Bothwell, Robert Selkirk

Robert Selkirk Bothwell, historian, professor (b at Ottawa, 17 Aug 1944). Robert Bothwell was educated at the UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO and Harvard University, where he received a PhD in 1972. He began teaching at the University of Toronto in 1970, and was appointed full professor in 1981.

Bothwell is the author of more than twenty books on Canadian political and economic history, including an award-winning biography of C.D. Howe (co-authored with William Kilbourn), a study of Pierre TRUDEAU's foreign policy (with J.L. GRANATSTEIN), and two major works on the development of Canadian nuclear energy.

Bothwell's interpretation of modern Canada emerges clearly in Canada, 1900-1945 (1990) and Canada since 1945: Power Politics and Provincialism (1981, 1989), both co-authored with John ENGLISH and Ian Drummond. The three asserted that the story of Canada was one of success, not weakness and American domination, as historians such as Donald CREIGHTON had claimed. Bothwell and his co-authors showed a preference for a vigorous federal government, one that was pragmatic and progressive in domestic affairs, while engaged and active abroad. They generally favoured an open economy and society, criticizing economic NATIONALISM in English Canada and ethnic nationalism in francophone Qubec.

In his works on Canadian foreign policy, including Canada and the United States: The Politics of Partnership (1992) and Alliance and Illusion: Canada and the World, 1945-1984 (2007), Bothwell rejected the nationalist interpretation of Canada as a colony in the American empire, instead portraying the two countries as partners who shared many values and interests, despite disparities in size and power.

With David Bercuson and J.L. Granatstein, Bothwell wrote two polemics lamenting the state of Canadian universities, The Great Brain Robbery: The Decline of Canada's Universities (1984) and Petrified Campus: The Crisis in Canada's Universities (1997). In their view, lax admission standards, grade inflation, and inept faculty research on trivial subjects all combined to reduce Canadian higher education to a state of mediocrity.