Transcript: Kennedy's Northern Front | Feb 18, 2016

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and pin-dotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "Kennedy's northern front."

Steve says MORE THAN 5 DECADES
AGO, THE AMERICAN-CANADIAN
RELATIONSHIP WAS DEFINED BY TWO
GUYS NAMED JOHN.
AMERICA HAD A GLAMOROUS
PRESIDENT NAMED JOHN F. KENNEDY,
WHILE CANADIANS GAVE THE BIGGEST
MAJORITY GOVERNMENT IN THEIR
HISTORY TO AN ODD-LOOKING LAWYER
FROM SASKATCHEWAN NAMED JOHN
DIEFENBAKER.
THE RESULT WAS PERHAPS THE WORST
RELATIONS IN OUR TWO COUNTRIES'
HISTORY SINCE.
THE WAR OF 1812.
IT'S ALL CAPTURED IN A NEW BOOK
CALLED "COLD FIRE: KENNEDY'S
NORTHERN FRONT," AND ITS AUTHOR
JOHN BOYKO JOINS US NOW.

The book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a black and white picture of John F. Kennedy.
Then, John appears in the studio. He's in his late fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing rimless glasses, a gray suit, blue shirt, and gray tie.

Steve continues GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK HERE AT TVO, JOHN.

John says GOOD TO BE HERE.

The caption changes to "Consult me please."

Steve says WE'RE TALKING ABOUT
TWO SOVEREIGN COUNTRIES, ONE OF
WHICH, THE STATES, KIND OF WANTS
US, CANADA, TO DO ITS BIDDING,
AND CANADA, HAVING THE TEMERITY
TO BELIEVE IT COULD MANAGE ITS
OWN AFFAIRS.

The caption changes to "John Boyko. Author 'Cold fire.'"

John says THERE ARE MANY
WAYS IN WHICH HE DID AND THERE
ARE MANY WAYS IN WHICH HE WANTED
CANADA TO ACT AS A SOVEREIGN
STATE AND IN MANY WAYS HE WANTED
CANADA TO DO AS NECESSARY TO
PROTECT AMERICA'S SECURITY.

Steve says LET'S TALK ABOUT
NUCLEAR MISSILES FIRST OF ALL.
57 CONSERVATIVES WIN A MAJORITY
GOVERNMENT, JOHN DIEFENBAKER
BECOMES THE P.M., AND YOU WRITE...

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Nukes coming north?" The quote reads "Diefenbaker was surprised when the Americans immediately began pressuring him to allow the stockpiling of tactical nuclear weapons at their air force and submarine bases at Goose Bay, Harmon, and Argentia, Newfoundland."
Quoted from John Boyko, "Cold Fire" (2016).

Steve says WHY SO MUCH PRESSURE
SO SOON AFTER DIEF'S WIN?

John says WELL, WHAT WAS
HAPPENING WAS, WE NEED I THINK
TO PUT THIS INTO THE CONTEXT OF
THE COLD WAR.

Steve says SURE.

