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Copyright (c) 2003 Osgoode Hall Law School
Osgoode Hall Law Journal

ARTICLE: Keeping up with the Neighbours? Canadian Responses to 9/11 in Historical and Comparative Context(c)

(c) 2003, R. Whitaker.

Summer / Fall, 2003

41 Osgoode Hall L.J. 241




To assess the impact of 9/11 on Canada, historical and comparative perspectives are helpful. This article offers two historical precedents in Canada, followed by some comparative context for Canada's post-9/11 actions in the experience of Canada's closest neighbours, the United States and the United Kingdom. 1

When Canada joined the war on terrorism after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the decision was not without historical precedents in the post-war world. The Cold War, especially in its initial stages from 1945 to the early 1950s, and the October 1970 Crisis in Quebec offer two intriguing parallels to the present situation, providing a number of useful lessons.

In the late 1940s, Canada went to a so-called Cold War, against Soviet Communism. Just as Canadian troops have found themselves fighting terrorists on the front lines in Afghanistan, Canadian soldiers in the Cold War found themselves battling Communists in Korea. Both wars included a home front and the identification of enemies within. Both wars involved Canada in ever closer integration with the Americans, through the generals directing the conflicts. Both wars, especially in their initial, anxious stages, raise issues of individual and group rights in contrast to the demands of the community for security.

9/11 was, as many have pointed out, America's 21st century Pearl Harbor. As such, it has compelled an immediate and aggressive American response. The Cold War turned out to be an American-led and American-directed conflict, but in its earliest stages it did not follow ...
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