Canada - U.S. relations 
re: International Business Management
changes last made to this page 2023 Jan 31st


DISCLAIMER The range and magnitude of the Canada-U.S. relationship is much too complex and diverse to be contained in a page like this - this page is for giving undergrad students a primer for a lively class discussion which will incorporate current news issues... and the content is built, mostly, using students suggestions and input.


INTRODUCTION Some Canadian universities have entire courses devoted to the complex subject of Canada-U.S. relations. It is arguably the largest bilateral relationship in the world. 

This unit serves the purpose of discussing some of the main aspects of Canada-U.S. relations as it applies to being an effective International Business Manager operating with a company in Canada.


LEARNING OBJECTIVES After reading this unit, and attending the classroom lecture, students will
  • understand that U.S. politics effects Canadian export opportunities 
    • and know some specific examples
  • know some of the specific trade issues of contention that Canada has with the U.S.
  • appreciate some of the social-cultural differences between Canada and the U.S. , which cause
    • American (some) business people do behave differently than Canadians
    • American customers do think about consumer products differently than Canadians - which effects how you sell to the U.S.


Prof. WTGR holding the July 2008 cover of Maclean's in which the whole issue was devoted to discussing Canada-USA differences
Canada-U.S. relations Students Tuschar C. and Clayton S. and Anil G. made a "road trip" to Buffalo at the end of the March/April 2010 term and interviewed various ppl about their opinions of Canada. They also interviewed various students on the UTSC campus and put together a very interesting 7 min video with good sound quality, kewl audio clips and not bad focus on the images -all in all a good job and for their time and effort I am appreciative.

current students should watch it, and you can earn class participation marks by commenting on it as to what you agree or disagree.
WTGR 2010 April 9th

Canada-U.S. relations from the American
perspective Student Amy I. in MGTC44 at UTSC in Feb 2010 found this clip on YouTube and brought it to my attention. It serves as an interesting window on what Americans may know about Canada - at least Americans who pay attention to the news.

how powerful is Canada

10 Things Canadians do better than Americans

The clip is narrated by famous U.S. TV news anchor Tom Brokaw and explains the relationship between Canada and The United States, in a pre-recorded short film that aired on NBC, prior to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Canada-U.S. trade frictions

examining the sources of some problems

One of the things that has always made the U.S. nervous about a close relationship between Canada and the U.S. is in the context of the economic environment and the technological environment.

Since the early years of the new millennium, Canada has started to decrease it's overwhelming dependence on business with the U.S. 

and begun to do more business with the rest of the world.

Canada-U.S. trade frictions
Many of the trade frictions between Canada and the U.S. are based on farming and forestry. Canadians are always trying to block cheaper milk and cheese coming in to Canada because Canadian dairy farmers cannot produce large quantities at low prices - primarly because of the "geographic environment".
Canadian farmers of dairy cows have higher costs and a shorter summer growing season. It is geoography.

2023 January
"The United States is filing another formal dispute over what it considers Canada's failure to live up to its trade obligations...It's the second time the U.S. has launched such a dairy-driven escalation, formally known as a dispute settlement panel, in less than two years. A panel ruled in December 2021 that Canada was indeed violating the terms of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement with the way it was allocating import quotas for U.S. dairy products.

However, Canadian politicians will continue to support the Canadian dairy farmers because the farmers have political power through the members of parliament elected in southern Ontario, Quebec and B.C.

"The dairy sector is different because since the 1970s it has been subject to supply management. Basically, it’s a government-sanctioned cartel: The Canadian Dairy Commission dictates the precise amount of milk produced every month in the country and uses this top-down control to keep dairy prices artificially high. Similar systems are also in place for chicken, turkey and eggs."

"The Canadian dairy sector can do this without fear of international competition because foreign imports are subjected to prohibitive tariffs of up to 300 per cent; this is why border guards will often explicitly ask you if you have any cheese in your luggage "

"Type the keyword “dairy” into the federal lobbyist registry, and you’ll turn up just short of 7,000 results. By contrast, the word “lumber” yields only 1115 results and the word “beef” turns up only 456."

