Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Canada and the Cold War

As WW2 came to a close and the United Nations moved towards hoping to be able to provide collective security the world plunged into a prolonged conflict that would see battles fought on many different fronts. The Cold War was a battle of politics, military tensions and sometimes conflicts. But primarily this was a war of conflicting ideologies. Capitalism vs Communism. Democracy vs Totalitarianism. The United States and the Western World vs The Soviet Union and her satellite states.

Due to our Geographic position we were put right in the middle of these two super powers. Yet, due to our political allegiance we always took the side of the United States, while not always approving of their actions.

Take a look at the following links and comment on some of the tensions that existed during the Cold War and how they affected Canada. Try to pick one of the following themes to look at:

Soviet Spies
The Red Scare and Fears of Communist subversion
Suez Canal Crisis and Peace keeping
Women and the threat of Nuclear War
Canada and U.S. tensions
Politics and Sports - The Summit Series

The Summit Series


  1. The fact that everyone got so scared that the communists were invading Canada that they believed anyone who did anything remotely communist was a communist, is a testament to how well government propaganda worked at the time. Because if everyone just hated those communists then there wouldnt be a chance for them to usurp the government. However, i think that the Red Scare probably worked a little too well, much like the witch burnings really made people throw logic out of the plane, if there even was logic to begin with.(There wasnt).

  2. In June 1945 at the United Nation’s Conference, Canada’s Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, and his Secretary of State, Louis St. Laurent, proposed that Canada could contribute to the Cold War by preserving peace. The role of Canada as a peacekeeping nation was realized during the Suez Canal Crisis of 1956. Egypt had seized control of the Suez Canal, and this resulted in a conflict with Britain, France, and Israel. The Soviets threatened that they would support Egypt’s position, and this increased tensions with their rival, USA. Canada’s role was crucial as peacekeepers during this crisis since they defused the hostilities and resulted in a ceasefire between the enemies.

  3. Canada was thrusted into the cold war in an unexpected pace. out of no option, Canada chose the US side. Afterwards there was a "communism phobia" that spread wide across Canada. Anyone that had so much hint the support for communism was immediately thought of as a spy. Canada was also part of the fight between north and south korea. They were especially proud of this because they believe they are doing a world a favor. I believe that the fear of communism was overly strong. The government were especially effective in the use of films to make fear for communism.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Ok my fault, that is my brother's email up top. Ignore Please, Denis

  6. The Summit Series was where the tension brought about by the Cold War found a place to simmer and rise to dangerous levels. Canada and Russia were the most bitter of bitter hockey rivals. Scott Billeck likens the amount of tension to being so tight that a linoleum knife could deal a killer blow. It wasn't just a fight for prowess in hockey but a fight for ideologies. Canada was fighting against communism; Soviet Russia was fighting for communism.
    This was the first tournament that NHL players took part in but the fight wasn't as easy as the Canadians thought. The series was strung bitterly even between the two countries all the way to the last game. It is indeed interesting how Canada finds a way to show one of its few world- stage powers to 'fight' against communism.

  7. Women have protested against Nuclear Warfare (and Weapons of Mass Destruction) for many years now. This can be traced back to 1954, when many women in the Unites States protested the testing of the Atomic Bomb in Bikini Atoll. This was the first major uprising, since a Japanese fishing boat was caught amidst the radiation, which scared many women. This was the start of female protest against WMDs. There are many reasons why women in particular do not support nuclear weapons. First, chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons can cause massive birth defects to children. When women are pregnant, there was a fear that the radiation poisoning would harm the baby. Also, the war on nuclear weapons, concerning females, gave women more freedom. Since many protests have been led by men, women could now stand in front to defend themselves in socially-accepted way.

