Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture






1-10 pp.


The Canadian refusal to join the U.S. led “coalition of the willing” does not mark the first time the nation has chosen not to follow its “traditional allies” into a foolish, ego-driven, imperialistic and vengeful conflict. Indeed, Canada’s record in these matters is flawless. Peter C. Newman points out that “we went along with most presidential global adventures, except the Vietnam War. The other significant time we parted company with the Yanks was over our drive to impose economic sanctions on apartheid South Africa, a policy we initiated and successfully defended despite American objections.” In fact, the objections to this policy came from the Reagan administration, which serves as the model for the current Bush regime. Despite protests from its partners, Canada managed to field the fourth largest military among the World War II Allies — the largest per capita — and did so without instituting a universal draft. At the time, Prime Minister Mackenzie King’s policy was popularly known as “Conscription if necessary, but not necessarily conscription.” Current Prime Minister Jean ChrÈtien’s policy is reflected in the title of this paper, which surveys the popular and political responses — that is, what Canadians read and hear — regarding the paradoxical position.


© Marc Ouellette. Posted with permission of the author.

Original Publication Citation

Ouellette, M. A. (2003). War if necessary, but not necessarily war”: The Canadian paradox and “Iraqi freedom". Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture, 3(3).