Some people have compared the Canadian Dairy lobby to the Americans NRA

Canada-U.S. trade frictions

examining the sources of some problems

As a consequence of Canada doing business with other countries, there have developed some ramifications that effect U.S. companies doing business in Canada, and collaborating with Canadian companies in areas of high tech research.


The National Post and the CBC reported in October 2007  that the
U.S. is irked about Chinese attack helicopters being made with Canadian built engines
CBC reported
"The U.S. State Department is investigating how aircraft engines made near Montreal ended up in attack helicopters in China.

The maker, Pratt and Whitney Canada, says it did nothing illegal. It delivered 10 engines to Beijing in 2001 and 2002 on condition they be used only in civilian aircraft. The Liberal government of the day approved the deal, a decision the present Conservative government is supporting."

CBC added "But Washington is not happy. If the engines contain U.S. technology or parts, the company could be hit with big fines for violating U.S. export laws. It has been confirmed that the Chinese military put the Canadian engines in Z-10 attack helicopters"
( )

military analyst Richard Fisher explains that "the Z-10 attack helicopters is just one major military program, amongst hundreds, that China is pursuing in order to prepare for a possible war against Taiwan".

Canada-U.S. trade frictions

examining the sources of some problems

CBC says "Under U.S. arms trafficking laws, Washington must give its approval for U.S. products and technology to be used for military purposes in a third country." 
KEY POINTS Why would Canadians be interested in this issue?

In 2007, the Canadian government has expressed deep concern about how the military/government forces are suppressing the people in Sudan and Burma - which are two countries in which Chinese military exports are significant.

Why is neither the Conservative government, or the former Liberal government appear to be concerned about what happened?

Pratt and Whitney Canada is based in Quebec and is one of the key "players" in the Quebec based aircraft industry, which is very "job sensitive" and highly political. 

Canada-U.S. relations 

Resources University of Toronto has its own Canada-U.S. studies centre, it is called the
"Centre for the Study of the United States"

click on the screen capture to access the Centre's website

be advised the centre has some business info, but it is not oriented to Canada-U.S. business topics, it is more historical in perspective, as suggested by topics on its site such as "Twenty-Fifth Anniversary  Retrospectives on the Hostage Crisis in Iran", and "The Weaver's Craft: Cloth, Commerce, and Industry in  Early Pennsylvania"
Canada-U.S. relations 


Prof. Andrew Johnston teaches History at the University of Western Ontario and is co-director of The Centre for American Studies at UWO

Prof. Johnston wrote an article in The Toronto Star 2004 Dec 28th titled
"Anatomy of anti-Americanism"
Parts of this article are well worth reading.

Key Points 
Just like the people who want to be successful in exporting to China, therefore they learn about Chinese Culture and try to get past the stereotypes, it is similar important for Canadians (who want to successfully do business in the U.S.) to get past the stereotypes and really understand the U.S.

Johnston explains
"Canadians subsist on a thin diet of stereotypes about the U.S., though much of it also comes from patriotic boosterism originating in the United States. A more serious problem is that it is almost impossible to talk about America at all without being pulled into the vortex of Canadian angst."

Johnston continues
"The recurring problem here is that the pro- and anti-American dichotomy suffocates our public life by bringing it back to stereotypes of what is, in fact, a heterogeneous nation. To explore another country's culture is to discover its ugly secrets and its grand celebrations, but, above all, to destroy our capacity to imagine that the word American can be reduced to a single ideology. The complexity of America is lost on all sides of this. It's a flattering cliché that anti-Americanism says more about the self-image of its protagonists than about the U.S.

In Canada, we complain ceaselessly about our milquetoast nationalism that seems capable of only defining itself negatively. But if we were as careful about understanding the United States as our critics wish us to be, we would not only give our own nationalism a break, we might discover how incomplete American nationalism is too.

The ideas of American character that we take for granted — individualism, materialism, inventiveness, productivity — were not the founding characteristics of the "nation," but emerged through a dialogue between the Yankee North and the slaveholding South (In 1828, Andrew Jackson's vice-president John C. Calhoun said: "I never use the word nation. We are not a nation, but a union, a confederacy of equal and sovereign states.")"