John says AND KENNEDY
UNDERSTOOD AND THEN BEFORE HE
MET WITH DIEFENBAKER BOTH IN
FEBRUARY IN WASHINGTON AND AGAIN
IN MAY IN OTTAWA, HE WAS TOLD BY
BRIEFING NOTES FROM THE STATE
DEPARTMENT THAT CANADA MATTERED
BECAUSE WE WERE GEOGRAPHICALLY
BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND
THE SOVIET UNION.
SHOULD THE SOVIET UNION ATTACK,
THEN THAT ATTACK WAS COMING
THROUGH SOVIET BOMBERS OVER THE
NORTH POLE, DETERMINED TO TURN
WASHINGTON INTO HIROSHIMA, NEW
YORK INTO NAGASAKI, KENNEDY KNEW
THAT CANADA MATTERED THEREFORE
GEOGRAPHICALLY.
SO WHAT KENNEDY NEEDED TO DO WAS
TO MARRY THAT WITH WHAT
DIEFENBAKER WAS BRINGING, AND
DIEFENBAKER WAS BRINGING A NEW
CANADIAN NATIONALISM WHERE HE
WANTED, AS YOU'VE INFERRED, TO
HAVE CANADA ACT MORE AS AN
INDEPENDENT COUNTRY, INDEPENDENT
FROM BOTH BRITAIN AND FROM THE
UNITED STATES.
THE ISSUE OF HAVING NUCLEAR
WEAPONS ON CANADIAN SOIL HAD
BEEN BROUGHT UP UNDER
EISENHOWER, AND KENNEDY WAS NOW
SAYING, WE WANT THIS DECISION
MADE.
DIEFENBAKER WAS WILLING TO DO
IT, BUT HE WANTED, WITH RESPECT
TO THE NATIONALISM THAT I JUST
REFERRED, TO HAVE THE PROMISE
FROM KENNEDY THAT IF THESE
THINGS WERE EVER GOING TO BE
USED, THAT THE TWO GOVERNMENTS
WOULD BE IN FULL CONSULTATION
AND THAT HE WOULD HAVE CONTROL
OVER WHEN THEY WERE FIRED FROM
CANADIAN SOIL.
DIEFENBAKER WANTED THAT
CONSULTATION.
HE WANTED THAT CONTROL.
NEVER WAS HE CONVINCED THAT THE
PROMISES THAT KENNEDY WERE
MAKING WERE TO BE BELIEVED.
HE DID NOT BELIEVE THAT KENNEDY
WOULD ALLOW HIM THAT
CONSULTATION AND CONTROL.

Steve says WAS IT ALWAYS THE
PLAN TO HAVE THOSE BULLMARK
MISSILES NUCLEAR TIPPED IN CANADA?

John says ORIGINALLY THE
NOTION WAS THAT THESE THINGS
WOULD BE ARMED WITH
NUCLEAR-TIPPED MISSILES, THEY
WOULD BE FIRED AT INCOMING
SOVIET BOMBERS.
THE TIPS WOULD EXPLODE, A
NUCLEAR EXPLOSION IN MID-AIR
WOULD BRING DOWN THE PLANE AND
BRING DOWN ALL THE NUCLEAR
WEAPONS IN IT.
THAT WAS THE ORIGINAL PLAN.

Steve says HERE'S JOHN
DIEFENBAKER AT THE UNITED NATIONS...

Another quote from the book appears on screen, under the title "Our hearts and souls." The quote reads "My hope is that we shall not leave this place without having done something for mankind, so that we shall be able to say to the peoples of the world that death's pale flag shall not again be raised in war, that fear shall be lifted from the hearts and souls of men."

Steve says THAT'S A GREAT QUOTE.
GREAT SPEECH.
HOW CONFLICTED WAS HE HAVING TO
GIVE THAT SPEECH BUT ALSO AT THE
SAME TIME BEING PRESSURED TO
TAKE NUCLEAR MISSILES ON
CANADIAN SOIL?

John says HE WAS
INCREDIBLY PRESSURED.
BOTH KENNEDY AND DIEFENBAKER
WERE BOTH MEN OF PEACE BUT THEY
WERE ALSO MEN WHO REALIZED THAT
THEY WERE LIVING IN THE REAL
WORLD, AND THE REAL WORLD SAID
THAT THE SOVIET UNION AND THE
UNITED STATES WERE SCORPIONS IN
A BOTTLE: ONLY ONE COULD WIN BUT
THE ENTIRE WORLD COULD LOSE.
THAT IS, WE COULD ALL USE THE
PLANET IN A NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST.
SHOULD THE NUCLEAR WAR BEGIN, IT
WOULD NEVER STAY LIMITED, IT
WOULD BE GLOBAL.
THEY BOTH KNEW THAT.
AND THAT'S THE SITUATION TO
WHICH HE WAS REFERRING IS WE
NEED TO DO SOMETHING TO AVOID
THAT EVENTUALITY FROM HAPPENING.
AND SO EVERYTHING THAT KENNEDY
DID WAS TRYING TO AVOID THAT.
EVERYTHING DIEFENBAKER DID WAS
TRYING TO AVOID THAT.
NOW, THAT'S THE ENDS BUT THEIR
MEANS WERE IN CONFLICT
THROUGHOUT.

