Canadas Significant Role In The Cold War History Essay
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
There is no doubt that the future of the world depended on the outcome of the cold war. Starting immediately after the end of world war two, the US and the Soviets raced to spread their political views, and win the never ending arms race. The US represented democracy and believed in the freedom of people, whereas the USSR stood for communism, and believed the success of the country is more important than individual needs (CBC, 1). The different ideologies and national interests led the two superpowers into an indirect cold war (hrsbstaff, 1). Both sides signed defence treaties, such as NATO, NORAD and the Warsaw pact, to prepare for an attack (hrsbstaff, 1-7). The heated paranoia from the space and arms race, led to lots of military spending (CBC, 3). Canada contributed significantly to war efforts by helping to stop the spread of communism, taking civil defence measures and making strong military alliances (hrsbstaff, 4-6).
Communism was spread throughout the world like a plague, so the Western Allies including Canada had to fight the battle to stop it. First off, the discovery of the soviet spy scandal was one of the main reasons Canada was thrust into war (Knight, ix). Canada felt the Soviets presence, and didn’t want to end up being infested with communism. Canada knew that it had to work together with its geographically attached partner, to protect both nations, and pull Europe out of the Soviets rule. So, together both countries established and funded the Marshall plan. The idea was to help countries in Europe to rebuild, so they could be stronger and more prepared in case of a Soviet invasion (Funfront, 22). The plan was very successful and in the end, could have been a key factor in deciding who won. Lastly, to further defend and keep peace, Canada became one of the founding members of United Nations. Their mission was to ensure collective security and avoid wars (Whittaker, 62-66). It was vital for Canada to intervene with the worlds affairs, and significantly contribute along with the U.S. to stop the war over communism and capitalism before it got out of hand. For the better of the people a democratic government, is fairer and will actually help its citizens. Many countries disagreed with communism, but were not strong enough to defend themselves from the soviet takeover. Therefore it was up to the few independent countries to stop communism, and bring back independence to the countries that lost it.
While Canada focuses mainly on over sea support, it also took some pre-cautionary civil defence measures in case of a nuclear attack on its homeland. Firstly, the treat of a nuclear attacked caused a lot of paranoia. The Soviets were advancing their technology at alarming rates, and had even surpassed the U.S at some point. With the development of nuclear bombs, the soviets were just 1-2 years behind (CBC. Cold war Canada). Although the main worry was not the type of bomb developed, it was who had the biggest arsenal of stockpiled nuclear weaponry. To defend Canada’s homeland and protect its people, the government took drastic action to create safety bunkers and develop secret plans to watch its people. Bomb shelters went up all across the country, many families had even dug one up in their backyard, since the chances of a nuclear attack was getting so high. The government decided to create its own, called the Diefenbaker (archives.cbc, entire clip). It was a place for all government and military officials to take refuge, in the very secure and unbreakable bomb shelter. It can be seen, that so many people from that time believed a nuclear war was on the brink of happening. Lastly, as a final measure to prevent communism from taking over Canada, the government crafted a secret plan called PROFUNC (CBC.Communist.Blacklist). The program was devised by the RCMP in the 1950s, and had power to detain thousands of suspected communists in a national security threat. PROFUNC watched over possibly everyone and had over 66000 suspects on its blacklist. These suspects were subject to any punishment, if given and were secretly under close surveillance. In conclusion, with a nuclear war on the edge of breaking out, the paranoia slowly gets into everyone and forces some drastic defence measures to be put up by the government.
There is no question, that during the cold war, a lot was at stake, so to protect itself and win the war, Canada made many strategic military alliances . Firstly, in 1949 the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded, to unify the strengths of the Western Allies in response to a possible invasion by the USSR. NATO was economically advantages for Canada, because it bound some new trading partners with it (Whitaker, 9). It also gave Canadians some more security, in case an attack occurred in Canada. This was for the first time that Canada had committed to a major alliance, and it proved Canada’s loyalty. Secondly, a radar warning system was composed in Northern Canada, to prevent an over the pole invasion of North America. The U.S. considered an invasion from the Arctic a serious threat and suggested to make three radar lines, including the distant, mid and early lines to detect any approaching attack (hrsbstaff. Global history, 7). With Canadian workers and American financial aid the entire system was completed between 1954 and 1957. The intensity of the cold war can be seen, when we examine how fast the technology advanced during that time. The radar warning lines became useless in 1957, very shortly just after they were completed, because they could not detect the new ICMB’s the Soviets used with their Sputnik satellite. Lastly, to further defend North America, NORAD was signed collaboratively between the U.S and Canada in 1958. This alliance meant that both countries will unite their air forces and work together in any emergency (archives.CBC, 1). The U.S. and Canada had become very heavily reliant on each other during the cold war. Therefore, the war helped to push Canada to the next level of a middle power, because of all the relationships opened up, from working together.
Canada had an important role in the war, to stop communism and protect our nation, by making powerful political relationships that still exist today. The cold war was all about being the strongest and most powerful country. The soviets and the U.S. battled for many long years proving their strengths and putting fear into the other countries. Canada was a part of many conflicting alliances, but still managed to keep peace between powerful nations. Canada also played a huge role in supporting Europe and keeping those countries independent (edu.gov, 1). The commitment of Canada can be seen, since it was one of the founding members of the UN, and has participated in many peacekeeping missions since then. (Worldly Statement)
Canada in the Cold War
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Knight, A. W. (2007). How the cold war began. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers.
Whitaker, R., & Hewitt, S. (2003). Canada and the Cold War. Toronto: Lorimer.
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