Chapter 10

Resilience, 1968–84: The Rise and Fall of Canadian Nationalism


24 March 1965 The first Teach-In began at the University of Michigan. Lasting 24 hours, the event was part protest, part educational experience, organized in opposition to the US war in Vietnam. Afterward, more than 100 teach-ins would be held in the US, Canada, and elsewhere, playing an important role in developing an anti-war movement. Canada’s first teach-in was held in October 1965 at the University of Toronto.
18 December 1968 Mohawks blocked the Seaway International Bridge linking Cornwall, Ontario, and Massena, New York. They were protesting the Canadian government’s practice of charging duty on products the Mohawks purchased in the United States. The Mohawk bridge blockade was one of several protests organized on both sides of the Canada–US border by Aboriginal people who considered themselves neither Canadian nor American.
22 May 1969 Immigration Minister Allan MacEachen clarified that Vietnam draft resisters would be admitted as immigrants to Canada. An estimated 30,000 to 125,000 draft dodgers and deserters entered Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Often highly critical of US policy, the draft dodgers had a strong influence in Canada, particularly on university campuses.
25 August 1969 The supertanker Manhattan began the first of two voyages from the Atlantic coast to northern Alaska. Humble Oil, a subsidiary of Standard Oil (later Exxon), sailed the ship through the Northwest Passage to test the feasibility of transporting oil across the Arctic by tanker. Concerned about the environment, Canada declared a 100-mile pollution prevention zone in the Arctic, a claim the US government rejected.
22 May 1970 The CRTC announced new Canadian content rules for radio and changes to the content rules for television. Effective 1 October 1970, 30 per cent of the music on AM stations had to be Canadian in one of four categories: music, lyrics, performer, or production. Effective 1 October 1971, music had to be Canadian in two of the categories to qualify. The rules for FM radio varied according to the station’s format. In addition, the CRTC announced a quota of 60 per cent Canadian content in prime-time television, up from the 55 per cent quota that had been in effect since 1962.
10 October 1970 Canada recognized the People’s Republic of China. Canada had previously considered recognizing the communist regime, but backed away for fear of annoying the Americans, who were committed to supporting the Chinese nationalist regime on the island of Taiwan. US officials were indeed annoyed when the Trudeau government recognized mainland China, but the US eventually followed suit in 1979.
15 August 1971 President Richard Nixon announced new economic measures, known as the Nixon Shock, including a temporary 10 per cent surtax on manufactured imports. In the past, Canada had been exempted from measures designed to deal with US international economic problems. This time the US refused to give Canada special treatment. In April 1972, Nixon told the Canadian Parliament that the special economic relationship between Canada and the US had come to an end.
17 October 1972 Two weeks before a federal election, External Affairs Minister Mitchell Sharp published Canada–US Relations: Options for the Future, which laid out three choices for Canadian policy toward the US. Sharp recommended that Canada pursue the Third Option: diversifying the Canadian economic ties to reduce the country’s reliance on the United States.
21 December 1972 The CRTC began to require cable companies, as a condition of licence renewal, to delete commercials on US stations. The goal was to encourage companies to advertise on Canadian rather than US stations.
13 September 1973 The federal government announced that a two-price system for crude oil would begin 1 October, including a 40 cent per barrel export tax on oil going to the US market. The price of oil had been rising dramatically as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) restricted supply. The two-price system was designed to shelter Canadian consumers from the price increases by requiring that Canadian oil (most of which came from Alberta) be sold at the old price at home but at the new international price abroad. Many Albertans resented Ontario and Quebec for being able to buy Alberta resources at below their market price.
26 November 1973 The House of Commons unanimously passed a bill to create the Foreign Investment Review Agency (FIRA), responsible for screening foreign investment in Canada. The US government was hostile to FIRA, though the agency approved most of the applications it received. In the 1980s, the Conservative government of Prime Minister Brian Mulroney renamed the agency Investment Canada and made it responsible for encouraging foreign investment in Canada.
6 December 1973 The federal government announced its intention to create Petro Canada to provide a Canadian presence in all aspects of the oil industry, from exploration and extraction to retail sale at the pump. The corporation came into being in 1975. In 1991, the Mulroney government began the privatization of Petro Canada.
28 October 1980 The federal government announced the National Energy Program (NEP). Ottawa now had a 25 per cent interest in all oil and gas development offshore and in the Yukon and Northwest Territories. Tax incentives for exploration were replaced with subsidies for resource companies based on their level of Canadian ownership. In the future, only companies with at least 50 per cent Canadian ownership could take part in oil and gas production offshore and in the northern territories. Taking advantage of falling oil prices in the mid-1980s, the Mulroney government eliminated most of the NEP’s provisions.