For the sake of argument

Let’s apply for admission as the 51st state

FARLEY MOWAT June 6 1959
For the sake of argument

Let’s apply for admission as the 51st state

FARLEY MOWAT June 6 1959

Let’s apply for admission as the 51st state

For the sake of argument


Last summer I wrote an article for Maclean’s in which I suggested that we ought to close the border between Canada and the U. S. A. in an attempt to prevent total engulfment by our large neighbor. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but what I failed to realize was that it was the wrong time; that this was 1958. not 1812.

During the past year 1 have been forced to recognize the fallacy of my ideas and now I wish to make a public retraction.

Somebody—I think it must have been a member of either the Republican or the Democratic party —once said: "Effen yuh cain't lick 'em, jine 'em!” He was no doubt referring to some trivial local problem, but the aphorism has its place in international politics, and 1 am afraid it is all too applicable to Canada's relation to the United States. In short, I now conclude that the only solution to our troubles with the Americans is to jine 'em; from which it follows that I no longer believe we can lick 'em.

We’d be fighting ourselves

Unpalatable as it may be to some, the truth is that we can't hope to lick them, even under the doughty leadership of Joey Smallwood: a fact that should be obvious to everyone except Newfoundlanders and a few other unreconstructed people scattered thinly across the land. It is impossible for us to surmount the prime difficulty that, in order to do battle in any sphere with the United States, we would in effect have to do battle with ourselves since in almost every important social, intellectual and economic aspect we have already become pseudoAmericans.

Consider the economic situation. About 70 percent of our economy is directly or indirectly under American control and the remain-

ing 30 percent probably would be too if the Americans thought it was worth taking over. Thus we cannot even use economics as a weapon to stave off what seems to be inevitable absorption by the United States. Imagine what would happen if, in defense of our sovereignty, we ordered the Aluminium Company of Canada to instruct its "associated” plants in the United States to halt all shipments to foreign countries that we don't like; or if we ordered Ford of Canada to instruct Ford of Detroit to cease selling cars to Chiang Kaishek. Not that it wouldn't be fun to try it, of course.

The realities of our economic servitude seem to escape most Canadians. There are even some patriots who are so unrealistic as to suggest that, when the Americans place import bans on Canadian products (they are no doubt thinking of the current oil quotas), we should and could retaliate by increasing restrictions against U. S. imports into Canada.

Since we import roughly twice as much as they import from us, the inevitable result of such bravado would be to force us to revert to moose-hide breechclouts, birchbark bungalows and a diet of pemmican and maple syrup.

As far as the oil import business is concerned, retaliation on our part is needless anyway. It isn’t Canadian oil that has been placed under quota — it is United States oil. Eighty percent of the Canadian oil industry is owned by the Americans. If they want to cut off their noses to spite their own oil derricks, then I say we should let them go to it.

Probably the only way in which we could hope to regain any degree of economic freedom would be by following the Mexican example and seizing and nationalizing American-owned enterprises in Canada. Apart from the fact that our mili-

continued on page 64


Continued from page 8

tary forces might be inadequate to make such an action stick, it would gain us little anyway, for we would also have to nationalize the United States citizens who at present operate most of our economy. We would thus he defeating our own purpose.

It seems perfectly clear that we can't lick the Americans economically, and it is equally apparent that we can’t do it militarily.

The whole question of where we stand militarily in relation to the U. S. A. is rather a tender one these days. There are some who claim, for instance, that the Canadian Army has now become no more than the awkward squad at the end of the last platoon of the United States Army.

