In Two, The Cold War, and the Afghanistan

In this essay, I will explain how Canada’s autonomy has been most positively influenced by war and the factors which led up to canadian autonomy today. Canada has come a long way since the days when it was just a colony of britain, but now Canada is now a fully sovereign country thanks to their War and peacekeeping efforts through the decades. Battle of Somme, World War Two, The Cold War, and the Afghanistan War were all factors that contributed towards a further autonomous nation. These efforts have not been for nothing and in the end it has propelled Canada to reach their goals; To be recognised as an independent, strong, and influential country on the world stage. One of the key events that led up to Canada’s autonomy was the battle of somme. Somme was a major offensive attack by the the Allies against the Germans, was fought in hope that it would break stalemate and relieve pressure in Verdun. Somme was the largest battle on the western front for Canada and to many this battle was a failure symbolised the horrors that world war one had to bring. Even though Canada joined world war one because they were under British rule, it did not mean that Canada could not demonstrate their bravery as a country and most importantly show the world Canada was not a force to be reckoned with. The result of this led to Prime Minister Sir Robert Borden progressing Canada’s autonomy further and Canada was able to independently sign the Treaty of Versaille. “as autonomous nations of an Imperial Commonwealth,” (which should have a) “voice in foreign policy and in foreign relations” (Borden, N.D). This quote solidifies the point how the war had immense effect on Canada Autonomy and shows how had hard Borden tried to grasp autonomy for Canada. On the contrary, some may argue that Canada was never fully independent because when they weren’t a British colony, the United States would always be there the whole way to hold Canada’s hand. This can be seen in Canada’s heavy reliability on investments from the United States. This would in turn strip Canada’s opportunity to be truly autonomous. Although this may be true, Canada’s participation in the World War was truly a major stepping stone that lead up to their independence. The Second World War was another determining factor that paved the way for Canada’s road to autonomy. “Canada, as a free nation of the British Commonwealth, is bringing her cooperation voluntarily. Our effort will be voluntary”(King, 1939). World War Two was the first time Canada joined a war by choice, to Canadians, this signified how far Canada have come as a nation in terms of independence. After joining the war, Canada transformed into a economic powerhouse. Canada manufactured various supplies for the Allies to use overseas, such as guns, ammunition, tanks, and plane. Not to mention these supplies were all delivered by Canadians themselves through high skies and vast oceans swarming with enemy forces. Apart from this, Canada also played a big part in the war by providing resources to the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Due to Canada’s broad landscape, they were chosen as the base for the BCATP. Hundreds of training bases were set up across Canada. Over the span of just five years (1940-1945) Canada trained over 130,000 people all specialising in different jobs: pilots, air crew members, and navigators. Young men from all across Canada chose to give their lives for their country. Without Canada’s contribution, the Allies may have not had the same outcome. Throughout World War Two, Canada showcased immense war efforts, thus further demonstrating Canada’s autonomy.During the Cold War, Canada joined NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), a military alliance involving Canada, the United States, Britain, and other Western European countries against the threat of the Soviet Union. Canada ended up lacking control of its foreign policy because of the membership and had to adapt its defense policy so it would align with those of its allies. Canada built and supplied military bases overseas, and Canadian ships and aircrafts tracked the movements of Soviet submarines. This showed the value of Canada in a time of war, not only to neighboring nations, but to Canadian citizens as well – thus lifting pride and nationalism. However, as a middle power, Canada found itself in the position of being able to effectively represent the interests of smaller nations. Though this did have its benefits, it kept Canada from being one of the ‘big five’ of the United Nations Security Council and perhaps blocked other nations from seeing the importance of Canada – a feat seen even today. Along with NATO, Canada’s prime minister signed an agreement with the US known as NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command). This was a joint coordinated continental air defense against communist countries (namely, the Soviet Union), and a Canadian command post was established deep inside the tunnels at North Bay, Ontario. NORAD was a joint control between America and Canada, meaning that the ‘power’ was shared and didn’t ultimately fall into America’s hands as the ‘leader’. At least, that’s how it was written out on paper – it could be argued that it wasn’t so. Although Canada played a key role in drafting the United Nations Charter, as Canadian John Humphrey was the leading author of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Canadian peacekeepers have been involved in almost every United Nations operation since the start of the missions in 1956, Canada was not one of the ‘big five’ of the United Nations. The big five are key figures in the United Nations and are given VETO power in the Security Council that allows them to stop further action of the UN with one vote ‘no’. Canada has been a consistent member of the United Nations, yet Canada remains to this day to be excluded from being part of the ‘big five’. This could be seen as other nations seeing Canada as less important and not as valued as others, and can perhaps be attributed to the fact of Canada being a “middle power”. Justin Trudeau, Canada’s current prime minister, has requested that Canada be added to the big five, though Canadians have yet to see the outcome. The first conflict the United Nations faced after World War Two was the Korean War in 1950. Canada sent more than 25 000 soldiers, which were led by American General Douglas MacArthur, rather than a Canadian general. Over 1500 Canadians were wounded, and five hundred and sixteen died, and yet the veterans did not receive the same rights as those from the Second World War and the Canadian government did not even acknowledge or recognize the contributions of their soldiers – which is why the Korean War is deemed “The Forgotten War”. This was very minimal in effecting Canada’s autonomy, if not downgrading it from the surprising reactions of the Canadian government. The Suez Canal Crisis, which was the second major test of the United Nations, did make greater advancements to Canada’s independence as a nation, as it was Canadian Lester Pearson who proposed the solution of placing peacekeepers (United Nations Emergency Force) in the region to de-escalate the crisis. He was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his actions and Canada gained a reputation on the international stage as a peaceful and impartial country, a reputation which is still seen even today. Not only that, but the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was sent to the Suez area under the command of a Canadian general, rather than an American general as seen previously. The last major event in the 1950s regarding Canada’s political autonomy was the Avro Arrow project, which was scrapped due to cost. Many see this as a missed opportunity for Canada to contribute to space and aeronautics and left Canada heavily dependent on America for protection against possible Soviet attacks. Overall, the most influential event that helped to further develop Canada’s autonomy was Lester Pearson’s actions revolving the Suez Canal Crisis. However, other than that, the level of independence found in the 1950s was very minimal at best.