CANADA REPORT

The Canada Firsters March On Ottawa

How many Canadians really want independence? Now we’ll find out

WALTER STEWART December 1 1970
CANADA REPORT

The Canada Firsters March On Ottawa

How many Canadians really want independence? Now we’ll find out

WALTER STEWART December 1 1970

The Canada Firsters March On Ottawa

How many Canadians really want independence? Now we’ll find out

LAST FEBRUARY 3, three men sat down for luncheon at the King Edward Hotel in Toronto to talk about Canadian nationalism. By the time they pushed the coffee cups away they had launched the Committee for an Independent Canada. The three men were Peter Newman, the slender, dark, reflective editor-in-chief of the Toronto Daily Star, Walter Gordon, the bouncy, grey-haired former Liberal cabinet minister, and Abraham Rotstein, a chunky, shrewd professor of economics. The scheme they hatched seemed improbable; to harness Canadian nationalism to a nonparty political movement, and to use that movement to pressure, persuade and, if necessary, force the federal government to adopt a more nationalist stance. The CIC was to be a reincarnation of the Canada First movement of the 1870s, a coalition for survival, a chance, perhaps the last, to keep this nation from slip-

ping into a continental morass.

Much has happened since that February meeting, and the scheme doesn’t seem so improbable today. The original trio became a founding committee of 13,* the founding committee became a sponsoring committee of 200, and the sponsoring committee has begun, through newspaper ads, letters and personal contact, to circulate a petition expected to attract at least 100,000 signatures — privately, the

*Founding committee members were chosen to span the political spectrum. The co-chairmen, publisher Jack McClelland of Toronto and editor - publisher Claude Ryan of Montreal, are independents, as are architect John Parkin and industrialist Jake Moore. But the group includes, besides Gordon, another well-known Liberal, Mrs. Dorothy Petrie, two prominent Tories, lawyer Eddie Goodman and former cabinet minister Alvin Hamilton, as well as Eamon Park, a United Steelworkers union official and past president of the NDP.

CANADA REPORT

WALTER STEWART