Direct Intervention

Direct Intervention: Canada-France Relations, 1967-1974

ELDON BLACK
Copyright Date: 1997
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt80nsv
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  • Book Info
    Direct Intervention
    Book Description:

    Direct Intervention recounts the political and diplomatic relationship between Canada and France at a critical juncture in Canada's history. As a Minister in the Canadian Embassy in Paris, Eldon Black witnessed a range of fateful events - from visits (successful and unsuccessful) of ministers and prime ministers between Ottawa, Quebec City and Paris, to meetings at the Elysée palace, and exchanges of a myriad of telegrams, notes and other diplomatic correspondence. This well-researched account of French interference in Canadian constitutional and federal-provincial affairs includes criticism of Quebec's involvement, and of how Embassy staff in Paris and the Canadian government in Ottawa strove to control and normalize relations among the contending parties. Central to the national unity debate of the day, the ensuing diplomatic wrangles and political conflicts have a curiously contemporary ring, even reverberating into Canada's future.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8092-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE
    (pp. 1-4)
  5. PROLOUGE: 1960-1967
    (pp. 5-16)

    FROM THE END OF WORLD WAR II relations between Canada and France had been good but not particularly close. Though we were allies in NATO, France was preoccupied by economic recovery, European security, the Common Market and decolonization. Quebec attitudes under Duplessis remained isolationist, while Canada followed a policy of close alliance with the U.S., dictated by considerations of trade and security from the Soviet Union, and into which the French character of Quebec rarely entered as a factor. Canada’s main international interests were multilateral and were channelled through the United Nations, NATO and the evolving Commonwealth.

    This situation was...

  6. 1 ARRIVAL IN PARIS: GENRAL DE GAULLE’S PRESS CONFERENCE
    (pp. 17-22)

    MY TOUR OF DUTY in Paris began on the morning of November 27, 1967 the day that De Gaulle stated his public position on the status of Quebec. When I was greeted by my new Ambassador, Jules Leger, he suggested that in order to appreciate the atmosphere in which I would have to work, I should attend the press conference to be given by De Gaulle that afternoon, at which he was expected to amplify his views on Quebec and Canada.

    Press conferences by the General had over the years become a ritual set piece. They provided a stage on...

  7. 2 EARLY DAYS: SOME PROTAGONISTS
    (pp. 23-28)

    THE FIRST WEEKS of my new posting were spent in visits to the many officers who made up the Embassy, other Canadian agencies in the city, certain diplomatic colleagues and key contacts at the Quai d’Orsay, the French Foreign Ministry. Before all this, however, came a call on the head of a Canadian organization that was not part of the Embassy and not working for the federal government but which, during the next few years, exercised considerable influence behind the scenes. This was the Delegation of Quebec.

    The Delegate General greeted me with all the friendly condescension due to someone...

  8. 3 LA FRANCOPHONIE AND THE OUTBREAK OF HOSTILITIES: THE GABON AFFAIR
    (pp. 29-40)

    AS QUEBEC’S RELATIONS with France progressed, so did the expectation that relations could be developed with the newly independent former colonies of France and Belgium, thus providing a wider international stage for independent Quebec action. When the French Education Minister, Alain Peyrefitte, visited Quebec in September 1967, he told Quebec ministers of the regular series of meetings between the Education Ministers of France the former colonies to discuss continuing developments in French education and French aid in the educational field. The meetings took place once a year in an African capital, with a follow-up meeting in Paris.

    There was particular...

  9. 4 THE TRIALS OF AN ELDER STATESMAN: THE EVENTS OF MAY 1968
    (pp. 41-46)

    FROM THE CANADIAN STANDPOINT the Events of May, which shook France for several weeks, were important as an indicator that De Gaulle’s political position was by no means secure. What began as yet another student against the “system” (similar to those in America and Western Europe during the sixties), escalated into an occupation of the Sorbonne and of barricades in the student quarter of Paris, thanks to some degree of popular support and to the government’s unsure reaction. Seeing the inability of authorities to counter the students, the unions, particularly powerful Communist-led Confédération Général du Travail, called a general strike...

  10. 5 A TRANSLATING SLANGING MATCH: THE ROSSILON AFFAIR
    (pp. 47-54)

    THE GENRAL INAGURATED the next brouhaha between France and Canada at a press conference on September 8, 1968. In answer to a question from ever eager correspondent ofLa Presseas to whether, in view of the Events of May and the fact that there was a new Canadian Prime Minister, there would be a change in France's attitude to Quebec, De Gaulle replied “Certainly not.” This was hardly surprising, but more gratuitous was his statement regarding the Nigerian civil war in Biafra: “One sometimes replaces colonization by a certain concept of federation— one sees it in Canada, Cyprus, Rhodesia...