Steve says SOME OF THE LANGUAGE
IN YOUR BOOK IS REALLY QUITE...
IT'S QUITE BLUNT BECAUSE YOU'VE
GOT THE QUOTES OF WHAT J.F.K.
ACTUALLY THOUGHT ABOUT JOHN
DIEFENBAKER, FOR EXAMPLE TELLING
HIS BROTHER BOBBY, I DON'T WANT
TO SEE THAT BORING SON OF A
BITCH EVER AGAIN.
WHAT GOT THEM OFF TO SUCH A BAD START?

The caption changes to "A new frontier."

John says A NUMBER OF
THINGS GOT THEM OFF TO A BAD
START AND THE BIG THING IS WHAT
I HAVE JUST REFERRED TO IS THAT
KENNEDY NEEDED CANADA IN ORDER
TO STEP UP AND DO WHAT HE
THOUGHT WAS NECESSARY IN ORDER
TO PROTECT AMERICAN INTERESTS
AND TO PROTECT AMERICA'S
HOMELAND SECURITY.

Steve says THAT QUOTE SUGGESTS
IT'S PERSONAL.

John says RIGHT.
AND DIEFENBAKER NEEDED TO
PROTECT CANADIAN SOVEREIGNTY IN
WAYS THAT HE THOUGHT WAS
NECESSARY.
SO EVEN IF THEY DID -- EVEN IF
THEY GOT ALONG LIKE GANG
BUSTERS, THEY STILL WOULD HAVE
BEEN IN CONFLICT, BUT THEY DID
NOT GET ALONG.
THEY DIDN'T GET ALONG FOR A
NUMBER OF REASONS.
THEY WERE FROM DIFFERENT
GENERATIONS, THEY WERE FROM
DIFFERENT CLASSES, THEY WERE
FROM DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS.
SO THAT PUT THEM AT ODDS.
AND THEN THERE WERE A NUMBER OF
THINGS THAT KENNEDY DID THAT
DIEFENBAKER -- WHO WAS QUITE
THIN-SKINNED -- TOOK AS A
PERSONAL INSULT, PROBABLY IN
WAYS THAT KENNEDY NEVER...

Steve says HE BOTCHED HIS NAME, RIGHT?

John says HE BOTCHED HIS
NAME THREE TIMES IN PUBLIC.

Steve says WHAT DID HE SAY?

John says HE CALLED HIM
DEIFENBACHER.
IT WAS FAR FROM THE BOSTON
ACCENT.
IN THIS CASE HE MISPRONOUNCED IT
THREE TIMES.
THERE'S ANOTHER STORY OF HE WAS
TOLD VERY WELL IN THE BRIEFING
NOTES THAT HE RECEIVED THAT
DIEFENBAKER WAS AN AVID
FISHERMAN.
HE TOOK DIEFENBAKER TO A PORTION
OF THE WHITE HOUSE IN WHICH
THERE WAS A GREAT SWORDFISH THAT
KENNEDY HAD CAUGHT AND SAID,
HAVE YOU EVER CAUGHT ANYTHING AS
BIG?
AND DIEFENBAKER TRUTHFULLY SAID,
WELL, YES, AS A MATTER OF FACT,
I JUST CAUGHT SOMETHING THAT WAS
LARGER.
AND KENNEDY SCOFFED AND SAID,
YOU NEVER DID.
WELL, YOU DON'T INSULT A
FISHERMAN ABOUT THE SIZE OF HIS
FISH.
SO WHEN THEY ARRIVED BACK IN
OTTAWA, HADN'T DIEFENBAKER
ENSURED THAT THAT BLUE MARLIN
WAS STUFFED AND UP IN HIS OFFICE
AND THE FIRST THING HE DID WHEN
KENNEDY ARRIVED IS TAKE HIM TO
THE FISH AND SAY "THERE IT IS."
WELL, NEVER HAD TWO MEN BEEN IN
MORE IN NEED OF A TAPE MEASURE
TO SOLVE AN ISSUE, AND I HOPE
WE'RE STILL TALKING ABOUT FISH.

