To the Discussion Leader

World history probably offers no example of closer friendly relations between two nations than those of Canada and the United States. This development of cordial relations has been under way for more than a century and a quarter. It has been no accident. It is the result of methods used by Canadians and Americans to face and solve their mutual problems.

This pamphlet turns the spotlight on our oldest good neighbor. Discussion leaders have in Canada a subject that will interest nearly any group of Americans. During World War II, Canadians and Americans fought the same enemies, provided vital supplies for mutual allies, coordinated home front production, and maintained joint groups to handle mutual war problems. Canadians fought on the major fronts of the war against Germany and Italy. They defended convoys crossing the submarine-menaced Atlantic. They took over the military protection of strategic Iceland in 1940 during the darkest months of the war. They helped defend coasts of Great Britain when invasion fears were greatest. They served a valuable liaison role between the United States and Great Britain.

In discussing Canada and its people, you are considering the nation geographically the largest in the Western Hemisphere.

Aids to make discussion more interesting

A good map of North America, or separate maps of Canada and the United States, will be helpful in discussing the Dominion. If you cannot get these, you might use the map in this pamphlet as the basis for drawing a rough outline map on the blackboard. On this you can indicate Canada’s nine provinces, the Yukon, and Northwest Territories. You can also demonstrate in this way Canada’s geographic position in respect to the United States, Alaska, and Newfoundland. A map or globe of the world would help members of your group appreciate Canada’s position in respect to world ship lanes and air routes.

War Department Education Manual, EM 1, GI Roundtable: Guide for Discussion Leaders, will prove a valuable aid to you in outlining and planning your discussion program. It describes in considerable detail the relative merits of various discussion methods, such as panel, symposium, forum, and informal group discussion. The size of your particular discussion group and the facilities for your meeting will probably determine which method is best for your particular situation.

If you wish to plan a discussion program to be broadcast over a radio station or a loud-speaker system of the Armed Forces Radio Service, you will find valuable assistance in EM 90, GI Radio Roundtable.

A local library may have some of the publications suggested in this pamphlet for further reading. It may also have a periodical reference and other guides for finding further interesting and authentic material on Canada.

Below you will find numerous questions proposed for discussion. As you prepare your program you will probably think of other important questions that would be both interesting and valuable to raise for discussion. Members of your group will appreciate the opportunity to ask their own questions as the discussion progresses.

Questions for discussion

  1. Would it be a good thing if peoples of other nations moved across each others’ borders as freely as do Canadians and Americans? Is the average American’s interest in Canada likely to be greater or less now that the war is over? What do you believe are the basic reasons why Canada, a small nation in population, and the United States, a large nation, have lived side by side so harmoniously?
  2. Does Canada’s Pre-Cambrian shield, covering so large a land area, indicate that the Dominion must always have a small population? How do Canada’s major geographic areas differ from ours? Do you think the Yukon and Northwest Territories have an important future? What is the significance of Canada’s geographic position in relation to post-war international air routes?
  3. Since peoples of British and French origins live together harmoniously in the United States, why does the English-French racial problem remain so pronounced in Canada? Were French Canadians justified in their opposition to conscription for overseas service? Did World War II increase or decrease the racial unity of Canada?
  4. Is the Canadian or American form of federal government more democratic? Is Canada’s system of permanently appointed judges a better or worse one than ours for administering justice? Would our government be improved if the president and members of his cabinet could be questioned directly on the floor of Congress, as the prime minister and his ministers can be questioned in the Canadian House of Commons? Is the right to call a general election at any time, rather than having elections at fixed intervals, an advantage or disadvantage? Does the Canadian constitution afford a better or poorer balance of executive, legislative, and judicial authority than does our Constitution?
  5. Do you think Canada benefits or suffers by its two remaining limitations on complete autonomy—appeal to the Privy Council of London and amendment to its constitution through the British Parliament? What would Canada lose in relations with the United States if a new Empire government were to be set up to coordinate British Commonwealth international policies? With other nations? Would Canada’s membership in the Pan American Union strengthen or impair its position in the British Commonwealth? Would Canada’s Pan American Union membership benefit the United States? Latin-American countries?
  6. Could peacetime international joint committees or boards to handle United States-Canadian economic or other mutual problems operate as successfully as did the various wartime joint groups? Did World War II increase or decrease Canada’s influence among other nations?
  7. Why is public enterprise popular in Canada and unpopular in the United States? Can we learn valuable lessons from Canada’s experience with public ownership of utilities, radio, railroads, and airlines?
  8. Should future trade between the United States and Canada be encouraged by lower tariffs or discouraged by higher ones? Does Canadian industry offer serious competition to United States industry? Agriculture? Could the United States-Canadian example of cooperation and friendly neighborliness be followed by other nations with mutual boundaries? What steps could be taken to strengthen United States-Canadian relations in the future?

From EM 47: Canada: Our Oldest Good Neighbor (1946)