John Diefenbaker's "Made in Canada" Policies

"Diefenbaker promoted Canadian independence with evangelical zeal... 'We are a power, not a puppet,' the Chief thundered during the controversy over the placement of U.S. nuclear warheads in Canada. 'His rampant nationalism alienated the entire ruling class: Bay Street, Wall Street, his civil service and politicians from all parties.  [George] Grant credited the Chief with the strongest stance against satellite status ever attempted by a Canadian.  This stance came at a high price.

Source: Laurence Martin, Pledge of Allegiance, The Americanization of Canada in the Mulroney Years, 1993.


Cuban Missile Crisis: 

When U.S. spy planes showed missile sites being constructed in Cuba, Kennedy decided to blockade Russian ships en route to Cuba.  Despite NORAD, the Canada-U.S. Permanent Joint Board on Defense and NATO, Kennedy neither consulted nor informed the Canadian government until [two hours] before his TV speech on Oct. 22,  1962.
The U.S. asked the Canadian government to move our military to an advanced state of readiness.  Diefenbaker did not comply.  Nonetheless, Canada's military moved immediately to advanced readiness without the Prime Minister's authorization.  Canada's chief of naval staff ordered the Atlantic fleet to sea.  Canada's Minister of Defense ordered the military's Chiefs of Staff to special preparedness.
General McNaughton's 1941 remark is painfully relevant: "The acid test of sovereignty is control of the armed forces."1  Howard Green, Canada's anti-nuclear External Affairs minister, pleaded that cabinet reconsider "blindly following the U.S. lead, particularly since the President had not kept the commitment to consult Canada over the impending [missile] crisis.
'If we go along with the U.S. now, we'll be their vassal forever.'"2

1. C.P. Stacey, Canada and the Age of Conflict, Vol.2, p.349.
2. Peter Newman, Renegade in Power: The Diefenbaker Years, p.337, p.337.

Source: Robin Mathews, Canadian Foundations web site

The Avro and the Bomarcs:
Diefenbaker cancelled the Avro Arrow fighter plane program (1959) because the U.S. wouldn't buy any of them.  Although then expected to arm Canada's Bomarc missiles with U.S. nuclear warheads, Diefenbaker refused.

Operation Sky Hawk:
Dief cancelled a U.S. nuclear war-related training exercise over Canada (1959).

Diefenbaker refused U.S. demands to stop trading with Cuba, and instead increased Canada's trade (1960).

At a Commonwealth conference (1961), Diefenbaker was the only white leader to support the African and Asian members against allowing South African membership.

After Diefenbaker's Bill of Rights (1960), the government reduced immigration restrictions based on racial grounds and began to accept more Asian and black immigrants.

Dief appointed the first women cabinet minister and senator.

First Nations:
Native people allowed to vote for the first time (1960).


Dief resented JFK's speech to Parliament urging Canada to join the Organization of American States, because Dief had already refused (1961).

Diefenbaker refused U.S. requests to cut off wheat supplies to China if they continued supporting Vietnamese independence efforts (1962).

Nuclear Test Ban:
Kennedy pushed for opposition to the treaty, but Canada voted for it (1962). The U.S. and most NATO countries abstained. 
Sources: Knowlton Nash, Kennedy and Diefenbaker, 1990 and