It is known as the worlds friendliest border. Five thousand miles, of unfenced, unwalled land between two great nations: The United States and Canada. The American “War Plan Red” was a hypothetical plan drawn up in 1930 by the heads of the American military in which they planned to attack Canada.
The plan was designed to break apart the British Empire which was the most powerful global entity at the time and rivaled the burgeoning power of the United States. Plans for attacking Canada included invasion from several different locations along the border. Each major city in Canada would be invaded by its neighboring American state. How seriously this plan was considered will never be known, since World War II was brewing on the horizon.
Had the Americans carried out their objective of invading Canada with their “War Plan Red”, Canada, would have been a very different country from what it is today. Canada’s government would have been transformed into a one with an American democratic style, the style of media coverage would have dramatically change, and French Canadians would not have been allowed to preserve their culture and special identity. The parliamentary style of the Canadian government would have certainly become a casualty of a successful American invasion. For centuries, American intellectuals had believed that “the American system was, in many ways, more difficult, certainly far more expensive and much longer in period than a parliamentary structure” (James Madison, 1792). The Canadian Parliament and the United States Congress are similar in structure and function but operate differently. Congress like Parliament is made of two chambers, the lower chamber, called the House of Representatives both in the US and Canada, and the Senate.
Politicians in American style democracies often receive support from those who are primarily focused on their communities’ wellbeing as opposed to the overall wellbeing of their country. As a result, American politicians spend more time making supporters happy, then choosing the best viable option for their nation. This situation rarely occurs in a parliamentary system due to the greater disassociation between politicians and voters.
In the Canadian style democracy, the government is typically able to pass any bill and not have to work with the opposition, instead focusing entirely on their own party. In the American system, however, politicians are forced to compromise and negotiate due to the separation of the legislature and the executive branches. If the American congressional system of government had been imposed on Canada, then the functioning parliamentary system of government would have ceased to exist, resulting in a less representational structure. A major criticism of the American system was primarily aimed at “the type of sometimes-ugly bargaining between Congress and the president, and the fact that many of these bills fail is an entirely predictable feature of this constitutional system” (Daniel Diemer 2014). The parliamentary system is effective because the prime minister tends to exercise a superior agenda control which results in more frequent administrative successes. Moreover, in the Canadian parliamentary style of government, the power of the political party is disseminated through the power structure, leaving the government less prone to an authoritarian collapse. Under the American system, the separation of power between the president and its executive and legislative branch, somewhat contradictorily limits the level of accountability, making it possible for both the executive and legislative branches to assign mutual blame in the event of failure to enact legislation.
If a president had replaced a Canadian prime minister as the Canadian head of state the result would have been an unreliable and uncooperative cabinet. It “was settled by the Constitution, the laws, and the whole practice of the government that the entire executive power is vested in the President of the United States.” (Andrew Jackson 1832). The American democratic style of government is distinguished by the flawed separation of power.
As the head of the Canadian government, the prime minister leads the operational aspect of the government. On the contrary, the president relies on Congress for meaningful legislation as he can only use executive orders, which can easily be canceled by a future president. The balance of power between the prime minister and the Canadian government is created to ensure legislative success while the American constitution ties the president down, mainly to ensure that the president stays in line. If the imbalance of power which exists in the American democracy had been transferred to the Canadian style of government, this condition would have corrupted the successful functioning of the Canadian system of government. The second aspect of Canadian life that would have been unalterably changed by “War Plan Red” would have been Canadian media.
For decades, Canadian broadcasting channels have competed with American outlets when a major crisis occurs. For instance, during the 2014 parliament shooting, American channels illustrated the event as “Terrified Capitol: Solider dead in Ottawa”, while Canadian stations portrayed a less frightening but informative slogan “Solider dies after attack on parliament hill, the gunman also shot dead.” (CBC News 2014). The American style of coverage not only incites fear but affects the accuracy itself, while the Canadian coverage is insightful and paints a clear picture to the audience. As a result, the success of “War Plan Red” would have resulted in a complete misrepresentational media coverage. The adversarial style of the American media has poisoned the American population into only “selecting media sources that reflect in their personal political alignment” (Julia Albright 2008).
Instead of providing information to the public, the American media attempts to propagandize its viewers which leads to collective action. If this dangerous indoctrination had been instituted in the Canadian media, through War Plan Red, the public would have been left with no room to draw its own conclusions to world issues. People look to the media to report the fair and accurate news. The American media has been taking more and more of a negative tone when observing situations. The constant abasement of the truth is “far too common and often leads one to wonder.” (Madeline Bellcote 2002). The American press is only focused on creating a hostile and untrustworthy network that influences the public to think of the same fallacious belief.
If the hostile nature of the American media had been transferred through to Canadian networks byways of War Plan Red, it would leave our public with an unfair and unjust point of view rather than what is true.Equally important is the effect of the American identity on the Canadian languages. In 1981 Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau made it his mission to make bilingualism “not an imposition on the citizens. The citizens can go on speaking one language or six languages, or no languages if they so choose” (Pierre Trudeau 1982). Canada has two official languages, English and French, as well as many indigenous languages. The Canadian Constitution states that Canadian children are encouraged to enroll in a French-immersion school, or must have at least 6 years of French schooling.
This support for the French language in Canada eventually became strong enough to resist the American forces of assimilation. The American view of English as the only official language spoken would be devastating for French Canadians and their culture. The imposition of English as the main language, had War Plan Red succeeded, would have torn away much of Canadian historical heritage. Our historical ties towards France and Britain have evolved into an autonomous country with its own views on languages. Canadian children have “been raised generation after generation of children and think nothing of hearing five or six different languages spoken on the playground.” (Justin Trudeau 2016). The Canadian languages were inherited from the major countries of Western Europe. After the American Revolution, many American settlers who believed in manifest density moved north to Canada.
Meanwhile, after the French Revolution, many French refugees came to seek asylum in Canada increasing the francophone population. In the following years, American belief in their superiority increased and their distrust of French-speaking Canadians only grew. If this belief in the superiority of the English language had been carried through to modern Canadian times because of War Plan Red the Canadian principle in diversity would have suffered. The American uniformity of English has poisoned its citizens into thinking that English: “Is the only language we have room for in this country.” (Theodore Roosevelt, 1907).
In 1907 American President Theodore Roosevelt passed the English-only act. The American people were told that having English as the only official language would create opportunities for immigrants to learn and speak English. The American opinion of English excludes immigrants from speaking their own language. Americans strive for diversity yet refuse to allow it. If this lack of American adaptation to language diversity had been promoted through the success of War Plan Red the result would have been a Canada that speaks predominately English.
Had the American War Plan Red succeeded Canada would have been a very different society today, the Canadian parliamentary system of government would have been removed, the media would have been irrevocably altered, and Canadian languages would have been assimilated into one English speaking nation. Even though War Plan Red was never implemented the fact remains that friendship with the U.S. is circumstantial and one-sided. Canada must always seek to protect its independence regardless of threats in whatever form.
Canada was founded through an amicable separation with the United Kingdom as was America though there’s was anything but peaceful. Americans wanted out, they wanted to be independent, and that dangerous spirit can still be seen today.