North Atlantic Quadrangle: The Importance of France in Canadian Strategic Culture, 1760-1949

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Date
2015-04-10
Authors
Massie, Justin
Keyword
Canadian Foreign Policy , France
Abstract
The objective of this dissertation is to answer the puzzle raised by political scientist John Kirton: Why has Canada, for the last century, gone to war for and beside France? In other words, I assess France’s relative importance in Canadian strategic culture. The hypothesis defended is that the emergence of France in Canadian strategic culture stems from the social construction of Canada's internal state identity as a bicultural (English and French) country, with its corollary external identity as an Atlanticist country, emerging in 1940, and whose associated principles (allied unity, status and functional representation) explain the legitimacy to use force outside Canada's borders as well as the magnitude of Canada's military contribution. This gives France a double influence on Canada’s strategic culture, that is to say, in the constitution of what is considered a “just” cause: the legitimacy of quadrilateral multilateralism, as well as the "Christian democratic" values and ethnocultural heritage shared between Canada and France, which I call "francosphère.” The demonstration that France is an essential geonormative pillar in Canada’s international security policy – justifying an extension of the geometric metaphor of the North Atlantic triangle - is established in three stages. First, I reject the realist hypotheses explaining the peculiarity of Franco-Canadian relations (anti-American and anti-Soviet balancing, collective defence, relative power, and the Gaullist assault on Canada’s territorial integrity) because of their inconsistency and/or their lack of empirical support. Then, I develop a constructivist analytical framework of foreign policy. Finally, the empirical and historical study that follows, examining Franco-Canadian relations from 1760 to 1949, confirms my hypothesis, namely that the importance of France in Canadian strategic culture is determined by the emergence of bicultural and Atlanticist identities, both institutionalized after the trauma of June 1940.
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