The RCAF is not in a much better position, though it clearly hasn’t grasped the fact that it is doomed. Nothing but total and willful blindness could have persuaded the air force that it would be allowed to continue building and flying its own lighter aircraft. The CF-105 was fated from its inception, and though we may admire the dogged efforts which were expended on its behalf, we must shake our heads at the unbelievable lack of realism which lay behind those efforts. The last of these—the desperate attempt to get Arrow No. 6, fitted with its own Iroquois engines, into the air before the government's deadline for a decision on the Arrow’s fate — was a particularly pathetic example of the naïveté of the RCAF and of A. V. Roe. Diefenbaker knew as well as they did that No. 6 would almost certainly have established a world speed record and thereby would not only have irritated the Americans no end, hut would also have led to a false flowering of Canadian national pride. By anticipating the announced date for its final decision by a month, the government easily outwitted this final and rather childish ploy by the supporters of the Arrow.

To have imagined in the first place that the Americans would allow the survival and continuing growth, on Canadian soil, of a major aircraft industry that they did not own or dominate was just plain asinine. If we had been less obtuse and had sent A. V. Roe packing long ago. and had turned the Malton plants over to Boeing, or Douglas: and if we had then expressed our willingness to rest content to manufacture aluminum wash basins and other minor parts for American aircraft, we would probably still have a relatively viable, if captive industry, at Malton today. And Diefenbaker would have been spared the necessity of making an unpopular, if inevitable, decision, and of having to camouflage the real reasons for that decision behind so much expensive verbiage.

Now that it is too late, the RCAF is showing a modicum of sense. It now intends to buy American aircraft, but if it hopes to stave off dissolution by this belated act of bribery, then it is simply too optimistic to merit survival. While it remains the Royal Canadian Air Force,

and while Canada persists in attempting to retain the illusion of sovereignty, the RCAF can expect to continue in existence only as a motley collection of lowergrade technicians, official greeters at U. S. radar and missile sites, grease monkeys, and pen-pushers. The air force may, for a limited time, be allowed to fly a few' military aircraft but if it has any actual future in the air it will be in the role of a transport auxiliary serving to ferry U. S. personnel from one Canadian base to another.

The RCN is in much better condition than either the army or the air force. Perhaps because of its tradition of silence (a tradition so unfamiliar to Americans that it may well have served as a smoke-screen) it has, so far. partially escaped the doom which is overwhelming its sister services, for the Americans seem to have overlooked it. Reactionary, adamant and secretive, it has managed to retain a hold on many outmoded European attitudes and, unlike the army and air force, it has not succumbed to the necessity of modeling itself on the new and superior patterns which originate from the Pentagon. The result is that the RCN is still a relatively effective military weapon, even though it officially exists only as a submarine-chasing auxiliary to the U.S. Navy.

Furthermore—and this is an astounding oversight on someone’s part — the RCN still makes some of its own weapons light here in Canada. Its ships are Canadian designed and built, and large ly armed from Canadian factories. I assume that this unnatural state of affairs will soon he rectified.

Still, the Navy's situation is only relatively good. So long as it remains the Royal Canadian Navy, and while Canada insists on waving the flag she hasn't got, our navy is living on borrowed time. A retired admiral of my acquaintance tells me that he foresees the loss, within a decade, of all our fine new destroyerescorts. which will be taken over by the U.S. Navy (although it doesn't really want them and will probably give them to Thailand). They will be replaced by a fleet of harbor tugs made in the United States. Frankly I think the old admiral is unjustifiably optimistic.

As a protection against American usurpation of our sovereignty, or even as a token of prestige and national status, the Canadian military forces provide about as useful a shield as one could make out of the lid of an old garbage can.

If it is accepted, as it must be by any reasonable man, that we are already totally helpless on the economic and military fronts, then there is very little use in even discussing those remaining aspects of the Canadian way of life which might conceivably provide some basis for resistance. It is one of the sad misconceptions of our time that a modern nation of the new era can retain its independence and its stature as a free country by virtue of its cultural achievements. This is nothing but self-delusion of the worst kind. Even assuming that Canada had any cultural achievements to brag about—a matter of doubt in many circles —these would avail us nothing against the big fleets and the big divisions.

