Although Canada was a committed member of the western alliance and publically supported Washington, DC’s efforts to isolate communist China, Ottawa embarked on large-scale wheat sales to Beijing in the late 1950s in the face of sustained US opposition. Drawing on a broad range of archival records, this paper explores the three main factors that encouraged the Canadian government in this course: growing doubts about the wisdom of isolating communist China; mounting anger at Washington, DC’s use of subsidized wheat sales to capture traditional Canadian markets; and a surging sense of Canadian nationalism that sought a distinct role for Canada on the world stage. Clearly, as was so often the case in postwar Canadian foreign economic policy, a narrowly defined national interest easily trumped the ideological pressures of western solidarity.

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