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Kennedy and Diefenbaker

Course Code
Chris Pennington

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Kennedy- Diefenbaker January 31st
origins of the feud: both had totally different backgrounds, Kennedy: rich, and from an
affluent family, he was a Senator at a young age, charisma whereas Dief. - came from
humble backgrounds, dealt with many defeats and thus had an innate resent towards
Kennedy, Dief was a Con. and Kennedy relatively Liberal (Democrat)
Dief was very sensitive to criticism whereas Kennedy was serenely self-assured
Kennedy was unable to read how to treat Dief - Ike treated Dief as an equal but
Kennedy did no such thing
aside from these, there were real policy differences between the two - and Canada
and the US at large
OAS: body of NA and LA nations presumed by Canada to have been dominated by
the US since its inception; there had always been a Canadian chair but Canada never
opted to join the OAS
this had much to do with the fact that Canada had serious ties with GB; there was a
hesitance to join an organization that was dominated by the US
trade with communist countries: when China and Cuba went communist, it was a
serious blow to the US - the American response was to isolate the countries, by means
mostly of trade embargoes
Ike had refused to meet with Castro when he had visited; Cuba was very well received
by the Soviets
there were two options on how to deal with the Cubans: isolation and the alternative
was to embrace the country
the Canadian position was much more the second option; it was easier to embrace
Cuba then to alienate it
Dief was the first to implement a pro-Cuba policy - one it made sense in terms of
economics and second because he truly in the validity of the second option
this was actively undermining the American policy - this was a point of real contention
between the countries long before Kennedy came into power
Bay of Pigs, 1961: this was disastaerous faliure on the part of the CIA and
international embarrassment for Kennedy
without acknowledging the fact that America had already launched an attack on Cuba,
Dief’s suspicions in the Cuban Missile Crisis are understandable
Dief visits Washington, Feb 1961
Kennedy pronounced Dief’s name wrong; so upset was Dief that he actually
considered filing a formal report - the beginning of the sour relations between the two
there was a cordial exchange however, there were personal disagreements - Kennedy
had a habit of teasing Dief - this sowed discontent between the two
there was a disagreement about who won the War of 1812: “where are the pictures of
the British victories”
this contention wasn’t evident at first - at least publicly
Kennedy visits Ottawa, May 1961:
50 000 Canadians swarmed Par. hill to see Kennedy
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