The Nationalists of 1968 and the Search for Canadian Independence
From: 1968 in Canada
The year 1968 marked a decisive break in the history of English-Canadian nationalism. An older generation of nationalists, mostly located in rural Canada and concerned with the loosening of Canada’s bond to Britain, found itself overtaken by a movement known as the New Nationalism. Young, well-educated, and concentrated in the urban centres of southern Ontario, the New Nationalists were preoccupied with U.S. economic control of Canada. Their concerns were propelled to the forefront of Canadian public debate in 1968 with the publication of the Watkins Report, a study of foreign investment in Canada. The two key figures in producing that report, Cabinet Minister Walter Gordon and economist Mel Watkins, also represented the two distinct factions of the New Nationalist movement, mainstream and radical. Their 1968 collaboration helped channel Canadian anxieties about the United States into an effort to reduce American economic influence in Canada.
Stephen Azzi is Associate Professor of Political Management, History, and Political Science at Carleton University, where he is director of the Clayton H. Riddell Graduate Program in Political Management. He is author of Walter Gordon and the Rise of Canadian Nationalism (1999), Reconcilable Differences: A History of Canada–US Relations (2015), and the 3rd edition of the Historical Dictionary of Canada (with Barry Gough, 2021).