The De Gaulle-Johnson Intervention to Break the Empire part 3: Freedom for the Whole of Canada

In this third part of the story co-written with Raynald Rouleau, we continue to explore the story of the De Gaulle- Daniel Johnson Grand Design of the late 1960s which nearly changed the course of world history. Part one is here and part two is here.

Freedom for the Whole of Canada

De Gaulle was never a separatist. On the contrary, it could be said that he was more favourable to a Canadian marriage than a Quebec-British relationship. The official declaration of the French Ministers Council of July 31 1967 was clear: “He (de Gaulle) was brought to measure their will (of the French Canadians) to attain the evolution that would need to be accomplished by Canada as a whole to control their own affairs and become masters of their own progress.”

Contrary to popular opinion, de Gaulle’s intentions were never to destroy Canada, but rather to liberate it from the British imperial octopus, so that all of Canada could enjoy the liberty that would be the effect of France’s policy of Progress, Independence and Peace. While de Gaulle and Johnson clearly wanted to liberate Quebec, they knew that it wouldn’t be possible as long as Canada were an appendage of the Crown… During his press conference of November 27, 1967 at the Palais de l’Elysée, de Gaulle explained what two “preconditions” were absolutely necessary for a “free Quebec” to come into being.

The first would be a «complete change of the Canadian political structure” that had been established a century earlier by the British Monarchy. The second condition would necessitate the re-uniting of lost bonds between the French cultures on both sides of the Atlantic in solidarity. Alas, today we know that a series of (well synchronized) heart attacks insured that the historic reunion that de Gaulle dreamed of would not occur. This failure contributed directly to the formation of the terrible Anglo-American geopolitical system that we know today.

Diefenbaker, de Gaulle and Johnson

Throughout the 1960s, Daniel Johnson fought to ensure that not only Quebec, but Canada as a whole would eventually become sovereign and adopt a republican constitution. He understood, as General de Gaulle did also, that the proper development of a French society within Canada could only occur if Canada itself became a sovereign nation based upon a principle of progress. This is the only way to comprehend Johnson`s battle cry “independence if necessary, but not necessarily independence”.

This understanding was evidenced in Johnson’s energetic support to ensure the sweeping victory of John Diefenbaker as Prime Minister in 1957 and 1958 winning the full support of the Union Nationale party which dominated the province of Quebec.

Diefenbaker is distinguished as the only Canadian Prime Minister to campaign vigorously for a full Canadian development plan and devotion to scientific and technological progress, going so far as to fight for the establishment of a Canadian Credit System for the first (and only) time  in history To the astonishment of all, Diefenbaker’s Conservatives swept the elections taking even the majority of the vote in Quebec, a province which had never broken with its support of the federal Liberal Party since the days of Wilfrid Laurier. Since their original meeting in a Commonwealth Conference of Parliamentarians in 1950, Diefenbaker and Johnson would be allies with Johnson even being considered “the right arm of Diefenbaker in Quebec”. 

Diefenbaker was also known to be allied closely with General de Gaulle during this period. This friendship quickly formed after their first 1958 meeting in Paris. Years later, Diefenbaker would write of his friendship with de Gaulle in the following terms: “I was very much impressed with de Gaulle’s wisdom and with the fullness of his dedication to the service of France. In truth, he was the soul of France… Of all the official visits that I made during my period of office, none exceeded in splendour General de Gaulle’s reception in honour of Canada.”10

The admiration both leaders shared for one another established a foundation of cooperation based upon a common recognition that the sovereignty of nations rested upon their commitment to constant rejuvenation. Were the policies of Diefenbaker and his “Northern Vision” to succeed, a systemic overhaul of the Canadian federal political structure must necessarily have occurred. A universal cultural heritage of progress would have established a principle upon which a multi linguistic unified country of various ethnicities could organically be nourished and grow. Without this orientation and a unified sense of national mission living in the hearts of a people, any nation were doomed to division, and multicultural stagnation under the Social Darwinist laws of “each against all”. Both de Gaulle and Johnson were undoubtedly sensitive to this fact, although Diefenbaker the unrepentant monarchist was somewhat more naïve regarding the obstacles that would be set in his path and eventually sabotage much of his attempted revolution in physical economics and statecraft.

During his Ottawa message of April 18 1960, Charles de Gaulle expressed his feeling of a Canada pregnant with the potential for progressive change, in the following terms:

“How delighted and honoured I am to find myself on Canadian soil. Many are the reasons for this: first of all, our deeply rooted past- numerous indeed are the links which bound us, and which, indeed, still bind us- and then there is the more recent past. I recall the two World Wars in which your country and mine joined forces in the battle for freedom of the world… I am therefore pleased to be back on your soil, and to renew my many friendships, and to greet you in the name of France. Long live Canada, Long live France, and Long live the free peoples!”

From a British to an American Constitution

While often critical of the direction America had chosen to pursue in the post-Kennedy era, de Gaulle and Premier Johnson were not at all opposed to the United States as a country; that is to say, the essence and soul of the United States expressed in its constitution. This fact is evidenced by Daniel Johnson’s constitution project where on page 19 of his Égalité ou Indépendance, we can read: “It were wise to examine what opportunities exist to replace the British based parliamentary system with a congressional system based upon the American model”.

The problem is clear. The origin of those terrible things which we here in Canada have often attributed to the “American Empire” can usually be traced back to an oligarchy in the City of London, moving quietly through networks in the Canadian Establishment. De Gaulle, who had access to the most efficient intelligence services of the day, would certainly not ignore the evil role played by the secret societies and elite clubs loyal to the Empire. Those networks, which had come to determine in large part United States foreign policy, have had the tendency to induce the USA to behave very much contrary to its historical nature. On top of that, these networks are highly ingrained and protected throughout Canada.

By the beginning of the 1960s, the world was entering a very unstable period. The fruits of those great works planted by de Gaulle over the years following WW II, would reveal a new dimension to the French identity centered on “progress, independence and peace”, and come to play a crucial role in history. Under de Gaulle`s leadership, a new era was taking form: He would remove all French forces from NATO, he refused England’s desired entry into the Common Market since he knew that if they would be permitted entrance, then his Grand Design of a Europe as agreed upon by himself and Germany’s Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, from “the Atlantic to the Urals” could never come into existence. De Gaulle wanted a “détente”, and that would involve ending the cold war, and advancing policies of economic cooperation between the East and West. This period therefore elicited great hope among republican forces internationally.

Tune in tomorrow for part 4: Daniel Johnson’s Courage

Matthew Ehret is the Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Patriot Review , a BRI Expert on Tactical talk, and Senior Fellow at the American University in Moscow. He is author of the‘Untold History of Canada’ book series and in 2019 he co-founded the Montreal-based Rising Tide Foundation . Consider helping this process by making a donation to the RTF or becoming a Patreon supporter to the Canadian Patriot Review