  11. 6 A PREMIER DIES, TWO PRIME MINISTERS MEET
    (pp. 55-58)

    THE FALLOUT from the Rossillon affair had just subsided when we learned that Premier Johnson had finally succumbed to his heart condition on September 26. General De Gaulle had lost his foremost Quebec interlocutor. He decided to send his new Prime Minister to the funeral, though we heard rumours he had thought seriously of going himself. He must have realized that such a trip, undertaken when he was engaged in trying to reform France, would not be understood at home, and that his reappearance in Canada could place him in unacceptable situations, such as having to meet with Prime Minister...

  12. 7 “BUSINESS AS USUAL”
    (pp. 59-72)

    THROUGHOUT THESE RECURRENT CRISES the Canadian government, when examining its policy options toward France, would inevitably come back to the conclusion that the problem lay in Canada, between the federal government and Quebec. Until a solution or at least amodus vivendiwas found with Quebec and until De Gaulle left the scene, Ottawa was obliged to pursue the following three objectives: protecting Canada’s international sovereignty; refusing Quebec an international personality of its own; and carrying on business as usual with France. The present chapter breaks the thread of the narrative in order to give the reader an idea of...

  13. 8 AN EXCHANGE OF AMBASSADORS
    (pp. 73-76)

    FROM THE POINT OF VIEW of Franco-Canadian relations, 1968 had not been a good year; it had been marked by the definite setback in Gabon involving Quebec’s search for an international personality, and by the Rossillon affair, in the course of which intemperate remarks had flown back and forth across the Atlantic. Meanwhile, the General proceeded his referendum on reform, as a consequence of the Events of May, but it was becoming more and more doubtful that he could accomplish his purpose, in view of his age and the absence of fresh new personalities in his government.

    At home in...

  14. 9 JEAN-GUY CARDINAL IN PARIS: SPACE COMMUNICATION
    (pp. 77-84)

    DE GAULLE STARTED off 1969 with a New Year’s Message which listed a number of international problems including “the free conduct of their own national life by the French people of Canada.” This was followed by the visit to Paris, in January, of a major delegation from Quebec led by Jean-Guy Cardinal in his capacity as Deputy Premier and Minister of Education, including Jean-Paul Beaudry, Minister of Industry and Commerce, and the ubiquitous Claude Morin.

    For De Gaulle and for Quebec this visit was a second best. Since De Gaulle’s appearance in Quebec in 1967 there had been an outstanding...

  15. 10 HOSTILITIES IN AFRICA, ROUND TWO
    (pp. 85-94)

    TWO INTERNATIONAL francophone meetings were due to take place in early 1969. The first, bringing together the Francophone Ministers of Education, was to be in Kinshasa, the capital of Zaire. It was at the previous annual meeting in Gabon that Ottawa had lost the first round of its dispute with Quebec over the province’s claim to have international status for matters within its own domestic jurisdiction. The other meeting was to be held in Niamey, the capital of Niger, whose President Diori had been a mandate by his fellow African presidents to organize the founding conference of a new international...

  16. 11 DE GAULLE DEPARTS, GAULLISM REMAINS
    (pp. 95-104)

    IN THE MONTHS BEFORE THE REFERENDUM that would decide whether De Gaulle would continue to rule France, there had been a slight enhancement in the presence of the federal government in Paris. This was due to the meeting in February 1969 of the Franco-Canadian Mixed Commission provided for by the Cultural Agreement, the opening of a major exhibition of Indian and Inuit Art and Artifacts at the Musée de l’Homme and the visit of two Cabinet Ministers and the Parliamentary Committee of Foreign Affairs and Defence (see pages 66-67).

    The Mixed Commission was chaired by Jurgensen and André Bissonnette, an...

  17. 12 THE NEW FRANCH GOVERNMENT: THE POLICY OF DUALITY
    (pp. 105-108)

    THE AMBASSADOR GAVE A RECEPTION July 5, 1969 for the International Conference of the Family and for the General Assembly of the International Union of Family Organizations, of which a Canadian had been elected as president. He sent a note to Maurice Schumann inviting him to reception because of his known interest in social affairs. Schumann with his wife and was most cordial. It was the first time in many years a French Foreign Minister had been in the Canadian Ambassador’s residence. This action was simply a gesture, but combined with a message July 1 it indicated a desire to...

  18. 13 A DISASTROUS AUTUMN
    (pp. 109-126)

    WE HAD KNOWN for some months that De Lipkowski, who was responsible for relations with Quebec, was due to visit the province, where he had never been. It was the view in Ottawa that a French Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs visiting Canada for the first time must also go to Ottawa. Our contacts at the Foreign Office had told us that they thought he would go if invited, and gave us to understand that they had recommended in this sense to the French government. The Ambassador was therefore instructed to call on De Lipkowski personally to issue such...