Steve says OKAY.
LET'S MOVE RIGHT ALONG HERE.
THEY HAD THEIR FIRST MEETING.
J.F.K. BECOMES PRESIDENT JANUARY
'61, THEY HAD THEIR FIRST
MEETING IN OTTAWA MAY OF '61,
AND J.F.K. HAS AN AGENDA.
HE WANTS DIEFENBAKER TO BOYCOTT
CUBA.
HE SAYS NO.
HE WANTS CANADA TO JOIN THE
UNION OF AMERICAN STATES.
DIEFENBAKER SAYS NO.
HE WANTS CANADA TO SUPPORT
BRITAIN'S APPLICATION TO JOIN
THE EUROPEAN COMMON MARKET AND
DIEFENBAKER SAYS KNOW.
HE WANTS CANADA OF COURSE TO
ACCEPT AMERICAN NUCLEAR-TIPPED
MISSILES AND DIEFENBAKER SAYS
KNOW.
WHY COULD HE NOT FIND ANY WAY TO
SAY YES?

The caption changes to "Three days in Ottawa."

John says WELL, IN EACH
OF THESE CASES, AND IN EACH OF
THESE CASES I EXPLAIN IN THE
BOOK A BIT OF THE BACKGROUND AS
TO WHY THE AMERICANS WANTED THIS
TO HAPPEN, BECAUSE IT WAS IN
THEIR INTERESTS, AND WHY EACH OF
THESE THINGS WERE CONTRARY TO
CANADIAN INTERESTS.
SO WHAT DIEFENBAKER WAS DOING
WAS SIMPLY SAYING, FROM CANADA'S
POINT OF VIEW, THIS IS NOT A
GOOD IDEA.
KENNEDY IS SAYING FROM
AMERICANS' POINT OF VIEW, IT IS
A GOOD IDEA.
AND THERE WAS THE RUB.
AND THAT'S AGAIN WHAT I RETURN
TO, IS IT WOULDN'T HAVE MATTERED
IF THESE TWO MEN GOT ALONG
FAMOUSLY, THEY WOULD HAVE STILL
DISAGREED.

Steve says BUT IF THE
CANADIAN-AMERICAN RELATIONSHIP
IS THE MOST IMPORTANT
RELATIONSHIP OF ANY CANADIAN
PRIME MINISTERS -- AND IT IS...
HOW DOES DIEF NOT FIND IT IN HIS
HEART TO AT LEAST GIVE KENNEDY A
COUPLE OF THINGS THAT WILL AT
LEAST PLACATE HIM A LITTLE BIT?

John says AND HE DOES.
AND THERE ARE OTHER THINGS THAT
ARE MENTIONED THAT HAPPENED IN
THAT CONVERSATION AND HAPPENED
IN THE MEETINGS BOTH IN FEBRUARY
AND IN MAY, AND IN OTHER
OCCASIONS WHERE THEY HAD
OCCASION TO DEAL WITH EACH
OTHER, OBVIOUSLY, WHERE THEY DID
AGREE AND WHERE THEY DID SEE EYE
TO EYE.
FOR EXAMPLE, YOU MENTIONED
VIETNAM.
YES, CANADA WAS PART OF THE
I.C.C., THE INTERNATIONAL
CONTROL COMMISSION THAT WAS
THERE WITH INDIA AND POLAND
TRYING TO OVERSEE THE CEASE-FIRE
THAT NEVER REALLY EXISTED IN
VIETNAM, AND DIEFENBAKER HELPED
IN A NUMBER OF WAYS WITH KENNEDY
AND WITH THE AMERICANIZATION OF
THAT WAR.
HE DID IT IN WAYS THAT WERE NOT
IN THE FRONT PAGES OF THE
NEWSPAPER, BUT HE DID IT IN WAYS
THAT KENNEDY UNDERSTOOD AND
ACTUALLY WROTE PERSONAL NOTES TO
DIEFENBAKER THANKING HIM FOR
CANADA'S ACTIONS.

Steve says SPEAKING OF
SPEECHIFYING, NOBODY DID IT
BETTER THAN J.F.K., AND HERE IS
ONE OF HIS AS HE SPOKE IN
PARLIAMENT IN CANADA...

