Canada and the British Empire Foreign Affairs in the Early Twentieth Century Introduction A country's foreign policy, also called the international relations policy, is a set of goals outlining how the country will interact with other countries economically, politically, socially and militarily. Introduction
Canada was a very young country at the turn of the 20th century and did not have control over its own foreign policy Decisions about foreign affairs were made on Canadas behalf by Great Britain Most English Canadians felt a sense of loyalty to Britain Most French Canadians felt no sense of loyalty to either France or Britain and wanted Canada to act
independently. Canadas Prime Minister during these years was Wilfred Laurier, the first French Canadian Prime Minister. Laurier spent much of his time as Prime Minister trying to balance the needs of French and English Canadians. British Relations
Canadas ties to Britain were strong At the front of every classroom hung a portrait of the British monarch Each morning school children sang God Save the Queen Canadians felt pride that Canada was the biggest country in the largest Empire the world has ever seen Complications
A number of situations arose at the turn of the century which complicated relations between Canada and Britain. Situations also strained relations between French Canadians and English Canadians. - Alaska Boundary Dispute - Boer War - Naval Crisis - American Money Relations with the U.S.
The United States was growing in size and as a world power. Britain wanted to ensure that it remained on good terms with the United States in case of a major war with Germany. Britains influence in Canadas relations with the United States became complicated. The Alaska Boundary Dispute
In 1898 the government of Canada, the United States and Britain agreed to form a joint commission to settle the border between Alaska and British Columbia. The extent of the Alaska Panhandle had been in dispute for decades and the gold rush in the Yukon made the question of the border urgent
British Betrayal The panel deciding the boundary consisted of 3 Americans, 2 Canadians and 1 Brit Prime Minister Laurier was determined to take a hard line position to maintain Canadian territory Ultimately, because of the British governments need to stay on good terms with the US, the British member of the panel
sided with the US and the border was set to the satisfaction and advantage of the United States Boer War In 1899 Britain became embroiled in a conflict with Afrikaner settlers in South Africa. Britain called for, and expected, Canadian troops to help them win the war. What position do you think the English Canadians took? What about the French
Canadians? English Canadians felt strongly that Canada should support Britain and send troops Prime Minister Laurier did not believe that the war was important to Canadas defence and thus did not support sending troops. French Canadians strongly agreed with Laurier Compromise
Laurier agreed to recruit, equip and transport 1000 volunteers to South Africa but Britain would have to pay for them. Many of Lauriers Quebec MPs (Henri Bourassa) quit the Liberal Party in disgust believing that the Boer War would be only the first of many imperial wars in which Britain would request Canadas help. Riots occurred in Montreal between English students at McGill University and French students at University of Montreal over the Boer War
The Naval Crisis After the Boer War, Laurier avoided involving Canada in the wars and defense of the British Empire. By 1908 there was a growing arms race taking place between Great Britain and Germany. Most Canadians recognized that Canada
benefited from the strength of the British navy. Debate began to grow in Canada as to whether Canada should contribute to the Empires defense or create its own armed forces. Another Compromise In May 1910 the Laurier government passed the Naval Service Act. This act created a small Canadian navy that in times of crisis could become part of the imperial navy.
In Quebec, French Canadians feared the naval bill would commit Canadian ships and men to every imperial conflict. English Canadians called the bill too little, too late and mocked the Royal Canadian navy calling it a tin pot navy American Money
American investment was playing an increasingly important role in Canadas economic development. By 1911, 60% of Canadas imports came from the US. In 1910 the US government offered the Canadian government a reciprocity (free trade) agreement. Agreement would allow free trade in natural resources, while allowing Canada to keep its tariffs on manufactured goods. Reciprocity Defeated
Reciprocity proved unpopular in Ontario as many Canadians saw the treaty as Canada turning its back on Britain. Laurier called an election to settle the issue. In the election Laurier was attacked in Quebec over the Naval Bill and attacked in Ontario over reciprocity. In September 1911, after 15 years in office, the Liberals were defeated and Conservative Robert Borden became Prime Minister.
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