CBC Digital Archives CBC butterfly logo

CBC Archives has a new look: Please go to cbc.ca/archives to access the new site.

The page you are looking at will not be updated.

Vietnam war protesters try to gain audience with prime minister

The Story

Eighteen days camped out in the Canadian winter, 20 months of letter-writing, six months as a nurse in South Vietnam. Social activist Claire Culhane thought this would be enough to win an audience with Prime Minister Trudeau. Culhane and other antiwar protesters at "Enough Village" are frustrated -- not because their vigil in the cold is on its 18th day, but because Trudeau only seems to have time to discuss peace with celebrities. CBC recorded their encounter. 

Medium: Television
Program: Weekend
Broadcast Date: Jan. 10, 1970
Guests: Claire Culhane, Michael Rubbo, Alje Vennema
Host: Lloyd Robertson
Panellist: Norman DePoe, Judy LaMarsh
Reporter: Bill Craig
Duration: 4:29

Did You know?

• The group called themselves "Enough" and their purpose was to protest against the Canadian government's failure to oppose the U.S. presence in Vietnam. They believed a strong antiwar declaration by Ottawa could help change U.S. policies.

• The group consisted of Claire Culhane, a 51-year-old grandmother who spent six months working in a South Vietnamese hospital; Michael Rubbo, a filmmaker who spent time in Vietnam making an NFB film; and Helene Girard, a linguistic researcher.

• The group set up camp on Parliament Hill on Christmas eve and planned to stay there until parliament resumed. They were shut down by RCMP within ten minutes because they lacked the proper permit. "Enough Village" then moved to the lawn of a nearby church, where they remained until Jan. 12.

• The protesters lived on a typical Vietnamese diet of soup, rice and tea.

• Sympathetic observers were asked to send a one-word telegram to Prime Minister Trudeau reading "enough."

• On New Year's Day two MPs joined the group for lunch -- David MacDonald (PC) and Ed Broadbent (NDP).

• In this clip, Enough Village is visited by Dr. Alje Vennema, who had been the director of a Canadian TB hospital in Quang Ngai province until August 1968.

• In 1972 Claire Culhane wrote a book called Why Is Canada in Vietnam?

• The Vietnam War was the first war widely broadcast on television. Because many families gathered around the television to watch nightly updates on the evening news, the war earned the nickname "the living room war." Many came to oppose the war or were driven to antiwar protests by the atrocities they witnessed on the news.

• In both Canada and the United States, "teach-ins" were a popular means of educating the public about the moral and political implications of U.S. involvement in Vietnam. They began in the spring of 1965 and became an increasingly common form of protest throughout the war.

• Some people felt that Canada should be in the war. CBC Radio interviewed a student from Loyola College who was part of a group sending a telegram to Pearson indicating their support for the war.


Vietnam: Canada's Secret War more