Another quote appears on screen, next to a picture of a silver coin that reads "Liberty, 1969, In God We Trust." The title of the quote reads "JFK in parliament." The quote reads "Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners. And necessity has made us allies. Those whom nature hath so joined together, let no man put asunder."
John F. Kennedy, as quoted in 'Cold Fire' (2016).

Steve says AND HE PAUSED AFTER
SAYING THAT AND LOOKED RIGHT AT
DIEF ON THAT LAST LINE.
HOW COME?

John says HE DID.
THERE WAS GREAT APPLAUSE AT THAT
LINE.
IT'S AN OBVIOUS APPLAUSE LINE,
AND HE TURNED AND HE LOOKED
RIGHT AT DIEFENBAKER.
NOW, WAS HE SIMPLY SAYING, LET
US DO THIS?
OR WAS HE IMPLYING, YOU ARE
STANDING AGAINST THIS?
I DON'T KNOW.

Steve says J.F.K. AND THE
OPPOSITION LEADER AT THE TIME,
LESTER PEARSON, KNEW EACH OTHER,
HAD A GOOD RELATIONSHIP, AND,
YOU KNOW, AT A CERTAIN POINT,
DIEFENBAKER MAKES THE DECISION
THAT HE'S GOING TO PUT HIS THUMB
ON THE SCALE AND ACTUALLY TRY TO
HELP PEARSON BECOME PRIME
MINISTER AT THE EXPENSE OF THE
SITTING PRIME MINISTER OF
CANADA.
WHAT MADE HIM THINK HE COULD GET
AWAY WITH DOING THAT?

The caption changes to "To nuke or not to nuke."

John says WELL, HE DID
GET AWAY WITH THAT, SO MAYBE
THAT'S WHAT LED HIM TO BELIEVE
THAT HE COULD.
PART OF WHAT WAS GOING ON WAS
NOT ONLY THAT HE BELIEVED THAT
PEARSON WOULD BE MORE WILLING TO
DO THE NUMBER OF THINGS THAT HE
WANTED TO BE DONE, HE ALSO
BELIEVED THAT PEARSON WAS SIMPLY
A BETTER MAN FOR THE JOB AND HE
MADE THAT VERY CLEAR IN
CONVERSATIONS THAT HE HAD WITH
SOME OF HIS AIDES AND WITH
PEARSON HIMSELF.
SO HE WANTED THEM TO WIN.
AT THE SAME TIME, THERE WERE A
NUMBER OF LIBERALS, HIGH-RANKING
LIBERALS AT THE TIME, THAT WERE
ORGANIZING PEARSON'S CAMPAIGN
THAT READ MAKING OF A PRESIDENT
IN 1960, THE THEODORE WHITE
BOOK, THAT LAID OUT HOW KENNEDY
HAD WON AND THEY FASHIONED THE
ENTIRE '62 AND '63 CAMPAIGNS ON
THAT BOOK.
NOT ONLY DID THEY DO THAT, BUT
THEY HIRED AWAY LOU HARRIS, WHO
WAS KENNEDY'S POLLSTER AND
KENNEDY'S POLITICAL ADVISOR, TO
COME TO OTTAWA AND TO HELP THEM
WITH THE CAMPAIGN.
WHEN HE ARRIVED, HE ARRIVED ON A
FAKE PASSPORT, USING HIS WIFE'S
MAIDEN NAME.

Steve says THIS IS LOU HARRIS.

John says LOU HARRIS.
ARRIVED IN OTTAWA BUT MADE SURE
NOT TO BE SEEN ON PARLIAMENT
HILL LEST ANY OF THE MEDIA SEE
HIM SO MET AT STORNOWAY AND
OTHER PRIVATE PLACES, HIRED 500
WOMEN WHO DID POLLING ACROSS
CANADA AND THEN ANALYSED THAT
POLLING TO TELL PEARSON HOW TO
DRESS, WHERE TO APPEAR, WHAT TO
SAY, HOW TO SAY IT, AND
BASICALLY SHAPED THE CAMPAIGN.
THAT WAS ONE WAY, ONE OF MANY
WAYS IN WHICH, YEAH, KENNEDY
PLAYED AN INTRICATE ROLE IN THE
ELECTION THAT DEFEATED
DIEFENBAKER AND BROUGHT US
LESTER PEARSON.

