiations Office, were
directly involved in the free trade negotiations from beginning to end and offer
an insiders’ account of process and substance. McDonald, a journalist, was
Washington Bureau Chief for Maclean’s magazine throughout the period of
Brian Mulroney’s prime ministership, and writes of the damage she alleges
was done to Canada’s values and interests by Mulroney and his policies. None
of these books presumes to conduct a systematic economic analysis of the
FTA’s provisions and consequences, though economic analysis is certainly
not absent. Rather, all three emphasize the political dimension of the free trade
story, and of the broader Canada-United States relationship. After a brief
review of the nature and approach of the three books, to set a context for
appreciating their arguments, their positions will be contrasted to explore
several important questions about Canada-United States free trade.
International Journal of Canadian Studies / Revue internationale d’études canadiennes
13, Spring/Printemps 1996
IJCS / RIÉC
Doern and Tomlin engage in an objective and balanced scholarly analysis
which is not ideologically committed either to support for or opposition to the
FTA. Their award-winning book is based on published literature, government
documents and over a hundred confidential interviews with officials and other
participants in the process in both countries. They provide a thorough
historical account of the negotiations accompanied by an analysis of several
fundamental questions: Why did Mulroney and his government decide to
pursue free trade after previously opposing the idea? (i.e., how did free trade
get on the policy agenda?) How were the negotiations managed politically, and
how well did Canadian negotiators perform? (i.e., was Canada out-negotiated,
or did Canada succeed in the free trade negotiations?) Did the actual FTA
make economic sense for Canada, given the available alternatives and the
economic context of the times? Did the 1988 election legitimize the free trade
agreement? What impact has the FTA and all that surrounds it had on Canada
and Canadian policy? As this list of questions makes clear, while Doern and
Tomlin specifically address the free trade story, they extend that story beyond
the negotiations and agreement themselves to their aftermath in the 1988
election and the political challenge mounted against the agreement.
Hart and his colleagues began writing their account while free trade
negotiations were proceeding. As public servants, their ability to publish is
subject to government permission, and that permission was withheld for
almost six years until the topic became less sensitive. As participants in the
process, they provide an insiders’ view which is encyclopaedic in detail, to the
extent of contrasting the refreshments available at negotiating sessions at
different sites in the two countries, or explaining the mixed CanadianAmerican teams in a recreational softball game intended to preclude any
lopsided outcome. Amid the book’s wealth of invaluable detail is treatment of
such issues as federal-provincial relations, media coverage and opinion poll
data, and a fascinating look at behind-the-scenes bureaucratic maneuvering.
They are typically thorough and objective, for example, fairly presenting and
summarizing the arguments made by opponents as well as supporters of free
trade at public hearings. However, as avid supporters of free trade and the
FTA, their disdain for opponents occasionally shines through.
McDonald offers a lively and readable yet highly critical account of the course
of Canada-United States relations in the Mulroney years. She argues that as a
direct result of Mulroney’s policies, and his attempts to please and curry
favour with Presidents Reagan and Bush, and with U.S. business and political
leaders, Canada has become to its disadvantage more closely bound to the
United States, and to policies inspired and shaped by the United States and its
corporate elite. While free trade is the centerpiece of the book, she also deals
with other important issues in the Canada-United States relationship like acid
rain, defence relations (the Gulf War and changes in NORAD) and Canada’s
involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal. McDonald is a prominent journalist,
and writes with a political journalist’s preoccupation with personalities. She
presents an extensive list of colourful biographical sketches of political and
business leaders, and attributes most of her explanation to the interconnections
among them. Indeed, the book is very much an exercise in conspiracy theory,
based on the premise that one should be judged by the company one keeps, and
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Perspectives on Canada-United States Free Trade
presuming that because an individual once worked for, or with, another that the
former’s opinions and interests are thereby determined by the latter.
With those brief descriptions of each book in mind, we now to turn to a number
of questions about free trade and the FTA where the contrast in perspectives
offered by the various authors might help to illuminate the nature of the
elephant. The first such question deals with the identification of the principal
causal factors which prompted Canada to pursue the free trade option. In
Doern and Tomlin’s suitably scholarly analysis, there were several supporting
factors, from economic analyses by the Macdonald Commission and the
Economic Council of Canada to lobbying by the Canadian business
community. However, the ultimate decision to launch the free trade
negotiations was a personal political, but not ideological, judgement by
Mulroney himself. He believed that this course offered the best prospects of
reducing the impact on Canadian exporters of the effects of rising U.S.
protectionism, and also of promoting national reconciliation by
accommodating both Quebec and Western Canada. Hart calls for much more
emphasis on the early efforts of a small band of bureaucrats who persevered in
the face of initial opposition from the bureaucratic establishment as well as the
political leadership, and the timidity of much of the Canadian business
community to promote the visibility and attractiveness of free trade. Without
any single grand turning point, support for free trade grew gradually.