  8. The Suez Canal Crisis is prime example of Cold War politics, as it more or less just another face off between the soviets and capitalist powers without coming into actually conflict by using other nations to get their goals accomplished in this case with Russia providing Egypt with arms. The crisis however did give Canada and Lester B. Pearson a chance to earn a reputation as peace keepers in the world by proposing the idea of a UN peacekeeping force to replace British and French troops in the area while a more diplomatic solution was worked on. The Suez Canal had every chance to turn the Cold War into a real conflict had Lester B. Pearson and the UN stepped in with their peacekeeping plan, which from then on cemented Canada's image as a peacekeeping nation.
    Charles T.

  9. The sporting world often reflect the political tensions between nations. Other than Canada's triumph in the Summit Series with the Soviet Union, some important athletic events that featured effects of the Cold War were the Olympics. The 1980 Summer Games was held in Moscow, and the United States chose to boycott the games in order to protest the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Many other nations such as Britain and France corroborated the American cause, but still allowed athletes to participate. The Americans banned all of the athletes from competing. Some other nations such as Switzerland and Belgium only refused to participate in the opening ceremonies. In response to the American boycott, the Soviets and its communist counterparts and satellite states boycotted the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. The 1984 Games is often viewed as Canada's moment of glory in summer sports, because Canada finished sixth in the overall medal count. Surprising, China did not follow the Soviets and participated in the games and finished fourth in the medal count.

  10. An often overlooked tension during the Cold War is the relationship between Canada and the United States. Canada was forced to work in conjunction with the US because of its geographical position, but it was a less direct opponent of communism and communism ideas. Because of this, Canada has opposed America on fronts during the Cold War. Initially, because of the great tension and worry during the time, Canada was content with working in conjunction with the US. As the threat of Communism because slightly less, though still very, important, Canada began to reject some American policies. Canada recognized and interacted with both the communist government of China and Cuba in addition to rejecting the placement of nuclear warheads. Canadian Prime Minister Pearson openly criticized the US in the Vietnam war. This rejection of some American ideas shows that despite working closely together, Canada and the US have different ideologies and therefore have some conflict and tension.

  11. In the early 1950's the Suez Canal (Egypt), was a vital transportation corridor; originally controlled by British/French investors. In 1956, Egyptian President, Nasser, nationalized the canal, which infuriated foreign investors, fearing European oil supplies would be jeopardized. In a private deal, Israel was to invade Egypt, where by Britain and France would present an ultimatum to Egypt, which they knew would be declined. Upon rejection of the proposal, Britain and France came to the assistance of Israel and subsequently the Soviets to the aid of Egypt; setting the stage for an international crisis. However Canada's Prime Minister, Lester B. Pearson, created a mandate for a UN Peacekeeping Force, which acted as a neutral force protecting the area until diplomatic resolve was a attained. The significance of this crisis, during the Cold War period, was that Pearson and ultimately Canada, were considered the Father of the modern concept of Peacekeeping, for which Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957.

  12. Soviet Spies

    In the year of 1945, Canada was in a state of chaos. World War 2 has ended but a Russian man by the name of Igor Gouzenko informs Canada of a war that will occur soon. He has the documents with the evidence that war is coming and the names of those who were spying on the North American countries for nuclear technology research. At first, Canadians thought of him only as a lunatic saying that the timeframe they are in is the timeframe of the post-war peace time. But after events like how Igor Gouzenko was attacked, the Canadians had a sense of paranoia which travelled all over North America at an alarming rate. At once the Canadians took action and took all the people on the list to trial and convicted some of them for spying for the soviets while they rest were living under suspicion. The main legacy left behind though is that the relations between the Soviet and the Western powers were continually becoming abysmal because of these acts of suspicion by the Soviets.

  13. The Voice of Women

    Women in Canada played a critical role in opposing nuclear weapons in Canada. Peggy Hope-Simpson is credited with starting this movement. She got much support from other women across the country because they knew what it felt like to lose a spouse or son in war. Lotta Dempsey a writer in the Toronto Star also encouraged women to support her in trying to stop Canada from owning nuclear weapons. From these advances, the group the Voice of Women was formed. The women kept fighting to remove the warheads from Canadian soil and eventually in 1971 Prime Minister Trudeau decommissioned the warheads. The Voice of Women is now called the Canadian Voice of Women for Peace.