  19. 14 MUCH ADO ABOUT VISITS
    (pp. 127-132)

    ONLY TOO OFTEN in those years, after it had been agreed that a dispute should be put behind us, unforeseen events would arise to further complicate Franco-Canadian relations. The meeting in December between Schumann and Sharp, with its aim to try by reciprocal ministerial visits to improve relations, was followed in January by Prime Minister Trudeau’s unexpected skiing holiday in France and the sudden arrival of Marcel to visit De Lipkowski in his Royan constituency and call on French ministers in Paris.

    This was the second time within a few months that the Prime Minister had passed through Paris. In...

  20. 15 THE SECOND NIAMAY CONFERENCE: HOSTILITIES IN AFRICA: ROUND THREE
    (pp. 133-142)

    IN THE YEAR following the decision of the first Niamey Conference to establish a small multilateral development organization (the Agence Francophone) the acting Secretary, Jean-Marc Léger, together with President Diori of Niger in his capacity as convenor of the Conference, worked out a provisional Charter for the Agence. Léger had visited all possible participants to obtain their reactions and Diori made a state visit to Canada. As Léger proceeded the French became increasingly dissatisfied with him; their eyes he was trying to create a sizeable multilateral aid agency rather than a small office essentially controlled from France. Léger was also,...

  21. 16 FIRST STEPS TOWARD NORMALIZATION: MITCHELL SHARP VISITS PARIS
    (pp. 143-148)

    THREE EVENTS during April 1970 led to a measure of normalization in relations between France and Canada, without changing the basic duality of French policy. The first was the private visit to Paris of Mitchell Sharp, the Secretary of State for External Affairs, to open the new Canadian Cultural Centre and to have discussions with the French Foreign Minister Maurice Schumann. The second related to the conditions under which the Cultural Agreement between France and Canada should or should be extended for another five years. The third was the Liberal victory in the Quebec provincial election, which saw the disappearance...

  22. 17 RENEWAL OF THE FRANCO-CANADIAN CULTURAL AGREEMENT AND THE QUEBEC ELECTION
    (pp. 149-156)

    IF CANADA WAS TO TAKE ACTION on the renewal of the Cultural Agreement with France, it had to do so by May 17, 1970 at the latest. On his return from France Mitchell Sharp had a memorandum prepared for the Prime Minister, setting out various options that the Canadian government could choose, as well as a recommendation, which Trudeau approved on April 29, the day of the Quebec election.¹ These options are worth examining, for they illustrate the complexity of the three-cornered Ottawa-Quebec-Paris relationship. They were all based on the assumption, confirmed by Sharp’s trip to Paris, that France would...

  23. 18 A NEW AMBASSADOR-THE OCTOBER CRISIS-THE END OF AN ERA
    (pp. 157-166)

    THE SPRING AND SUMMER of 1970 saw the commencement of a return to more normal relations between France and Canada, with respect to ministerial visits and to behaviour toward Canadian representatives in Paris.The process culminated in the autumn with the arrival of a new Ambassador who had, until his appointment, been a member of the Trudeau government.

    The first step was the visit at the end of May of Fanton, the French Secretary of State for Defence, an indication on the part of the French that one of their ministers, albeit a junior one in an area of undisputed federal...

  24. 19 NORMALIZATION: BOURASSDA VISITS PARIS, SCHUMANN COMES TO OTTWA
    (pp. 167-178)

    NORMALIZATION OF RELATIONS between Paris and Ottawa was now underway but it was necessary to put substance into these relations in order to widen France’s interests in Canada beyond language, culture and education in Quebec and the partially Francophone provinces. Did it matter? Many in the country did not think so, but the Trudeau government saw this objective as an essential component of the policy it was defining for Canada, as a partially Francophone country with a policy of bilingualism and biculturalism, intending to play its part in the Francophone international community while ensuring that France would no longer be...

  25. 20 CANADA AND THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITY: A CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER RETURNS TO PARIS
    (pp. 179-192)

    THE SUBSEQUENT COURSE of relations between Canada and France is an important thread in the larger account of the evolution of Canada’s economic relations with Western Europe. In the early seventies, the broadening European Economic Community was a matter of increasing concern in Canada. The impending disappearance of Commonwealth preferences forced the federal government to consider the possibility of a new economic relationship with Britain and the members of the European Community. The events to be described in this chapter brought, once more, France’s conflicting attitudes toward Canada into play, but eventually led to a new and more reasonable relationship...

  26. ENVOI
    (pp. 193-194)

    IF CANADA is to remain as presently constituted with Quebec as one of its principal provinces, then the French Fact will continue to be part of the Canadian political scene and part of how Canada conducts its international affairs. Depending on whether a Canadian is raised and educated Francophone or Anglophone, he or she will react differently from fellow citizens brought up in the other tradition and respond differently to situations, be they political, cultural, emotional involving the two different cultures. If French-speaking Canadians are to feel identified with external policies and to play a part in formulating them, they...

  27. APPENDIX
    (pp. 195-198)
  28. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 199-200)
  29. INDEX
    (pp. 201-204)
  30. Back Matter
    (pp. 205-205)