McDonald, on the other hand, attributes the origins of free trade clearly and
directly to the personal interests of the U.S. corporate elite and to those
political figures inextricably connected to them. Her focus on personal
connections enlivens her account, but creates the impression of a seamless web
of consistent and inter-connected pressures all working in the same direction to
make the outcome inevitable.
A related question concerns identifying the key actor in the story. For Doern
and Tomlin, and for Hart, the complexity of the story necessarily involves a
multiplicity of key players. However, despite the prominence of others, like
Mulroney himself, or Simon Reisman, Canada’s chief negotiator, Doern and
Tomlin’s account suggests that the “hero” of the story was Derek Burney, who
was initially instrumental in persuading a reluctant bureaucracy to put the free
trade option before its political masters and, when negotiations had been
suspended, was finally the key figure in the eleventh-hour resolution of a
successful deal. For Hart, despite the acknowledged contributions of Burney,
the central figure is unquestionably Reisman. It is hardly surprising in a book
written by members of the Trade Negotiations Office, about the free trade
negotiations, that the chief negotiator should figure so prominently. However,
Hart compellingly portrays Reisman as an almost larger-than-life figure
whose personal vision and indomitable energy were pivotal in the process.
McDonald, by contrast, casts Brian Mulroney as the villain of the piece. She
holds him personally responsible for the FTA, and for its attendant impact on
Canadian cultural values and social programs. But even so, he is portrayed in
many ways as a proxy for the real though impersonal protagonist — U.S.
corporate interests .
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Next, it is of interest to contrast the portrayal of United States politics and the
U.S. decision-making process. Doern and Tomlin interviewed Americans as
well as Canadians, and describe a political system familiar to students of the
political science literature. The United States is depicted as a system in which
the separation of powers causes structural conflict between legislative and
executive branches, and especially between President and Congress. Multiple
points of access are open to private interests and readily exploited by those
interests. Interests and policy objectives emerge through the interplay of these
various governmental and non-governmental forces. Hart carries this picture
of a fragmented decision-making process to a considerable extreme, with the
passion understandable only from those who have struggled for years to come
to grips with the elusive and ambiguous character of U.S. policy. Not only do
Hart provide fascinating examples of the Byzantine nature of the U.S. policy
process, he also argues that its nature largely prevented the free trade
negotiations from receiving high-level political attention in Washington until
the very end, when it appeared that “fast track” negotiating authority might
expire without an agreement being reached. Again, the greater contrast is with
McDonald, who sees the United States as the driver in the negotiations, and
who depicts U.S. policy as straightforward in its pursuit of interest.
Related to the question of the U.S. process is the identification of U.S.
objectives in the free trade negotiations. Doern and Tomlin straightforwardly
describe the objectives enunciated by the President, Congress and the United
States Trade Representative. The more interesting issue here lies in the
different interpretations offered by Hart and McDonald. Hart contrasts
Canada, with its large vision of a free-standing, comprehensive trade and
investment agreement between the world’s two largest trading partners, to the
objectives of the United States, limited to resolving some outstanding trade
irritants and making a head start on the multilateral trade negotiating agenda.
U.S. objectives are understood as economic rather than political, and as
specific rather than general. For Hart, this contrast between the Canadian
vision and the absence of vision on the part of the United States is a theme that
runs throughout the book, and is important in explaining both the progress of
the negotiations and their outcome. McDonald, on the other hand, sees vision
on the U.S. side and absence of vision (or perhaps assimilation of the U.S.
vision) in Canada. McDonald portrays U.S. objectives as fundamentally
political rather than economic, and as clear, consistent and long term. In her
analysis, the fundamental U.S. objective was to lock Canada into the neoconservative domestic policies pursued by the Mulroney government, to
preclude any possibility that a future Canadian government might seek to
reverse course and reintroduce interventionist and nationalistic policies like
the Foreign Investment Review Act or the National Energy Program. The fact
that Mulroney happily shared that objective only confirms for McDonald his
characterization as a captive of the mindthink of the U.S. business elite, more
concerned with pleasing his U.S. reference group than serving Canadian
interests.
Perhaps the greatest contrast among these books lies in their assessment of the
outcome of the free trade negotiations and their evaluation of the FTA.
McDonald’s position is clear and negative. For her, there is scant benefit for
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Perspectives on Canada-United States Free Trade
Canada in the FTA, which serves the political interests of the United States,
binds Canada more closely to the conservative policy agenda of the United
States, resulting in serious loss of Canadian values and threat to the future of
Canadian cultural and social policies. Doern and Tomlin both assess the
specific themes of the FTA, and speculate about its future impact. However,
their similar methodologies lead to somewhat different conclusions,
especially on the question of how well Canada’s negotiators performed.
Doern and Tomlin conclude that Canada was out-negotiated by the
Americans, not because of any personal failings on the part of the Canadian
negotiators, but because the Canadian government wanted the deal more than
did the Americans, and was therefore more willing to make concessions. They
base their judgement on three criteria: who moved most to achieve agreement,
who secured more of their agenda and who came closer to achieving their key
goals. Doern and Tomlin conclude that both Canada and the United States
wanted and achieved agreement on tariff reductions and energy. The United
States wanted, and Canada did not oppose, agreement on the general service
sector and financial services. They give greatest weight to disputed issues
which one country wanted to negotiate and the other wanted to exclude.
