A term popularized by Canadian economic nationalists in the 1960s, who felt that Canada’s very sovereignty, was being threatened by the high amount of direct American ownership of Canadian industries. It became a more politically charged variation on the term “branch plant economy.” [See branch plant]
The term is also invoked in criticizing Canadian governments who are seen to show subservience to our neighbour to the south. Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s crooning of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”1 to US President Ronald Reagan (a bête noire for Canadian nationalists) at the March 17, 1985 “Shamrock Summit” in Quebec City, engendered much “Fifty-First State” clucking.
Image Source: 4plebs