Steve says THAT WAS IN 1963.
SHELDON, I'M GOING TO SKIP AHEAD
TO BOARD 6 HERE BECAUSE PEARSON
DID AN AMAZING FLIP-FLOP.
INITIALLY HE SAYS NO TO NUCLEAR
MISSILES IN CANADA AND THEN
CHANGES HIS MIND AND AGREES TO
DO IT, WINS THE '63 ELECTION,
BUT DURING THE COURSE OF THE
CAMPAIGN, HERE'S HOW YOU
DESCRIBE ONE OF HIS CAMPAIGN EVENTS.

Another quote from the book appears on screen, under the title "You think it's tough today?" The quote reads "Pearson found himself heckled as an American stooge. As he approached the podium to address a large rally in Vancouver, an American flag was unfurled before the stage. He looked down, aghast at what was happening before him, and watched it burn. Pearson was fighting a terrible cold that night as well and an undiagnosed infection that rendered his face red and swollen. He stood bravely before the microphone. Hecklers shouted 'American slave' and 'Yankee lover.' A group of young men in the balcony loaded long straws and pelted frozen peas at the side of his aching head. For forty-five minutes Pearson soldiered on. He shouted his speech and ignored the taunts and bombardment. Through it all, Maryon [his wife] sat stoically on the platform with tears streaming down her cheeks."

Steve says IT'S ACTUALLY -- YOU
KNOW, WHEN WE THINK POLITICS
TODAY HAS NEVER BEEN MORE
BRUTAL, IT'S WORTH HAVING
HISTORIANS LIKE YOU REMIND US
THAT THINGS HAVE BEEN VERY TOUGH
IN THE PAST AS WELL.
DID, AFTER DIEF LOST '63 AND
PEARSON WINS THE '63 ELECTION,
DID RELATIONS WITH THE U.S. WARM UP?

John says THEY WARMED UP
AND THERE WAS A MEETING THAT
KENNEDY INVITED PEARSON DOWN TO
HYANNISPORT, NOT AT THE WHITE
HOUSE BUT TO MEET AT THE KENNEDY
COMPOUND, AND THE MEETING THAT
THEY HAD THERE OVER A COUPLE OF
DAYS WAS INCREDIBLE IN THAT A
NUMBER OF THE STICKING POINTS
THAT HAD BEEN THERE WERE
RESOLVED AND RESOLVED REALLY
QUICKLY.
EVEN IF DECISIONS WEREN'T MADE,
AT LEAST THE PROCESS FOR MAKING
THE DECISIONS WERE ESTABLISHED.
WHAT WAS REALLY INTERESTING IS
THAT JUST SHORTLY AFTER, A FEW
WEEKS AFTER THAT, PEARSON'S
FIRST BUDGET CAME OUT.
WITHIN THAT BUDGET WERE A NUMBER
OF VERY ECONOMIC NATIONALIST
PROVISIONS THAT WOULD HAVE
HELPED CANADIAN BUSINESS BECOME
MORE CANADIAN AND HURT AMERICANS
THAT WANTED TO INVEST AND
INCREASE AMERICAN OWNERSHIP.
KENNEDY HAD HIS PEOPLE TURN ON
THAT BUDGET.
IT WAS ATTACKED.
KENNEDY DIDN'T ATTACK IT
DIRECTLY, BUT HE ENSURED THAT IT
WAS ATTACKED AND THOSE ATTACKS
FROM THE UNITED STATES WERE ONE
OF THE REASONS THAT LED TO THOSE
ECONOMIC NATIONALIST PROVISIONS
BEING REMOVED FROM THE BUDGET.
SO AGAIN I RETURN TO DIEFENBAKER
AND KENNEDY HATED EACH OTHER,
BUT IT DIDN'T MATTER.
PEARSON AND KENNEDY RESPECTED
AND LIKED EACH OTHER, BUT AGAIN,
WHEN IT CAME DOWN TO CANADA
DOING THINGS THAT KENNEDY DIDN'T
WANT, THAT FRIENDSHIP DIDN'T MATTER.

