The anti-war movement reached its peak in the 1970s as protests against American involvement in the Vietnam War grew more widespread. Protesters had moral and legal arguments against the war, and were vehemently opposed to the Draft, or forced military service. Approximately 20,000 Americans dodged the draft by escaping to Canada and of those who were drafted, approximately 12,000 deserted. Economically, rising inflation prompted governments to enact wage and price controls. In 1973 OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) declared an embargo on oil exports to North America and many Western European nations, causing an oil crisis. This led to supply shortages and higher oil and gas prices. Consumers demanded smaller cars, as some governments reduced speed limits. Foreign car makers had an edge in the compact and sub-compact market, and for the first time, imported cars—such as the Honda Civic—gained popularity in the North American car market.
Manic—a fusion of European and American design to create a Canadian car.
Beginning in 1968, a team led by Jacques About of Montreal began to develop the Manic GT. About and his team projected that they could produce 1,300 cars a year from the Granby, Quebec, assembly plant. Unfortunately, dependence on parts from Renault proved to be the company's downfall. Renault's supply of parts was unreliable and slow, and could not meet the demand of the Granby factory, which ended up closing in May of 1971. Only 160 Manic GTs were ever produced.
Photo: Canada Science and Technology Museum 1984.0712
This "Anniversary Edition" celebrates a car built in Canada.
Ford created the Mercury Meteor specifically for the Canadian market in 1949. It was popular in Canada for many years, and in 1960 was introduced to the American market. The Meteor was discontinued in 1976, by which time nearly 600,000 had been produced in Ford of Canada's Oakville, Ontario plant. This Meteor was built under the Auto Pact (1965-2000)—a North American trade agreement that bolstered Canada's auto industry.
Photo: Canada Science and Technology Museum 1985.0108
The controversial Bricklin company goes into receivership.
Though it was assembled in Canada, the Bricklin was only sold in the United States. Technical problems with the car's design and engineering meant that an individual car cost three times its wholesale price to produce. Bricklin Canada closed its doors in 1976, after manufacturing fewer than 3,000 cars. In 2007, the Bricklin SV-1 won the dubious honour of being included in Time magazine's list of "The 50 Worst Cars of All Time."
Photo: Canada Science and Technology Museum 1975.0622
In The News
All eyes in Canada are on Quebec as the October Crisis unfolds, and Parliament invokes the War Measures Act.
The October Crisis was precipitated by the kidnapping of James Cross, a British diplomat, and Pierre Laporte, a Quebec cabinet minister, by the Front de libération du Quebec (FLQ), a militant separatist group. At the request of Quebec and Montreal officials, Ottawa invoked the War Measures Act, for only the third time in Canadian history. The Act suspended civil liberties and gave the government and, by extension, the police and military, sweeping powers of arrest and detention. The morning after the invocation of the War Measures Act, police found the body of Pierre Laporte in the trunk of a car. James Cross was eventually released and his captors were given safe passage to Cuba. During the Crisis, hundreds of people were arrested, though only 20 people were actually convicted for their actions.
Photo: 12 October 1970
DND Photo, VL70-155-7
The Canadian Parliament passes the Motor Vehicle Safety Act.
In cooperation with provincial and national safety and standards organizations, Transport Canada developed national safety standards for the design and construction all motor vehicles. The Motor Vehicle Safety Act came into effect on January 1, 1971.
Video: 9 September 2009
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Muriel Fergusson is appointed the first female speaker of the Senate.
Muriel McQueen Fergusson was born in New Brunswick, and was a pioneer of women's rights. She occupied positions of authority in New Brunswick and increased opportunities for Canadian women through her tireless efforts. In 1976, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Photo: Library and Archives of Canada, PA-185700
The OPEC oil embargo causes consumer gas prices to quadruple. Gas stations run out of gas and rationing begins in some regions.
The OPEC oil embargo was based on its Arab members' objections to the "United States decision to re-supply the Israeli army" during the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973. The price for a barrel of oil skyrocketed by 70%. As a result, North American consumers began looking for small, more fuel-efficient cars. They turned to imports as domestic automakers were slow to respond to this trend.
Photo: January 1974
National Archives and Records Administration
The Canadian government decides to adopt the metric system of weights and measures. Authorities must therefore change all highway signs to metric.
The decision to convert was prompted mostly by the need for a standard system of measurement that was shared with the rest of the world. Speed and distance are given to motorists in metric in almost all countries of the world, with the largest hold-out being the United States.
A policy of multiculturalism in Canada is officially announced by Pierre Trudeau's Liberal government.
Immigration to Canada, from all parts of the world, had increased significantly since 1945, transforming the Canadian landscape into a culturally-diverse mosaic. The multiculturalism policy encouraged Canadians to accept these many diverse cultures as integral to Canada's identity. It recognized the changing Canadian demographic and the social importance of ethnic diversity.
Photo: ca. 1970
Glenbow Archives NA-3500-30
Through community activism and protest, residents of Toronto successfully stop the extension of an expressway through downtown neighbourhoods.
In response to increasing suburbanization, the Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto, as early as 1954, put a priority on the building of expressways which would increase car traffic from the outer areas of the expanding city into the downtown core. The Spadina Expressway, for example would have extended south from the 401 to Bloor Street thus requiring the demolition of established residential neighbourhoods and parks. It was first proposed in 1959 and was met with immediate and continuous opposition. Community groups, supported by Marshall McLuhan and Jane Jacobs amongst others, battled municipal governments over the issue until 1971 when Ontario Premier Bill Davis, withdrew provincial funding, thus killing the project.
Photo: December 6, 1969
ASC Image 705, Stop Spadina Collection - Toronto Telegram Clara Thomas Archives and Special Collections, York University
Telesat Canada, in cooperation with the US space program, launches the Anik A satellite. Canada becomes the first country in the world to put a satellite into orbit for non-military purposes.
The Anik satellite enabled networks like the CBC to greatly extend the reach of their broadcast signal to include Canada's far north. The Anik A had 12 transponders giving a capacity of 7,000 telephone circuits or 12 colour television channels. "Anik" means "Little Brother" in Inuktituk.
Photo: ca. 1971
Montreal hosts the Summer Olympics.
The 1976 Olympics were the first and only time that Canada has hosted the Summer Games. It was also the first time that women competed in basketball, rowing and handball. The Montreal Games were marred by internal mismanagement which resulted in cost over-runs totalling $1 billion. Anger over a tour of apartheid South Africa by the New Zealand rugby team resulted in a boycott of the Games by virtually all African nations.
Photo: Alain Carpentier