Canada-U.S. Differences This is a list based on the personal opinion of Tim Richardson and the points on the list are not necessarily something my students or colleagues are obliged to agree with.
My personal opinion of Canada-U.S. differences

One of the big differences between Canada and the U.S., in my opinion, is how they treat immigrants. 

In Canada, newcomers are encouraged to stay the same, and "celebrate their diversity" - there is very little encouragement to "be Canadian". The "government" is too shy to establish what "Canadian" is because for decades they didn't want to irritate Quebec and satisfying Quebec was the key to federal politics. In 2010, French-Canadians are declining in the percentage of the "ethnic population" while the number of Canadians from China and India is increasing steadily.

In the U.S., newcomers are quickly encouraged to "be American" - it is OK to be proud of where you came from, but you are American now, and your first allegiance is to the U.S. of A.

In Canada, we are so concerned about appearing racist and prejudiced, we have even changed the term immigrants and now the politically correct phrase we use here is "new Canadians"

Canada-U.S. Differences 1. Americans are a melting pot  - when you come to the U.S. you can be proud of where you came from, but you have to quickly "be an American", pledge allegiance and support the U.S. way of doing things - Americans want immigrants to adapt to their culture, they resist adapting to you.
Canada-U.S. Differences 2. Canadians celebrate diversity and multi-culturalism, which in practice seems to mean you come here from country "X", and you are welcomed to continue to think of yourself as still in that country with X's hairstyles, clothing, language, religion etc. - to the point where the local, provincial and federal government does many things to accomodate you, like letting you write your drivers test in dozens of different languages. There is, for many people, no strong identifiable Canadian culture that immigrants are encouraged to "become", instead they stay as "Jamaican-Canadians", "Chinese-Canadians" etc. with many emphasizing usually the first word not the second.
Canada-U.S. Differences 3. Americans are more religious. Black Americans and White Americans in particular attend church in much greater percentages than Black Canadians and White Canadians. 

Americans have a president who was elected, and re-elected on a platform that made many references to God and the Christian faith - you never hear a Canadian Prime Minister or Provincial Premier end a speech with a line like "so help me God", or "and God Bless Canada"

Canada-U.S. Differences 4. In the U.S., sports is "Big Business", in Canada, sports are more personal
- the exception being Hockey which is a national passion that competes with religion for the soul of the people. With the long history of Canada hockey success going back to the Russia series in '72 and recently with the Men and Women's gold at the Olympics, Canadians (and rightfully so) feel they are the complete master's of this sport on the planet. For a large percentage of Canadians, especially in rural Canada and small villages, the local hockey rink is the centre of life.
Canada-U.S. Differences 5. Americans are concerned with buying products at competitive prices and still good quality, Canadians want to buy cheap products, but seem to accept that cheaper will also mean cheap quality. An expert in the Canadian fashion business explained that Walmart Canada operates differently than Walmart USA based on this difference.
Canada-U.S. Differences 6. USA is bigger in size???? It is a common myth that Canada is the 2nd largest country in the world - actually, the land area of the U.S. is 9,162,000 sq km, Canada is 9,093,000 sq km - what makes us a bigger country on the map, is the fact that we also take into account a large part of the Arctic ocean making out total area of land and ocean 9,984,670 sq km, whereas the U.S. is 9,826,630 sq km

The U.S. has far more habitable land than Canada, whereas most Canadians live close to the 49th parallel



Canada has 5.8 migrants / 1,000 population
USA has 3.0 migrants / 1,000 population
- we have almost twice as many immigrants, per capita, than the USA

Asians in Canada represent 12% of our population
Asians in the USA represent 4% of the population

Blacks in Canada represent 2.2 % of our population (mostly from the Caribbean in the 1960's - 80's)
Blacks in the USA represent 13.4 % of the population (mostly from the days of slavery in the 1700's)

Canada - people speaking French 22% and declining (proportionate to the rest of the population)
USA - people speaking Spanish 11% and growing

read an interesting essay by a Muslim who thinks multi-culturalism is wrong in Canada because it can lead to such things as the setting up of the Sharia tribunals

read also 10 Ways to Fight Hate on Campus
source One of the obvious differences between the Canada and the United States is the population difference.

There is a very good U.S. gov't website that gives you population by state, and other demographic info.

Prof. W. Tim G. Richardson 
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