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Cultural nationalism, anti-Americanism, and the federal defense of the Canadian Football League

Faculty Advisor




Canadian Football League, nation-building, US cultural influence in Canada, national unity, 1960s and 1970s

Abstract (summary)

During the 1960s nationalism flourished in Canada as did American influence, both cultural and economically, as well as separatist sentiment in Quebec. The Canadian federal government became more interventionist to combat threats to Canadian sovereignty: internal threats from Quebec and external threats from the United States. The federal government used sport as a nation-building tool and eventually acted to protect the Canadian Football League (CFL) as a display of resistance to Americanization and in an attempt to unite French and English. Canadian football had become a symbol of the nation and therefore could be used by the government in a symbolic way to resist cultural imperialism and promote national unity. On two occasions the federal government acted to ensure the CFL preserved its Canadian identity; first, to prevent Canadian-based football teams from joining an American professional football league, and second, to prevent American-based teams from joining the CFL. John Munro was the key Canadian politician who formulated policy to protect Canadian football.

Publication Information

Valentine, J. (Nov. 2019). “Cultural Nationalism, Anti-Americanism, and the Federal Defense of the Canadian Football League,” American Review of Canadian Studies, 49:3, 376-393. DOI: 10.1080/02722011.2019.1660454


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