Steve says I WANT YOU NOW TO
TAKE US TO REALLY ONE OF THE
WORST DAYS IN AMERICAN HISTORY,
WHICH IS NOVEMBER 22nd, 1963.
BEFORE WE DO THAT, THERE'S A
CONNECTION WITH THE EVENTS OF
THAT DAY.
J.F.K.'S ASSASSINATION AT DEALY
PLAZA IN DALLAS AND THE
PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO OTTAWA
WHERE HE'S ASKED TO PLANT A
TREE.
TELL US THE STORY.

The caption changes to "November 22, 1963."

John says WELL, IT'S
REALLY INTERESTING.
THIS STORY REALLY CAME TO LIGHT
WITH RESEARCH THAT I WAS DOING
IN THE KENNEDY LIBRARY, WHICH IS
A FASCINATING PLACE TO VISIT, I
RECOMMEND IT HIGHLY TO ANYONE.

Steve says IN BOSTON.

John says IN BOSTON.
AND ONE OF THE GENTLEMEN, A
DOCTOR WHO WAS AT THE KENNEDY
AUTOPSY IN 2013, MADE A NUMBER
OF OBSERVATIONS THAT LED ME BACK
TO THIS -- NOT JUST ME BUT
OTHERS BACK TO THIS.
AND WHAT WE DO IS WE GO BACK TO
MAY OF 1961 WHEN KENNEDY WAS
VISITING OTTAWA AND DIEFENBAKER
TOOK HIM TO GOVERNMENT HOUSE,
THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S
RESIDENCE, TO DO WHAT HAS
TRADITIONALLY BEEN DONE AND YOU
PLANT A CEREMONIAL TREE.
WE ALL KNOW ABOUT KENNEDY'S
HEALTH AND HIS BACK ISSUES THAT
GO BACK TO THE WAR AND IMPACT
BACK TO HIS CHILDHOOD.
HE HAD A WEAK BACK TO BEGIN
WITH.
SO THERE HE WAS, SOMETHING THAT
WAS NOT ON HIS AGENDA, BECAUSE I
LOOKED AT WHAT HIS ITINERARY
WAS, AND IT WAS NOT ON HIS
ITINERARY BUT IT WAS ON THE
CANADIAN ITINERARY...

Steve says HE CALLS AN
INAUDIBLE AT THE 11TH MINUTE.

John says RIGHT.
AND KENNEDY WAS NOT EXPECTING IT.
NOW, LIKE ALL OF SUCH THINGS,
THE TREE WAS ALREADY PLANTED,
THIS WAS FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHERS,
THE SILVER SHOVEL AND HE WAS
GOING TO THROW A FEW SCOOPS OF
WELL-TILLED SOIL.
HE DID A COUPLE AND HIS BACK
WENT OUT.
KENNEDY HID THE PAIN BECAUSE HE
HAD A LIFETIME OF HIDING PAIN.
BUT WHAT WAS DONE AFTERWARDS IS
HE WAS FASHIONED WITH A NEW AND
STIFFER BACK BRACE THAN HE HAD
EVER WORN BEFORE, IT WENT FROM
HIS HIPS TO HIS ARMPIT, AND
EVERY MORNING HE PUT THIS ON,
PUT BANDAGES OVER IT AND THEN
HIS SHIRT AND SUIT.
NOW, FAST-FORWARD TO DALLAS.
AND ACCORDING TO THE DOCTOR THAT
WAS DOING THE AUTOPSY, WHEN THE
FIRST SHOT HIT KENNEDY, AWFUL,
GRUESOME WOUND, BACK OF THE
NECK, CAME OUT THE THROAT,
GRUESOME BUT SURVIVABLE.
YOU OR I WOULD HAVE SLUMPED
OVER, FALLEN INTO THE SEAT OF
THE LIMOUSINE, AND THERE WOULD
HAVE BEEN NO TARGET FOR THE
SECOND SHOT.
AS A RESULT OF WEARING THIS BACK
BRACE, HOWEVER, HE DIDN'T FALL
AND THE SECOND SHOT KILLED HIM.

