The Marginalization of Corporate Canada

Published: Winter 2000-2001    |    By: Isaiah A. Litvak  |    Volume 58, No. 2


In the 1970s, Canadian nationalists saw multinational corporations [MNCs] as a threat to the nation state. They were concerned that Canada’s sovereignty was being undermined by United States ownership and control of Canadian companies, by US cultural intrusions, and by the extraterritorial application of US laws. These threats were viewed as external to Canada, mounted in and driven by the United States. Some thirty years later, Canada’s sovereignty is still perceived as being under threat, but now the threat is largely internally mounted and driven. The ongoing uneasiness about Quebec secession and the transfer of an increasing number of Canadian MNC head office functions and activities to the United States are seen as contributing to a significant weakening of the role of the national government and the fabric of the Canadian nation state.

Nation building has always been a preoccupation of Canada’s political leaders. Canada was created to satisfy political, not economic, objectives. These objectives are explicit in references by the Fathers of Confederation to maintaining sovereignty, withstanding absorption, and preserving cultural integrity. The fear of being absorbed by the United States colossus has been a recurring theme in Canadian policy debates.

About the Author

Isaiah A. Litvak is the Christine & Eugene Lynn Chair in International Business, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, and the Pierre Lassonde Chair Emeritus, York University, Toronto. His research has been supported by a grant from the Social Science Research Council of Canada. He gratefully acknowledges helpful comments from various colleagues and business leaders, especially Robert Cuff, Charles Doran, Gerry Finn, George Fleischmann, Ken Foxcroft, and Maureen Appel Molot.