Canada–United States Relations

Stephen Brooks

in The Oxford Handbook of Canadian Politics

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780195335354
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Canada–United States Relations

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Canada and the U.S. emerged as close military allies in World War II, a partnership that was deepened and institutionalized during the Cold War years of the 1950s. This was the era of the special relationship. Joined at the hip by geography, history, and economics, relations between the two nations were marked by quiet diplomacy that was founded on close personal contacts and shared understandings. This special relationship was nurtured by the intimacy of a vast network of linkages across the Canada–U.S. border, but it turned out to be a short moment for the history of Canada–U.S. relations. The asymmetry to the supposed bilateral relationship of the nations, wherein the U.S. took a more dominant stance and the ambivalence of many Canadians paved the way for criticisms on the special relationship and quiet diplomacy between the two nations. “Close but not too close”: this has been the predominant view of Canadians to their partner. This article discusses the historical and cultural background of the Canada–U.S. relationship, which is characterized by intimacy, asymmetry, and ambivalence. The article ends with a discussion on the possible future directions of Canada–U.S. relations.

Keywords: Canada; allies; quiet diplomacy; Canada–U.S. relations; special relations; asymmetry; ambivalence; intimacy

Article.  8297 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; US Politics

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