We have only to look to Italy and France for confirmation of this fact. In the struggle between Russia and the United States for world domination, France and Italy, who are two of the great incubators of ideas, beauty and civility, have about as much potency either in defending their real freedoms, or in influencing the course of world affairs, as a tranquilizer pill would have on a brontosaurus. How then can we,

with our largely ephemeral, and petty pretensions to a national culture, expect to stave off the overwhelming pressure of the United States? Even assuming that we had some effective control over our own mass media of communications (and we do not) the proposition would be a hopeless one.

So the plain fact of the matter is that, on any count, we cannot lick the States.

Since this is indisputably so, we had better jine ’em—and do it fast.

We have almost nothing left to lose, but we do have immense advantages to gain by becoming the fifty-first star on Old Glory. Speed, however, is essential for if we let much more time elapse and continue to sit peevishly by while the final vestiges of our independence vanish, we will have nothing left with which to bargain for admittance to the United States. If the Americans manage to survive for another decade they will perceive that there is no longer any advantage in admitting us to statehood. We can then expect to assume the role so recently vacated by Hawaii and Alaska. But if we act now. while a few die-hards like General Andy MacNaughton are still able to preserve the illusion that Canadians are tough customers, we may be able to sneak into the Union on reasonably equitable terms.

I doubt that we would be granted immediate statehood, but I am sure something could be worked out. Perhaps instead of a star on Old Glory we would have to be temporarily content with a small satellite placed in the lower left corner of the Hag; but given time and cunning I am sure we could better that position.

Consider some of the advantages that would accrue to us as a result of full political union with the United States.

In the first place we would have a share in our own destiny so that when the atomic bombs began to fall we would vaporize in the knowledge that we were on one of the two big teams and not just unfortunate bystanders.

There is also the possibility, vague though it may seem, that we might actually be able to have some say about our own demise. If we are admitted to statehood it is improbable that we will enter the Union as a single state. Texas would never allow this. Texas would probably not allow us to enter as ten states, since most of these would still be bigger than she is. If we played our cards right we might get Texas to insist that we be split up into twenty or thirty states. Then, assuming that we were given (or could buy on the free U. S. market) the right to vote, we might actually be able to exert some influence on American affairs.

I doubt that our seventeen million exCanadians would be immediately swamped by a north-bound tide of other Americans, since most Americans who ever wanted to come to Canada have already done so. We ought to be able to retain, for a few' years at any rate, some semblance of cohesiveness among ourselves and this would tend to offset our numeri-

cal inferiority, since there is little cohesiveness anyw'herc else in America, except, in certain special respects, in the Southern States.

In terms of the general treatment meted out to us by Washington, we stand to make fantastic gains. No state of the Union would ever put up with the kind of medicine which we are forced to swallow almost daily from the hands of the U. S. government. Even a state as tiny as Rhode Island would rise in open revolt if it was banged about the ears the way we are. If we became part of the Union, Washington would not dare to continue to deal with us as if we were of no more importance than a small and yappy dog at the back door. (The fact that we are of no more importance than the dog has nothing to do with my argument.) The American constitution would forbid it, and the American political system would make it impossible. We would become people—if only we had U. S. citizenship.

In terms of practical details, the things we would stand to gain by union are so numerous that it would require books to list them all. I shall content myself with a haphazard few.

If we joined the U. S. A.:

There would no longer be any excuse for the tedious and eternal Canadian flag dispute.

We could dispense with Ottawa entirely—a compensation which alone ought to make union worthwhile.

Our career soldiers, airmen and sailors would be able to attend proper military institutes and, if they had the ability, would stand a chance of acquiring a little gold braid on their shoulders as well as a lot of magnificent ornaments elsewhere on their uniforms. They would no longer be spectators at war games; they would no longer need to bow toward the Pentagon at dawn each day, and some of them might even be allowed to enter that holy place.

We could immediately dispense with Maclean’s Magazine.

