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Canadian public opinion and the war in Vietnam, 1954-1973 O’Kane, David James


This thesis investigates the state of Canadian public opinion concerning the war in Vietnam from the time of Canada's initial involvement on the International Control Commission in 1954, to the final pullout of Canadian observers in 1973. The Canadian Institute of Public Opinion polls will form the basis of this examination, but various media publications and government statements will also be used to portray the nature of public debate on this issue. This study is broken down into two periods; from 1954 to 1964 and from 1965 to 1973. The conclusions reached show that fear of communism contributed to significant Canadian public support for American intervention i n Vietnam in the early years of the conflict. It was only near the end of the war, when Canadians began to consider U.S. actions as more dangerous to world peace than revolutionary communism, that support for American policy declined. However, throughout the entire period of this study there was always a large percentage of Canadians who were undecided about the war. This most likely reflects the general apathy of Canadians when confronted with foreign policy questions that had little direct impact on their daily lives. Nevertheless, there was a considerable percentage of the population that was strongly opposed to the American intervention and to what was considered the Canadian government's complicity in prolonging the war. Overall, Canadian attitudes changed slowly and even then only very little.

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