A role for Canada in an African crisis: perceptions of the Congo crisis and motivations for Canadian participation

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Galvin, Daniel
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University of Guelph

When the government of the newly independent Democratic Republic of Congo collapsed in the summer of 1960, Canadians were faced with a new type of global crisis, a crisis of governance in independent Africa. Despite the new nature of this crisis, Canadians interpreted events through more familiar frameworks. This thesis examines Canadian perceptions of the Congo Crisis and motivations for participation from two perspectives, those of policymakers and the press, focussing exclusively on the first two months of the crisis. Canadians were remarkably united in their perceptions of the crisis and in their motivations for Canadian participation. They perceived the collapse of order in the Congo as a crisis of both the Cold War and decolonization. Canadian support of United Nations intervention and participation in this intervention was motivated by a perceived threat posed by the Congo Crisis to Canada's two main foreign policy goals: working toward peace through multilateralism and the United Nations, and opposition to an expansionist Soviet bloc through participation in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Crisis, Canadian participation, Canadian perceptions