Steve says THAT WAS THE FATAL SHOT.

John says MM-HMM.

Steve says WHICH WOULDN'T HAVE
HAPPENED HAD HE NOT BEEN WEARING
THAT BRACE BECAUSE HE PLANTED A
TREE IN OTTAWA TWO AND A HALF
YEARS EARLIER.

John says POSSIBLY THE
BACK BRACE HE WAS WEARING BEFORE
WOULD HAVE ALLOWED HIM TO FALL
ACCORDING TO THE DOCTOR THAT WAS
THERE AT THE AUTOPSY.

Steve says OKAY.
LET'S FINISH UP ON THIS.

Another quote from the book appears on screen, under the title "Was Dief right?" The quote reads "[DIEFENBAKER] WAS NOT DEMANDING AN END TO AMERICA'S LEADERSHIP IN THE WESTERN ALLIANCE OR CONTINENTAL DEFENCE, but the respect accorded a partner. He was not suggesting a withdrawal of American investment from Canada, but greater autonomy in determining the country's economic future. Diefenbaker's failing and ultimate failure to convince enough Canadians to share his nationalist vision does not subtract from its legitimacy or value."

Steve says JOHN, HISTORY MADE
ITS VERDICT ON THIS PERIOD OF TIME.
KENNEDY WAS CAMELOT, RIGHT?
DIEFENBAKER TURNED INTO THIS
PARANOID, ANGRY, VICIOUS, YOU
KNOW, FILL IN THE BLANKS.
YOU'RE PUSHING BACK AGAINST THAT
VERDICT IN THIS BOOK.
HOW COME?

The caption changes to "Was Dief right?"

John says I THINK I AM
BECAUSE I BELIEVE THAT IN EVERY
COUNTRY WE QUITE RIGHTLY GO
THROUGH A PERIOD OF EXTENSION
ANGST EVERY FEW YEARS.
EVERY GENERATION, WE HAVE TO
EXAMINE WHO WE ARE AS CANADIANS
AND WE HAVE TO EXAMINE THE
COUNTRY IN WHICH WE WANT TO
LIVE.
I THINK WE DID IT IN THE LAST
ELECTION.
I THINK THE AMERICANS ARE DOING
IT NOW IN THEIR ELECTION.
AND IN THE 1960s, THAT WAS A
PERIOD OF EXISTENTIAL ANGST AND
WE WERE TRYING TO DETERMINE:
SHOULD WE TRY TO BE MORE
CANADIAN?
HOW CANADIAN CAN WE BE WITH THE
UNITED STATES RIGHT AT OUR DOOR?
GEORGE GRANT WROTE AN EXCELLENT
BOOK CALLED "LAMENT OF A NATION."
IN WHICH HE TALKED ABOUT THAT
PERIOD AS THE LAST GASP OF
CANADIAN NATIONALISM.

Steve says WHICH HIS NEPHEW,
MICHAEL IGNATIEFF, SAYS WAS THE
WRONG MESSAGE.
HE GOT IT WRONG.

John says WHAT I HOPE
HAPPENS WITH THIS BOOK IS ENOUGH
PEOPLE READ IT AND ASK THAT
QUESTION THAT DIEFENBAKER ASKED
AND IT WAS THE QUESTION THAT I
END THE BOOK WITH THAT PETER
GZOWSKI PRESENTED.
AS CANADIAN, WE'RE AS CANADIAN
AS, AND THE CONTEST WINNER SAID
AS POSSIBLE UNDER THE
CIRCUMSTANCES.

Steve says GREAT LINE.

John says WHICH PERHAPS
THAT'S WHAT DIEFENBAKER PROVED
THAT THIS IS AS CANADIAN AS WE
CAN BE.
BUT HE WANTED US TO BE MORE.

The caption changes to "Producer: Steve Paikin, @spaikin"

Steve says GOOD STUFF.
"COLD FIRE: KENNEDY'S NORTHERN
FRONT."
JOHN BOYKO, YOU'VE DONE IT
AGAIN.
THANKS SO MUCH FOR VISITING US
AT TVO TONIGHT.

John says THANKS SO MUCH.

Watch: Kennedy's Northern Front