Between the Lines: Canadian Foreign Correspondents and the Construction of Canada's Cold War Identity

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The purpose of this study was to reveal how Canadian foreign correspondents constructed a Canadian perspective in their reports on key Cold War conflicts. Four Cold War conflicts and four correspondents were selected; The Suez Crisis (1956) as reported by Peter Worthington for The (Toronto) Telegram; erection of the Berlin Wall (1961) as reported by Stanley Burke for CBC Television; the Vietnam War (1971-73) as reported by Joe Schlesinger for CBC Television; Nicaragua’s civil war (1981-1984) as reported by Oakland Ross for The Globe and Mail. With the application of critical discourse analysis the reportage revealed that there was a common, unspoken, Canadian perspective or sensibility expressed by the correspondents. Most of their reports focus on people who are victimized by the clashes between the super powers. They dwell on the people who are caught in the middle of violent Cold War conflicts over which they have very little control. Analysis also revealed that except for Worthington’s reports from The Suez Zone in 1957-58, the mention of Canada or Canadians is rare, as is the posturing by the Soviet Union and the United States, posturing that sometimes threatened to break out into nuclear war. Instead, these Canadian correspondents were more concerned about the hapless men, women and children, caught in the crossfire of the proxy wars fought by the Soviet Union, the United States, and China. Although interviews with correspondents revealed that they hadn’t given much thought to what a Canadian perspective would entail, the perspective in their reportage reflects Canada’s history and identity as a country that values surviving rather than domination. It also reflects Canada’s history as a country that often found itself caught between the demands of two super-powers – Britain and the United States. During the Cold War federal leaders sought to carve out a role for Canada in which it sought common ground with smaller nations rather than become completely subservient to the demands of its key ally – the United States. This public shunning of the U.S. is another key theme in the reports of the four foreign correspondents.
Canadian Studies
Steward, G. (2014). Between the Lines: Canadian Foreign Correspondents and the Construction of Canada's Cold War Identity (Doctoral thesis, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada). Retrieved from doi:10.11575/PRISM/25113