    ~Harmillan Oberoi

  14. After World War II, Communism was considered as a foul practice in North America. Democracy was the dominant political view at the time. As a result, anyone who was not 100% democratic/anti-communist were considered as spies and were put under close watch. In the United States, more radical means were used as they conducted "witch hunts" for communists. Canada proceeded to "clean" it from communism by introducing security checks. In one year, 70,000 checks were conducted. The RCMP checked from civil servants to trade unionists. Eventually the hunt for communists died down

  15. The Summit Series was an intense bout between the Russians and Canadians. The Russians were dominating the sport and were a major world power at the time. There are two ways that the Summit Series can be seen as. The first is as a realistic symbol for the Cold War. Since there was no 'real' conflict between the countries, the Summit Series could be seen as a way of bringing their own troubles to the table and battling it out on the ice. Instead of having people die then the players could represent their own country and attempt to prove to the others who is better and deserves to win. Another way of looking at the Summit Series is a way of brightening the relationship between each other. Sports can be seen as a common ground between people and is an area where people can gather and cheer for their own. Uniting one's own country behind their respective team in the Summit Series could assist in bringing them together and creating a mutual conflict between one another. Instead of looking back to the Cold War Era and only thinking of the Cold War itself, we can look at the brighter areas and see the Summit Series as a light in dark times.

  16. The Suez Canal in Egypt was secretly used by the British and the French in the early 50's, but it was shortly noticed by gamal abdul nasser who was the leader of Egypt, and tried to get it out of the British and the French's hands, so he nationalized it. Also all the commonwealth countries were supportive of that except Britain France and Israel who wanted to capture it. Therefore, lester Pearson from Canada and tried to keep peace between the countries and give the Suez Canal back to Egypt, he became successful and was awarded the Noble Prize.

  17. The summit series shows how great the tension between democratic countries and communist countries was. This series was the first series NHL players participated in, because this tournament was somewhat a symbolic war between democracy and communism. The games were full of dirty plays and unfair calls; what Canadians thought would be a domination for team Canada, turned out to be quite a match, as the Russians pushed the Canadians to the final match. Canada ended up winning the series, and the one who scored the series clinching goal, Paul Henderson, turned into a hero overnight. It is interesting to see such a global scale war between two distinct types of government take place on a little ice rink.

    - William Kim

  18. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HpYCplyBknI

    This link gave me a great understanding of what the cold war was all about. The Cold War was a war about military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition existing after World War II (1939–1945), primarily between the Soviet Union and its satellite states, and the powers of the Western world, particularly the United States, with the People's Republic of China launching its own independent campaign against the US.

  19. Politics and Sports - The Summit Series

    Here in Canada, we take pride in our innate ability to put a puck into a net...otherwise known as hockey. Due to our intense and prime winter conditions, its no wonder that the sport has grown so steadily throughout our history.
    A particular time period of note in our nation's hockey history was the Summit Series in 1972, at the height of the Cold War.

    Tensions were high as two opposing ideologies, communism and democracy, clashed in many parts of the world but particularly in Russia, the U.S and Canada.
    Without the outbreak of full-on war, there had to be some means for which to vent these pent-up frustrations and opinions. And what better way to display a nation's prowess over another then to play a game of hard-hitting hockey. The Summit Series, in a way, WAS the war that never happened between the Russians and the Canadians alongside their U.S allies, complete with the violence; although not fatally so.
    This long-standing tradition of hockey rivalry from the Cold War can still be seen today through the Olympics and other major sporting events involving both the Russians, the U.S and Canada. However, no other sport brings more vigor and excitement then watching two high-intensity teams duke it out on the ice.

    So to summarize who has appeared victorious from this sporting conflict starting from the Cold War until now?

    ......Did you even watch the Winter Olympics? Trucked.

    - Anthony