American issues included wine and distilled spirits, the Auto Pact and
investment. Canadian issues were government procurement, trade remedies
and the exclusion of culture and agricultural supply management. They
conclude that the United States was more successful than Canada at securing
agreement on the items that it brought to the table, and preventing agreement
on the issues brought by Canada. In terms of the negotiating process, they
further suggest that Peter Murphy, the United States chief negotiator,
effectively forced Reisman to lay out his positions on issues of interest to the
United States, while denying Canada any movement at all on issues with
which Murphy did not wish to deal (pp. 278-9). According to Doern and
Tomlin, by the time that negotiations were suspended, this strategy had
conceded little to the Canadians, but had placed the essential elements of a
continental energy agreement and an investment regime on the table.
Hart explicitly rebuts this conclusion (p. 414, footnote 5), arguing that Doern
and Tomlin elevate bargaining tactics over strategic objectives. In his view,
Murphy’s strategy responded well to U.S. interest group politics, but provided
little room for the introduction of a positive vision based on U.S. strategic
objectives, or for action after the negotiations were suspended and elevated to
the political level in the final days. Hart also assesses the negotiating outcome
differently. In terms of Canadian negotiating objectives, he contends that
Canada achieved: success on partial elimination of the tariff, business travel
and security of access with regard to safeguard procedures; compromise on
automotive trade, energy and wine and distilled spirits; a qualified success on
trade remedies (an important step in the right direction with the binding dispute
settlement mechanisms, but an unfinished agenda with regard to new rules);
and disappointment only on government procurement. By contrast, the United
States achieved: success on elimination of tariffs and border barriers, financial
services and new rules for export restrictions (especially concerning energy);
partial success on services and investment; and no progress on intellectual
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property, cultural irritants or new discipline on Canadian subsidies. Hart
concludes that the balance of advantage in the FTA lay with Canada.
The impact of the FTA on the 1988 federal election was addressed in only two
of the books. Hart stops at the conclusion of the negotiations, and does not deal
with the ensuing election. Doern and Tomlin analyse the election and
recognize that the FTA was more for most Canadians than simply a trade
agreement, but also a reconstruction of the entire Canada-U.S. relationship and
possibly of the role of the state in Canadian political life. The single issue of
free trade dominated the 1988 election to an almost unprecedented extent,
deeply dividing the electorate between two different national visions. Doern
and Tomlin argue, however, with the support of data from a variety of election
studies and exit polls, that while the election produced a parliamentary
mandate for implementation of the FTA because of the Progressive
Conservative majority, there was no majority among Canadian voters either
for or against the FTA. McDonald’s principal point concerning the election is
that the FTA was oversold, especially regarding the impact of the dispute
settlement provisions on future trade complaints by the United States.
Certainly, the polarization of opinion in the election campaign led to
exaggerated claims by some advocates and opponents of the FTA, and also to
some exaggerated expectations on the part of individual Canadians. The
frustration of some of those expectations has coloured political developments
in the succeeding eight years.
A final question concerns the interpretation of the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). Doern and Tomlin do not address NAFTA, as their
book is concerned only with the bilateral trade negotiations, the FTA itself, and
the ensuing federal election. However, they are currently working on another
book dealing with the NAFTA negotiations. Hart touches briefly on NAFTA
by observing that the most telling vote of confidence in the FTA came not from
Canada but from Mexico: within two years after the FTA was signed, Mexican
officials began inquiring about whether the U.S. and Canadian governments
were willing to extend the same rules and obligations to Mexico. McDonald,
the most recent of the authors, offers the most scathing treatment of NAFTA.
Consistent with her argument about the underlying political objectives of the
United States in the Canada-U.S. free trade negotiations, she sees NAFTA as
part of a grand U.S. design dating back to the Monroe Doctrine. She argues
that, as was the case in the FTA, the principal U.S. objective was to lock in the
partner’s market-oriented economic reforms (this time of the Salinas
government in Mexico) to ensure that no future government would be able to
undo them. She further complains that Canada was doubly disadvantaged in
NAFTA, first by being an overlooked afterthought rather than a co-equal
partner of the United States and, secondly, by being locked in to a variety of
unexpected financial obligations, such as the bailout of the Mexican peso in
the currency crisis
We are left with a pivotal development in the history of Canada and the
Canada-United States relationship which is still incompletely understood. We
do not yet know whether the FTA cushioned Canada’s experience in the
recession of the 1990s and accelerated its recovery, or worsened the recession
182
Perspectives on Canada-United States Free Trade
and delayed recovery. We do not yet know if the best hopes and worst fears of
economic, political social and cultural consequences will be realized. These
books offer some illumination, but none contains all the answers. To return to
the status quo ante, to a country and a world in which the free trade option was
never explored, it impossible. The challenge to all Canadians is to maximize
the benefits and minimize the costs the free trade.
183

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