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The Canadian Garrison Mentality and Anti-Americanism at the CBC

Type: Research Studies
Date Published: June 7, 2005
Research Topics:
Governance, Canada-US Relations
There are many sources of anti-Americanism is Canada, from specific and conflicting interests over trade to symbolic issues such as health care. The former we call "rational" criticism; the latter, "emotional." The largest and most comprehensive context within which the emotional criticism appears is, to borrow a term used by the great literary critic, Northrop Frye, "mythical." At the centre of a mythical and symbolic anti-Americanism is what Frye called the "garrison mentality," a broad view of the world disproportionately maintained and believed in by Canadians living in the Loyalist heartland of southern Ontario. Other parts of the country - Newfoundland and Alberta, for example - have contrasting forms of consciousness and contrasting myths that accord little or no significance to emotional anti-Americanism. The anti-Americanism of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), we argue, is a faithful reflection of "garrison mentality."

To gauge the extent of anti-Americanism sentiment on the CBC, we examine one year's coverage of the Corporation's flagship news program, The National , for 2002. The year was chosen because it followed the attacks of September 11, 2001 on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon but was prior to the US invasion of Iraq. The aftermath of the 9/11 attacks was certainly still in the news in 2002, as were the debates on whether or not the United States should go to war against Iraq and whether Canada should join America in that action. The fact that neither of those events happened during 2002 allows us to examine other instances of American news in Canada.
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