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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17800

Title: “It’s All About War: Canadian Opinion and the Canadian Approach to International Relations, 1935-1939.”
Authors: Metcalfe, Heather M.
Advisor: Bothwell, Robert
Department: History
Keywords: Canadian Foreign Policy
Canadian Sense of Identity
Canadian Public Opinion
National Unity
Canadian Imperialism
Interwar Period
Canadian-American Relations
Second World War
Royal Tour of 1939
Intellectuals in Canada
Issue Date: 24-Sep-2009
Abstract: Heather Metcalfe Doctoral Abstract, Ph.D. program, 2009 Department of History, University of Toronto “It’s All About War: Canadian Opinion and the Canadian Approach to International Relations, 1935-1939.” Canadians in the 1930s did not appear eager to focus on foreign affairs. The social and economic difficulties caused by the dislocation of the Great Depression meant that international developments often seemed remote and irrelevant. However, despite this focus on domestic issues, many Canadians were concerned with the trend of international events. As a result, the debate regarding the appropriate Canadian response remained an ongoing, if underlying, factor. In addition, the political issues raised by Canadian foreign policy, particularly through the Canadian involvement in the British Commonwealth and the League of Nations, meant the issue could not simply be ignored. During the later part of the decade, as the possibility of international conflict became ever more likely, increasing numbers of Canadians turned their attention to Canada’s international role. They also turned their attention to what this debate meant in terms of the Canadian sense of identity. These individuals were concerned as well with the response of Canadian public opinion to involvement overseas. This question, of the nature and susceptibility of Canadian public opinion to attempts to direct it, remains an intriguing one. The nature of this response remained open to question, and was the subject of significant debate among Canadian intellectuals, politicians and public figures. In response, a number of individuals and groups, including members of the Canadian press, attempted to influence Canadian public opinion. Many also pressured the Canadian government, led by William Lyon Mackenzie King’s administration, to play a more active role in shaping public opinion. Canadian intellectuals, for instance, influenced by contemporary writings on public opinion, seemed convinced of their natural role as ‘shapers’ of public opinion, particularly in a time of domestic and international crisis. These assumptions, and the ways in which Canadian public opinion both responded to, and rejected these attempts at direction, provide an interesting window into the question of public opinion, particularly in regards to international events. The debate regarding the Canadian response to the crises of the late 1930s can thus aid in gaining a greater appreciation of how public opinion shifts in response to outside challenges and the attempts to influence its course.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/17800
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of History - Doctoral theses

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