Our so-called International labor unions would no longer have to effect the pretense that they are staunchly independent of their American bosses; and Hoffa could get on with the job of cleaning out our Augean stables without delay.

Our standard of living would skyrocket so that w'e could all have color TV in the bathroom; a thousand horsepower in each triple garage; predigested dinners in every kitchen; the F.B.I. in the attic, and bats in our closely tonsured belfries.

The government w'ould buy all our surplus farm products and give them away to Poland, w'hile paying our farmers a salary to encourage them to give up growing food at all.

We would be able to claim at least token ownership over the natural résolues that w'e are at present giving away to the United States as partial payment of tribute.

We would be able to get rid of our antiquated British judicial system and put the dispensing of justice on a more practical, and financially rewarding, basis.

John Fisher would be out of a job.

We could get into serious competition with Chicago for the world’s highest crime rate; juvenile delinquents would be able to walk proudly, with uplifted heads; the Mafia would show' us how to run our backwoods criminal organizations with a new efficiency.

We could dispense with the CBC and James Bannerman.

The Strontium 90 which we collected in our bones would be our own and no longer just a handout from across the border.

Wc w'ould have a share in the worldwide popularity which is an automatic adjunct of U. S. citizenship.

The RCMP would be able to vastly increase their efficacy as strike-breakers and native overseers by substituting tommy guns for riding crops.

Our own Native Sons could cosily foregather with the Daughters of the Revolution — a meeting of simpáticos which might lead to the most astonishing results.

Despite the manifest and obvious benefits which would accrue to us. it is inevitable that this enlightened suggestion for a brighter Canadian future would meet with resistance from some of my more unrealistic compatriots. 1 am afraid that our politicians would be against union, knowing as they must that their capacity for venality would not be enough to ensure survival in the jungles of Washington.

We could also expect some resistance from within the United States. The Republicans would probably be against admitting us. since they must know' that we have voted almost solidly Democratic in every U. S. election for several decades. Furthermore our entry into the Union would face the Republicans with the task of finding a niche for John Diefenbaker—a prospect that might well c fill their enthusiasm for Manifest Destiny. It is unlikely that American businessmen would welcome union with

añada either, for they can make far note money out of us as things now stand.

Newfoundland. Cape Breton Island. Baffin Island, the Brantford Iroquois Reserve, parts of Quebec. Victoria, B.C., and some other peripheral areas would of course be adamantly opposed to union. However these areas could be set apart as native enclaves, or reservations, to be administered by the U. S. department of native affairs (a ..ynonym for the State Department). Some such system of reservations would be essential in any case if only to contain those Canadians who w'ould not be eligible for U. S. citizenship because, in their youth, they happened to pick up a copy of Das Kapital in the mistaken impression that it w'as a guide-book to Berlin.

Still, all these are but minor problems

in the realization of a grand design, and they could all be solved if we would make the effort. And we must make the effort if we are ever to achieve anything approaching equality with Big Uncle to the south. In our case, unlike that of Japan and Germany, there is no other way open to us except through total assimilation. Never having had the ability to mount a threat of world tyranny, and consequently never having had the opportunity of waging proper war with the United States, we cannot look for any of the preferential treatment which the

Americans, in their generosity, have accorded to the Germans and the Japanese. (An example of this was reported just a few' weeks ago when, hard on the heels of the death of Malton, the United States announced that it had commissioned Willy Messerschmidt to build, in Germany. some 300 fighter aircraft for the use of Allied and the United States air forces.)

If we act intelligently, and act at once, we have a good chance of gaining some measure of equality through union, if only we pull it off before the Americans

realize that they have no need to admit


The concept of Manifold Destiny— one nation from coast to coast, sideways and up-and-down—still has an irresistible attraction for many Americans. We have only to exploit that attraction to achieve our purpose and enter into a rosy new dawn.

I implore you. my fellow ex-Canadians, to heed what I have said, and to act upon it. From my small atoll in the Tongan group 1 shall watch your progress with deep interest. ★